Walking the Dog

"Tito", from the Starkman Collection

The main reason for not owning a dog in the US or Canada is nonsensically both the same as and yet different from the Oaxacan canine conundrum. A Canuck concern is walking our wolves during periods of inclement weather. Many Americans are subject to the same restricting raison. However, the overriding consideration and counter- mitigating factor is simply the requirement that we ambulate with our beasts so that they relieve themselves without yellowing our yards or worse yet defecating in our dwellings. But in Juarez’s Wonderland it is the safety of both man and his best friend that is jeopardized with every stroll outside the home.

We start with the premise that whereas we are accustomed to owning our beagles and boxers for companionship and compassion, most Oaxacans keep canines for safety and security. There accordingly exists an overrepresentation of Pit Bulls and Rotweillers, so that even in a Heinz social order there are nevertheless genes of aggression prowling pueblos and cities alike. And that they do, at all hours of day and night, in virtually every neighborhood with a semi-rural pocket, otherwise the most desirable area for walking one’s own. They search for unsuspecting pooches and their owners’ legs.

After resisting the urging of a breeder of “bull terries,” as they’re know by deliberate disguise, to become a part of the problem, we opted for Tito, a 6 week old boxer bought out of a canasta of pups being flogged outside of Sam’s Club. We surmised he would serve a variety of roles, crossing over from home security to family rebuilder, our daughter having stayed back in Toronto. A house pet in a society where purveyors of poo not on the streets are relegated to rooftops, short chains and tiny enclosed residential and commercial plots.

After about a five month honeymoon of Tito frolicking freely at our side during morning walks free of fear or trepidation, with maturity came his desire to wander and seek out other dogs, necessitating the occasional use of a leash. Otherwise we were faced with breaking up then non-descript battles. Torn between testicular tampering as a means of reducing Tito’s advancing aggression, and the culture of machismo as advocated by both veterinarian and trainer, we opted for the latter and have been paying the price since. No less than 10 times over a period of less than a year we’ve added to the value of our vet’s retirement plan in the course of repeatedly having our warrior’s wounds stitched, as well as pain and discomfort diminished and infection arrested through injections. Even while restrained as best possible with leash he has managed to both attract the hormones of his brethren and break free of his “masters,” on one occasion resulting in my wife falling forward, hitting the pavement and sustaining a concussion, fractured ribs and multiple cuts, and on a second saunter a pair of pit bulls dragging me to the ground and taking a gouge out of an otherwise jeaned leg.

Throwing stones, wielding an iron rod, imploring their opponents’ proprietors if they exist and can be found. In the end nothing will deter a street fighting dog, or for that matter our now equally combat ready ruffian. Short of destroying Tito’s urge for dominion over dames the only alternative was to fence in the remainder of land comprising the rest of our home terrain, creating an acre or so for exercise and excrement, still more economical than visits to the vet and much safer for all.


Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast ( http://www.oaxacadream.com ) ©

Alvin and Arlene Starkman are passionate about Oaxaca. They endeavor to retain their reputation as proprietors of one of the best Oaxaca bed and breakfasts, Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast ( http://www.oaxacadream.com ). Casa Machaya, a founding member of the Oaxaca Bed and Breakfast Association, combines the attributes of quality Oaxaca hotels, with the characteristics of a more progressive and personalized Oaxaca lodging style: owners are on site 24 / 7 (it’s your accommodations … and our home), always available to guests as their personal resources, and willing to go that little bit extra to ensure value-added service.