Copper Canyon Dog Fight
Someone has brought a Mexico City dog to the Mexican countryside. It is fluffy, well-groomed, a bit on the chubby side, everything the country dogs are not. The owner has it properly harnessed, leash in hand, obeying rules in a place that knows no rules.
There are country dogs everywhere, filthy, ribs showing, mangy canine specimens. Their tails wag tentatively when you bend down to give them a scratch behind the ears, and then they swarm around your legs, brown, black, spotted, striped, mostly mid-sized though some are still gangly youngsters. They move in a pack, a white one obviously in charge, giving growls and nips, keeping the others in line.
The city dog foolishly draws attention, pulling on his leash and whining. The pack turns from their snuffling amongst the food vendor stalls, perk their ears collectively and as one, turn and move in. The city dog’s owner, a petite little thing with bright red lipstick and a puffy coat that makes her look very much like her dog, is slow to realize what is happening. She gives the leash a delicate tug as the alpha dog approaches, touching noses with her pet. At this moment city dog should have rolled over and peed on himself. But… he does not know this, being removed from pack living for generations. Instead, he growls and lunges. It is game on.
Whitey and his pack of scruffy hanger-on’s attack. A bucolic tourist street scene is transformed by shrieks, growls, snarls, and shouting. City girl is spinning in ineffective circles, dragging her pet from one set of nipping jaws to another. Most are just having a bit of fun, but Whitey is going for blood.
As the frenzy escalates, fight or flight takes over, and I wade in with my steel water bottle. THUNK! THUNK! Getting in the middle of a dog fight is dumb, but nobody else seems motivated to do anything, and I realize this woman will never leave her dog. And… her dog is going to be a bloody mess sooner rather than later.
The metal cylinder bounces off dog noggins left and right. It is empty but still… it is hard to believe I was petting these fellows just minutes before as they were begging for tidbits in front of the rustic taco stand. I add my voice now, “Bad Dogs! Bad! Bad!” as if moral shaming will make a difference. The terrified woman has somehow managed to pick up her 50lb plus dog; he is huddled in her arms, giving me greater freedom in my dog thumping. All “Bad Dogs” have four feet on the ground, while the Good ( read - STUPID) Dog is elevated to some sort of safety.
All of a sudden, I hear a roar behind me. Michael is bellowing “NO!” in a voice that comes from a place deep in the earth. Maybe it is the tone; maybe it is because “NO” means the same thing in Spanish and English, but the dogs hesitate, and the spell of blood lust is broken. "Vamanos! Vamanos!" Michael shouts at the now sobbing woman, and she staggers off towards the hotel, equally traumatized pet still in arms. Ol’ Whitey gives a few last nips to his groupies, and they scatter, fun over.
I stand there shaken, water bottle hanging from limp fingers, no longer a weapon. I expect Michael to fuss at me for leaping into a dog fight, but instead, I get a nice hug and a “Wow, Al!”. I glance down at my very favorite pair of Converse tennis shoes, purple. They are covered with mud from dogs dancing all over them. I feel intense irritation and remember, once again, why cats are my pet of choice.