Loyalty to Whom?

Irina Echarry
Irina Echarry

Dogs are known for their loyalty. The question is, “Are they masochists?” The streets of Alamar have been invaded by stray dogs. At the beginning of the nineties when the peacetime economic crisis known as the Special Period was first proclaimed, there were families who began to turn their pets out onto the street.

At that time there was a video clip being repeated on television. The clip featured Burble, a rock group who were touched by the situation, pleading in their song for a little loyalty towards the defenseless pets.

Even today in 2008, there are dogs wandering about in the rain, the sun or the short span of winter weather that we get. At times their owners let them go on the busiest streets, as if the objective were to have a speeding car run them over. On the corner by my building all sizes and all breeds appear.

Sick or well, the strongest survive the cruelty and the automobile technology. Some find people who are ashamed of their fellow humans and who feed them.

Society has degenerated a great deal and our feelings seem ever farther away from us. We suppose that human beings have the capacity to feel and express emotions. So do dogs, and I don’t understand how there can be people who never come to appreciate this.

At one time dogs were not permitted in the apartments, but little by little they began to filter in, and today it’s unusual to find a dwelling without a dog, or other pets like a cat or a bird.  In Alamar there are two veterinary clinics where animals can receive attention when they need it.

Alamar’s Dog Cemetery
Alamar’s Dog Cemetery

There’s also a dog cemetery.  There’s no cemetery in Alamar for humans, but there is one that began with “Trompy” and that now over ten tombstones of those fortunate animals that enjoyed a family’s love.

What’s going on with the new generations?  We lack many things, the food situation is difficult, but the decision to get a pet means taking on a responsibility. They shouldn’t be thrown out to fend for themselves later, when they become a problem to us. They shouldn’t, but that’s just what people are doing.

I walk down the streets and the dogs are there in the bread line, in the shade of a tree, sleeping in gardens, trying to find shelter in a food kiosk, or merely waiting.  They look into your eyes to communicate their sorrow.  What are they waiting for?  Aren’t they sick of humans?  Are they masochists?

One thought on “Loyalty to Whom?

  • My younger daughter, Dorothy, then aged 7, fell in love with these dogs when our family visited Cuba in 2004. She would feed them, talk to them and pet them (no matter how mangy) whenever she had an opportunity. Perhaps as a consequence, when we returned home she started volunteering at a local animal shelter. According to at least one story on the Lonely Planet Thorntree travel site, one young woman managed to sneak a smaller Havana street dog into her carry-on luggage, and take it back with her from Havana to Mexico City , onward to Tiajuana, then successfully walk across the bridge at San Ysidro and take it back home to San Diego, California! Up until a few years ago, our family were strictly cat people. As a consequence of volunteering at the animal shelter, we adopted a dog who is now an integral member of our family. I couldn’t imagine abandoning any of our cats or dog. (Then again, I never had to live through the trying times of the Special Period, when, perhaps, I would have been tempted to do more than merely abandon my pets!) For better or worse, dogs have chosen to cast their lots with us. Cats, on the other hand, seem to be able to take us–or leave us (although we had one cat who strongly bonded with us–until she was eaten recently by a wild predator during one of her hunting expeditions)!
    Lets hope that even if there are some people who abandon their pets, there are others who will adopt these homeless orphans.

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