Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chicanonautica: Strange Dogs of Aztlán

It sounds like the scenario for a pre-apocalyptic horror/comedy: abandoned chihuahuas breeding out of control, terrorizing part of Arizona. The fact that I first ran across it on a story didn’t help my credulity -- this could be the stuff of satire. But I found the story in other outlets, local television, and even Time.

Some people I told about it laughed, and doubted that tiny dogs could be a real threat.

This brought back an unsettling memory. 

Once upon a time, my wife and I worked for a cleaning service. We’re both writers, so getting money can be rough. In this job we were sent to homes and never knew what we’d find. We learned a lot about the private lives of folks who can afford to hire help . . . like the mysterious Mr. Lopez.
Chihuahua skull:
His condo was gigantic and looked like it had been the location of month-long drug orgy. We dutifully scrubbed the cocaine/snot residue off of the glass tables, emptied all the ashtrays and hash pipes. Did I mention that Mr. Lopez was a lawyer?

He left instructions for us to clean  the sliding glass door, inside and out. The problem was we would have to open it. That would expose us to Mr. Lopez’s dogs.

They were smaller than chihuahuas, and fluffier. We never got a good look at them. They were in constant, rapid motion in that closet-sized yard -- two blurs of long hair and sharp teeth.

The tree trapped out there with them had all the bark chewed off it.

When they saw us, they launched themselves at the sliding glass door slamming into it at face-level. Arf! THUNK! Arf! THUNK! Arf! THUNK! And they did not stop all the time we were there.

The outer side of the door was a thick smear of dog saliva. Yeah, it needed a good cleaning, but no way were going to open that door. And we didn’t.

Mr. Lopez, who neither we nor our boss ever saw in the flesh, was not pleased. He did not pay for our services. He was a lawyer.

Emily and I still wonder what the hell those dogs were, and where he got them.

But then, this is Aztlán, and we have some strange dogs here, like the chihuahua, and the xoloitzcuintli.

Diego Rivera holding a xoloitzcuintli:
The English-speaking world calls the xoloitzcuintli the Mexican hairless. They still have trouble wrapping their tongues around Nahutal. It may be a while before the xoloitzcuintli becomes as popular as the chihuahua, since it’s not what Western civilization considers beautiful.

Granted, the Nahuatl name translates to monster dog -- so the Aztecs didn’t think it was cute either. You mostly see it in  news stories about ugly dog contests.

Something I’ve found interesting is a resemblance to the chupacabras, or at least the Texas blue dogs that in the last few years have been photographed, killed, and called chupacabras. It has the same purple-grey, hairless skin, though it's bigger, with larger fangs. The news stories keep coming in, but what are they, and where did they come from?

Stuffed chupcabras:
Once again put me on the trail to a possible answer via the Houston Chronicle: Houston animal control officials said they have heard of people trying to breed dogs that look like so-called direwolves from the TV show Game of Thrones.” 

Homegrown mad scientists are out there, doing their damedest to make sci-fi into reality. Some of them probably live in the barrio.

Meanwhile, in my neighborhood, there are más y más badass chihuahuas strutting the streets.

But then, Aztlán is the land of the Chichimec -- a generic term the Aztecs used like barbarian that literally translates to dog people, the strangest dogs of all.

Ernest Hogan is proud of his Chichimec heritage.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the props, Nesto! -- Comic Saenz


Happy to be of service!

Anonymous said...

xi-xi-xingon xihuahua, carnal ernesto. enjoyed the article and pitchurs. saludos desde san anto.