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For Dog's Sake

From Frightened of Fido to Dog Devotion

I'm a dog lover. That wasn't always the case. When I was a kid, my father's boss Ramon(who also declared himself our godfather) gave us a brown poodle on us and three days later took it away. Mom told us the original owner had asked for it back. Ramon, to fix things, replaced it with a sickly french poodle that my parents named Bambuco, a type of popular Colombian music. Since nobody in the family knew how to deal with dogs, he lived on a chain in the kitchen. I felt sorry for him, especially because Chipalito, the Siamese cat named after a river near Ibague, used to commandeer his bed. Bambuco would just watch with forlorn eyes as Chipalito made herself comfortable. Even though it's masculine, we didn't change her name even after we found out she was pregnant and had four kittens. Yeah, there wasn't much experience with animals in our family. When my parents were out of town, I would let Bambuco loose down the long, narrow kitchen hallway so he could run and jump. I was glad he had those moments of freedom but I was also scared of him. I would run to the end of the hall and hold the swinging door closed so he wouldn't, in my mind, overtake me and bite my face off.

My grandfather Juan Uribe had a huge german shepherd named Kasan in his house when we went to visit him in Ibague. Kasan had a big space to roam around in by the back patio where the washing was done. I never went back there. Kasan with his huge teeth and murderous eyes was more terrifying than watching the MGM lion roar on TV. The only one who knew how to handle him was Abuelo Juan, who had a tendency to also bark at humans. Luckily there were gates everywhere so Kasan couldn't go up the stairs and bite me.

My fear of dogs continued into my teens until I made the acquaintance of Olaf. The first time we met was in, Sara's apartment, my best friend in high school. She had already warned me he was a Great Dane but when I saw this creature, the size of a small horse, I leapt onto her bed. He came up to the edge, looking right at me. Then he slurped my hand with his tongue. It was strong and felt like sandpaper. He drooled; I melted. "He likes you," said Sara. What? Dogs this size were friendly? In an instant my fear of dogs was forever changed by this slobbery gentle giant. Years later, I adopted an adorable shitzu named Chiquita and finally understood that nipping doesn't necessarily mean your dog is going to rip your hand out; they're just trying to get your attention.

"Kasan with his huge teeth and murderous eyes was more terrifying to me than watching the MGM lion roar on TV"

A Walk on the Wild Side

Recently on Next Door, a Los Angeles neighborhood app, I read about a husky named Duke in a shelter who needed to be walked.I looked at his picture; he was gorgeous. I wondered if I could handle a husky. Chiquita had been relatively easy to walk, swishing her hips with a model-like gait. I sent a message anyway and received a quick response from Ronnie Krokdal, dog rescuer. Wednesday I was free and I decided that would be the day. When Ronnie texted back that morning with the address, I suddenly felt queasy. Huskies are used to pulling sleds in the Arctic. What if I couldn't control him and he ran away? Or started biting me? I swallowed my fear and arrived at the appointed time. There were about 10 dogs and one was more gargantuan than the next. What had i gotten myself into? Then I saw Duke. His teeth looked big. He jumped up as soon as Steve opened the door, almost knocking me down and started nipping my hands. But as soon I felt them, I knew his bites were playful. He was just excited. What scared me was the sheer power of this dog. "You'll be fine," said Steve, sensing my nervousness. He opened the back door and off we went.

"Duke! Stop!" I kept yelling, as I tried to rein him in. The only thing that slowed him down was his need to pee and poo. I felt like he could take off with me flying behind him, like a cartoon. After ten minutes he tugged at his leash slightly less. He sniffed everything: the grass, the cement, the trees, the exposed brick. He was so happy that we kept walking. I figured he needed the exercise. When we got back to the shelter, I hugged him and he licked me. He even stood still long enough to let me take a picture.

Later, Ronnie texted that Duke was a rescue. She'd found him starving and chained on skid row, living with a homeless person who couldn't afford to feed him. Ronnie provided vaccinations, medicines and food to get him healthier. When the homeless person disappeared, Ronnie got Duke fully vetted and put him in boarding while she searched for a foster home for him.

Last week, right before taking him out for the third time, I found out a trainer was on his way to pick up Duke and take him to Orange County for behavioral training. I took him out, then played and tried to pet him but he was so excited, he kept nipping me. I let him. It didn't hurt and I knew they were only love bites anyway.

I hope he finds a good home. He will make someone very happy.

To read more about Ronnie and other wonderful animal rescue volunteers in Los Angeles:

Pilar Uribe
Pilar Uribe is an actor and voice talent, known for Yo soy Betty, la fea (1999), Wonderguy (1993) and Second Extinction (2020). Catch Pilar in video games, feature films, and tv shows + follow on Instagram and YouTube for more...


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