Vicente José Rogers Cruz – part 2

Dear readers,

They grow up fast, don’t they? Children. Dogs. Pets in general. Not that children should be labeled pets. It’s been a month since I last wrote about Vicente, our little rescued pup who seems a lot less little by the day. We took him in when he was a month old. He was barely a kilogram and a helpless little thing, suffering from an array of stomach problems, with worms to parasites, that gave him a notable little belly earning him the nickname panzon, roughly meaning potbelly. He now weighs in at 3.5 kilos (and that was vet’s assessment last week), with no stomach issues and a growing confidence, intelligence and strength that definitely comes from his German Shepherd side. He also has fuller face, a stubborn personality, and is quite protective of Pamela and I. We are now able to take him out and he he now sizes up people and dogs, and circles us, ensuring we’re safe first. I know this is common with dogs, but it reminds me of my brother’s German Shepherds. I confess that I have always been nervous around dogs, and I always get annoyed of owners who claim their dogs are fine and safe, even when baring their teeth. I have made a promise to myself that I won’t be that type of owner. 

I have only kept cats (and birds and gerbils and hamsters) before, and I still kind of prefer them. Their personalities, being independent and cleaner and less demanding. I don’t think I’ll be able to have cats with Frido. Like Frido, Pamela isn’t a fan of cats. Cats aren’t very popular in Honduras in general, suffering all sorts of abuse and cruelty, which I believe has evolved them into more hostile and less friendly creatures on this side of the world, especially to humanoids, all based on silly non-truths and superstition. They can still be friendly and loyal, less so than dogs I agree, yet they have so much more grace, style, intelligence and arrogance, which I love. Everyday I still miss the two cats we had, Huey and Oscar, now in cat heaven.

I still find myself wondering how I talked myself into having a dog. I’m sure my family think the same. You can tell from my earlier posts I have not always been a canine fan, having been attacked by a few, one of which hospitalized me and left me with stitches. It’s not to say I don’t enjoy or love Vicente. He’s a loyal little man. But the care and attention he demands is exhausting. Saying that, I wasn’t expecting an easy ride.

Having a dog is like having a child, although that may well be a brainless statement because I don’t have kids, so I am sure parents are thinking “this boy hasn’t a clue”, but you get the message. Understanding their mentality as a pack animal, the behaviour and training they need, has lead me to read a couple of books on dogs and watch a few YouTube videos. One of the said books is Think Dog by John Fisher, a famous dog psychologist. He has given me much food for thought, especially in toilet training and nipping. Vicente didn’t get the full training from his own mother (she unfortunately died in a fire), which is essential for the first couple of months in a dog’s life, as it teaches it how to bite and more elements of the pack instinct. We have tried to teach Vicente through yelping and positive behaviour reinforcement, but it tries our patience. Pooing and weeing in all areas of the house is also an issue. We have got through forests of newspapers, using special dog perfumes and repellent​s, yet it doesn’t seem to work. He does understand commands sit, stay, stop, and come, and he knows he must be sat before he gets food. He also retrieves balls for us, something we barely had to teach, which makes me wonder if he has some sort of retriever blood in him. He knows not to mess with Frido (he received a sucker punch to the nose from sweet southpaw from Frido’s swiping beak once; that proved to be the best deterrent). He has lots of toys, one of which includes a squeaky chicken which he loves. He also keeps stealing Pam’s shoes and leaving big teeth marks in the impossibly high heels (Pamela has more shoes than a millipede has feet, so don’t feel too sorry for her). He alsohates baths, which is a surprise because he seems to want to jump and roll in in every puddle he can find; the dirtier, the better (for him).

I have to be tough at times. I don’t particularly like to be. Punishments and deterrents are not easy. Some people smack or are aggressive to their dog. The book obviously says no. Dogs don’t really understand revenge punishments. They just read it as aggression. I am also learning about loyalty, dominance, and pack instinct, especially interacting and stroking the dog, why dogs cry or get jealous, their protectiveness over food. Sometimes I appreciate it. Sometimes I want to say, why can’t you behave like a cat? Cruel, I know, but cats are so much more chilled. I miss that a little.

Vicente is gaining fans in the neighbourhood. He’s not loud. Just adorable. We look forward to seeing him grow up, as he seems very obedient and loyal to us, just not to our shoes or trouser legs or bare heels. The vet is still a little unsure how big Vicente will be. She says medium-sized, judging by the size of his head and paws (I didn’t know you could judge a dog’s future size like that), although some friends think he will be bigger. I, for one, does not know what medium sized is. My main worry is that he eats like a horse, and what the future food bill will be.

In general though, so far so good.

If you have any doggy tips, please leave them below.

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About Nicholas Rogers

I am an English journalist/copywriter living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I have been here since 2011. I originally came to work with Casa Alianza, which supports street kids and vulnerable youths. I then stayed on, after meeting Pamela Cruz Lozano, who calls me her adopted Catracho. I work freelance journalism and I have my own translation business. Why did I come here? For the challenge, to open my mind and get out of my comfort zone. I love literature and I've written a book with street kids. I write novels, short stories and poetry, all of which you will find on this blog, as well as a lot of information about Honduras. View all posts by Nicholas Rogers

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