King, The Snowbird Dog

King on the beach with his owner and the water.

King was born on the streets of a small fishing village in Mexico. He must have been the smartest dog of the litter as he managed to stay alive while faced with hunger, traffic, animal control, disease and dog fights during the hottest days of the summer. He is a black male with short hair and has a little tuft of white on his chest like a tuxedo shirt. He is a regal looking dog who carries himself with pride. He looks like a King.

A few winters ago, the snowbirds arrived as usual. They eat well and generate a lot of garbage. The street dogs are in their glory finding expensive things like steak bones, chicken skin and pork chops. Many snowbirds save these bones for the lucky - and smart dogs that make themselves known at mealtimes. King was smart.

He also really lucked out. He found a snowbird couple that came to Mexico every winter for six months and always found a dog to feed leftovers too. They met King very early after their arrival and while he was hesitant to trust, they coaxed him into their lives. They took King on their morning walk every day. King was very proud and very social. They made gravy for his dinner every night. They put out fresh water for him every morning and they even began to let him sleep inside.

In exchange, King took on the job of guarding them and their house at night. He was loyal to them and he loved them - especially when they scratched behind his ears and told him that he was a good boy. Then they gave him a treat. He had only ever had people always chase him off. The snowbirds were kind and caring.

One night, they did not come home at suppertime. King paced and paced until he had no other option but to go out to the street garbage to get dinner before the rest of the dogs got it. He didn’t like the fights. Fortunately, they came home later and gave King his dinner and he soon realized that they would always be there for dinner - sometimes just a little later than others. He had nothing to worry about. He settled in to his forever life.

And Life was good.

Then came the end of the winter. The snowbirds patted him on the head one day and left in their car again. He was not worried. He had been trained now. He knew that they would be back. So he went to work guarding their house. They did not come back that night. Or the next or the next. King waited. He could not go back to the garbage. He forgot how. His food always came to him every night.

One day, he heard some english and went running. It was not them. He returned to the house and waited some more. He was hungry and he was thirsty but he would not leave his job. Finally, he had to get some scraps. He would go in the morning and return to the empty house and wait day after day for weeks.

One day he heard a car arrive. People were at his house. They weren’t his snowbirds but he was so excited and happy anyway. But wait, they started throwing rocks and sticks at him. He was confused. They were chasing him away. They were hurting him. He didn’t do anything to them. He only wanted to be loved and fed and look after them. What went wrong?

King went to live on the beach. He got into a fight with another dog who bit his face and caused an infection. It swelled up and hurt his eye. He was kicked by the men at the market near the garbage cans - his only source of food. His skin became infected with mites from poor nutrition and then people were even meaner to him. They were afraid of him. He thought he would die.

If he was going to survive, he had to get mean. He had to get tough. He learned to growl. When he growled, they let him near the garbage cans.

King knows that someday the snowbirds will be back. He just needs to find a way to survive for 6 months. There is not much garbage now and it is very hot but he has faith. The snowbirds are kind and caring. They have to come back don’t they? They would not just feed him, love him and leave him. Would they?

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