Whole New World

It’s a Doggy Dog World

Mexico is home to approximately 11 zillion dogs.

I have been a steadfast Cat Person ever since childhood, as I grew up with up to six cats (and at one point there were 14, as two of the six had kittens) and was deathly afraid of dogs.

But here there be dogs. They are inescapable.

From the roof dogs that bark at any passerby or slight gust of wind (or just because they can), to the street dogs who roam the callejónes (narrow, steep pedestrian only streets) in packs, to the dogs on long leashes being walked down the streets—dogs are everywhere.

My fear of dogs began at about age 4, when I spent my days with a babysitter in her home. She largely ignored me, I assume to watch over the children who played games like Mr. Potato Head in the other room. I never played Mr. Potato Head. Instead, I marched tiny bobby pin people up and down the hills of my knees and listened to the clamor of the children in the other room as they sucked on orange slices at lunchtime.

One day we all walked to a corner store where they sold candy cigarettes, a fascinating confection that seemed like contraband. Across the street was a large black dog. I instantly knew this dog meant Danger with a capital D. I longed for the comfort of a few soft sleeping cats strewn across my bed.

Dogs were bad, so I avoided them. This strategy worked for decades.

Here in Mexico, dogs are inescapable.

However, even the street dogs eye me with hopeful concern as they pass me, headed for wherever dogs go. Beseeching eyes. Hungry eyes, not for the tender flesh of my leg but for a gentle patting hand or cup of kibble.

The dogs trust me, so I trust them. We have reached a detente. I am strangely okay with this. I am no longer afraid of them.

PS. I know the phrase is “dog eat dog world”, for which people often mistakenly think is “doggy dog”. But Mexico is truly a doggy dog world. From my kitchen window I can see at least 7 roof dogs, and hear dozens more dogs when they all start to bark in unison.

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