Wednesday, February 24, 2016

two blonds -- and a boy

Mexpatriate is shocked to announce that it is as subject to populist pressure as any trumped-up politician.

Several readers have made comments and sent me email asking what has become of Barco. Some suggesting that he has suffered the fate of a heroine in a Victorian novel.

I have been reluctant to play the role of the proud dog owner if, for no other reason, I have sat through painful child recitals where I shared no DNA with the performers. Waterboarding would have been a pleasant diversion.

Then, I looked back at the month. I have written only one essay about Barco (or, The Dog, as he is often called locally) during the past month: once you pass its borders. So, an update appears appropriate. The voters win.

Since the matter has been raised, Barco is fine. More than fine, he is thriving.

In my last essay, I wrote about how quickly he was growing. But he is still definitely a puppy. And every child needs a nanny.

In Barco's case, her name is La Guera (the blonde; ironic, considering Barco's second name: Rubio). Her qualifications are that she has had puppies. You might say she was a walk-in applicant.

She belongs to my neighbors. I have not quite worked out yet how everyone is related, but several brothers (or sisters) own houses in the same block. La Guera lives across the street from Barco's pug friend Lucky.

Things were not always so rosy between La Guera and Barco. On our first two or three encounters, she aggressively defended her owners' property. That was her job. But her heart did not seem to be in it.

On our next walk-by, I offered her one of Barco's dog biscuits -- much to his evident chagrin. Her allegiance as a guard dog immediately shifted to being a friend of Barco. Wages have a way of doing that.

She now accompanies us on the daily two or three times we head off to the dog park. Her size is perfect for Barco. She has enough maternal instincts to put him in his place, but she tolerates a lot of rough-housing and lip-biting in the process.

She is also Barco's homeland security officer. Any dog approaching him has to pass a safety test. Most do not and are sent skedaddling with their tails between their legs.

One aspect of Barco's personality has baffled me. He is pure-bred golden retriever -- one of nature's (or breeders') water dogs. But he has had no interest in my swimming pool.

To the contrary, he feared it. Early on, he fell into the pool and landed on the bench. The only thing harmed was his puppy dignity. He was out like a cat and barked at the water for five minutes. From then, he eyed the evil water with a wary eye.

I tried sitting him on the bench, but he trembled. When I held him to let him try a dog paddle, he flailed in fear. So, I decided to let time and nature set the pace.

They did. Early this week, La Guera and Barco were running along the track of the dog park. There was a long mud puddle at the verge. Barco ran through it. And then back. And then back through it again.

La Guera tired of watching his puppy obsessions, but it gave me an idea. When we got back to the house, I got into the pool and walked back and forth on the bench. The sound fascinated him.

He soon crawled over the edge -- quite tentatively. And walked, then ran, the length of the bench.

I have been primarily confined to the house since Sunday as the result of a gastrointestinal disorder that finds great humor in causing both ends of my alimentary canal to discharge large amounts of liquid. Getting more than 10 feet away from a toilet has been a challenge.

But it has given me time to watch this little dog amuse himself in the water that was once his nemesis and now is his water park. He will need that as the weather begins to heat up. And it is doing that already.

Now, all I need to do is to extend La Guera's duty to include swimming coach.

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