Mexican Perros I Have Known
By Margie Harrell
Friends still ask what it was about Mexico that I enjoyed so much while living there. If I think they are really interested, I tell them about the Mexican perros (dogs to you gringos) that are everywhere. To me they are one of the delights of Mexico. They certainly don’t act like any dogs I ever knew in the United States. They say animals pick up the traits of their owners. I believe it. Easy going, non-aggressive and friendly are all words I would associate with the Mexican people and their animals and they all seem to live in harmony.
I remember a day when no amount of honking would budge a sleeping dog from my path. The street were too narrow to go around him, so I had to get out of my car and physically move him over to the side of the road, while he continued to sleep. It was such incidents that kept a smile on my face the entire three years I lived there. Another day I saw a little pooch lift his leg on the side of a building to relieve himself, only to fall over sideways in a deep sleep. It was afternoon siesta time for him and nothing was going to interrupt him.
I have been a walker for years and would not dare go out the door in the U.S. without my trusty can of Mace. Besides a stray dog, a few coyotes have crossed my path. But after only two days in Mexico, I threw away my Mace. What was I going to spray? The long-horned cows that roamed the lakeshore? As slow as they moved, it would take them a week to fall over. Or maybe the burros that sleep standing up in the square. Certainly not the perros. They were my friends.
I had one friend in particular. He lived in a little tar shack down by the lake with five children I had befriended. The niños delighted in my daily visits as I would always have a few candies hidden in my pockets, which they would try to find. But I always had one candy hidden away for my special friend, their dog. He was a mangy-looking thing, his long legs out of proportion to his body because he was so thin. But those eyes, they looked at you and through you. I called him Perro (very original) and he came running to me every day. After the children had said their hellos, Perro would walk the rest of the way with me, running after sticks I had thrown into the lake, biting at the water like a silly child. This dog had no promise of even his next meal, much less his next day, but he was happy. He warmed my heart many a day when I was feeling a little homesick. It seems, when we are open to the possibility, we find friends in the most unusual places.
While visiting some Americans one day, I noticed the difference in their dog and my local friends. He was high-strung, and wouldn’t stop barking, even though he had his own bed and bowl of food at the ready. Given time, I thought he would learn the ways of Mexico. Relax, take it easy and make a friend.
I still walk every day here in Nevada but I am back to carrying my Mace. An encounter with a very large, unattended dog convinced me to do so. He got my best sweater as a trophy, and I got to keep my fingers. A long walk along the shores of a lake and a nice siesta on the warm cobblestones is what he needed, I thought.