Tender Foot

From up in the treehouse, the sound was unmistakable. Whatever was making this pack of dogs carry on the way they were, just didn’t sound right. I had heard it a few days back, but didn’t think too much of it. Then I heard it again on Saturday, off and on for about an hour. When I heard it a third time, I was glad PC was around to “four-leg” this pressing matter.

It didn’t sound like barks from physical abuse. It didn’t sound like dogs guarding anything. It didn’t sound like fighting dogs either. It sounded like dogs that were crying out for a better life. It sounded bad, and it began to chisel away at both our hearts. Something had to give!

It was Sunday late afternoon, and Sundays are an entirely different day all together. Sundays around here you can feel in the air. Sundays you can smell. Sundays are for family. Sundays are special.

Papa Chango had been drinking, so he knew from the onset that he(we) weren’t going to do anything that even remotely resembled confrontation. He asked if I’d come with him to have a look. Gulp! I got wide eyed and I wished I could say no, but I couldn’t. The sounds were consuming my thought, and PC had a certain venomous look in his eye as well. It was on!

PC had a can of beer in his hand. Both of us put on flip flops. Both of us had on colorful board shorts. No shirts. It was hot. We walked 60 ft down our dirt road. We turned left and walked 100 feet up another dirt road. We then turned right and walked onto a third dirt road, and then right again ont0 a fourth. Although we were really only 100 meters from the treehouse,(as the crow flies) we might as well have been in Timbuktu.

I stayed five feet behind PC as we approached two Mexican women and a few of their offspring. He asked real politely if they knew where those dog sounds were coming from. They said they hadn’t heard a thing, and they didn’t appear to be in any hurry to help either. There was some tension in the air. At least in my air. The dogs had now gone silent and we were deep in the Oaxacan thicket.

As we slowly proceeded past the ladies, the dog cries came again, and PC became more poised and possessed to get to the bottom of it. Not the very bottom. He said the very bottom would come at another time on another day. Right now though, he needed to see with his own eyes what exactly was making the noise, where it was being made, and why. Me? I was ready to head back to the tree after the second dirt road. This was a creepy ass mission from the start, and my feet were feeling tender.

The fourth road just kind of ended into a pile of river rock gravel. At this point, you could feel there were eyeballs on us coming from all angles. Giant vultures paroling overhead too. The heart-wrenching dog sounds continued, and we were honing in on the exact area. We then stumbled on a woman in her mid-60’s, perhaps older, using a machete down in a ravine area of sorts. PC said something polite. She smiled. She might have even blushed. Using her blade, she turned and pointed. I said Gracias and Adios about a hundred times.

The sounds were now only 10 feet away, yet that’s all they were, just sounds. Bad sounds. Cries for help. Real stuff. Still though, we couldn’t see exactly what was making them. Then came the moment. How can I forget? Like the beast he is, PC stood on the dangling, low lying ,barbed wire. He grabbed a nearby tree, and swung himself onto some rubble on the other side. He then ducked under some kind of giant tangled bush, and walked directly to the source. He was out of my sight.

He made direct eye contact with all three dogs that were short tied up, and whose living conditions were considerably less than ideal. Immediately I heard the canine pitch change. The change in pitch served me well. The dogs were now barking at PC. As he told me after we got back, his goal from the onset was to show that he wasn’t intimidated to go where no Gringo man had gone before. Noted.

No more than one minute later, he hopped back over the barbed wire. I noticed he was bleeding pretty good from his shin. Blood doesn’t affect Papa Chango like it does you and me. The three dogs continued to bark at us as we left the crime scene and headed back to the treehouse. After about 10 minutes, it went quiet for good. To be continued..