Ululation

Some may read this post and think it is overwrought. But for those of you whose answer to getting through the hard times and honoring the good is, ‘Come on my dog, let’s go for a walk,” you will understand.

But for those of you who have lived with a creature whose every movement expressed life’s possibility and joy at the wonder of each moment, and it was that beings’ delight in existence that kept joy in the forefront of your life and the reality of the worlds’ sorrow as bay, you are the ones who will know.Elvis discovers water bubbles

Doggone

Must I trade you for beauty?

Apparently, the rose was too perfect
It cried for blood, petty gods
And jealous
She doesn’t even carry her own
Scent, she’s raped
a peony

Who I am to complain
I who cherished you
a dog
when my own womb I
slashed and burned
for freedom

Can I not have all
The splendor, the love
I choose
Is this god making a believer
of me?

On Monday November 12th Elvis died in my arms of poisoning, it was most likely an intentional malicious act. It is a common practice here.

He was my joy. Felipe and I are heartbroken. Elvis’s mother Lilly was also poisoned, but made it through a horrible night, fighting off heart failure and brutal home remedies of salt douses to induced vomiting and doses of ground charcoal and oil, to cut the poison, they say. Frantically, we tried anything  we could, not knowing if we were helping or harming.

After we buried Elvis, Felipe and I kept vigil through the long night with Lilly, hoping our wakefulness would comfort her. As Felipe took his turn massaging her to ease the pain of the muscle spasms I did as I always do when grieving. I got out the largest novel I have on my shelf to bury myself in until I can rise from the ashes. It was Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, a gift from my treasured friend Cat Stephens who always miraculously manages to come to my rescue in my bleakest hours.  This is the first paragraph.

It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant while I was chained to a wall being tortured. I realized, somehow, through that screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men that were torturing me, or forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.

The next day Felipe and I cared for Lilly and mourned together.  Through my fury and despair he reminded me that I believe in fate, that everything happens for a reason and I trust in the lessons of my life. To which I responded. “I could care less, I just want my #@$ dog back.”

But even in that state of crushing sorrow and rage it is difficult to deny the synchronicity of a random book, pulled from the shelf in a moment of anguish, and the voice of another soul who has traversed a more painful path than yours and emerged with a message of guidance and hope.

I realized several years ago that my love for Elvis was a dangerous thing, hazardously deep and important to me. I considered if I should continue to love him with abandon in light of how precarious is the life of a dog in La Tigra. On that day I made the choice to give him whole heart knowing the agony losing him would bring. I have no regrets.my joy

Goodbye my dog, you are the best dog ever; I will love you, always.

Thank you to Cat, my personal bodhisattva; my partner in all things, Felipe, and Gerry David Roberts for helping me through this desolate part of my journey.

In closing, a benediction, the words of Mr. Roberts, which ease my soul, and are meant to be shared.

There is a truth that’s deeper than experience. It is beyond what we see or even what we feel. It’s an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and reality from the perception. We are helpless usually in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it like the cost of love, is sometimes greater than any heart would pay. It doesn’t always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart [ ] just as I am telling it to you now.

Lilly is improving, and will soon be attending her iguanas.

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

Cochino

Despite all of my finer sensibilities, I sometimes find myself described as cochino. This is a word that translates roughly as nasty, filthy, one that consorts with dogs or is pig like. It is the term mother’s use to shame children their when they pick their noses.

Now it is true, I do consort with dogs if consort means sleep with, kiss, lie down with, that doesn’t sound so good, but who in the culture I am from, the United States that is, would consider this outside the realm of acceptable behavior? But in La Tigra, dogs are considered filthy animals, which are not allowed in the house, let alone your bed.

I am the only one in my ranchito (little town) that takes the pains to wash their dishes in hot water occasionally. Does this count for nothing? Nonetheless, I  also am the only person I know of that has had chinos and sarna; translate poultry mites and mange. It’s sort of hard to write, Dead Silence, but I imagining that is the reaction of readers right now, and then something like, MANGE?! Are you freaking kidding me! Continue reading

Indulge Me

My Dog Elvis is five years old today. It’s not easy to keep a dog alive in the rural Mexico for five years. To date, Elvis has been poisoned twice, he’s had wounds to the bone, had a virus that required a round of injections that would fell an elephant, and was implicated in the untimely death of a cow, which is a akin to a death sentence. Much of this mayhem occurred during the time he was uncut.  It took us a year and a half to find a vet that would castrate him. It simply is not done in our area, castrating a male, unless it’s a pig and that is only because you can’t eat the meat otherwise.

My love for Elvis is irrational, a divine passion. I’m just thankful that Felipe is crazy about him too, it offsets the jealousy. I don’t know what it is that inspires our devotion to dogs, perhaps it is our co-evolutionary path, or maybe it is simply their innate wonderfullness.

Happy birthday Boydog, be good, stay safe, I miss you already.

Why is this article related? Because I would not name my beloved after anyone less fabulous than Elvis Costello.

Man. Horse. Dog. Forage.

For me, there is no better day that one spent on horseback, trail riding with Felipe, our dogs bounding ahead in search of iguanas and rabbits. Add food to the mix and you have Abby’s perfect day (a glass a wine and it’s my nirvana). This weekend we trekked up the mountain for bonetesBonetes are wild papayas, and are my second favorite foraged fruit, they taste like apricot custard. They are messy fun to eat because the flesh is really mushy and sticky. They are loaded with seeds, and I find the best way to eat one is to scoop up a blob with your fingers, as if you were eating poi, suck the flesh from the seeds, and spit the debris. We then make our way to the watering hole to destickify ourselves, before the flies swarm us.

Felipe, Tasha and Jake.

We have also been eating Juan temprano this month, a succulent similar to purslane. It has very little flavor, but is prolific and grows right outside my door. It is dark green, so I have decided it must be loaded with nutrients, and throw it in everything: eggs, salsa, salads and stir-fries. Continue reading