T – Those of you who have been following Chantelle and I along on our blog will no doubt have seen the odd picture of street dogs show up. Ever since we crossed the border from the USA into Mexico we have seen many of these little souls, and more often than not they have had the potential to break our hearts.
Every day we are confronted with tens of animals wandering the street, sniffing for food or just some love and a scratch. Or sometimes they come out of the bush snarling with teeth bared and chase us down the road their only reward a few shrieks from us and the occasional piece of boot leather of postie bike footpeg.
I love sitting in a cafe and scratching the dogs as they come over, I know they are hoping for food and on occasion I will sneak them a little piece of whatever it I am eating. Most of the time though the staff will whistle at them and shoo them away.
We have fallen in love with so many of the street dogs, from Lola in Mexico who refused to leave Chantelles side in Mexico and actually slept against her through the tent, to the ones we didn’t name. The ugly ones with bits of fur missing and the tiny little fluffy puppies. All of them we have wanted to take home and give them an easy life.
The ones that break us though are the ones who themselves are broken. Twisted legs from being hit by cars, trucks or bikes, the super skinny ones with every rib and vertebrae showing, the ones missing eyes, or covered in fat sores. They are the ones that make us feel sad.
One time Chantelle and I saw a dog laying in a drain in Guatemala. It had been hit by a car and was in a really bad way. There was no way it could have survived, but as we rode past we saw it laying there, still moving, life slowly ebbing away, its face full of fear and confusion and there was nothing either of us could do but to cry silently into our helmets as it died. Life is so cruel at times.
Just today we could barely watch as a very skinny greyhound walked past, every second or third step she would break out into a strange convulsion that ran from her swollen back hips right to the tip of her nose. We could count every bone in her body, she was that skinny. Yet when I clicked at her with my tounge hoping she might come over, she gave me a wag and a grin before she twitched and flicked on down the road. Oh my heart. It hurt.
Chantelle and I were discussing this and how we feel this way towards these poor stray dogs, we want to feed them and hold them, show them some love and give them a safe place to be. And yet, when we are confronted by a beggar or a homeless person we don’t show them the same empathy. Instead we feel annoyed and “targeted” as the white tourist. And that makes me feel ashamed. I don’t know what this says about us. Some people may think we are bad, others maybe not so much. To me a life is a life. I can only think that the animals get to me more because they can’t ask for help in words, when they are hurt they can’t get help, an ambulance doesn’t show up and bandage them. They just have to get on with it or they die.
I tried to prepare myself mentally for the street dogs way before we crossed into Mexico, and so far I have dealt with it ok, except for the few times when I feel that hurt blossom in my heart and I struggle to get it locked down before it spills over. Chantelle on the other hand never thought too much about it before Mexico and it hits her hard every time. I can tell by the silence on the communicator when she feels her pain, or the gasps through the earphones in my helmet when she spies a savagely skinny dog, or the swearing when she sees a car driver swerve in the direction of a puppy on the side of the road. Personally, I’ll never forget the day we had to ride away from a lonely cold beach in Baja Mexico and I listened to Chantelle weep as we left Lola behind.
While we know how lucky we are to be able to do this ride, and every day we say to each other just how thankful we are, we do feel for those less fortunate than us, including the animals. Animals have souls too and they deserve better than some of them get. WHat is the answer to this problem? I don’t know. Instead I shall ride on, take photos of these stray souls and sneak them tidbits from my plate when I can.