Little Ferocious’ furry face popped up through the green flowered stems of the wild strawberry plants and looked up at me with what could only be described as a smile. I couldn't be happier for her. After years in an apartment downtown Vancouver, here in Mexico she has roamed as freely as her heart could aspire.
In Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, she would sit at the door of the beach front hostal and greet the guests as they arrived, walking in front with the staff as they gave the new guests a tour. Once the guests were settled into the expansive dorm rooms she would race back to her post.
The hostal was situated on a long street that ran parallel with the beach and each restaurant had a special relationship with Ferocious, even the one who at first got very angry at her constant attempt to invade his space. “Tango un gato,” I have a cat, he would angrily shout as I called sternly to her and she scampered ahead of me, trying to sneak into his establishment yet again. Then one day, the owner came out to talk to me. I was sure I was in trouble again but instead he told me, in perfect english, “we all love your dog even the cat, she's the only one allowed here” and smiling he added “the kitchen even gives her a treat from time to time.” This explained alot, Ferocious was never hungry anymore and I suspected it was due to my friendly neighbours.
One afternoon, as I walked by the taco stand, the deeply tanned proprietor came around to the front, stopping me as I passed. In a very serious tone he told me I owed him a large sum of money, my dog was eating all his tacos! I only knew he was joking when he added with a wink, “I try to give her beer but she refuses.”
Travelling with a dog is a lot of work, and the stress it causes on your wallet and at the departures and arrivals terminal is not something I want to get into here, I’d like to continue having a good day. The joys of travelling with a dog however, are so great that the memory of all the effort fades quickly.
My little monster has made me more approachable to people curious as to why I am moving into their rural community instead of the town centre where the other white tourists are. Children come running up to me with eager smiles on their faces as Ferocious sits calmly and lets them pet and play with her. I’ve met only landlords with open hearts and have sought remote places with expansive lands on her behalf these past three years, in this second home of mine.
My little ewok-looking shih tzu has been skipping two feet in front of me, pausing every few metres to look back and ensure I'm still close by, for more than eleven years now and my journey through the length of Mexico has been truly inspired thanks to her curious, happy heart.