I can’t speak for other Latin people but where I come from, “vida de perros” (a dog’s life) is generally used to describe hardship. I wonder whether this is so or whether I have always used the expression wrongly, but there are so many street dogs in Latin America, many of them skinny and sick, that it seems that a well cared-for pet enjoys the fancy lifestyle of a minority. Of course there would be the same amount of abandoned street dogs in the richer countries of the planet if they didn’t “put them down” regularly. This is a global problem that has nothing to do with wealth.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since we adopted President *Nacho* Camacho. He had a very rough “puppyhood”. Alex’s sister Sara Jane found him in a box in front of her house all wounded, scratched up; it looked as if bigger dogs had attacked him. She already had a cat, a baby on the way, a new house, a lot going on, but still she had the guts and the heart to take him into her home and offer him safety, love, food, shelter.
When we visited her in December, we fell in love with him instantly, he started following me around the house all day as if he wanted to tell me something. Sara Jane thought we would be able to offer him more time and energy and so she let us adopt him. Importing him to Panama meant some expenses (vet examination, international health certificate, authentications, etc) but I had a little money for a laptop (mine died) so I used the money for Nacho’s documents instead. Best idea we’ve ever had.
There’s something amazing about a life aboard a sailboat on the hook, away from land and urban societies. You quickly become part of the nature around you. The moment you see how pelicans hunt,
how little fish get eaten by bigger fish, and they get eaten by sharks, and how sharks look at you when you catch your own dinner in their territory, you realize you are just a mammal. And sharks should be very afraid of us, we are so destructive and irresponsible that we are annihilating them at an amazing rate. Without them, incredibly ancient and evolved sea predators, all other species get out of control, like everything else we seem to touch: forests, rivers, underground waters, etc. We are, no doubt, at the top of the food chain with the incredibly important responsibilities that brings about: all life on the planet depends on us really if you think of it. And we live here. Like the image of the guy sitting at the end of a branch and sawing it off the tree, we are so blind sometimes it’s hard to believe.
There are so many children and domestic animals who need a home, who are walking the streets or praying everyday to be adopted in an institution or a shelter. We only get one life we can be sure of. Make sure you use yours to do good, to be happy, to be generous, to make peace, love and compassion contagious and fun. There’s something very beautiful in adopting a baby instead of having your own. But of course that’s not an easy thing to do. It takes a very special loving person. But adopting a pet is really not that hard. Domestic animals only need a little food, a little water, a place to pee and poo and all the love you can give them. Even if you can’t walk them everyday, train them to go in a designated area of your house or boat, a litter box, or on some artificial grass (we have a patch on our back deck). They will give you the most precious unconditional love, they’ll light up your days and you will have given them the biggest gift they ever received: a home.
It’s the gentle creatures that need us the most. We must defend them against our own ecological atrocities. If we must destroy nature to build our cities and our factories let’s at least offer some kind of remedy. Let’s help out in any way we can to spread the word, teach by example, let’s be respectful, giving, caring, generous. If not for them, let’s do it for ourselves. When you focus on others you forget about your own petty discomforts. Let the light in. Let love rule. We all deserve a nice “dog’s life”, whole afternoons sleeping under a tree, swimming for fun, shaking our butts to funny upbeat music, we need to be silly, enjoy the sunshine, free time and family. We need to become true guardians of nature. We need to be unconditional lovers of everything and everyone.