It was in the winter of 2006 when he first came into our lives. Some folks from Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue had approached us to foster a dog for two weeks as he recovered from his operation at the spay and neuter clinic. They needed someone to care for him before they sent him off to Canada where they were hoping to find him a forever home.
Twelve wonderful and fulfilling years later, we lost a big part of our family last week, when Amarillo passed away.
The morning will be forever etched in our memory. We were walking home from downtown, loaded
with groceries and as we turned the corner they were waiting at our door. Three women from JABR. And we recognized the little dog — he was skin and bones, dirty, his eyes glazed over and his legs wobbly– as he stood at their side in the middle of the street at the end of a yellow rope.
Anne had been feeding and, perhaps even more importantly, providing water to a number of local street dogs and the little yellow part lab (with probably half a dozen other breeds mixed in there somewhere) had been a regular dinner guest. We could see the recognition in his eyes as his tail began to wag. And, after assurances that he was free of the fleas and ticks that are the scourge of most poor homeless animals, we agreed to let him into our home. It was the last time he lived on the street.
We like to pretend that we adopted him, but the truth is, in reality, quite the reverse. A few weeks
before the spay and neuter clinic we had gone to dinner in Guayabitos with some friends one night and watched in horror out the back window of the collectivo as he chased us down busy Highway 200, dodging motorcycles and beer trucks and pick-ups, until his little legs gave out. As I look back, when we returned home that night and found him sleeping soundly on the dusty street in front of the apartment, the die was likely cast: he had decided then and there that we were parents that were worth adopting.
We called him Amarillo: Amarillo Casa, in full since we thought he came the yellow house, although it turned out they had just been feeding him before they moved out. The name, of course, caused much confusion for our Mexican neighbours, since he was white. Like most street dogs, he had many names. The locals called him ‘Narrone’. Our friends Chris and Val, who claim that he saved them from drowning in the estuary one night called him ‘Blanco’. The twins around the corner who had fed him all winter the year before called him ‘Buddy’ and the folks at the spay and neuter clinic refer to him as ‘Caesar’
Amarillo was, in fact, a large part of the reason why we left the wonderful community of Jaltemba Bay. We were flying back and forth between Canada and Mexico in those days and, on one occasion, we had to change planes in Atlanta. And Delta Airlines lost our dog. It was 4:00 am when they found him – in Toronto, the airline having put him on the wrong flight. Having assured everyone that we would keep him in his kennel until we got out of customs the next day, it was with a mixture of relief and trepidation that we entered the baggage area early the next morning. But, there he was. In his glory. Spread out n a Delta blanket. He was surrounded by six Delta Stewardesses feeding him Ritz crackers. His skills had not deserted him. The much- practiced look was working its charms.
We drove to Mexico from that trip on but after making the long journey three times, we decided to winter in Florida instead. We were fortunate to have been able to give Amarillo the full life he so richly deserved. He got to travel throughout Canada and the United States wondering, I am sure, how we were able to afford so many homes even if some of them had a big red roof and were only composed of one room. He won the Mutt Madness Fido Idol Contest with a stirring rendition of the Steve Miller classic – ‘The Joker’; he was rewarded with a comfortable, orthopedic bed, which he usually ignored to sleep on the floor, presumably because it reminded him of the hard streets of La Peñita where he slept as a puppy.
He was featured in two books and achieved a certain celebrity status in Jaltemba Bay, occasionally been pointed out to newcomers as “the famous dog from the book.” And soon he will be immortalized on the ‘Doggie Wall’ in Dunedin, Florida – or Dogedin as it is sometimes referred to – where a local artist paints portraits of the town’s four-legged citizens to raise money for animal rescue.
Yet, as much as we were able to give him, he gave us so much more. When we lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick several years ago, our newspaper carrier had the perfect dog. He would follow along faithfully, no leash required, and would wait patiently on the sidewalk as each paper was delivered. Local dogs would bark and growl as he passed but he paid them no mind, focusing instead on his owner.
We always wondered what it would be like to own a perfect dog like him. Who knew that we would find one ourselves on the streets of a small town in Mexico.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Lin Chimes and all the wonderful folks who work with and contribute to Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue for their help in making Amarillo such a wonderful addition to our family. And if you are at all thinking about adopting one of their rescued animals, we can assure you that if your experiences are anything like ours – and we are sure that they will be – the love and attention that you shower on your new friend will be returned to you many times over.
Anne and Dave Easby