Monday, May 09, 2005

Dogs. Dogs! DOGS!

Yes, friends, I'm talking about dogs.

When last we joined our hero, she had designs on a bulldog who had begun frequenting her front gate...

Rex, up close and personal

He had, if you recall, been hanging around for a couple of days, and had agreed to eat my food and let me scratch his head. He was well cared for, but his collar had no name or phone number on it--and then the next time I saw him he wasn't wearing it anyway. So the next day I let him in to see what he would do. He spent a lot of time sniffing Emily, peeing here and there about the premises, and eventually settled down proprietarily on the front mat. He seemed entirely at home. I explained to him that "playing with Emily" was part of the job description, but he did not appear to be unduly concerned by the news.

Rex, lord of all he surveys

So I just left him there for a while. And an hour or two later I was inside reading and I heard someone say "Rex! It's you! What are you doing in there? [etc.]" So I went out and opened the gate and Rex rejoined his people, who, it turns out, live very nearby. Two days later Emily went into heat for the first time, which probably explains a significant portion of Rex's interest in our family.

There was a fairly steady stream of suitors for a while, and Emily got a little more exercise by chasing them around, her inside the fence and them outside. The most faithful one could be seen absolutely any time of day, every day, and if Emily was active he would do complete circuits of the property in order to keep up with her whereabouts.

He did occasionally take a moment to chase a motorcycle down the street, and at one point he showed up with a limp. I couldn't see any injury or swelling, but he didn't use his back left leg at all. So the motorcycles went unchased and he was able to concentrate full-time on his hopes that Emily too would be unchaste.

He was a very nice dog and I started petting him on my way in or out, and then I noticed how skinny he was. I took him some dog food and he ate an entire adult serving of it in the 48 seconds it took me to go get a dish for water. So I started feeding him twice a day, and if I went outside without food, he was just as happy to get some attention. So I figured maybe when Emily was no longer in heat I'd let him in. But one day he stopped coming around and has not been seen since.

And then one day someone thought to mention to me that there were still two dogs left from Emily's original litter. You'd kind of think that would have come up in conversation sooner, what with me debating how best to acquire a companion for her and all. But the news eventually did make its way to the surface and our problem was solved. Once Emily seemed to be out of heat and I had a relatively free day, we went and picked up one of her brothers.

Robin imediately dubbed him Scruffy, which in Spanish she pronounces Escrofty. I was glad to see him pick up a new moniker forthwith. Being a black dog, his original name was Negro which, while it may possibly be the most common dog name in Costa Rica, I'd just as soon not have to explain every time I happen to mention him on the blog.

Scruffy has a Very Special white spot... Posted by Hello

And he worked like a charm. Emily is much more sedate now, having ample opportunity to expend her excess energy rolling around and jumping and just generally keeping the jinx as high as possible. She's no longer so desperate for human attention that she tries to climb the children when they venture outside.

However. Scruffy has at least twice as much energy as she ever did. He is a vertical jumper who attains prodigious heights, and has been known to throw himself bodily against the sliding glass doors in a desperate attempt to get to the tantalizing cat/parrot/child on the other side. This is an enthusiastic dog.

So I guess we're essentially back where we started from, except that now I'm contemplating yet ANOTHER dog because Tina doesn't count (she's very very very very old and usually asleep) and these two are pretty small and obviously in love with the human race. So our "Guard Dog" sign is even more ludicrous than when we had Perla who may not have had any teeth but who, at least, was of a size that commanded respect. Emily's faithful suitor would have been perfect because he was a complete mutt but had that doberman coloring and a nice long snout, so he kind of looked like the dog on the sign.

The latest hopeful is a street dog at my in-laws' house. They live on a very short dead-end street that has no less than three street dogs to its name (not that it has a name...) The neighbors, especially Jose & Yolanda, feed them and the dogs just kind of hang around and bark at strangers, which keeps everyone happy. Two of them squeeze through the gates and take shelter in various carports, but the third won't do it, so she gets rained on a lot. She is starved for affection and wags her entire back end (maybe to make up for her tail, which is just a stub) and I even saw her getting playful with Yolanda's dogs yesterday. But she also barks at strangers who come around. So she may be the one. Yolanda can't keep her because their own large dog doesn't get along with the street dogs.

I guess we'll see. Watch this space. I can't decide if it's just absurd to have four whole dogs (plus a cat, a parrot and two children), or if it will really be about the same since there's plenty of space for all of them and all I really have to do is fill an extra dish.


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