The dog came into our lives at a time we needed a guard dog and it needed a new home away from his masters’ azucena-loving neighbors. It was three years old. It was ugly. It had an eternally coarse greyish-white coat that looked dirty even after a good scrubbing. It was an askal — and in a village where all dogs are coiffed, polished and pedigreed, having him put us in the fringes of the social mainstream. The dog tipped over garbage cans, sniffed butts, ate slippers, chased cars, dug my vegetable garden, chewed license plates — did everything except bark at dangerous-looking strangers. He outwitted us everytime we attempted to put him on a leash. He outran dog catchers and made us very unpopular with the neighbors.
Because of him, I longed for a cat.
But the dog walked my children to the park, keeping strangers and other dogs away from them. He would snarl at the household staff when they wanted to give him a bath; but kept still, when the kids wanted to do the same. He sat beside my one-year old during afternoon merienda — less because he wanted treats, more because he enjoyed my toddler’s foot caressing his underside.
I sensed an intelligence in his eyes unlike any I’ve seen my other pets. I derived inspiration from his adventures. And sometime between wanting to give him away to a circus and having long animated “conversations” with him, I conceded that he was, in fact, “okay”.
The dog turned 10 this year — which makes him 53 in man-years. His already unsightly coat began to thin and one of his eyes glassed out. He was always sleepy and let many a good vehicles drive by without so much as a bark. Days ago, we found his lifeless body under our living window. The dog now rests under a palm tree in the village park, where he could still watch over my kids as they frolic there in the afternoon.
Because of him, I look at all things odd with an eye, more observant of serendipitous possibilities.
Thank you, Cuervo.