The Mongrel Microcosm: A Texas Tragedy
And now I have my own small, sad—but significant—story.
When my parents first moved into their current house in
north Texas, there was a lot of excitement. They
looked forward to a barn with horses and the
small-town living that would allow for us children
wander freely around the neighborhood, the woods and
the nearby creek. As a five year old, I was thrilled at
the idea of having an upstairs room—and lots of pets.
come from an
animal-loving family. The presence of furry (or
scaly) friends was a constant reality for me. And, no
matter how many
dogs, cats, iguanas, turtles, horses, fish or hermit
crabs we had,
every loss was a big one.
That said, there are always favorites. Ugly but
loving, our mongrel bitch
Anubis had a sweet way of grunting responses when we
spoke to her, turning
flips of excitement when we turned on the
lawnmower, and patiently tolerating the many young
children (and their tendency to
dress her up in costumes). She survived being hit by
a car when we were in middle school, though she lost one
of her legs due to a bad veterinarian. She didn`t chase
the cats, and even though she only had three legs, she
was a brave guard dog.
The one major problem with our house in the country was
the country road. Privately owned, it was in constant
disrepair. And the neighborhood could never agree on a
fair and proper course of action.
It was only this past month, 17 years after we moved in,
that the first real progress began in fixing the
Not surprisingly in Texas—as increasingly across the
country—the construction crew that came out two weeks
entirely Mexican, and completely
English-deficient. But, my parents figured, the
management could communicate. So it didn`t really
But it did. Because of the
drought Texas is
currently experiencing, our horses, Dancer and
Majid, were being kept in the front pasture. It runs
along part of the road, and therefore gives the workers
a clear view of the animals as they
graze, roll and go about their horsey business.
Imagine my parents` shock and anger when they realized
that the construction workers, when they should have
been working on our road, were instead
intentionally frightening the horses into a great
frenzy of galloping,
rearing and cries of alarm!
Seeing the danger of this situation (the
horses could hurt themselves any number of ways), my
mother went out to the front pasture to calm down them,
especially Majid, the jumpiest of the two. After about
an hour of soothing noises, special treats, petting and
generally comforting the horses, she finally got him
The Mexican workers could see all of this as it played
out—their machines and dumb behavior working the horses
up, and my Mom working so hard to calm them back down.
But as soon as she turned from Majid to walk back to the
house, one of the workers climbed up in one of his large
machines and honked the horn—just to frighten the horses
As if this weren`t enough, however, later that day, my
Mom was driving my sister to work when they saw Anubis`
body in a ditch down the road.
Not only had our old pet been struck and killed, but the
workers—the only people who had been on the road that
morning—hadn`t even felt the need to report it to anyone
in neighborhood. Instead, they left her in a ditch as if
she were nothing but road kill.
Immediately, my Dad called a halt on the road work. He
made the whole crew sit idle until an English-speaking
manager arrived, and he could explain what had been
kind of person thinks that frightening animals and
their owners is funny? I can`t imagine.
What if Anubis could have survived?
What if, instead of Anubis, one of the
many small children had been hit by the machines?
think of this especially because of a story that my
brother just brought home from Mexico after spending
last semester there. One of his friends saw a small boy
run over and killed in the street. But, because no one
wanted to get in trouble with
the police, and (according to my brother) because of
machismo attitude which isn`t supposed to show
emotion, no one
stopped to help. No one
called the police, or ran to get the family—the
good Samaritan, my brother said, gets pinned with
Needless to say, the word has gone around our
neighborhood. Everyone is keeping their pets (and their
kids) in the backyard.
Another bit of America enriched by immigration.
When my father was demanding answers from the
construction site manager, his only response was:
“Well, they [the workers] must not have been
around horses before.”
My Mom replied: “You don`t need to have been around
horses, all you need is eyes and a brain.”
But eyes and a brain can`t make up for the kind of
cultural difference that would leave a beloved pet
dying in a ditch—or, scaling up from microcosm so
tragically provided by my beloved old mongrel, destroy a
Athena Kerry (email
recently graduated from a Catholic university somewhere in