summer love: doggie-style
So let me start by saying I debated writing this post,
because it is a part of life I sometimes try to erase from my mind.
But, it has become a very large part of this week,
and our interactions with animals is a common topic,
so let’s get on with it.
Last weekend Nutella became “in heat” as they say.
Usually this just leads to some annoying behavior
and occasional whimpers, and soon passes.
However, here, camping out without doors or fences,
our private life is very much public,
and this is no exception.
Every male dog in Rogil can smell that Nutella is in heat,
and several available bachelors have been roaming by the ruin
to make their advances and intentions known.
The first night, we had three dogs roaming around our tent,
all night, occasionally scuffling and growling at each other.
(This would have been enough for a sleepless night,
but the irony was that Nutella wasn’t with us…
she had run off with a yellow dog who seemed fairly friendly.)
Very early in the morning, Mohamed went back to the ruin,
correctly assuming that Nut was hiding in her blankets there.
By morning, we exhaustedly trudged back to the ruin,
tossing pinecones at ones that got too close.
(I don’t advocate hitting dogs, or anything for that matter,
but these dogs are big and full of testosterone,
and not necessarily friendly. But fortunately,
they have all been domesticated enough to take the hint,
so a pinecone tossed to bounce off their haunches
has been enough for them to keep their distance.)
We are very fortunate none have attacked us,
or Nutella (at 15 lbs., knee-high and almost 10 years old)
because she doesn’t have the strength to fight them off.
When we got back to the ruin, it looked sort of ransacked,
as one of the big dogs must’ve realized Nut was inside
and tore through the place looking for her.
And as the day wore on,
that one yellow dog in particular seemed to keep her attention,
and he used his size and eagerness to chase off the other dogs seeking attention; soon afterward she went over to him and their love affair bloomed. They were gone for awhile, and returned reenergized.
When we were going to the beach, they tagged along,
sniffing and pawing at each other the whole way there.
And they had quite a romantic day at the beach
(& probably ruined several beach-goers romantic times as well).
Unfortunately, Nutella stumbled into some decaying fish that washed up onto the beach, and got this stinking dark greasy nastiness all over her boyfriend’s yellow coat.
I tried to wash them in the ocean, luckily it was only on Nut’s paws,
but Ya’lla (as I began calling him, Arabic for “come on” or “get going”)
wouldn’t let me wash him, nor would the seawater be enough. He stank.
So when we arrived back home, I told him to go home and threatened him with pinecones until he took off.
I pitied his person, whoever the poor sucker is that had to wash him.
Ya’lla returned that evening, thankfully smelling much better.
And stayed with us all night, sleeping just outside our tent,
growling and chasing off any other dogs that got close.
(Nut was safely inside, passed out from all the day’s events.)
And the next day, he tagged along all day again.
We began wondering why he didn’t have people searching for him,
and although at first we were actively trying to shoo him away
and telling him to go home (in several languages, as I assumed
he had foreign owners, since he didn’t respond to Portuguese.)
But he stayed around, even though I refused to feed him,
soon becoming friends with Marmalade as well as Nut’s “boyfriend”.
(Ya’lla is very patient with Marmalade, and this is especially nice
since she is a bit too rough to play with Nut.
Marmalade started calling Ya’lla “Marmalade doggie”
so it seemed like we adopted a stray dog…
But we knew he had people since someone washed the decaying stink off him.
The third full day of having Ya’lla yielded the truth.
As Cornelius’s son Jonathan biked by, he yelled “Alvin?”
Yup, it is Alvin.
Our adopted dog Ya’lla is actually Cornelius’s dog Alvin.
They thought he must’ve gotten hit by a car and were searching ditches for him…
On Jonathan’s return trip, he took Alvin home.
Alvin showed up tent-side again the next morning.
Since then I’ve sorta lost count
of how many times Cornelius took Alvin home, maybe 3 or 4;
of how many trips to the beach he’s tagged along,
of how many nights sleeping outside our tent,
but it’s been a full week now, so probably six or seven,
with little sign of letting up, until we move, that is.
(I’ve also lost count of the attention they’ve attracted,
since many people slow down or stop to watch their doggie behavior.
Even beach-goers stopped their photo-taking and making-out
to watch Nutella try to hump on Alvin.
Their geometry is all askew, yet they keep at it.)
Yesterday morning he ate our breakfast,
that stands out as the low point
(I had a plate of french toast cooling in the ruin while I checked on our plants. When I went back in, the french toast had disappeared. I was pissed.)
This morning he ran alongside while I biked down the road to Esteveira to pot up a small agave plant I want to transplant. That was nice.
Usually he just tagged along with Nut,
but now he’s become more “our” dog,
which is nice, since Nut’s hormones aren’t raging as strong anymore.
And he’s great with Marmalade
(he has Santosa, a 2 year old, at home).
As an aside, since we are on the subject,
I often thought if I ever made a television show,
it would be about animals mating.
Maybe for Animal Planet, a series for their late-night time slot.
I used to watch in awe as my two guinea pigs would begin their courtship dance:
the male (mostly white) and female (dark brownish) would run in tight circles, curved towards each other, resembling a spinning Yin-Yang.
Eventually they would vibrate into each other purring deeply
and I would leave them to their private time.
I once happened upon two large slugs while mushroom hunting,
laying atop a mushroom cap in a similar vibrating Yin-Yang position.
And on the morning of our wedding day, my niece Angelina took photos of two painted turtles we saw stacked askew in our backyard.
Later that evening, a wedding guest informed us that yes, they were mating.
But my point is that unless you are one to take notice, many don’t realize that animals and humans both have “animal” instincts and “human” natures.
That a romantic day at the beach is a romantic day at the beach,
though the four-paws seem less inhibited about their gawking onlookers.
As a second aside, this whole week of Nut in heat
has been eye-opening for Mohamed as well.
At first he was blaming Nut for attracting all these stray dogs to our place, because they would follow her scent as she was peeing everywhere.
But soon, after watching the male dogs act like male dogs,
he realized that her scent, not her behavior,
has beckoned all these dogs to come calling.
He’s learned to empathize with Nut, (and women in general)
with the harassment and uninvited advances they must endure,
saying “that men don’t understand what being a woman entails.”