Saturday, December 22, 2007

Copito: 2006-2007

Yesterday I woke up an buried my dog, Copito, in his favorite snoozing spot next to the driveway in the shade of the tropical dry forest. It was pretty emotional for me and I wept like a widow as I chiseled away at the dry, caked soil with my pick-axe and shovel in the cool, early morning just after daybreak, before the heat of the tropical sun kicked into broil.

The day before, my wife received a tearful call from her very upset sister while we were in Liberia, relaying the news of Copito's death. He had been attacked by a pack of three large dogs on the beach in front of my father-in-law's restaurant. Copito only weighed 10 kilos and had never been in a fight before. He was low-hanging fruit for the bloodthirsty pack. A group of teenagers tried their best to fend off the attackers with sticks and beer bottles. But the pack proved too tough for them and when they finally relented, Copito's body lay broken, bloody and lifeless in the sand. My other dog's immediately began to howl in mourning. Their compadre had fallen.

It was upsetting to all who witnessed the grisly event. Guests at the restaurant were appalled. Little kids were crying in fear of the pack of dogs, the turmoil of the fight and the sounds of ferocity and death. My family was upset because, "...it could have been a little kid!"

The teenagers called the cops. The owner of the dogs was located. He was apologetic and gave my wife's nephew 20,000 colones ($40 US) in good faith as recompensa (compensation). Whatever. There's no dollar amount you could put on Copito's short, happy life that could make up for his death. Especially the manner in which it ended.

Upon my return to the beach, I got the whole story and saw the bitten thumb of one of the teenager's who got too close during the fight. I went to visit the owner of the dogs to recover Copito's body. He's the caretaker of the Ecotel in Playa Hermosa - a shithole of a backpacker "hotel" on the beach. He's European. He's been here in Playa Hermosa for 16 years and knows my family. His voice was shaky and he was expecting a confrontation. I was calm and listened to his story. He was a dog lover. He was very sorry. He normally was the one to walk the dogs on the beach and when he walked them he had control of them. But, apparently, a couple of his guests were out walking the dogs without his permission and the dogs, being without their master, went berserk.

I told him that I didn't want any trouble, that what had passed was in the past, that all I wanted was Copito's body so I could bury him. The whole conversation took place through the wire mesh of a drive gate. He retrieved the body in a black trash bag and flung it over the top of the gate. I took it, thanked him and left.

Whe I returned I found out a little more about this guy. And now I feel I was probably too nice to him. He's had problems with the law before - police and immigration. Immigration shut down the Ecotel because the caretaker was working without having residencia - a big "no, no". I also found out that he has about 25 dogs on the property. This, too has caused him problems with the law and neighbors. He's pretty much holed-up on the property. No one likes him, respects him or associates with him.

Yesterday evening one of the dogs that killed Copito showed up at the restaurant while Carla and I were walking Laila on the beach with my remaining two dogs. As the dog ran toward us - a Black Lab - one of the waiter's at the restaurant was screaming, "El es el perro quien mató Copito!!!" ("He's the dog who killed Copito!!!"). We froze. My tiny little dog Madona, went right at him, barking and snapping. I expected the worst. But the Lab turned around and left as fast as he had arrived. We continued our walk as I pined in my mind, "This isn't over yet..."

I inherited Copito from my sister-in-law when he started spending nights at my house after she had her second kid and couldn't really take care of the dog anymore. But more than that, he liked hanging out with Garcia and Madona, my other two dogs. They quickly became an inseparable pack. Until day-before-yesterday.

So, "Cheers!", to you, Copito. I loved you buddy. Hope it's nothing but milkbones and bitches where you are now. ¡Pura vida!


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