Mexico City, Mexico
By Edgard Garrido
A woman approached me while I was taking pictures of a leaflet with information on a purebred dog that had gone missing in Parque Mexico. She was on a bike and she had a dog with her whose head easily reached my belly. She asked me if I was doing a story and she introduced herself as Mariam Luzcan “a protector of dogs and a true dog lover”. She was dressed in black and covered with what I suppose was dog hair and lots of dirt, she smelled like dog too. But I liked her so we agreed to meet again in a couple of days and do a story together on missing dogs.
In Mexico City, dog kidnapping has become another way of making an illegal, but quick, buck. It is becoming more common as many of the capital dwellers own lots of dogs. And I mean lots – not one or two, but four or even six or seven pooches at a time. Of course there is a wide range of businesses dedicated to the well-being of man’s best friend. There are dog hairdressers, dog clothing lines, specialty food stores, dog hotels, companies that arrange adoptions for “orphaned” dogs, security for dogs, massages for dogs, crematoriums for dogs, you name it.
In a country where half of the population lives in poverty and where drug violence has killed more than 70,000 people so far, I find this overwhelming love towards an animal which I have never been able to relate to, a bit disturbing.
Mariam told me that at some point in her life she decided not to have children but instead dedicated herself to the strays she picks up from the streets. When I visited Mariam at her house, I understood perfectly what she meant: the moment I entered the house, 42 dogs of all sizes raced towards me and started jumping on me while barking all at the same time and generously drooling over my face.
I have to admit, I’m afraid of dogs. It’s the only thing I’m really afraid of. All my friends and family members know this, as I’ve been terrified of dogs since I was young. I was petrified when Mariam left me alone with them while she went to fetch some water from the kitchen. The 42 dogs were playing around me, barking, covering me with slobber and in general behaving like I had become their best pal. One even put his paws on my chest to lick my face, completely ignoring my state of horror. When I caught sight of the beautiful painting of a tree on the wall opposite me, I started to regain some serenity but I kept on asking myself what I was doing there?