Me (and a three-month-old Benny). Mexican writer living in Curaçao. Dog behaviorist in training (for coaches, see below). Clothes pockets contain dog treats and cigarette butts. Lives in flip-flops, doesn't believe in pedicures (even if she could afford them). Happiest with the pack at the beach or the Kabouterbos, cappuccino in hand. Hasn't worn makeup in years. Prefers dogs to most people (see below for one exception). Arrogant, petty, and a snobbish know-it-all, gets reality checks but—apparently—not often enough to mend her ways. Still, the pack seems to love her.
Cor. Wonderful, tolerant, patient beyond endurance. The most easygoing of us all. Undemanding, adaptable. Somewhat stubborn, but never petulant. Arrogance is a mystery to him. He was born Zen, doesn't even know it--and still doesn't understand why I admire him so much. We changed his life, me and the pack, not necessarily for the better, and still he loves us, puts up with us, cares for us all with a quiet devotion that makes us all feel coddled and safe.
Panchita (13 kg), where it all began. The best-behaved dog you'll ever know (not my doing; she was like that already, when we picked her up off the street). Eats so ladylike I often feel I should provide cutlery and a linen napkin. Don't underestimate her, though: she's the Alpha of the pack, and rules it with an iron, if sometimes kid-gloved, hand.
Rusty. 25 kg. She's convinced she's a lapdog. Sweet, mild-mannered, but she's got a streak of independence we're not sure we can--or should--tame. At night she sneaks out for a stroll around the neighborhood. Well, sneaks isn't really appropriate. She flies over a 1.70 meter gate. Escape Artist #1.
Winter. 13 kg. Napoleon complex. Starved for attention. No matter how long you pet her, she can always have more. Indeed, with a not-so-gentle bump to your now idle hand, she demands it. One of the oldest in the pack--not that you'd be able to tell if you see her go wild in the mornings when I open the doors, or when we're coming home. Or when it's Beach Day. Or mealtime. Or when the neighbor's gardener turns on the blower. Or when a cyclist happens past the gate. Or...
Sasha, little tiny (6 kg) Sasha, so scared of the world. Well, not the world. Just humans. Will avoid contact at (almost) any cost—unless there's fireworks. Sleeps on couches if we're not looking. Steals food from the others, too, and has paid the price (and we've paid the vet bills) a couple of times. Another Napoleon complex. But the pack loves her, and she loves them. Sort of.
Duncan (23 kg), Terrorist #1. Steals food—human food—from the kitchen counter. Chews on anything, especially if it's something he's not supposed to, like, say, Cor's dress shoes, or my last surviving pair of glasses. Duncan's got me wrapped around his dewclaw. Born at home in November 2012 together with Sam and Benny, and four other siblings we managed to find excellent homes for. But Duncan I couldn't bear to even put up for adoption. From the moment his face became distinguishable from the others, from the moment his eyes looked at me and saw me... I was in, head over heels.
Sam. 18 kg. Scaredy Sam. Anti-social Sam. Terrorist #2. Duncan's brother, originally up for adoption, but when it came time to let him go, I found no home, no family, good as it might be, was good enough. He's cute beyond words, beyond photos, beyond metaphors. He's our Escape Artist #2, although he doesn't so much escape out as he breaks in--into the house at night, looking for us, and since he can't break into the bedroom, he takes it out on the sofa cushions. Which is why now he sleeps next to my bed and pretty much goes everywhere--supermarket, car wash, tax office--with me.
Benny. 25 kg. Sweet, sad Benny. Terrorist #3. There's some Bull Terrier in him, we're convinced. Originally up for adoption, too, but—well. He's soft and shy, though you'd be making a mistake if you think that means he's a pushover. Like Sam, he dislikes strangers--human or otherwise, and in the company of the pack he'll become defensive, protective of them and his territory. He always looks so sad, Shar Pei style. But he can smile, too, and it's the kind of smile that brightens one's whole day. Cor developed an affinity for Benny, perhaps similar to mine with Duncan; he's Cor's dog in many ways, and that relationship fills my heart.