When my niece was a little girl (now she’s a 15) she brought home a puppy that she named Kiara: a skinny mutt with bulging not-very-friendly eyes. Over time they ended up forging a bond that only a child and a dog know how to do.
As time passed the dog grew but became even more distanced from the tastes of the local mikis (Cuba’s equivalent of “valley girls,” obsessed with appearances and the latest fashions). It also became more testy and bad-tempered in general.
The dog had puppies on several occasions but her adoration for my niece never diminished; it adored playing with her and would show its teeth, as if smiling.
My niece of course grew too. Now she has a boyfriend who’s a PlayStation fanatic, so between her new love and school she began to forget about her little dog.
Since she didn’t take care of Kiara or take her outside, the dog would end up taking dumps and peeing in the apartment. She was also covered with ticks, but no one took time to remove them.
My sister got fed up and made the decision to ditch the animal at the Las Ruinas restaurant in Lenin Park, where supposedly it would have more freedom and food. When my niece came home from school and found out what had happened, she spun out into a veritable panic attack.
The situation erupted into a family crisis — with arguing, crying and fits of depression — all in the middle of final exam period.
The following morning she and I headed out to go look for Kiara at the crack of dawn. The guard at the restaurant told us that a dog fitting that description had spent the whole night running around like some nutcase but that it had seemed to have disappeared.
We combed the area, with my niece crying and calling Kiara’s name loudly and both of us hoarse. All of the custodians we ran into responded outstandingly; they helped us to look for her and gave us more hope.
Still, a week passed and no sign of Kiara. It took effort for me to get to sleep thinking about how I would feel if I had lived so many years believing myself to be a part of a family and then see myself thrown out like that: suddenly, far from my loved ones, in an unknown and aggressive atmosphere. There’s no doubt that I’d be tremendously sad and lonely.
I went on several walks accompanied by my niece, Irina, and one night with my dog Bruno, a fine Doberman. It was great to go walking around with Bruno through the woods at Lenin Park.
But other walks were under a criminally scorching sun. During one of those, a stranger came up to me and asked: “You aren’t one of the people looking for a white dog with spots and such? I saw it running around El Ceiba (another restaurant).”
Not to make a long story… but after 10 days of scouring the park for the dog, we found it where the man indicated, two miles from where it had been let loose. She was boney, hungry, irritable and dirty, with a bite on her thigh and limping on one of her front legs.
This has been the most important family event in several months, and I think my niece learned her lesson; now she’s really taking care of Kiara. Nor does the dog want to be separate herself from her “owner.” But now she’s become suspicious of the rest of the family. She no longer looks with trusting eyes even at me.