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 #151: "The Bog Girl" by Karen Russell

From the June 20 issue...

My loyal readers (if there are still any, which I doubt) will know I'm usually not a fan of Magical Realism, which, as you may also know, is Karen Russell's stock in trade. That said, there's nothing I love more than having my antipathy for magical realism shattered by an awesome story like "The Bog Girl."

Briefly, an Irish teenager discovers the body of a young woman who as been buried in a bog for over 2,000 years and begins to date her. What more do you need, right? If I'd read that one-line description somewhere else, and wasn't on a mission to review every New Yorker short story, I doubt I'd have read "The Bog Girl." But maybe I should start doing a George Costanza and do the opposite of everything I think I should do.

Where Russell succeeds here is in two main areas: 1.) Making us really love Cillian, the teenager who falls in love with the bog girl, and 2.) pulling the unbelievable trick making the characters…

Holiday Q&A, Volume 1

These questions come to us from Grace. Thanks for sending your questions!! Answers below:
What is the most thrilling mystery you have read and/or watched?
The Eiger Sanction (book and film) by Trevanian is what's coming to mind. International espionage. Mountain-climbing assassins. Evil albino masterminds. Sex. Not a bad combination. Warning, this is completely a "guy" movie, and the film (feat. Clint Eastwood) is priceless 70s action movie cheese. But in case that's your thing...
What's the deal with Narcos?
Narcos is a Netflix show about the rise and fall (but mostly the fall) of Columbian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Thus far there are two seasons of 10 episodes each. RIYL: The film Blow, starring Johnny Depp; the book Zombie City, by Thomas Katz; the movie Goodfellas; true crime; anything involving the drug trade. My brief review: Season 1 started out a bit slow and I know a bunch of people who never made it past the first few episodes. Some of the acting is a…

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…