Sunday, October 17, 2010

Intro to the Satos on The Hill

Have you read The Hidden Life of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas?

As appalled as I was that someone would let their dogs roam in an unsafe way, I was fascinated by what they did. Come on, weren’t you?

Don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Ms. Thomas. I can remember a time in America when it was common for kids and family pets to be roaming the block. That’s how I grew up in New Orleans. These days kids and pets are locked up safely at home.

Frequently I think of how Ms. Thomas would relish meeting my visiting canine friends in Puerto Rico.

Stormy, Blondie and Bonita are the resident street dogs in my neighborhood, the home team of the satos on the hill. Sato is Puerto Rican slang for street dog.

Stormy, a Border Collie x Terrier cross, was a street wise yearling when we met in fall of 2005. Stormy had no sooner unpacked his bags when he began to protect the three households where he was fed. Car chasing with gusto came just a little later.

In Puerto Rico it’s a fact of life that it is better to feed leftovers to the satos than put them in the can to feed a rat. Street dogs here continue to provide the same service to mankind that they have since the beginning of our relationship with them. Think about how awesome that is.

Blondie, a Pit-bull, came into the neighborhood sometime between 2007 and 2009. She looked like she had one litter when we met her in spring of 2009.

Blondie lead with her heart, if you were good to her she’d wag her tail so hard it would whip her body from side to side. She would throw her back squealing a high pitched sound. For the longest time she did that squeal of joy whenever we came home.

Blondie’s dalliances with all the strong machos who came sniffing her butt in spring of 09’ produced Bonita the pitiful pup we met in January of 2010.

The puppy looked like a moth eaten old rug that needs to be put in the trash when I first saw her. Her dazed stagger going nowhere told me how close to death she was.

I enjoyed the looks on my neighbor’s faces, when I told them the puppy’s name was Bonita. One fellow spat out, “Fea!” (ugly) with a curled lip. It was rather dramatic.

When last I saw her she was in fact very pretty. The day before I left the island the man who had spurned her was on one knee coaxing her to let him pet her. Bonita pranced away with her four white sox flashing. Big smile.

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