Learning from Dogs

Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.

Posts Tagged ‘San Carlos Mexico

Suzann’s Dog Spot – Number One: Diamonte

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Finding homes for wonderful dogs.

I’m delighted to announce a new feature for Learning from Dogs, a feature that will be close to many of your hearts; of that there is no doubt.

The background.

Those who have been long-term readers of this place will have been aware that Jean and I first met in San Carlos, Mexico in December, 2007. The result of a very generous invitation from Suzann and Don Reeve for me to spend Christmas with them. Suzann being the sister of Californian, Dan Gomez, whom I have regarded as a close friend for over 35 years. I have known Suzann and Don for nearly the same time.

Suzann and Jean, Mexico, December, 2007.

Suzann and Jean, Mexico, December, 2007.

Anyway, long before I came on the scene, Suzann and Jean had been working together caring for the countless feral street dogs that roam so many Mexican streets. In many cases that caring included finding new, loving homes for them in the USA. When Jean and I moved away from San Carlos in 2010, eventually ending up here in Southern Oregon almost 2 years ago, Suzann didn’t hesitate to continue caring for these Mexican dogs and, wherever possible, finding new homes for them.

Thus came the idea of promoting a wonderful dog ready for a new home here on Learning from Dogs. Who knows, maybe a reader somewhere may know of a family or a person looking for a dog and as a recent post highlighted, rescued dogs are life-savers.

Suzann caring for a feral Mexican street dog.

Suzann caring for a feral Mexican street dog.

Thus starting today I will be promoting a particular dog that Su has sent me the details of and, hopefully, we can keep promoting a new dog every two weeks or so.

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Diamonte

by Suzann Reeve

Diamonte

Diamonte

Each day I travel to La Manga, a part of San Carlos, Mexico, to feed at least a dozen dogs, frequently more; plus two old men every day! I need to stop off at the market several times a week for food for both species!

One day, about five weeks ago, I happened to see a Mommy dog and her teenaged pup in the middle of the road. I got out of my car and called them over, hoping they would get clear of the flow of traffic. Thankfully that happened and they quickly came close to take advantage of a bowl of food and some water that I put in front of them. It was wonderful to see the mother move away so her pup could eat first.

A few days later I returned and was delighted to see the mother and puppy again. Once more I put down food and water and, again, the mother dog held back to let her puppy feed before her.

Several days later, yes, you guessed it! Once more I put out food and water, although this time I never actually saw Momma dog eat.

A further two weeks went by before I saw them both. But this time, Momma dog was not well. She crept over to lay under a car while her daughter ate the food I put out. Then a few days after noticing the unwell mother dog, I returned and knew there was a problem. There was a message I was picking up from the mother dog. She seemed to be saying to me that she wanted me to take her puppy. So I did.

I picked up the young puppy and put her in my car. As I did so, Momma dog slowly lifted herself up, went over to my car, sniffed one door and then went around to the other side and sniffed that other door. She then looked at me as if to say thank you.

Momma dog then wandered off and lay down in the shade on the other side of the door, never eating a thing. She watched me drive out of the parking lot and I have never seen her there again.

Who could resist such a lovely open, happy face! Please find a home for Diamonte.

Who could resist such a lovely open, happy face! Please find a home for Diamonte.

Diamonte is a happy, bouncy little girl, presently at about 30 lbs and my guess is that she will be around 40lbs at full growth. She is a very sweet dog, always wanting to please and I regard her as a sunny and bright little girl. Diamonte is as cute as a button, with a dash of freckles over her nose. She is a quick learner and would be a lovely pet for a family or an active single person or couple.

She will receive her 2nd puppy vaccination on the 20th August and hopefully before then she will be spayed.

Note from Su:

With any dog that is ready for a new home, I always try to get the dog spayed or neutered here in San Carlos together with any necessary vaccinations.

Regarding getting the dog to you, the new owner, there are a few regular people who drive to AZ that could hook up with you or with someone who could take it on another leg in it’s journey.

There are some pilots who also fly dogs from point A to point B as well as people who would transport a dog by car in a similar manner. It all depends on networking, trying to find the right person at the right time, activities that must be done by the rescuer as well as the adopter. In other words, a joint effort to try to find a way to get the dog to you. It can be done with people who are tenacious.

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If Diamonte pulls at your heartstrings or you know of someone who may feel likewise, leave a short response to this post and I will put you in direct contact with Suzann. Thank you.

Oh, just to help those heartstrings along, here’s a repeat of a picture from last Sunday.

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Meet the dogs – Sweeny!

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Little Sweeny; our dog number seven.

Last week, I wrote about Hazel.  The week before Jean wrote about Casey. This week it’s back to Jean writing about the one little dog we have here at home: Sweeny.

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Sweeny

Sweeny - taken at the end of October, 2013, here in Oregon.

Sweeny – taken at the end of October, 2013, here in Oregon.

On that day we lost Poppy back in February, 2011, when we were still living in Payson, Arizona, it was as though she had been vaporised! Dear, sweet little Poppy.  A ten-pound Poodle mix I had rescued in Mexico.  She had been living in and around a Mexican construction site and when I rescued her she was very scrawny and without hair.  But Poppy, as I named her, soon blossomed into a little, blonde, beauty and I grew to love her very much.  Prior to Poppy, I had always liked the bigger dog but Poppy taught me the pleasures of a ‘lap’ dog that also happily slept under the covers at night with Paul and me.

The Granite Dells, near Payson, AZ. Picture taken February, 2012.

The Granite Dells, near Payson, AZ. Picture taken February, 2012.

Most afternoons in Payson, we took some of the dogs for a walk along a trail hike of about 2 miles.  The dogs were allowed to be off-leash and loved it.  Poppy always came and stayed with me, never leaving the trail as did the other, bigger dogs.  That February, it was a chilly Winter’s day (Payson and area were at 5,000 feet above sea-level) and we were all dropping down into a dry wash when I glanced behind to check that Poppy was handling the slope. To my total horror, she wasn’t in sight. Indeed, Poppy was never seen again.

Despite days spent scouring the terrain, notices in Payson shops, radio announcements on the local radio station; it all came to nought.  Poppy was gone!  Locals that we spoke with and who knew the area of desert where the trails were, the Granite Dells, were all of the opinion that Poppy had been stalked by a coyote that would most likely have grabbed her in an instant.  Such happenings had been known before.

I was inconsolable with guilt. I had let Poppy down by not giving her enough attention and it lay heavily upon me. For weeks and weeks I moped, missed her snuggles and that cute, little body crawling into the bed with me.  One day, I broached the idea with Paul of adopting a small dog from the local Humane Society.  Naturally, Paul agreed in an instant and in next to no time we had jumped in the car and were heading to the Society.

I wanted an older dog but the two small dogs that the Society had were really only suited for adoption into a one-dog household.  The Society did, however, have two puppies from a mother that had been taken in by them when that dog was heavily pregnant.  The pups had been born and raised at the shelter.

It was love at first sight when they handed me the puppy that was destined to become Sweeny.  Sweeny Todd to give him his full name was a two-pound bundle of fluff.

Sweeny loving Jeannie on the door-step of our Payson house; May, 2011.

Sweeny loving Jeannie on the door-step of our Payson house; May, 2011.

Today, Sweeny is a twenty-pound terrier mix.  A very ‘sassy’ little dog that is as much loved by his doggie brothers and sisters.  Sweeny, too, sleeps on the bed, laying alongside me and the edge of the bed so that he isn’t between Paul and me.  Sweeny has developed the habit of waking me in the morning by laying, full-bodied, over my face; to the point of me not being able to breathe.  Guess I shouldn’t have called him Sweeny Todd! ;-)

No dog will ever take the place of Poppy or fully assuage me of my guilt that I still feel to some extent. But ‘The Sween’ has helped beyond measure.

Cleo and Sweeny, 2013.  Our first Christmas Day in our home in Oregon.

Cleo and Sweeny, 2013. Our first Christmas Day in our home here in Oregon.

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Next week, meet our dog number eight.

Meet the dogs – Hazel

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Hazel – our dog number six.

Last week Jean wrote about Casey. Slight difference this week in the sense that both Jean and I equally know the story of how Hazel came into our lives. So you are stuck with me today for the story of Hazel.

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Hazel

Picture of Hazel taken in the last twenty-four hours.

Picture of Hazel taken in the last twenty-four hours.

I first met Jean in Mexico; namely, in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico to be precise.  Just a few days before Christmas, 2007.  At that time, Jean had 16 dogs, all of them rescues off the streets in and around San Carlos.  Jean was well-known for rescuing Mexican feral dogs.

In September, 2008 I travelled out to Mexico, via London-Los Angeles, with my Pharaoh. Jean and I have been together ever since.  In February, 2010, because we wanted to be married and to be married in the USA, we moved from San Carlos to Payson, in Arizona; some 80 miles North-East of Phoenix.

One morning, just a few days before we were due permanently to leave San Carlos and move our animals and belongings the 513 miles (827 km) to Payson, AZ, Jean went outside the front of the San Carlos house to find a very lost and disorientated black dog alone on the dusty street.  The dog was a female who in the last few weeks had given birth to puppies that had been weaned.  Obvious to Jean because the dog’s teats were still somewhat extended.

The dog had been abandoned outside in the street.  A not uncommon happening because many of the local Mexicans knew of Jean’s rescues over many years and when they wanted to abandon a dog it was done outside Jean’s house.  The poor people of San Carlos sometimes resorted to selling the puppies for a few Pesos and casting the mother dog adrift.

Of course the dog was taken in and we named her Hazel.  Right from Day One Hazel was the most delightful, loving dog and quickly attached herself to me.

The truest of love between a man and a dog!

The truest of love between a man and a dog!

Of all the dogs that we have here at home, and, trust me, many are extremely loving, my relationship with Hazel is precious beyond description.  She is in Pharaoh’s ‘group’ (Pharaoh, Hazel, Cleo, Sweeny and Dhalia) so sleeps in our bedroom at night.  Most nights Hazel is tucked up against me.

Plus frequently during the day Hazel will take an interest in what I am doing, as the next photograph illustrates.

Hazel taking an interest in my potterings.

Hazel taking an interest in my potterings.

Very little more that can be said without the risk of repeating myself.

If ever one wanted an example of the unconditional love that a dog can offer a human, then Hazel is that example.

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Precious creature!

Written by Paul Handover

March 5, 2014 at 00:00

Meet the dogs – Dhalia

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Dhalia – the third of our nine dogs.

There have been previous tales in this series of meeting our dogs.  Firstly, Paloma and then Lilly.  Now comes Jean’s story about how she found Dhalia.

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Dhalia

Dhalia - domesticated but still the wild dog shows through.

Dhalia – domesticated but still the wild dog shows through.

It was a Sunday around the middle of the month of September in the year 2005. My friend, Gwen, and I had set off for La Manga, a small fishing village three miles from San Carlos, Mexico.  As the trip would take us through areas of desolate desert and the day was forecast to be a sizzler, we left early. The purpose of the journey was to feed a pack of dogs that were living on the outskirts of La Manga. These wild dogs were gradually getting used to our presence and with the aid of a humane trap we had previously caught two of them, a small puppy and her mother. Those two dogs were at my home and were gradually becoming tame so that good homes could be found for them.

Half-way to our destination, we saw two dogs running by the side of the road.   It wasn’t unusual to see strays searching for road-kill. I stopped the car and prepared food and water for them. One dog took off almost immediately but the other just stood perfectly still looking intently at me. She was rail-thin and full of mange.  Her ears and chest were scabbed with blood, and I could see that previously she had had pups. Tentatively, I pushed the food towards her. She took a bite and sat on her haunches; her eyes never leaving mine. Then she lifted a paw and reached out to me. Immediately, I burst into tears and scooped her into my arms.  I carried her back to the car where she lay quietly in my lap whilst we went on to do our feeding.  She was bloody and very smelly. However, I didn’t care.

I named her Dhalia and after treatments for mange she became quite beautiful.  She was the pivotal part of a short story Paul wrote back in 2011. [Ed: see note]  Under her sweet exterior remains that same will to survive so evident when I rescued her all those years ago.  There has been more than one occasion that she has brought me a recently killed squirrel or an ancient bone.  We love our Dhalia: she still reaches out with her front paw when she seeks attention.  Dhalia will be ten-years-old this year.

Love and Trust - Grandson Morten hugging Dhalia.

Love and Trust – Grandson Morten hugging Dhalia, September 2013.

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NB: Tomorrow, I will publish the short story written three years ago Messages from the Night.  Next week another account from Jean about one of our family members.

Written by Paul Handover

February 11, 2014 at 00:00

Meet the dogs – Paloma.

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Too obvious an idea!

It was all Jean’s fault!  In that the other day I was talking to her about ideas for posts for Learning from Dogs and Jean suggested a series featuring each of the nine dogs that we have here in Oregon.  Considering that this blog is called what it is, for that idea to surface some 2,000 posts and over 4 years after the blog first started says something about yours truly that I’d rather not pursue!

Paloma

Here are a couple of photographs taken of Paloma just two days ago.

Paloma, Oregon, January 26th, 2014.

Paloma, Oregon, January 26th, 2014.

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Now, as it happens, some time ago there was a post about Paloma published here. Here it is republished some two years later.

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Preface.

Before I met Jean in December 2007, she had been rescuing feral dogs in the Mexican beach town of San Carlos for many, many years. Over those years, Jean must have rescued and found homes for 60 dogs or more.  In the month that I met Jean, she had 12 dogs and 6 cats at her home.  Ten months later, September 2008, I flew out to be permanently with Jean with my German Shepherd, Pharaoh – that’s him on the home page of Learning from Dogs - taking the total up to 13 dogs.

When we moved up to Payson, Arizona in February, 2010 we brought all 13 dogs and 6 cats with us, much to the amazement of the US Immigration officers at the US-Mexican border town of Nogales!  Indeed, our particular officer left his booth excitedly to explain to his colleagues that our dogs and cats represented a border crossing record!

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Paloma, December 29th 2011

Paloma

The old white dog padded down the dusty pavement. Sway-backed and dull-eyed, her teats, heavy with milk, grazed the ground. An anonymous creature in a cruel world. The pavement sizzled in the afternoon Mexican summer sun blistering her tired feet, but she could not hurry. She had to conserve her energy. Her pups were soon coming and finding a safe place to give birth to them was her priority. The beach that had been her home was not a good place. .. needed cool shelter. She would find it.

She was alone among a sea of human legs in this scruffy Mexican beach town. No-one noticed her plight. No-one cared. She was used to it. She had long been adept at finding dried fish, discarded tortillas, sometimes a tasty morsel thrown by a tourist sunning in front of the big hotel.

This would be her eighth litter and she was very tired. As a puppy she belonged to a family with small children. There were plenty of leftovers. But when she became pregnant they drove her to the beach, threw her out and left her to fend for herself.

Her babies were always beautiful. She had Labrador in her genes donating a coat that was pure white. Humans always took her pups; she could only ever hope their fate was always a better one than hers.

Anonymity. She had perfected the art; never make eye contact, move low to the ground, escape the stray kick with a quick sideways leap.

She remembered at the very end of the long beach there was a house with a pool. Plenty of water. Onward she padded.

The lawn surrounding the pool was moist with sprinklers and the hibiscus hedge close to the house made a safe nest. Soon she had dug into the damp earth a big enough hole to curl into; it was cool under the canopy of red flowers.

A human voiced shouted, “Carlos, get that dog out of the hedge.” Then the long hose filling that tempting pool was turned on her and a burst of water hit her in the face. She uttered a low growl. Carlos, the gardener, backed away, “Señor, the dog, she is having babies.”

The owner of the house turned abruptly and went inside. He picked up his phone, made a call to the local English lady who over the years had acquired the nickname ‘Dog Lady’. He practically shouted down the phone, “I have a dog in my hedge having pups. You had better do something about it or I shall dispose of them, and I won’t be pretty about it!”

‘Dog Lady’ was used to this. Had been many years since she took on the practically impossible task of rescuing Mexican feral dogs and she was well-known for never turning a dog away. In less than 15 minutes, she had walked to the fine house overlooking the beach and quietly looked under the hedge. As anticipated, the dog was incapable of being moved, her focus entirely now on the safe birth of her pups. With appropriate feminine wiles, the white dog’s human saviour persuaded the disgruntled owner to allow the mother dog a stay of a few days. ‘Dog Lady’ promised that she would take them away as soon as possible.

“She’s a mean and wild dog, you’ll never tame her,” came the angry response from the house owner.

‘Dog Lady’ just smiled and said nothing.

But every day she took food to the white dog then sat quietly close by on the grass reading her book. The white dog had just the one pup, which ‘Dog Lady’ called Solovino, the Spanish for ‘comes alone’. The mother dog she called Paloma, Spanish for ‘Dove’. Many white dogs in Mexico were called Paloma and maybe years earlier that was what the children named her as the name did seem to resonate with this gentle dog.

Patiently, ‘Dog Lady’ moved closer and closer until Paloma would take meat from her hand, rapidly followed by allowing her ears to be caressed. Ten days later, while Paloma was eating, ‘Dog Lady’ picked up the little Solovino and put him into her car. Paloma’s response was immediate; she frantically ran to her child, her mothering instinct so great that she leapt without hesitation into this strange vehicle. Paloma and Solovino were safe.

The house owner graciously admitted that he had been taught a lesson in empathy and how sorry he was for being so rude and cruel.

Back at ‘Dog Lady’s’ home, a quiet sanctuary for so many dogs over the past years, Paloma and Solovino were quickly settled into a cool room. Paloma soon utterly trusted her ‘Dog Lady’ human companion and became the tame and loving dog she always wanted to be. Her shining eyes embraced her new world and she even regained her figure! Solovino grew quickly and found a wonderful family home in Tucson, Arizona.

Now some 6 years after ‘Dog Lady’ rescued Paloma from under that hedge, she is a beloved part of the Handover family. Indeed, she travelled in peace in February 2009 with her twelve dog friends from her sanctuary in San Carlos, Mexico to this dog paradise in the Arizonan forest just outside Payson.

Paloma will never want again.

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Now here we are in Southern Oregon some two years after that story was first published.  Paloma happy and contented.

So many of the dogs that have passed through Jean’s loving arms have stories to tell.  Next up will be the story of Lilly.

Written by Paul Handover

January 30, 2014 at 00:00

The book! Chapter Twenty-One.

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Learning from Dogs

Chapter Twenty-One

He was settling very quickly into the local scene.  It was a strange mix of Americans and Mexicans.  Then within the Mexican population there appeared to be as least two groupings, or categories.  Those Mexicans that, in one form or another, had lives or businesses that revolved around the many Americans living there and then another group of Mexicans who were much less visible.  Undoubtedly, this latter group were poorer, many living in an area of San Carlos known as the Ranchitas. An area that he didn’t expect to be shown but had been mentioned by both Lisa and Molly.  It slightly reminded him of those early days in Spain when English tourists started travelling there, before the whole packaged holiday thing exploded.  He could remember his father and mother taking the family for a vacation in Spain. Pretty sure that was back in 1953 because he recalled the streets of London being prepared for the Queen’s Coronation as they drove through London early in the morning on their way to the Channel car ferry. Distant and faint memories of the place where they were staying in Spain being dusty, hot and very uncommercial yet gearing themselves up to sell as many services as they could to these new British tourists.  So, so long ago.  Philip didn’t have a clue as to where they had stayed in Spain, just that at some deep level in his memory that place in Spain seemed to resonate some fifty-three years later with this place in Mexico.

Lisa and Molly arranged that all of them would go on Friday to a local dinner and dance establishment in San Carlos called Banana’s. Apparently, every Friday there was a Mexican Mariachi band that played lively music plus the menu offered a number of good local Mexican dishes.

He didn’t have a clue as to what to wear but not having brought an enormous range of clothes he settled on a loose-fitting, short-sleeved cotton shirt over a pair of cream slacks.

It was a perfect end to his first full week, and he had no doubt whatsoever that Lisa’s invitation to come here for Christmas had been a godsend. No better underlined than by the fact that yesterday had been the 20th of December and it was only this morning, the 21st, as he was showering and wondering what the date was, that he realised that the anniversary of the bombshell in his life a year ago had remained out of his consciousness.  Maggie had been erased.

Rather than go directly to Banana’s, Don drove first over to Molly’s house and waited while she closed her front door and jumped into her own car.  He caught a glimpse of what she was wearing; noticing how her low-cut blouse, a silk scarf across her shoulders, a pair of skin-tight long, pale-blue trousers signalled that this was a lady who was going to enjoy her Friday evening out with them all.

The atmosphere at Banana’s was electric for reasons that he couldn’t put his finger on.  Not that it mattered what the reasons were, what did matter was that there was almost a festival mood all around them.

Molly was obviously a very competent Spanish speaker and ordered the meals and drinks for all in the Mexican waiter’s native tongue.  Philip had rapidly come to the view that Molly was well-known in the town. Hardly surprising when one reflected on how many years she had been living here, as well as being a fluent Spanish speaker.  They were chatting about the number of Americans living in San Carlos and Don explained how he and Lisa, as with so many of the other Americans, went North back up to the States during the Summer as it became so very hot here in San Carlos.  Molly said that for her this was her one and only home plus that she couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to, leave her dogs.

Their meal came to an end.  Molly was clearly itching to be dancing.  Philip, never a great dancer at the best of times, was fearful of even being able to put one foot in front of another, let alone offer an attractive woman a worthy experience on the dance-floor.

The Mariachi group started another tune.  Molly said, “It’s a tango, come on, let’s give it a try.”

He started to protest that he didn’t know how to dance the tango but, nonetheless, was rising from his seat.

She grabbed his hand and led him on to a smallish dance-floor saying just to follow her.  The wooden circular dance-floor, perhaps thirty-five feet in diameter, had a dozen or so other couples getting into the swing of the music.

He put his right arm around Molly’s slim waist, grasped her outstretched hand with his other hand, and gave in to the rhythm.  Molly danced in such a natural way that within a few bars of the music his feet had got the idea, and his head had embraced the beat of the music.  He very quickly got lost in the whole sensation, not even the smallest part of his mind puzzled on how it was that he could walk on to a Mexican dance-floor with a woman with whom he had never danced, a band playing a rhythm that he would have been certain he couldn’t dance to, and feel as though he and Molly had done this their entire lives.

It was not unnoticed by others. As the music came to a close, Philip and Molly were aware, and rather embarrassed, to observe that other couples on the dance-floor had stopped their dancing and moved to the edge of the floor to give them more space for their gyrations.  Molly put her arm through his as they made their way back to the table and said that was perfect; that she loved fun things and hadn’t had such fun for a long time.

Lisa looked up at them as they came to the table and remarked in Philip’s direction that for someone who claimed not to be able to dance the tango, he and Molly had put on quite a show.

Molly had her hand on Philip’s forearm as she declared to Lisa that this man was quite a dancer. Philip was at a complete loss to make sense of anything.  It was almost as though the Philip of a year ago had died and been reborn Philip Mk. II.

After a pause of ten minutes or so, Molly was up for another dance and grabbed his arm.  It was a slower dance and he had not one moment’s hesitation to be on the dance-floor with her.

Again, he became connected totally to her through the music, unaware of anything else going on in the room. All that he was experiencing in his heart was that being with Molly was unlike being with any other woman in his life. All he knew was that in a previous life having such close contact with a gorgeous, single woman would be triggering desires to have his wicked way with her.  No, forget triggering desires, he would be scheming how to get her knickers off before the night was out!

But with Molly it was different.  Yes, of course, she had a lovely figure and   as they danced close to each other he could feel her beautiful breasts pressing through her silk blouse against his chest.  No, the difference was that he had no ambitions, no sense of what was coming next; whether that next was in an hour’s time or in a life time.  He had heard frequently about living in the present; assumed what it was at an intellectual level. However, what he was experiencing now was nothing less than being fully alive in this present moment.  It felt like perfection of being.

They returned to the table to find that Don had left.  Lisa explained that he was tired, that he wasn’t much of a partying man and had gone on home, with the expectation that Molly would run Lisa and Philip back to the house at the end of the evening.  It didn’t seem to phase Lisa; quite the opposite.  Because she said, with an eager and excited tone to her voice, that they should spend the rest of Friday evening at Froggie’s Bar.  Apparently, Don had settled the bill here at Banana’s on the way out.

The evening continued at Froggie’s as it had started at Banana’s. Lots of silliness between the three of them to the extent that their peals of laughter, especially from Lisa and Molly, caused more than one head to turn in their direction.  He couldn’t believe, even as he was experiencing these days in San Carlos, just how wonderful it was making him feel.

Thus it was some twenty minutes later, with Lisa enjoying a dance with one of the many Americans having a Friday night out, when he glanced at Molly and spoke with a slightly raised voice to counter the sound of the music, “I just can’t tell you what a difference coming to San Carlos has made for me.”

Molly, sitting next to him at the table, gave him what he thought was a most puzzling look.  He was trying to read that look, a look that seemed part dreamy, part embarrassed, and part very private, when she lent her head close to his right ear, hand on top of his hand, and murmured to him, “Do you know I would love to be kissed by you.”

He swung his legs around to the right so that he was sitting opposite her, placed his right arm around her warm, slender waist and softly, so very softly, met her lips and kissed her.  The moist tip of her tongue explored his tongue in what was the most sensuous kiss he could remember in a lifetime.

It had him turned totally upside down.  As with their second dance at Banana’s he was feeling a wave of emotion unfamiliar with anything from his past life.

Lisa returned to the table and after another twenty minutes or so, it was agreed by all that it was time to call it a night.  Lisa, in particular, didn’t want her return to be too late knowing that Don would be asleep in bed.

Philip suggested that as Molly and Lisa had clearly had quite a lot to drink, certainly much more than he had, then why not let him drive Molly’s car, drop Molly off at home and bring her car back first thing in the morning.

It was a little before nine in the morning when Philip drew up outside Molly’s house, turned off the ignition and opened the door in the front wall that enclosed a small yard space in front of the house.  He was heard by the dogs well before he reached up for the iron door knocker on the main front door and shortly thereafter he heard Molly’s shout to come on in.

“How’s your head?” he asked her.

“Oh, fine.  Thank goodness I rarely suffer from hangovers.  Don’t know why because I’m happy to have a few drinks when the mood is right.  Can I get you a coffee?  Or would you like a tea? I managed to buy some tea-bags yesterday.  Lipton’s tea, can you believe that.”

He opted for the tea and stood looking out across the bay. He heard the sound of water heating up in a pot followed moments later by Molly calling out to him.

“Philip, I’m so sorry about last night for being a fool.  I got a little carried away in asking you for that kiss.  Please excuse me.”

He wasn’t sure how to reply and sat on his thoughts, so to speak, as the sound of boiling water being poured into two mugs heralded the arrival of the tea.

“Milk but no sugar,” she called out.

“Yes, that’s correct. Well done on remembering.”

They both sat down on the verandah.

“Did you hear me saying how sorry I was to be such a fool?”

“Yes, I heard you.”

There was a silence between them of a couple of minutes or so, before she spoke up.

“I don’t know what to make of your lack of any reaction to what I just said.”

“Molly, it’s like this.  Your kiss was beautiful for me and I thought you felt the same way.  So when you just said sorry for being a fool, it’s left me confused.  I don’t know how to match what I felt as we kissed with the idea that it may have just been a bit of a flirtation on your part coming out of a fun evening.”

Molly said nothing. She just put her mug down on the glass-topped table in front of her, stood up and came around to be behind Philip as he sat on his chair.

She wrapped both arms around his neck and shoulders and across his chest and lent her head down besides his, kissed his left cheek and breathed the words, “Thank you”.

As she stood upwards, he got out of his chair, turned and grasped his arms around her and kissed her full on her lips.  This time there was a hunger in him and he felt stirrings through his body that were both sexually exciting and emotionally confusing.  For he was starting to realise that Molly was something more to him, even if he was unable to define what that more was. Yet, at in the same thought, he knew that in just over two week’s time he would be leaving Mexico and travelling back to England.  That he knew that he was emotionally unprepared for the separation from this woman that was starting to be so attractive to him.

“Sorry, Molly, now my turn to apologise.  I was clearly getting a little carried away.”

Her face was written all over with the same emotional confusion as he had just felt within him.

“Molly, both you are and I mustn’t inadvertently hurt each other.  I sense we are both yearning for love and compassion but …”

He couldn’t find the words to finish his sentence.

“I understand, Philip, I really do.  You’re right,” Molly paused. “But I damn well wish you weren’t.” There was a twinkle in her eye.

“Come on, I’ll run you back to Lisa’s place.”

Philip was aware from previous times that Americans didn’t make as much of Christmas as Europeans do, and especially as the Brits do.  However, Molly, in true British style, decided to put on a Christmas dinner for all four of them.  He wondered what to give Molly for a Christmas gift. Luckily came up with the brain-wave of buying some blank recordable CDs and making up some music CDs.  He had brought his laptop with him from England and there were several hundred music tracks to choose from.  It was only after a long evening’s recording that he realised that the majority of the tracks he had selected had romantic music. Something was pulling his emotional strings!

Later, after his bed-side lamp had been turned off and he was settling down under his covers, he found himself thinking very deeply about Molly. If only she was living in Britain.  If only …. He pulled himself up sharply.  If only what Philip?  Was he thinking that Molly is someone that he would like to have a full relationship with? But only if it was convenient? The voice in his head was very good at asking the questions but not so good at delivering the answers.

Christmas Day was a good day and Molly adored the music CDs. She had worked so hard to decorate her house yet Philip dare not admit that the warmth and the sun and the scintillating views out across the waters of the bay didn’t make it really feel like an English version of Christmas Day. Even the huge Christmas lunch couldn’t offset his feeling of displacement.  It was small beer in the scheme of things.

The 26th, the day after Christmas, was a Wednesday. Two American friends of Molly, Don and Pam, invited Philip and Molly for dinner at Banana’s. They, too, had a second home in San Carlos. Molly came over to Lisa’s house to pick him up in her car

He immediately took to Don and Pam as they sat and enjoyed a pre-dinner drink.  Don was asking him a little about his background when he noticed Pam say something to Molly in private that made her blush and snigger a little.

He paused in his conversation with Don and caught Molly’s eyes.

“Philip, Pam was just saying that the general view around the place is that we are an item.”

Don laughed and said how it only confirmed all that he had heard about British single men and their carrying-ons when on holiday.

“Come on Don,” Philip teased him back. “That’s single British men in the twenties screwing around, literally, on the beaches of the Costa Brava in Spain; the result of bottom-dollar cheap packaged holidays. I’m an ancient fella in contrast, I mean the wrong side of sixty-three and all that.  Practically forgotten how to screw if you’ll forgive the expression. Last time I performed that way London was being lit by gas lamps.”

Pam threw back her head and roared with laughter.  Molly poked a finger in his upper arm and commented that she hadn’t realised that he was that old.

It was another lovely evening.  He couldn’t help noticing how he was being accepted by all those that clearly knew Molly well and it made him feel very good within.

After the meal, both Don and Pam and Philip and Molly enjoyed a number of dances.

He and Molly had returned to their table as Don and Pam remained for the next dance.

She took his hand and looked him in the eyes. “You know, I was thinking about what you said earlier.”

“What was that I was saying?”

“About how you have practically forgotten how to make love. Can’t use that other word.”

There was the briefest of pauses before she continued, the softest of loving tones in her voice, “Do you want to make love to me tonight?”

3,072 words. Copyright © 2013 Paul Handover

Written by Paul Handover

December 13, 2013 at 00:30

Story time – Paloma

with 6 comments

Something new for the New Year – stories about dogs!

Preface.

Before I met Jean in December 2007, she had been rescuing feral dogs in the Mexican beach town of San Carlos for many, many years. Over those years, Jean must have rescued and found homes for 60 dogs or more.  In the month that I met Jean, she had 12 dogs and 6 cats at her home.  Ten months later, September 2008, I flew out to be permanently with Jean with my German Shepherd, Pharaoh – that’s him on the home page of Learning from Dogs - taking the total up to 13 dogs.

When we moved up to Payson, Arizona in February, 2010 we brought all 13 dogs and 6 cats with us, much to the amazement of the US Immigration officers at the US-Mexican border town of Nogales!  Indeed, our particular officer left his booth excitedly to explain to his colleagues that our dogs and cats represented a border crossing record!

So many of the dogs that have passed through Jean’s loving arms have stories to tell.  Thus over the coming months, Jean and I will offer you, dear reader, those stories.

Here’s the first, written by ‘Dog Lady’ Jean about gorgeous, sweet Paloma who, despite her age (Paloma that is!), is alive and well here in Payson.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Paloma, December 29th 2011

Paloma

The old white dog padded down the dusty pavement. Sway-backed and dull-eyed, her teats, heavy with milk, grazed the ground. An anonymous creature in a cruel world. The pavement sizzled in the afternoon Mexican summer sun blistering her tired feet, but she could not hurry. She had to conserve her energy. Her pups were soon coming and finding a safe place to give birth to them was her priority. The beach that had been her home was not a good place. .. needed cool shelter. She would find it.

She was alone among a sea of human legs in this scruffy Mexican beach town. No-one noticed her plight. No-one cared. She was used to it. She had long been adept at finding dried fish, discarded tortillas, sometimes a tasty morsel thrown by a tourist sunning in front of the big hotel.

This would be her eighth litter and she was very tired. As a puppy she belonged to a family with small children. There were plenty of leftovers. But when she became pregnant they drove her to the beach, threw her out and left her to fend for herself.

Her babies were always beautiful. She had Labrador in her genes donating a coat that was pure white. Humans always took her pups; she could only ever hope their fate was always a better one than hers.

Anonymity. She had perfected the art; never make eye contact, move low to the ground, escape the stray kick with a quick sideways leap.

She remembered at the very end of the long beach there was a house with a pool. Plenty of water. Onward she padded.

The lawn surrounding the pool was moist with sprinklers and the hibiscus hedge close to the house made a safe nest. Soon she had dug into the damp earth a big enough hole to curl into; it was cool under the canopy of red flowers.

A human voiced shouted, “Carlos, get that dog out of the hedge.” Then the long hose filling that tempting pool was turned on her and a burst of water hit her in the face. She uttered a low growl. Carlos, the gardener, backed away, “Señor, the dog, she is having babies.”

The owner of the house turned abruptly and went inside. He picked up his phone, made a call to the local English lady who over the years had acquired the nickname ‘Dog Lady’. He practically shouted down the phone, “I have a dog in my hedge having pups. You had better do something about it or I shall dispose of them, and I won’t be pretty about it!”

‘Dog Lady’ was used to this. Had been many years since she took on the practically impossible task of rescuing Mexican feral dogs and she was well-known for never turning a dog away. In less than 15 minutes, she had walked to the fine house overlooking the beach and quietly looked under the hedge. As anticipated, the dog was incapable of being moved, her focus entirely now on the safe birth of her pups. With appropriate feminine wiles, the white dog’s human saviour persuaded the disgruntled owner to allow the mother dog a stay of a few days. ‘Dog Lady’ promised that she would take them away as soon as possible.

“She’s a mean and wild dog, you’ll never tame her,” came the angry response from the house owner.

‘Dog Lady’ just smiled and said nothing.

But every day she took food to the white dog then sat quietly close by on the grass reading her book. The white dog had just the one pup, which ‘Dog Lady’ called Solovino, the Spanish for ‘comes alone’. The mother dog she called Paloma, Spanish for ‘Dove’. Many white dogs in Mexico were called Paloma and maybe years earlier that was what the children named her as the name did seem to resonate with this gentle dog.

Patiently, ‘Dog Lady’ moved closer and closer until Paloma would take meat from her hand, rapidly followed by allowing her ears to be caressed. Ten days later, while Paloma was eating, ‘Dog Lady’ picked up the little Solovino and put him into her car. Paloma’s response was immediate; she frantically ran to her child, her mothering instinct so great that she leapt without hesitation into this strange vehicle. Paloma and Solovino were safe.

The house owner graciously admitted that he had been taught a lesson in empathy and how sorry he was for being so rude and cruel.

Back at ‘Dog Lady’s’ home, a quiet sanctuary for so many dogs over the past years, Paloma and Solovino were quickly settled into a cool room. Paloma soon utterly trusted her ‘Dog Lady’ human companion and became the tame and loving dog she always wanted to be. Her shining eyes embraced her new world and she even regained her figure! Solovino grew quickly and found a wonderful family home in Tucson, Arizona.

Now some 6 years after ‘Dog Lady’ rescued Paloma from under that hedge, she is a beloved part of the Handover family. Indeed, she travelled in peace in February 2009 with her twelve dog friends from her sanctuary in San Carlos, Mexico to this dog paradise in the Arizonan forest just outside Payson.

Paloma will never want again.

Copyright © 2011, Jean Handover

Written by Paul Handover

January 4, 2012 at 00:00

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