Thursday, June 23, 2011
Pets Dependent Like Young Children
I just love this photo of Danza taken at Paso Doña Juana, May 2007. We found her as a very small puppy abandoned in the Lakes of Xalapa on April 30th, which was Children's Day. She was abandoned that day because the people figured there would be a ton of families in the Lakes celebrating with their children. She was very scared and no one paid attention to her. Margarita named her Danza because we found her on El Dia Internacional de la Danza or The International Day of Dance at the Dance Faculty. It was the first year in 4 years that we didn't participate in the festival because they wanted us to donate more money than we would earn... and all of our friends had graduated. When we left for the road we had to leave Danza on the ranch. They didn't feed her enough. She had puppies, all of them died and she was hit by a car not long afterwards, suffering for days. The day she died, we were in a horrible situation in Monterrey. For some reason I felt terribly sad that day and I couldn't stop thinking about my cat Alex, who I ended up neglecting during my painting sprees in Brooklyn. When I met Mónica la Puerto Riqueña (I call her that because it's much nicer than other things she could be called) she had two cats and a female German Shephard puppy living on East 103rd street and 3rd Avenue in Spanish Harlem. I had never liked dogs. I was scared of them ever since I was a child. Well, with Wica, the German Shephard I ended up caring for full-time, I fell in-love with dogs (at the very least, I developed a fondness for them). Not long after we met, Monica ended up losing her apartment, supposedly because of her dog. And, supposedly she didn't have luck finding another apartment; NO DOGS ALLOWED. So, foolish and gullable me, I bent under her pressure and invited her to live with me, with her dog and 2 cats. Later on we found a white wolf puppy abandoned in Prospect Park, didn't find a home for her and ended up bringing her in too. And what a mess she created digging into the walls with her claws (wolf instinct). 2 dogs and 2 cats and Ross with "seasonal Asthma" and allergies to pet dander... and a monster of a girlfriend. Mónica had found Alex the cat abandoned on the streets and she abandoned him with me when she returned to Puerto Rico. No, Mónica's boyfriend before me found Alex abandoned on the street and then left him with Mónica who then left him with me, who then left him to die with my ex-roomate Scott. Wica and Tavi went with Monica to her father's house outside of San Juan. Aside from believing in Chupacabras and being a doctor, Dr. Hernandez bred German Shephards and Great Danes.
Alex was horribly dependent upon my attention and affection, much like a dog, much like Bonito later on. When I cooked, he jumped up on the counter and watched every move I made and with an incredibly curious interest. He loved Avocado and boiled corn on the cob. And he loved everything I cooked. He followed me wherever I went in the apartment and when I left for the stairwell, he could be heard crying at the door for me to return. It was horribly sad. When the dogs were with us, Alex hid in the bedroom we didn't use (we used the living room, since Mónica didn't like the bedroom for some reason or another). So, I saw him rarely. When the dogs disappeared, he was free and was with me where I was, watching me paint, running to me and jumping on my lap the moment I took a break and sat down. He insisted on sleeping with me. But, I became increasingly concerned about sleep disturbances caused by my allergies and pushed him off the bed. When Scott moved in with me, Alex fled to Scott's bedroom and complained less and less, since Scott gave him much attention, although he wasn't the happy/light-hearted cat I had known. Can you see happiness/lightness, moods in animals? Of course! Some seem much more sensitive, intelligent and profound than the others. I don't like the Hindu belief that you can reincarnate into an animal or an insect or a plant. But some of these guys have human-like eyes (especially Bonito) and expressions, especially the German Shepards. Alex got sick and started losing his hair; something was wrong with his kidneys. I took him to the vet and the veteranarian told me he would need dialysis. I didn't have the money for it...
By the way, I didn't know that Danza had died until months later. There was a reason I knew the date of her death coincided with the day of sadness and regret connected with Alex. I treated Alex like my mother treated me as a child. I didn't have time for him. He was too needy. I was too busy. He got sick and my roomate Scott ended up caring for him. Why cry for a cat? Do you know cats and dogs that have an emotional and intelligence level seemingly human? There are some things you pay for twice or three times in this life and things you can't recuperate and change, meaning that, if you don't forget about those things, you have an irremediable pain. We've gotta be as alert as we can to our relationships with others, human and animal. I guess the Hindus would say that it has something to do with Karma.
In my Xico album on Facebook you will see photographs of the other dog we adopted off the street, "Bonito". We "knew" Bonito in the Lakes of Xalapa the first two years we had a cupcake stand there. I call him Bonito because it seems as if someone put eyeliner on him. Bonito had so many human friends in the neighborhoods around the lakes and always ate well, maintaining his coat. In 2006, he started spending time with us at our stand and fell in-love with our cupcakes. You have no idea. His favorite was the Carrot Cupcake. Why? Who knows? For some reason I decided to invite him to live with us. We had just rented a house with 4 bedrooms and an inner patio. However, we ended up having problems with his hairs. After bathing him and brushing out his loose hairs the first time, for two days he refused to eat what I gave him and wouldn't look at me. This went on for a few weeks and then I had to put him out on the street again. He spent all his time near our stands in the lakes. But he refused to respond to me for months. The day that we found Danza, Bonito appeared enthusiastically and we invited the two to live with us. Chris had appeared the prior month and we had just abandoned the baking enterprise for the coffee bar. So, what was the risk? But, Danza insisted upon being allowed into Margarita and my bedroom and cried all night long. We had her on the patio in the center of the house due to her pishing (Yiddish for peeing) problem; our bedroom with separate bathroom and shower was behind the patio separated from the rest of the house. Bonito sculked all the time he was in the house. Why? Because he knew that there would come a day...
A month later we left for the road and we left him with Conchita in Xico. It would have been horrible for him on the ranch, since they feed their dogs and cats corn tortillas and occasionally chicken bones. The dogs are for warning the appearance of strangers at night and the cats are for killing mice and rats. They are not there to be cared for and loved... Conchita didn't want Danza, because she was another female Labrador. At the same time, Conchita had a female labrador puppy that just didn't learn to obey anything. Danza was the same. Not long after leaving Bonito with Conchita, Conchita gave away her female Labrador puppy... What other option did we have? I was sure that my 3 young sister-in-laws would fall in-love with Danza and would pay special attention to her. That was not the case.
We visited Conchita and Bonito every 3 months or so, bringing bags of dog food and bags of pastries, since that was what he liked most. When we arrived, Bonito would approach whimpering. I have always hugged and danced with dogs. So, they learn to hug me back. Whimpering, Bonito stood up on his hind legs and grabbed onto my mid section and hugged me with all his might shivering... The first time we left Conchita, he followed the pick-up. I stopped and told him to return. He would look at Conchita's house and continue onward infront of us on the dirt road. I stopped again, Margarita got out and tried to grab him. But he moved out of her reach further down the road, stopping to see if we were following. He thought he would take us back home to Xalapa. We finally succeeded in putting him in the truck... No, at Conchita's landlady's house at the top of the hill, I turned the truck around and headed back down towards Conchita's house, Margarita walking alongside Bonito trying to soothe him with her words. The moment we approached the gate to Conchita's property, Margarita yelled to Conchita to call Bonito and grab him, close the gate and hold onto him until we had disappeared from sight. Afterwards, Bonito would disappear before we left Conchita's house. Would you believe that he was managing his separation anxiety by leaving us before we could leave him? Karma. I don't use that word. Never have. I don't know anything about Zen Bhuddism, nor Hinduism. But, I think the word is appropriate for this writing or for my relationship with Bonito, Alex, Danza, my childhood cat Dusty, Wica... My mother, my not having children, my father... My early girlfriends.
I've analyzed my life backwards, forwards and inside out. I've analyzed it Astrologically and psychologically and partially numerologically. I learned that the theme of my life was that I couldn't expect anything from anyone; that I shouldn't wait for people, I shouldn't rely upon them, nor should I hope for them. That people disappear suddenly without leaving notes. They suddenly change directions. I learned that I couldn't or shouldn't have children for different reasons. One of them is my concern of treating them like I was treated as a child. I noticed that living with Mónica and Wica, my rage towards Wica was like my uncle Stan's rage towards me when I was 4 or 5-years-old. I also noticed that I pursued Wica and Tavi like my mother pursued Beth and I, relentlessly. I am the one who tries to create order for the young dogs on the ranch, kicking them out of the kitchen, out of the house. I am the bad guy. At times it seems like an obsession. The problem is that there are 6 types of blood sucking insects/flies/bugs here on the ranch. Chicken Fleas Pulgas, Regular Fleas, Mosquitos Zancudos, Black Flies Chacixtles, No-See-Ums, and a tiny orange bug found on the coffee plants that burrows into your skin Tlazalhuates. With the exception of what flies, all these bugs are brought into the house buy the cat, the dogs and the chickens. And my succulent virgin white flesh is a delicacy for them. I feel the Tlazalhuates crawl up my pant leg. I use to feel them especially when I was laying in bed trying to sleep. They prefer the soft flesh behind the knees, the ankles, the hips, where you have the waistband of your shorts. This time I will spare you the details of the creepy crawly feeling and where... But, if you look for them, they are seemingly invisable. They burrow into your skin and you have what looks like a spider bite for at least 3 weeks with all the accompanied itching, scratching in the attempt towards removing the flesh within which they are burrowed. If you look at me at the moment, you will see last year's scars and this years' problem with me appearing to have chicken pox from the chest down... The babies and the young children suffer here. But then, miraculously, they develop a resistance or a repelent... and the crawlers stop bothering them... Last year I bathed myself daily with salt water in the attempt towards dehydrating the welts or whatever they are called and reducing the itching. While I'm writing, I'm distracted from the itching, with the exception of the Chacixtles Black Flies that seek out my bare sandled feet... They are killable, much like sandflies on the beach. But they are much easier to kill when they have bitten into you like a ripe plum and are savoring your blood. Nice thought. To protect my feet from the Chacixtles I put on socks. But that makes it easier for the chicken fleas or the Tlazalhuates to grab onto me as I walk through the house... I'm going to leave on that note. But before I leave, I must share with you one last photo of Danza.