Dad here; late Sunday morning at the Casa, and no one shows any inclination towards rising and shining. It has finally turned a bit nipply on Arkansas, just in time for Halloween in a few days.
The Latino culture has a holiday that also falls during this time, Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. On the surface, the Day of the Dead might appear to mirror Halloween, but the holidays are actually vastly different, with the Latin-American tradition remembering the lives of those who have left us and briefly inviting them back instead of inciting fear. Through this two-day gathering, families celebrate death as a beautiful, joyful, and symbolic event.
My fascination with the holiday began when I discovered an old cemetery on the outskirts of Antonito, Colorado. This was no ordinary cemetery, with the high desert winds whistling through homemade tombstones, some crafted from stone, others simply poured from concrete. But the real difference was that it appeared that there had been party there the night before. Each tombstone was adorned with plates of food, votive candles, bottles of spirits, decorations, evidence of a remembering of those that had gone before by sharing the things that they loved as if the departed were still here.
Attending one of these celebrations as a respectful observer, if not as an active participant, is waaaay up there on my bucket list.
So I would like to extend this Día de los Muertos, this time of Remembrance, to those inmates that have went on before. It is said that as long as a man’s stories are remembered, he will remain immortal, and the same is true of dogs, at least here at the Casa del Whackos.
First, there was Stevie Mae, the janky-eyed white boxer mix, that at first was so elusive that it took me weeks to actually convince her to come home with me. The post and video of her eventual capture still has the second largest post count of any on this page, exceeded only by the post announcing her surreal passing away at my bedside. If she were here today, and I do believe that in a way she is, she would be sprawled out on Charlie like dots on a domino. Vaya con Dios, Stevie.
Then there is Max E. Million, the very epitome of loyalty and devotion. He filled a void at one of those rare times when there were no other “special” dogs at the Casa, and he was special. Max loved nothing better than travel, perched for endless hours on the armrest of my old Impala, where no amount of coercion could unseat him. Believe it or not, his favorite treat was peppermint Tic Tacs; the slightest rattle of the plastic container would cause him to snap to rapt attention. There’s something odd about a dog that licks your face with perpetually minty-fresh breath, but that was Max, the Grand Old Man of the Casa.
Angel was mom’s dog, and as such, I don’t feel qualified to adequately comment on such a regal dog. She has agreed to post her words later in the comments section. I will say that I miss that mouthy old girl.
Then, the one I’ve been dreading writing about;
The story of Bull began on my first day of a new job, when I saw this starving Chihuahua with a broken front leg. Our meeting was in a way symbolic of a new beginning, as I had never wanted to get back into the trucking business, and I also had never wanted a Chihuahua, and on the same day, I got both, and both turned out to be great changes for all at the Casa. Bull was a dichotomy of a dog, self assured but never arrogant, loyal but not clingy, bold but not aggressive; unfortunately, it was his boldness that was his downfall. I would love to find another like him, but I fear that he has no peer, and I would live in perpetual disappointment. Vaya con Dios, El Zurdo.
This is why that when my friend, Gary Golden, approached me about creating a page honoring Bull, the little dog with the big heart, I didn’t have to meditate on it for a second. I haven’t even seen it myself, but judging by the sheer magic he performed on Charlie’s book cover, I can’t help but think that the new website will be incredible as well…