The hotel next door has a ton of dogs. Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but at least 8-10, not counting the new litter of puppies born to one of the dogs that was supposedly “fixed” (welcome to Ecuador!) Some of the dogs are strays who just stayed, some are rescues, some are pups of the others and some are owned by people staying there. Although all nice individually, bundled together they make quite a pack and do a great job of frightening people passing by on the beach, visitors to the hotel and even would be guests (not great for business!) They “packed” after me the first few times I walked by on the beach, but I stood my ground and they backed down. Since then, I’ve been to the hotel for various things and learned most of their names, so when I’m approached with a bark, I just say their name and they go on their way.
Yesterday morning, as I headed down the beach, a few of the dogs were out but hardly gave me notice. Shortly after I had walked a little ways beyond the hotel, I felt something brush under my hand and looked down to see that one of the dogs that was not there as I walked by, had joined me and brushed his head against my hand to let me know he was there. Then I saw the momma dog had come along too. However, I knew she wouldn’t go far from her puppies, so sure enough, I looked up a few moments later and she was nowhere to be seen. But Socks (the other dog) once again brushed under my other hand, to let me know he was still along for the ride. Part of me was grateful for the company, but I really didn’t want to encourage him because my mind was full of all the future ramifications (the pack joining in on future days and my “liability” of their actions as they encountered other people on the beach when they were with me). So I didn’t pet him or say anything to him, but just kept on walking. However, he stayed with me all along the way and when I arrived at my “prayer log,” he climbed the embankment on the beach and then quietly laid down beside me. A few times while I was there he got up to go explore, but always after a few minutes returned to his resting spot near me. When I arose to leave, he dutifully followed along. Then at one point I heard him behind me barking and turned to see some people walking behind me in the distance – and he was standing between them and me and barking as if to warn me about them and tell them to keep their distance from me. When I arrived back at my beach, a few of his friends joined him and I greeted some friends I saw on the beach and stopped to talk a few minutes. Then I headed up to my house, certain the dogs would stay behind (since one of the friends I spoke to lives at the hotel). But all three followed me to my house and then sniffed all around outside after I went in. I just went about my business, assuming they would go home shortly and I didn’t see them after long. However, sometime later I looked up to see Charcoal in her window looking down with the funniest look on her face. And when I went to investigate, sure enough, there was Socks laying in the shade below her window! A few minutes later, the fruit and veggie truck arrived. I went out to walk across the road to meet him and Socks followed me there and back and returned to lay in his spot under the window. All this devotion and I hardly said a word to him – imagine what I would get if I gave him a dog cookie (which I was dying to do!) Eventually he left to return to his food and friends, but it will be interesting to see what future encounters we may have.
In the meantime, today I walked down for my last official one-on-one beach time with Tag. The morning I moved was an emotional farewell for me as it was the last regular beach day we would have together. I am a 30 minute brisk walk one way to get to him and I knew my visits would be greatly reduced. Today was only the third time in the four weeks I’ve lived here that I made the trek. But Bill and Elaine are back in Ecuador (we’ve touched base, but I’ve yet to see them – hopefully we will match up soon!) and shortly Tag will go live with them in their development. So although I will still get to see him, our special private beach days have come to an end. It was very emotional for me as he has been such a constant through some really difficult times. As I mentioned in my Change and Tag and Me posts, we have been each others company when our other friends were gone. Today was much more subdued than our other times together. I think he sensed the “winds of change” as well. We sat quietly together and eventually I gave him a full body rub that obviously made him feel like he was in puppy heaven – he fell fast asleep!
Although I promised Charcoal a dog-free home (which she deserves for having endured all the upheaval to come here with me and living in “doggie zones” up until now), I am grateful for the opportunities God has given for some companionship from “man’s best friend.”