July 17, 2021
My friend Lucero is a serial dog rescuer, and she has acquired, by means legal (or otherwise) seven or eight dogs over the years. Four of them now live at this house, where there is space to run and play. Dory is the latest to arrive, and came at the end of June.
The first question Lucero and I wondered was, “Who names a dog after a fish in a movie cartoon?”
The former owners, alas, respected neither dogs nor themselves, which essentially answered the question. They were not too concerned about giving her up, and seemingly indifferent to Lucero getting the dog neutered, so she would bear no more litters of puppies (she’s had at least two and she’s only 18 months old) to become semi-feral. The locality where she lived is noted for murderous fights by street dogs, and Dory bears a deep scar on her snout from one of these clashes. And she is, believe me, a very strong dog. I learned fast not to try restraining her with a leash when we’re on stairs.
With any dog, I always end up wondering what goes on in its brain. They are intelligent animals, and also incapable of figuring out certain things that would seem obvious. After two weeks, Dory had figured out how to open the door to the corral where the dogs stay in the daytime. She wouldn’t be constrained like that.
But, when I constructed some obstacles with cinderblocks, to prevent her getting off the property and acquiring more scars from street fights, she pulled one of them down on herself, and gashed her tail. She can jump like a huge cat, but she can’t anticipate all the problems she can generate. She is still trying to figure out how she fits into the pack of three other dogs (or three other dogs and me, since I probably hold honorary dog status by now).
Dogs’ eyes are as revealing about their owners as human ones in some ways, though like humans, they can also be deceptive. And you have to look past the doggie ‘sadness’ to grasp what they’re about. Dory’s eyes are golden and still (to me) hard to read. Kennel-mates Rem and Victoria have more expressive eyes, less ready for trouble.
For, with rescued dogs, there’s always the problem that they aren’t used to relaxing around people. They have to be warriors, or they end up in bad shape out on the street. Rem, who has been the resident hell-raiser here for more than two years, has gradually learned my routines and requirements, and at least plays along with them. It’s hard not to believe he smiles at times. Vicki looks anxiously for affection when others get attention, but she is an obedient dog, and easy to be with. Dory, though, still makes a mad rush when she sees a food bowl.
Day by day, I have to watch her, and watch over her, as she learns the rhythms that caring for a bunch of dogs make necessary. No, she can’t go past the inner gate, so I don’t have to chase after her if she gets into trouble. No, she can’t join the midnight barkathon of neighbours’ dogs, and howl for five minutes after I’ve gone off to sleep. But I can’t imagine any of these rules seems truly necessary to her. She grasps that she’s in a place where the owner isn’t stoned all day and all night, and that meals come regularly. She gets to sleep indoors, not in a doorway.
But the connection between barricades and gates and her living here … will she ever understand that? I can’t imagine so. It will just be a case of “That’s how it is.” But she’s coming around slowly.
I did one thing for her, though, when I took her to the vet to check on her tail wound, and he asked her name. She is now officially ‘Dorada,’ or Golden, in any official records. Dory is, henceforth, just her nickname. No more fish-dog.