When I first visited Mexico, one of the things that struck me was the amount of stray dogs running around. I had never seen so many scared and starving animals in my life. Those poor pups broke my heart.
My husband thought I was crazy. “They are just dogs,” he told me when I would be staring at them with tears in my eyes. I know that this is a common approach to animals in Mexico; when I visited his farm, I watched his grandmother punt a kitten across the room for meowing for food, so the roots of this attitude appear to run deep. Removing myself from my own experiences, this attitude is understandable; when you struggle to care for your children, the care of a dog is likely pretty low on your list. Still, I grew up with dogs and cats as members of the family. Three strays that came to my house during my childhood were welcomed right on in and lived happy into their old age. It is no easier for me to let an animals starve than to let a person.
However, the amount of strays was not the only aspect regarding the dogs which shocked me. I quickly began to notice there were a lot of dogs wearing clothing. The first dog I saw was wearing some sort of a jersey; he ran past me in a plaza without leash or collar. I was quite confused because in my experience, a dog not on a leash is a stray dog. It would seem that a stray dog must be very resourceful if it learned to dress itself in protection against the cold, mountain air.
However, the owner soon came running behind it. Before long, I saw more clothes wearing dogs than on a trip to LA. I asked my husband about it.
“I don’t know,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders. “People are weird.”
My guess is that it is an effort to distinguish their pets from the many strays. But I never confirmed this. Anyone know about this? Or is it a quirk of Pachuca?
If you can stand the heartbreak, check out the blog My Mexican Dogs. It makes me feel that one day I might be able to make a difference for a few dogs out there.