Friday, April 13, 2018

A not-so-bad Friday the 13th, after all

This Friday the 13th dawned fully intending, it seemed, to live up to its bad-luck reputation. 

Benji, one of the stray dogs that live outside our gate—and whom we thought had been adopted—ran away from its new owner and disappeared somewhere in San Miguel late Thursday. We woke up worried that some horrible thing would happen to her. 

Meanwhile, our elderly and feeble cat Paco had such a raucously bad time last night we had decided to put him in his carrier for a final trip to the vet this morning, to be euthanized.

As the morning wore on, though, things looked slightly brighter. The vet checked Paco thoroughly and found that while that while terminally frail, he still had a few more kilometers left in him. He gave him some shots and put him back in his carrier for the trip home. Paco now seems to be fine, after letting out a loud “Whew!” and going back sleep on his usual spot in our bedroom closet.  

I'm sure Paco is on its last lap, but we shouldn't pretend to know better than him when the end is at hand. When cats want to check out, I've been told, they'll let you know by curling up in some dark corner and refusing to eat. And not before. 
Benji and his new owner Jack, in what we thought her
farewell close up before moving into a new home. 

With Benji, we were really really upset upon hearing the news from his new owner, Jack, who was really thrilled to have found a dog just like the one he had lost a while back. As Jack and Benji drove away in Jack's 1952 yellow Chevy pick-up, we thought this story had a happy ending. 

Not quite. A few hours later we got an email from Jack telling us Benji had run away by slipping through the bars of his gate. 

The truth is that Benji, though mellow, for the past several years has lived a rather unencumbered existence under a tree across the road —except for the occasional dog fight—now was scared and shaking after riding in cars, spending nights in a vets office, driving off with a stranger and, for him, other harrowing experiences. 

When he ran away he wasn't being ungrateful for all the attention. He likely just wanted to go home, under the tree in the field across the road where he's lived all his life. 

That taught us a lesson on the risks of anthropomorphizing—projecting human feelings and expectations onto animals, in some instances pretending we know better than they do. In this case we figured that a neat haircut and a rabies shot would improve Benji's days but he probably thought things were fine the way they were. 

The experience with Benji may have squelched plans Stew and I had to find homes for the dogs outside our gate. Most of those dogs were born out in the nearby ranches, where they'll live and die and that may be just fine, or if not fine, at least the way it is. 

In the meantime, we just get to feed, pat them on the head and exchange a few encouraging words every morning. 

Indeed, Félix and another friend assure me that Benji is bound to show up back here—his home—in a few days. That has eased my worries somewhat. I just wish he'd hurry up.   

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