On Loving An Animal, 1

Last night my family and I watched “Marley and Me” for the first time.  When I watched the previews before the movie came out on the big screen I was not very interested in seeing the film.  I don’t know why.  I like Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston as actors, but I guess I couldn’t identify with the story – until today.

In my life I’ve had a couple of cats, chickens, geese, some rabbits and fish as pets.  Never did I form a close bond with any of them.  The more I think about it I believe that my mother’s experience and stories had a deep impact on how I viewed and now still view animals – wild and “domestic”. 

When my mother was young, less than 7 years old, she would walk to the market in her neighborhood and lay out her blanket with hardware, twine and wire to sell.  Her trusty German Shepard, Cartucho, would lead her to the market in the morning and come to get her every day at 3PM.  He was well trained, obedient and very protective of my mother and her family.  She loved the dog.  Her parents relied on him very often to keep an eye on the children.  By the time my mom was 7 she had 3 younger siblings and an older brother.

My grandmother and her sisters all had bad tempers.  This came back to “bite” the family in the butt one day.  A neighbor lady and my great aunt were at the market one day while my mom, grandmother and Cartucho were there.  The neighbor woman insulted my great aunt after which a brawl between the two ensued.  My mom said they were punching eachother, pulling eachother’s hair and rolling around on the ground like a couple of animals.  Well, before they knew it Cartucho was off in an effort to protect the family and took a big bite at the neighbor lady’s butt.  The fight was over, but not the war. 

The neighbor’s husband took it upon himself to stalk Cartucho at the front gate of my grantparent’s home with his loaded rifle.  After a couple of days my grandfather decided that they had to get rid of the dog.  He knew that in the man’s rage if he took a shot he may miss and hit one of the children.  That was a risk my grandfather was not willing to take.  He asked around and found out that the military would take and train any well behaved dogs of certain breeds and Cartucho fit the bill.  My mom speaks sadly of the day they handed Cartucho over to the soldier.  She lost her companion and her babysitter that day.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment, part 2.

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