On previous trips I never saw them. Okay, maybe once. I saw a city worker carry a sick-looking bassett-hound type out of the Plaza Grande and deposit him in the back of a pick-up truck. I guessed the dog was on his way to a quick euthanization.
I thought it must be an exaggeration (or my own mistranslation) when I read in the local paper that there are thousands of abandoned dogs on the streets of Merida. But in the past few days I've been seeing them in my neighborhood. A brindle-coated one. A border-collie type, very dirty, that followed me most of my last block home last night.
Tonight this little one approached along the sidewalk on the busy side of Parque Mejorada ("mi oficina"). A tattered piece of what might once have been a leash dangled from his collar. Dirty, hungry, skittish. I feared he would run into traffic so I called him and he approached. He reminded me of our Mickey. I couldn't help it: I scratched his poor ears and he promptly curled up at my feet. (I couldn't get him to look up for a picture; he startled at the camera flash.)
Then a religious procession started near the end of the block across from the cathedral. When he heard fireworks he panicked and took off across the park.
Not long after that I noticed my hands, arms and elbows were getting very itchy. When I realized the dog probably had something to do with it I quickly packed up the netbook and headed for the nearest pharmacy to buy a bath-sized bottle of that sterlizing hand stuff. Doused my hands, arms, neck (which I had scratched), then went into a restaurant bathroom and furtively soaped my hands and arms up to the shoulders. Feeling better now, but pretty stupid. What did I expect from petting a street dog?
Quite a few of the Americans and Canadians living here have taken up the cause of rescuing and seeking adoptive homes for these poor creatures. My friend Debbie works with one such group, YAPA . I have figured that as a non-resident (for the foreseeable) I didn't have to think much about the plight of Merida's abandoned or mistreated animals but at the very least I need to find out what useful thing I can do when I come across them, beyond sharing their mites, or whatever it was.
No se tocarlo means "don't touch them," I think. In Spanish today I was learning about direct and indirect pronouns. It's kind of difficult to get my head around the rules so it might not be right, but I'm supposed to practice.