We didn’t adopt Blackie as much as he adopted us. He showed up at our ranch one day about three weeks ago, somehow managing to get under or over the fence, and determined to make himself at home.
I first I objected, I thought strenuously, to both Stew and Félix, saying that we couldn’t adopt a sixth dog. So kept escorting Blackie outside the fence. But he kept coming back, four, five days in a row, wiggling and wagging, friendly as could be—to people. So finally I gave up.
|Stew and Félix, taking Blackie to be sterilized and vaccinated,
shortly after we had adopted him.
We had him sterilized and vaccinated, and he joined the gang, or so we thought.
Then he got into a bloody fight with Domino, the only other male in the gang. Domino is about 12 or 13 years old, missing some of his teeth, and a cantankerous, elderly sort.
Blackie, who was about a year old, damn near killed old Domino, who suffered extensive wounds and nearly lost an eye, and had to stay at the vet overnight to recover and get sutured up.
A few days after that, Blackie attacked Malcolm, a small, curly-tailed mutt that hangs around outside the our gate, with five or six other dogs, waiting for handouts of food every morning.
Again, if Félix and Stew hadn’t been there to pull them apart, Blackie would have killed Malcolm.
We consulted with the vet, a very kind sort who is loath to euthanize animals. But in this case, he said, some dogs are naturally and incorrigibly aggressive, and that seemed to be the case with Blackie.
The only thing that occurred to him, short of euthanasia, was to find a single-dog household that could adopt Blackie, or we could give him Prozac or some other tranquilizer, on a maintenance basis. That last idea, we thought, was ridiculous.
So we brought Blackie back, hoping that if we kept a close watch on him, he might somehow adjust.
No dice. This morning Blackie again got into fight with some of his campo cousins outside the gate, and when we returned from the vet, after vaccinating Lucy and Domino for rabies, Blackie viciously attacked Domino. Stew and I broke up the brawl, but not before Stew got bit.
“That’s it,” Stew said, and I couldn’t disagree. So off Stew went to the vet again to have Blackie euthanized and buried somewhere.
When we’ve had to put animals to sleep—never a pleasant experience no matter how one tries to rationalize it—I’m the melodramatic one who does most of the blubbering and crying, though Stew puts on a good show also.
In this case, I didn’t feel anything. It was as if we were returning Blackie to the pet store.
And this time Stew was not nearly as equanimous. He came back from the vet crying, saying he was holding to Blackie as the vet administered the fatal injection, Blackie looking at him, with that look of a dumb, uncomprehending animal: “What did I do? Why are you doing this to me?”
Now I’m more determined than ever not to take in any more strays. Two of our dogs, Lucy and Domino, plus a cat named Fifo, are getting on in years, and soon they will move on, which will allow us to reduce the herd by attrition. I hope that gradual transition is not too painful a passage for any of us.
Many Americans come to Mexico with a bit of an arrogant Supergringo complex, believing that with our superior ingenuity and money, we’ll be able to tackle, or at least alleviate, some of the problems here, whether they be the overpopulation of stray animals, or human problems such as hunger, poor sanitation and lack of education.
Truth is most of these problems are beyond the reach of our generosity, concern and good intentions. Even with Bill Gates’ money and determination, we could only hope to make a small dent, more like a ding, if we’re lucky. The pathologies afflicting the lives of people in the campo, all around us, are, in many ways, intractable. They will continue long after our stays in Mexico.
And at this point, Stew and I are just damn exhausted.