La alargada sombra de mi perro 1 The NBP
Illustrations of the book "A dog a day", by Sally Muir. Illustrations by Sally Muir. 2018

The long shadow of my dog

Thousands of names fill our day to day with their stories, Lila, Turco, Bob, Owen, Boogie, Paolo, Lolita, Pepe, Ulysses, Dinga, Snow... and leave an indelible mark on our hearts when they leave us. They say that the world is dominated by those who do not know how to manage their emotions and that is why they need to feel powerful. Whether we know how to manage ourselves or not, what most of us need is to connect with the purity of feelings that awaken these furry beings.
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ave you ever noticed how much your dog’s shadow measures? My dog’s is about 10,000 kilometres long, which is not at all amazing given that its height, from the ground to the back, is 25 centimetres (yes, I admit it’s a “short legs” one). And yours… how much does your dog’s shadow measure? To find out, one should add several parameters: the level of love, of loyalty, the fidelity and patience, and the level of adaptation to your daily habits as a human being.

In fact, it is indifferent the physical height reached by the canid, because -as one can realize- that what projects are, actually, other immaterial aspects. I have seen projections that go to infinity, such as the one projected by Nus, a beautiful and loyal Kerry Blue Terrier, or that of the loving and anxious Truffle, tan-coloured and amber-coloured, or that projected by Blue, a huge German Shepherd puppy whose heart pops out of his mouth; not to mention Blackie, a Boxer who was born with urinary problems thanks (unfortunately) to the damn black market of dogs, and that a person whom I admire, along with the invaluable help of his family, managed to rescue. Talking about Mel, a big honey coloured mestiza with matching eyes, that lived in a protective (blessed protectors), is talking about a new opportunity full of love for her and her adoptive family. And I cannot forget the extraordinary pair that Eddy makes (a good-natured tabby, that if it stands on its hind legs exceeds me in stature) with Rocky Balboa, a Bichon Maltese that barely weighs a kilo and a half. Some others like Doggie, a Marilyn of 13 years, continue accompanying with infinite patience the adventures of its family (the last adventure has been sharing garden with a tricolour bunny called Iris).

In our current pets, little remains of their ancestor the wolf (30,000 years ago). Thousands of years of company and manipulation mean a lot, they have turned them into the best and most faithful companions, always attentive to our gaze.

Thousands of names fill our day to day with their stories, Lila, Turco, Bob, Owen, Boogie, Paolo, Lolita, Pepe, Ulysses, Dinga, Snow… and leave an indelible mark on our hearts when they leave us. They say that the world is dominated by those who do not know how to manage their emotions and that is why they need to feel powerful. Whether we know how to manage ourselves or not, what most of us need is to connect with the purity of feelings emanating from these furry that, today, are the result of much genetic manipulation, responding to the taste of our, surely, absurd historical whims (we want them, rounder or taller or longer or smaller or stronger or furrier…).

Illustration by Francina Cortés.

In our current pets, little remains of their ancestor the wolf (30,000 years ago). Thousands of years of company and manipulation mean a lot, they have turned them into them the best and most faithful companions, always attentive to our gaze. Helpful to the core, in exchange for prizes and with exhaustive training. Professionals dedicated to training have made many of them become the eyes of blind people, or magnificent trackers, or the best rescuers of accident victims. Real and fictional famous dogs are part of our history: White Fang (Jack London’s wolf), Laika (the most famous dog, that someone had the odd ideal to send into space), Precious Pupp (by Hanna-Barbera), Muttley (Dick Dastardly’s companion), Zero (the “ghost dog” by Tim Burton), Troylo (Antonio Gala’s), Snoopy (Charlie Brown’s Beagle), Milou (Tintin’s Fox Terrier). Today thousands of pictures of dogs that fill social networks appear daily. Some, like Jimmy -Rafael Mantesso’s white Bull Terrier- have managed to unleash the artistic creativity of their owners.

Cover of the book “A dog a day”, by Sally Muir. 2018

For those who do not know the artist Sally Muir, I recommend her book A Dog a Day, that she presents with this sentence: “This book is dedicated to my humans, to show them that I do not prefer dogs”, a book in which she recreates pictorially the character of the number of dogs she has met throughout her life.

Because the data sing or in this case -shall we say- “bark”: in the world there are more than 400 million dogs. In 2017 in Barcelona identified one dog for every ten citizens. More than 350 different races. The first fossil-remains of dogs buried together with humans date back 14,000 years. Figures that reiterate the significant importance that these beings have for us. They fascinate due to their sense of smell, being able to distinguish odours separately (that is why they are able to take the little anti-parasite pill off the pâté in which it is camouflaged and, of course, spit it out), with their vigilance capacity thanks to auditory acuity (they use 20 muscles to move their ears) and with their ability to hear many more sounds than us. The latest research has managed to decipher the meaning of the movement of the tail as the language of their behaviour.

They are also able, just like babies, to draw smiles in our faces because of the cute things they do. And, who does not feel good with a little warmth, affection and unconditional friendship? Maybe many of us wonder if we will one day be able to project our shadow beyond the shadow cast by our dogs!

Meow! (This will be for the next chapter…), I mean: Woof!