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His full name is Pico de Gallo Great Explorer of The Universe, and if you have enough time and patience to plow through his thick chihuahua dialect, he’d be happy to tell you his own story.
Really. He’s quite the talker.
Pico came to live with us almost eight years ago.
We’ve always had dogs, but Pico is the first one who wants to chat. He tries very hard to imitate human speech and sometimes his efforts approach YouTube quality. Yesterday, he said “Whoa!” when Jim said “Whoa!” after hitting a speed bump a bit too fast. He also grumbles under his breath like a sulky teenager when he doesn’t get his way. Wonder where he learned that?!
But mostly, Pico is a traveller and the road was where I first set eyes on him.
Licensed for Animal Rescue in the state of Mississippi, my sister, Deborah let me ride with her on a mission. Earlier that day, a woman called from her ranch about a cute little stray pup – not more than five pounds – who’d been dumped and living outside near her place for a while. To discourage the pup from coming to her house and risk being attacked by her dogs, she’d been feeding him down the road a piece. But, snow was predicted for that night and she feared he’d take his chances and come to the door. Deb and I had been on several errands that day – we were running late. It was cold and dark was closing in. We feared it might be too late for the poor thing. But, just as Deb turned her Honda Civic off the road …
…a scrawny tri-colored chihuahua-mix came running like the blazes down the long rutted dirt driveway with a big yeller dog snapping at his haunches. Deb did some fancy trick driving – skidded the civic sideways as she opened the door shouting, “Treats!” When the dust settled, I had a wormy patootie on my lap who would live through the night, and then some.
Later, back at the house, we washed and dried our Little Problem beside the fire, wondering what his name was.
He shivered and stared blankly as we tried every dog name but his own. Mama, who overheard us from the hallway, walked in and said “He’s Taco.” Instantly, all systems fired – ears, tail, eyes – sparked off sheer wonder and gratitude that someone had actually gotten it right. Mama sat down and picked up his teeny-tiny squirmy self by the underarms and held him this way and that for a thorough examination. “Um-hm. Everybody around here names their chihuahuas Taco.”
Okay, I had an aversion to that name, even though the little guy really seemed to like it. Mama suggested we change his name to Pico because it came close to the sound of his birth name. We did, and it took.
Later, at the veterinarian’s office, some mystery moved my hand to write “Pico de Gallo Great Explorer of The Universe” on the admittance form. An hour later, cleared for heart-worms, vaccinated and chipped, we drove to the airport and boarded our flight to San Diego.
Pico is street. He tries to knock over trash cans fifty times his size … hits on all the dog babes and picks fights with all the dog dudes (except his cousin, George). At home, he’s a lover but get him out on the town, or to a dog park and he can be a hot mess. He’s a mystery and will not or cannot part ways with a deep and feral past where he had to run or fight for every morsel and comfort.
We have no idea why he hates on snap dragons …
He even growls at them when I point them out in the garden on the stem. And how about this beautiful pillow made and designed for our Airstream. For some reason it must die.
… and there’s some things about his love life that could make the tabloids, but I’ll leave it at that.
On his very first day in Coronado, Pico squirmed under the gate and got thrown in dog jail. He doesn’t seem to care about having a record. I daresay, he may even be a little proud of it. Truth is, he’s even bit us – several times – and has even bit some of our friends. We’ve had dogs before, but this alpha chihuahua is something else! So, yes, Pico has issues. But, on the positive side, he’s one vigilant watch dog. Best watchdog we’ve ever had. He’s got our back and we know he’d fight to the death to protect us.
Pico de Gallo lives up to his name. He is a “little bit” of a fighter, a lover, and an explorer.
Sometimes he explores on his own:
Other times, he likes the comfort of supervision …
And, he’s energetic! At eight-years old, Pico can still walk for hours at a three-mile per hour pace. He’s our fitness dog and we take him everywhere. Recently, he’s become a kayaking enthusiast!
At first, he was unsupportive about leaving his home to go and live in Beauty full-time. He thought we were nuts …
to leave his neighborhood …
… and his best buddy and cousin, George …
But, slowly, he grew quite fond of his new lifestyle – adapting in his own way in his own time. He’s made this silver cave his personal “turf.”
I find refuge in my little minimalist kitchen where I prepare all our favorite meals. Jim finds peace in just sitting outside with a cigar as he rejoices in being free from the responsibilities of abundance.
Pico? He just loves his truck. And sometimes he even lets us drive it.
Arrival time is another high point, complete with the complimentary maximum surveillance inspection.
We all agree, Travel Day is the best. Good times. Fun routines, yummy treats and hanging out with Stateline Squirrel.
Pico perks to our rituals and routines. He watches us closely for visual signals – predictions of his future activities. When I go to the dining room table and reach up to unhook the hanging fruit basket, it’s moving time! … Maybe he thinks were going back to Coronado to see Auntie Barbie and George? Or to see Grandpapa in Mississippi, or Auntie Deborah in Tennessee? … But, once the fruit basket is down, he makes a mad dash for The Beast, takes his seat, front-and-center and stares straight ahead, ready for action. The mission is on. Star Wars music is in order here …
Make no mistake, Pico de Gallo, Great Explorer of The Universe is leaving his mark on the world.