The truth about cats and dogs, from my experience anyway, is that they’re pretty uncomplicated critters. They’re creatures of habit who require few creature comforts. Give them structure and routine, a safe warm place to sleep, feed them, exercise them, care for their ills, and they’re golden. Rescue cats and dogs, on the other hand, are a whole other ball of fur. Almost all of them (again, from my experience) need extra care and attention, lots of patience and understanding, and the occasional muzzle. Because almost all of them are a little whack. You don’t want to know what they went through to make them that way, and I’m sure they’d rather not remember. But whack they are.
Take, for instance, our latest pet-sit here in San Pancho for Curt and Cele. Two cats, two dogs. All rescues, all a little nutty. But, of course, they wheedled their way into our hearts and we had a blast caring for them, quirks and all. Cana the cat was a stray from San Miguel de Allende. Her belly is so huge and bulbous she looks like she swallowed a soccer ball. She’s white as a ghost and creeps around like one — when she can summon the energy to creep. Twenty-three out of 24 hot and humid hours a day she’s either snoozing on the cool tile floor or sprawled on the kitchen counter, air pushing in and out of her lungs like a ventilator. When she’s hungry, she meows like the creaking of a haunted house door. And she’s particular about her food: the kibble must fill precisely one-third of the bowl, no more, no less, or she’ll creak and groan until you’re so spooked you make it right.
Her girlfriend, Chica, a glamorous Siamese/ Himalayan cross, moves about only marginally more than Cana. When she does, she’s frequently dragging a cloth in her mouth. It’s a mystery as to why: Is she transporting imaginary kittens? An illusory kill? A towel to dry her hands? Because this cat has class. She won’t debase herself by drinking from the communal water bowl. She prefers to dip her paw daintily into the gardener’s watering can and lick her fingers (see video here). One day the can mysteriously disappeared, and ever since she’s been forced to drink like a common animal. Oh, the indignity.
Then there are the canines. Oro was here first, a rescue nine years ago when Curt and Cele lived in San Miguel. As a pup he trailed after his mama, digging through trash for scraps of food. Cele began tossing them bread from the car when they passed them in the street. Then the dogs followed them home, where Curt and Cele kept feeding them. While Oro ventured further into their yard (and into their hearts), his suspicious mother held back. They tried to capture them both, but only Oro would stay. Mama came around to visit, but preferred life on the streets.
Raised from puppyhood in a loving home, Oro is not as nutty as other rescues. It did, however, take him a week after Curt left to accept us. He skulked around, eyeing us from around corners and behind chairs, ignoring us when we called. He was still sad at the loss of Cele, who died in the spring, and he certainly didn’t want strangers around while he was grieving. But when we gave him his space, and after he realized his routines were to be continued (particularly his beloved beach walks), that he was being fed, brushed and cuddled, he actually started to like us. He occasionally had a crazed look that made us want to sleep with one eye open, but other than that, he was a sweetheart.
Lastly is Paloma, the puppy who lived behind a taco stand in Sayulita, down the highway. Nothing phases her; not thunder, not firecrackers, not other, bigger dogs. She’s happy as a pig in poop now that she has a real home. That’s not to say she doesn’t have her own, uh, quirks. She likes to mock charge you while lying down. There’s no other way to describe it; you have to see it to get it, but it’s hilarious. Plus she enjoys gathering covers into a pile before flopping down on them to sleep, leaving her bed mates out in the cold. She’s funny and playful but a brat on the beach. There are few things more disgusting than pulling a slimy, fetid fish carcass out of a dog’s mouth. Still, by the end, we’d fallen in love. Just not enough to kiss a pair of fish lips goodbye . . .