Skip to main content

The Dogs of Mendoza

When I first arrived in Mendoza I took a walk to find the Parque Central, on the outskirts of the downtown area. I quickly got lost in one of those dead zones that are common to cities everywhere. Walking down a dusty road, beneath and overpass, flanked on either side by large, vacant lots, I came upon a dog. He was tan and black, with the stripes of a tiger, and his eyes were yellow. When I looked into them, he stared me down as I passed, and I was mesmerized. It was as though he saw into my soul, and I saw into his; I saw wildness, defiance, and hunger. I don´t what he saw in me, but he was still staring at me as I turned away. I turned back, but thankfully, he had moved on.

The dogs of Mendoza are lean and hungry, and they own the streets. They roam freely, with no collars and no rules, and a city full of scraps off of which to feed. They are always on the move; trotting behind someone for a few paces to see if they have food, or picking through an opened garbage bag, or even just cruising their turf.

They typify the following lyric from the Pink Floyd song Dogs:

Gotta sleep on your toes when you´re on the streets,
Gotta be able to pick out the easy meat, with your eyes closed.

And truly, Mendoza is a dog´s paradise. Though the downtown is fairly clean, trash is plentiful on the side streets and the pickings are easy. There is water flowing in most of the gutters. Furthermore their seems to be an easy symbiosis between the Mendocinos and the dogs. They seem to be owned by everyone and no one at the same time. Their loyalty extends only until the food runs out, and then they are gone.

They run around in packs sometimes, with the natural leader taking charge. There is safety and strength in numbers, after all. One dog will bump into another, and then the two will trot to the corner, where their other friend will surely show up sooner or later. Together, they will roam to some destination only they know, and which they need not (an cannot) speak. They´ll get where the getting is easy.

When time comes to rest, they will curl up on the corner of some doorway for a moment´s shut-eye, and never for very long. When you approach, their eyes will lift a little and they will chuff, trying to smell if you are dangerous. If not, they will drift back for a few moments to a place where the trash is full of raw beef, and the cats all have three legs...

There is a lesson to be learned from these the real rulers of the city. They know their turf...they know it. They are hungry, they are agressive, they are quick to act. They are always on the move, they travel light, they live by their wits, they stay sharp.

(I´ve since realized this phenomenon is not peculiar to Mendoza, by any means. This is pretty much the way things go in America Sur...the dogs rule, and cats are few.)


Popular posts from this blog

New Yorker Fiction Review: "The Apologizer" by Milan Kundera

Issue: May 4, 2015

Rating: $$

Review: It took me five years and three separate attempts to finish Milan Kundera's famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but in spite of that, quotes and insights from that book still rattle round my head on a weekly basis. What I mean to say is: my feelings on Kundera are very similar to my feelings on Haruki Murakami. I enjoy reading his work, but in small doses, like this short story.

Like Murakami, Kundera uses elements of magical realism, but where in a Murakami story you might encounter a flying dolphin or a disappearing hotel or a person who has lived his whole life in the same room, refusing to leave, Kundera's magical realism offers more direct insights and perspective on real life.

In Kundera's worlds, time and space are malleable and everything that ever happened in history is happening at the same time, and the narrator is a completely omniscient, caring, witty, and hands-on god-like being.

And so it is with "The Apo…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Meet the President!" by Zadie Smith

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker. If you told me when I was 12 that I'd be doing this I'd have been like, "Dork. There's no such thing as blogs," and I'd have been right...

Issue: Aug. 12 & 19, 2013

Story: "Meet the President!"

Author:Zadie Smith

(Please note: I've developed a highly sophisticated grading system, which I'll be using from now on.  Each story will now receive a Final Grade of either READ IT or DON'T READ it. See the bottom of the review for this story's grade...after you've read the review, natch.)

Plot: Set in England, far into the future (lets say 2113) a privileged youth of 15, named Bill Peek, encounters a few poor villagers from a small, abandoned coastal town on the southeast shore. He meets a little girl named Aggie, who is going to her sister's funeral. Peek is cut-off from real life by a sophisticated video game system that is implanted in his head, therefore th…

A Piece of Advice I Learned From My Grandfather

My grandfather was one of the most learned men I know. He read widely and voraciously, and not just in the sciences (he was a doctor); he loved politics, philosophy, and great literature as well. Whenever he finished a book he would write his thoughts about the book in the front cover and then sign and date it. To this day every once in a while I will open a book from my bookshelf or my mother's bookshelf, or at one of my family members' homes, and there will be my grandfather's handwriting. He was also a great giver of his books; if you remarked that you liked a particular one or wanted to read it, you were almost sure to take it home with you.

Reading is a very solitary pursuit but my grandfather was not a solitary person. He relished having family and friends around him which is convenient because he was blessed with a lot of both. And he carried out his intellectual life in a very "public" way as well. He was, in some ways, an intellectual evangelist. If he r…