By Teri Saya
Different sizes, different breeds, you see them trotting in packs or sometimes alone, but they all have that same desperate look about them. The street dogs are wary, dirty, and smart.
We had lost our dog to cancer three years ago and once we settled in Mexico, we started actively looking for another little companion. People in California are required to keep their pet on a leash at all times. We did not realize that many people here do not leash or collar their dogs. What we thought was a street dog usually had an owner nearby.
My husband carried dog treats in his pocket whenever he went for a walk around the neighborhood. So picture this: My husband is walking along and sees a little dog trotting down the sidewalk all by himself, not wearing a collar. He calls out to the dog and gets down on one knee holding out a morsel. The dog comes to him happily wagging his tail. My husband pats him on the head and begins thinking of taking him home. Suddenly there is a shadow over my husband and he looks up into the face of a very large man. “What are you doing with my dog?”…… This happened so many times; my husband stopped stalking street dogs.
One evening we were taking a walk along a busy street and I spotted a thin, brown dog about the size of a Labrador running across the street. I was so afraid he was going to get hit, I covered my eyes. There was no screeching of tires on pavement though and I opened my eyes to see this dog coming toward me on the sidewalk. He was a beautiful thing. He had soft, golden brown eyes and an intelligent face. He stopped in front of me looking for a handout. We happened to be standing in front of a burger joint and I asked my husband to go in and get a hamburger patty for the dog.
I started petting him and talking to him gently to keep him there. He sat down on the cement while I scratched behind his ears. He looked as if he had been on the streets for quite a while. The pads on his feet were worn and he had a few healed scars on his neck as if he had been in a fight with another dog. He was very thin but not unhealthy looking. He liked the petting but kept an alert posture watching people walk by. What was taking that burger so long? A group of teenagers walked by and figuring I had nothing else for him, he began to follow them. He seemed very determined and I wasn’t about to try and hold a street dog against his will.
I watched as he followed the group of kids down the sidewalk. Then, deciding they had nothing for him either, stopped, looked around and saw more people across the street. He carefully looked both ways for cars then cantered across all four lanes. I watched him working the people, wagging his tail until someone gave him a treat. Then he was off looking for another handout. By the time my husband came out of the burger place, there was no sign of him.
“What the heck? Did they have to go out back and kill the cow?” I asked him.
“It smelled so good in there, I decided to order us dinner”, he answered. “Where’s the dog?”