Quite a few people have asked me recently about Moppit.
For example, when a crazy-ass San Pedro taxi driver with a “Pretty chicks only” decal on the back window of his dust-encrusted van knocked me off my bike and I was laid flat out in the street, a number of friends rushed up to me.
“How’s Moppit been?” one asked.
“Is Moppit adjusting to you OK? If not, I’d be glad to have her,” said another.
“Any time you want to go somewhere, I’ll babysit Moppit for you,” offered a third.
And so it goes.
OK! Enough! This stuff never happened.
I mean the taxi driver hitting me. Well yes, there are some awful taxi drivers but I’ve never once felt in jeopardy while bicycling around San Pedro.
The comments, though, are real. People just sort of love Moppit. And they care about her, especially if they know her history as a potlicker, rescue dog and beloved companion of the much beloved Sandy. After the loss of Sandy, Moppit was a bit of a clenched up ball of fur, an emotional wreck as far a dog emotions go. She quickly lost fur around her eyes and nose as infections and parasite attacked her compromised immune system. If a dog could grow self-conscious and develop low self-esteem, Moppit got it.
That was more than a year ago, when our good friend Marie Carroll asked if we would just take Moppit in for a week or so, until things settled, and maybe a new home could be found for her.
Things were settled in less than 48 hours. Rose Alcantara and I decided that Moppit had a home. And slowly, over the past year, and the watchful care of Dr. Innis and staff at San Pedro Animal Hospital and Selina Malko, who knows a thing or two about island dog maladies, Moppit has grown back into full-on doghood. All dog. All puppy.
Last night, after a triumphant appearance in Family Feud at the Truck Stop, I met up with Rose as she was walking Moppit on the beach. It is rare that the three of us get to hang out together and Moppit sensed that. She was tearing up and down the beach in full sprints, turning on a dime, sprinting back, running circles around us, then pulling up in a screeching halt to play dead for a few seconds. If no neck scratch or belly rub was forthcoming, she was off, doing it all over again.
Most fun ever.
This morning, I sat down with Moppit to talk about this dog’s life on the island.
I know. I’m as surprised as you at some of her answers.
So, Moppit, what has been your biggest challenge in the last year or so?
No offense, Bob, but I think it was training you and Rose to serve up a decent meal. You know, “potlicker” and “finicky eater” are not mutually exclusive terms. I think by now you know that when you serve that dry bagged stuff and I turn away from the bowl with sharp little snorts of disgust, well, you can do better.
Thank god, Rose loves to cook — and not just for you. Her boiled and chopped chicken with rice and veggies is pretty good stuff. With you, I get leftover chicken wings and that’s not all bad but a dog can’t live on scraps alone.
Well, yes, I guess it can, if I think back.
What do you enjoy most about our walks around the island, Moppit?
Two things, Bob. The first, of course, is raiding all the popular fishing spots for leftover sun-dried bait. I know you don’t like it but that takes me back to my childhood on the streets and docks of San Pedro. You’ve no idea how good that stuff tastes when all you’ve been eating is the left-over lickings in discarded styrofoam containers.
The second is peeing on coconuts. Hey, don’t judge. You have Facebook. My pals and I keep up with each other by leaving dribbles on the same coconuts up and down the Ambergris coast. You can learn a lot sniffing a pee-drenched coconut — like who is in alpha mode, who is on the make, who is suffering from parasites, who ate sardines for dinner last night, and who is new in town. Stuff like that.
Why do you chase iguanas and, then, you know …?
Let them get away, right?
Yeah, I imagine it seems silly to you.
But it is like this. I have these instincts that go back deep into my ancestry. I come from a family of sniffers, trackers, and hunters but I also respect that this is the 21st Century and the old “serving the master in the hunt” stuff is bullshit. So, this is how I make peace with my ancestry. I see an iguana sunning itself on a pile of rocks and I drop into full pursuit mode.
Now, you know and I know that these guys are probably the laziest animals on this island. They are never more than a few inches from their hole and safety. So, I chase. They hear my dog tags clanging and drop down into their holes long before I get there.
It is a win-win. I get exercise. The iguana gets to hone its survival skills and maybe has a good story to tell its mates later that night. You know?
It is so embarrassing when one of those guys is in such a sunshine stupor that they forget to flee. I have to pull up and pretend like it isn’t there! So sad. It is a wonder there are any of them left.
Remember the one that was sunning itself on the dock and I chased it right over the edge? I admit, it felt good from a predatory instinct standpoint — but I was also relieved that this one could swim back to shore. They don’t all swim, you know.
Can you explain the thing about big dogs?
It is not a “thing,” Bob. They want to kill me. How is that a “thing”?
Not all big dogs. Remember, Nemo at The Dive Bar was a baby German shepherd when we first met. She was smaller than me! Two weeks later, it was a different story. But Nemo has no awareness of her size. She thinks were equal and when she smacks me with a paw, I have to snap back, and she jumps back. Then we’re equals.
But some of those other dogs …
Remember the lady with the two beasts on the beach? They aren’t on the island anymore, thank god. But they went after me like I was a raw steak. Thanks for kicking them in the ribs by the way.
What was her comment to you? “Have you owned that dog long?”
I mean, what?
They attacked me, lady!
And your relationship to me is supposed to have a bearing on that?
By the way, we’ll take that whole “who owns who” business offline in a private discussion.
Right. I welcome that discussion. Let’s keep this moving though. What are some of your favorite things to do at the moment?
First and foremost? The golf cart thing. I love the motion, the breeze in my face when I’m sitting upright in the front seat. It should be obvious to you — my mouth is open, my tongue is hanging out and I have that glimmer in my eye, the one I use to charm the ladies.
The potholes and sharp turns and bumps — not so much. I love the looks on the faces of the potlickers when we drive by.
The envy of others, Bob, is its own reward.
What else? Sniffing. You can’t imagine the smells down here at ground level. Insane stuff. Bugs, birds, lizards, dog poop from other dogs, raccoons, mice, humans … man, it is an olfactory fiesta.
I know it seems rude but when my head is down, I am working the turf. Like nobody’s business. Except that it is everybody’s business and I want my nose in it. I’m a sniffer. I have a nose for the news. No shame in that!
What else? Oh, petting, scratching, and belly rubs. I don’t suppose you noticed that women can’t keep their hands off me, especially if they have a dog of their own back home. Ok, getting picked up still freaks me out a bit, but when someone does it slowly it is kind of cool. I’m digging all this interactive stuff.
Great. Now I’ve got that “Favorite Things” tune stuck on repeat in my head. Except for “warm woolen mittens and kittens” bit. Got no use for either.
You know I love a man in uniform. Give me a security guard in black boots and I am all over him. Shameless, I know. Can’t help myself.
I love scraps from the table, which you never give me. Even when I put on my best expectantly sad dog look. You are a hard case, sometimes, Bob.
I love curling up with you on the couch and doing my best cat impression while you rub my belly. If I knew how to purr, I would do it. So good. So good.
Water. I’m beginning to enjoy walking into the sea again. But only up to my belly. I like sticking my head under water, then springing out so I can shake and roll in the sand and just generally make a mess of myself.
Ooooh, it feels so good! The expression on your face is priceless, by the way.
Let’s see . . . one last thing I guess: Being healthy.
That’s a big one. I eat well. Get a lot of exercise. Make sure I get my 18 hours of sleep every day. And generally, keep a strong positive grip on my worldview.
Sure, I’ve added a couple of pounds since we hooked up but it is good weight, going to all the right places for a lady my age. I tend to stick to the shade when the sun is out.
Oh, and I meditate.
Don’t roll your eyes at me. You do the same thing. I see you sitting there with glazed eyes when I know you’re only thinking glazed donuts.
Oh! Oh! One last thing, I promise!
When we go on our walks and pass that yard full of dogs? The two yapping Taco Bell dogs and the other ones? You know the one. They bark at everybody. I love turning my back on them at one corner of the fence as they pile on top of each other, trying to get to me.
Only, they can’t because of the fence.
So then I bolt for the other end of the face and they trip over each other trying to keep up and — here’s the best part — I suddenly stop and they crash into each other, because, they have no breaks!
Man, if a dog could laugh, I’d be rolling in the sand.
What bugs you the most?
You, my friend. Look, when I take a chew toy outside and bury it in the sand, I expect it to remain buried. I don’t expect to come back inside and find it on my blanket. You know? All cleaned up and everything.
Surely you must appreciate the care I take in finding the perfect burial spot? Would I not try out a half-a-dozen different location if I were just goofing around? No. What gets buried in San Pedro stays buried in San Pedro.
But you never remember where you bury these things then I have to go buy you new chew toys.
That is beside the point.
Speaking of “beside the point,” can you please respect that I don’t chase after tennis balls, I don’t retrieve stuff, I don’t wear silly costumes, and I never do tricks.
Well, OK. Anything else to contribute here?
Well, wait. That leash thing.
You don’t hook me up to the leash a lot and I appreciate that, but when you do, I take off in this jaunty three-beat canter, like I’m a show dog at the Westminster. Head up, springy step …
What is that all about? I can’t help myself!
Do you think I’ve got some kennel club blue blood in these bones?
Wierd, I know. But I also kind of like taking the lead.
OK, that’s all the time we have for today, Moppit. Thanks for sharing.
Yeah, that’s cool. And thanks for the bacon. I won’t tell Rose.