Friday, May 22, 2009

All Dogs Go To Heaven

If the title of this entry made you groan because it's so darn cheesy, you might want to skip the next couple of paragraphs. But it's just that there's so many clichés that would be perfect titles for this entry on the lives of Man's Best Friend here in Mexico. Indulge me.

Like "It's a Dog-Eat-Dog World." Compared to the pampered lives of pups up north, the daily grind ain't easy for perros here South of the Border. People here in Mexico sometimes don't have enough to eat, so tight family budgets don't tend to get stretched to buy fiber-and-flaxseed-enriched super-duper premium heart-shaped gourmet dog food. Pet owners don't drop money to buy their dogs rhinestone-studded collars or Louis Vuitton-patterned carrying cases. There's no doggie daycares or bow-wow bakeries. Nope. Mexican dogs sleep outside and usually subsist on stale tortillas. Or trash in the street.

Or "It's a Dog's Life." Despite the fact that they're homeless and hungry and stuck outside during rainy season so their fur is always matted and dirty, Mexican dogs are darn happy. They trot around with their little doggie friends, tails wagging, sniffing each other's you-know-whats and having a grand old time. To them, it's the good life when they're not being abused or hit by cars. They're pretty easy to please.

There's the "This Place is Going to the Dogs" cliché. Given the tough circumstances, all logic dictates that Mexican dogs shouldn't survive and populate. But there somehow manage to be hundreds of them in your average small town. They outnumber the human population in some areas, running around the streets in motley little packs, chasing each other and shiny cars and -- ahem -- iPod-clad gringas jogging in the street. At any given moment, I'm surrounded by dogs. There's at least two or three that hang out in my apartment complex. There's the gang of 'em that keeps turf near the grocery store. There's dogs in parking lots. There's dogs on beaches.

I've been in Mexico for so long that I've somehow stopped noticing the fact that dogs are everywhere. I sent my family some pictures of my recent beach trip. Instead of commenting on the deep blue Pacific and the pretty orange sunsets, their feedback was, "What's up with all the dogs?" I looked back at the pictures, noticing that there was a different pooch in almost every shot. The tan one that belongs to a friend. The white one that was his (the tan one's) weekend "fling." The big black one that followed me around for three days after I fed her cold oatmeal one morning. The little black one that hung around our campsite. The crazy-looking mixed one that went swimming with us in the river. Pinches perros.

Dogs are part of the landscape here, like cacti and Corona billboards and ancient Vokswagen Bugs. Hell, there are even dogs in churches. True story, people. Check my pictures.

Where's Bob Barker when you need him?

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