Friday, November 28, 2008

Mexican Dogs: Feast or Famine?

When I was a kid we always had dogs. However, it was unheard of in the barrio to keep a dog inside the house. Usually, the dog slept out in the yard in a shelter made of wood by some member of the house. We fed them scraps from the table, old tortillas, frijoles, papas (potatoes), and an occasional bone. Whenever a dog turned his nose at the food, my mom would say "Andale fregado, vas a ver. Conque no tienes hambre? Manana te lo comeras! Vas a ver" (Ok damn you. So you're not hungry now? We'll see how hungy you are tomorrow). Then, she would put the dog's plate in the refrigerator and place it out again the next day. It was fun to watch the dog scarf it up the next day with no complaints! There was no such thing as "dog food" at the store. Doggie baths? Unheard of. Vets? Unheard of. When one of our dogs got rabies, one of my older brothers would take an old 22. cal pump rifle and shoot him. Not unusual in the barrio. Once, my mom told me to shoot one of our rabid dogs, but as I stood over him in the front yard, and aimed the rifle, I just could not pull the trigger. My older brother, Jess, had to do it for me.
On another day, one of my cats came home with a mangled front leg; it was shredded. My mom bandaged it as best she could with rags soaked in some smelly ointment, and we put him out. However, he failed to return for about 4 days and when he did, the leg was worse and had begun to decay. I begged my mom to take him to the Vet and the prognosis was to put down the cat or amputate the leg at the shoulder. It would cost $17.00 and believe me, that was big time money in the 40's. After I pleaded for my cat's life, my mom conceded and afterwards I would continue to happily play and romp around the yard with my 3-legged cat. He could even climb trees!
However, my mom broke all the rules one day, when my brother Ed gave her a Pekinese puppy for Mother's Day. "Tiny" was king. He slept inside the house and my mom pampered him like one of her own kids. She would even buy him those little circus animal cookies in a box!
Pictured above is our "in house" Chihuahua "Princess" getting a bath in our kitchen sink, would you believe it? Spoiled, pampered thus, we would have been ostracized in the barrio for such treatment of a dog. Today, I bought a doggie bed at Gottschalk's for little Princess. She sleeps in front of our gas insert. Pobrecita, huh?

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