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.


Bad decisions – a rant

Dear readers,

Not a long post. More of a rhetorical question mixed with a rant.

Yes, as the title suggests, it’s about decisions. Vague, I know. But decisions. Why are people not very good at making them, especially those in power? I’m not arrogant or vain enough to believe I’m the best decision-maker in the world. I know I’m not.

Let’s get back to those in power. That’s my beef.  Those who make decisions based on personal or political interest or just plain idiocy that affects billions. Those behind the banking crisis, for example, but then hide themselves when the judges come calling. These decisions are nothing new; they’ve been going on since at dawn of civilisation, which seems more and more like an intrinisic flaw in our species. Yet only until recently we’ve been able to see these decisions to their fuller extent. Social media, the internet and 24 hour news ensures it comes at us thick and fast and aplenty. And each decision feels more and more depressing, omnious and out of our control. To me anyway; I’m not sure about you.

What decisions are you talking of then, sad sacks? I hear you saying. Those made by the current folk in power. Trump is obviously a great case study who’s made a few. From trying to provoke a war with North Korea, to sacking the head of the FBI, to adding higher taxing money transfers of immigrants in the US sending money back home to pay for a wall to, supposedly, keep them out (all based on vindiction, especially the last, which is not a strategy to prevent immigrants feeling the need to travel in the first place). These are decisions made powers who don’t really know what their doing.

FIFA. They’re also bad decision-makers. Corrupt decision-makers, let’s say, very much in bed with politics. The self-proclaimed football family is possibly the most hated in the neighborhood called planet Earth, whose family values are based on arrogrance, lies and fear, where sacking ethics judges investigating corruption to hide their wrong-doings and then shamelessly blame the press. Every decision they make now whiffs of corruption. Yet they get away with it.

Then you get decisions portrayed as “in the best interests of the people” yet there’s a huge slice of self-interest or bullshit and it whiffs up high above the fog mundane words. Politicians, the most machiavellian, are artists at this. David Cameron and Theresa May, especially. Forcing a referendum and then deciding on the worst possible option for an EU exit. The folk they serve are merely fodder for their reckless, self-interest. Intelligent they are. But the most round-about decisions they make. Every decision is a cascade, but it’s the public that crash on the rocks.

I’m sick of decisions. Sick of people who are useless at making them doing so ony behalf. It’s depressing. 

Yes. All this could be seen as a meaningless ramble. But I’m glad to have vented it.

I read the other day that Stephen Hawking once said that “human greed and stupidity are the greatest threats to Earth.”

He might well be right.

Death to bad decisions. Viva the sane ones

Little voice

Dear readers,

A little poem for my wife, who is a superstar with a million brilliant talents.

Little voice

Love is a glorious thing,

Especially when I hear my wife sing,

Even in the early hours,

When the dew’s being sucked by the waking flowers,

Even when the song’s a bit daft,

Bringing harmony to regaeton is her craft,

Even when she’s humming notes in the shower making me late for the job,

The curing chords makes the day less of a slog.

Yes, she’s the one who brings a smile to my tiring face,

Knowing her voice is just for me, in our place.

Vicente José Rogers Cruz

Dear readers,

No. Vicente is not our son. Not our human son, anyway. Hondurans have a culture for labelling their pets as their “hijo or hija“. But I assure you my wife was not nine months pregnant with the puppy in the picture attached (don’t worry, mum). Nor with Frida, who by the way is actually Frido, as she has been confirmed a he. My wife insists he is still a she, or transgender at least, but I think it’s due to her fondness of the artist Frida Kahlo and/or she likes to over do the fact that Frido suffers from female jealousy. 

Frido’s gender was confirmed when I went to an animal rescue centre in Colonia Kennedy called Casa de Noé – Lacaden to look at puppies. Quite an adventure, I must say. The centre is pretty much a porch which contains a zoo of animals, all of which have been found, abandoned or injured. Along with dogs and cats, there are monkies, owls, falcons, possums, parrots, doves, turtles and, the bizarrest of them all, a cat-rabbit. I didn’t realise they existed until I saw one. It has the facial appearence of a cat but the hind legs of a rabbit. I didn’t think to ask if it meowed or about its diet (nor what it tasted like, for that matter), but it did feel that I was in the presence of a mutant. It’s wrong and insensitive to say, I know, but it did leave me a little freaked for a couple of days.

Anyway, in one of the cages were white fronted amazons, the same as Frido. I said that I had always been suspicious of Frido’s gender, and I was right to. It turns out females wings are all green, while males have coloured plumage. She showed me the difference and there was no doubt that Frida was in fact Frido. The gender complexes Frido must have now…

Back to Vicente. My dearly beloved, by who I mean my wife, turns 30 this week. She is a dog person, and I think those who know me well are aware I am not (and having a dog only confirms even more to me that cats are far smarter). Despite this, I was determined to pleasemy wife by introducing a puppy to the household. I must admit, I knew relatively little about dogs. I still do. I had originally wanted to surprise my wife, but it proved impossible. I kind of let it slip, as I learned Pamela would be on vacations for a couple of weeks which would give her time with the puppy. She had been dreaming of it for a while, because she had a name in mind before even looking at the puppies. Vicente José. Named after the Mexican ranchero singer, Vicente Fernandez (I think), and José due to a family tradition of naming one of the male off spring by that name. I liked the name Tufts Vicente, as his ears looked like tufts. Tufts sounds like toughs, and having a dog that looks a little like a German Shepherd and Rottweiler cross needs a thuggish name that sounds like toughs. Suffice to say, the look on Pamela’s face when I told her of my idea about the name Tufts was all I needed to know that it was a name that wouldn’t stick.

It was my idea to have a street dog. Sorry, wrong. It was actually my brother-in-law’s, Juan José, who told me that mixed dogs, or street dogs, are often more humble and easier to manage than pedigrees. Vicente so far seems chilled (to an extent), but I have nothing to compare him with really. All dogs seem to be needy and attention-seeking. As suggested above, I’m a cat man. I have always been wary of dogs, especially after being bitten by one which left me with stitches on my abdomen. Furthermore, it used to wind me up (and it still does) that some dog owners don’t see that their dogs can be seen as potentionally dangerous. So adopting a street dog that is part German Shepherd, part Rottweiler, probably goes against the grain. So far, Vicente has been like therapy. A great addition to the family.

As it is the wee hours of the morning, I need to finish and get some sleep. Part two will be up in the coming days.

Angry poem

Dear readers,

I felt angry about someone. No. Not my wife. Just someone. They’ll remain anonymous. It’s not the best poem. Just a way of letting off steam and moving on.


Where do you come from? Where do you go?

Why do you say things, always gun-ho?

Why attack the messenger, trying to do his job?

Why do you eradicate him, by putting words in his gob?

Why are you full of insecurity? Do you think people can’t see it?

Why not evaluate yourself a little, and cast an eye on your own habits?

Do you like to bully the weak? Does it make you feel big?

Who is your tormenter, by the way? Do they stand over you like a tree to a twig?

Why do I keep asking you these questions? Are you smart enough to reply?

Send your answers on the back of a postcard, or even better, fuck off and say goodbye.

Abortion in Honduras

Dear readers,

An easy topic for peaceful reading, this is not. It’s polemical and heated (caused by the burning desires of the devil, one side of the argument might say), causing arguments, fights, riots, friendship loss and ill-feeling. This has very much been the case in Honduras in the past week, after Congress announced it is considering legalizing abortion in certain circumstances, such as rape. This, as you can imagine in a predominately Catholic country, has hit a nerve.

Pro-abortion activists will claim it’s progression and maybe point out ‘about time’. Personally I am surprised Congress is even considering the bill, especially with the influence the church holds over political issues. In some areas of the press it’s being framed as a militant feminist movement or a Western idea, while others view it as common sense and Honduras is catching up with the rest of the world. You decide.

Pro-life supporters, which are predominately more connected to the church, Catholic, Evangelical and other groups, as you might expect. Not necessarily older people, nor just machismo, but many young people, girls included, who have taken to the streets and social media with banners and all, to oppose the bill.

It’s polemical, like I said, and I often find I’m at loggerheads with myself on the issue. You see, when I was young, I was kind of pro-life, without being at all militant or religious about it. I believed that, as naïve as many of you might think, when the egg is fertilized, it is the beginning of life and we should protect it. As people, we should take responsibility for our actions. Then again, I was never that opposed to abortion. More to the point, I didn’t really understand the issue nor the fuss. 

Then, before I came to Honduras, I was probably more pro-abortion, but again, without being militant about it. It wasn’t really society I was influenced by, but more my former job at the Refugee Council. I remember reading a case about on Angolan woman who had been gang raped by seven soldiers. She was made pregnant and suffered trauma and didn’t want to keep it. The Angolan authorities forbade it so she had the baby. She came to the UK with her baby, but had it taken away after she was found to be mistreating it, in what the courts decided was a result of trauma. There’s a lot to take from the case, but it certainly moved me, as I was working with many women who had been violated and had suffered similar traumas. Of course, in these cases I empathised why a woman would want an abortion in such circumstances. As well as when a woman’s life could be in danger due to having the baby. And I felt the church should be more forgiving too.

It wasn’t until I became Catholic that I began to understand the other side again. Understanding that life is sacred. It should be given a chance, but still being sensitive too woman who have been abused or raped. As a female friend in the church said, a woman could still have the baby regardless of being raped. 

Easier said than done was my reply.

“But life still deserves a chance,” was her reply. “There are orphanages and people who want to adopt. Just because a woman doesn’t want a baby doesn’t mean she has to kill it. A human being can still live a successful life. It’s a gift from God.”

Again, something I can empathise with. She was short of labelling abortion as murder, but it was sitting on her tongue.

Back to the Honduras of making abortion legal, I still feel uneasy to give a straight answer. Machismo is an issue here. Girls and women are raped, and some men do go around having sex with women then run off without dealing with the consequences, and therefore leaving the girl stranded. This can lead to them trying to abort the baby illegally, which is dangerous and can be life-threatening. On this argument, I understand and empathise. When a woman (or couple for that matter) wants to abort because it’s not convenient to her (or them), well, this is where the sex education books have to come out and underline the consequences of having sex. The Catholic faith teaches judging others is a sin. But … we must all take responsibility, men and women alike. 

Now, females reading this might be thinking, “my body, my decision”, and I do feel women are at an unfair disadvantage in this regards, one which men will never quite fully understand. Still though, I feel it is a joint decision.

I am going to finish there. Mainly because it’s 3am. It’s a very big issue and I am sure I am missing a few points. Very free to share your views in the comments below.

Next topic of conversation … puppies.

Rant – Why has the term “refugee” become a “dirty word?”

Dear readers,

This is a rant. Slightly political. But mostly humane.

From 2008 to 2010, I worked for the British Refugee Council in Birmingham. I look back very fondly working alongside so many extraordinary people, many of whom were refugees and had experienced loss, fear and pain (emotional and physical) on a level that I still have problems comprehending today. My role wasn’t high up or major, but my experience was certainly character building and it opened my eyes to the real issues, but also racism. Not in the charity, mind, but on the streets. To the colleagues though, I will always be grateful for what they did for me personally. There is no price on “a real life education.”

Before I worked there, I always remember the term “asylum seeker” being a “dirty word”. By that I mean a term used by the right wing press in a general way to describe refugees. I didn’t really understand the technical meaning until I began working the Refugee Council, as well as the different forms of permissions to stay once a refugee gains asylum status. It was confusing then. I have no idea how it is now. I also had no idea how hard life was as an asylum seeker, especially a failed asylum seeker. 

When telling people that I worked for the Refugee Council, it would always be a lottery of reactions, inevitably, from “That’s commendable work” to “Send them home” and “Fuck off out my shop”. Many had built their ideason what they read in the press, and it was the same old thing, about them taking jobs (despite them not having permission to work) or earning more in welfare than native people (simply not true). Some people remained stubborn against argument, while others would listen and learn. But back then, I remember their faces would turn sour at the sound of the term “asylum seeker” but would lighten their mood at the word “refugee”.

Now, I understand the political landscapes in the UK and US have taken huge side steps to the right in recent months, which has had an impact on the environment and mood around the world. I also comprehend that times change, so does language change, and I haven’t been back in the UK since 2014. However, how we have arrived at a time that the word refugee conjures negative images in the mainstream press really saddens me. But also, it makes very embarrassing to label myself British. As a Brummie, I am proud of the city’s diverse mix of cultures and, on the most part, our welcoming nature, despite our droning accents which suggests otherwise. But the lack of tolerance (or in many cases outright hate) I read and hear in the British press, especially about refugees, people in the most need of help, does not sit well with me. In fact, it’s very uncomfortable.

What makes it worst is Britain’s involvement in recent conflicts, and its refusal to take in our fair share of the refugees. I try to defend my country, especially as I live abroad, but knowing this makes it difficult.

If we have arrived at an age where it’s okay to portray those in desperate need of help as dirty, I really am worried about the state of society. 

How do we fix it?