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Italo and Jaime are best friends
in both work and leisure,
whose means of survival,
and frequent revival,
as well as spiritual treasure
are Greek philosophy
and Italian gastronomy.

They don’t look like poodles
but have learned to stay cool,
be patient, appear hungry and drool
near the Italian restaurant door
at lunctime, casting appealing looks
at customers, waiters and cooks
who’ll bring them pasta and noodles
until they can eat no more.

And when their heavy gourmet day ends
they might hide their furry faces
and sleep in comfy shady places
or wherever fancy takes
until another day breaks.

Alberto’s gang will safeguard you.
They’ll work for any scraps of food
(bread fills them up and fruit will do
though meat and bones are really good),
wag their tails to greet mothers,
bark and growl to scare most others.

They work on alleys that are confined,
with brick walls, iron gates,
and daily routines well defined
– a fact Alberto both loves and hates,
for when the sun goes down at last,
the house owners start to shout
ushering these loyal wardens out
and, as the alley gates are closed for night,
they must retire out of sight
to begin their nocturnal rite.

So the wild bunch gallops fast
under the moon high and bright,
happily barking, homeless, yet free,
to where they’re allowed to be,
away from the tired neighbourhood
through alleys, parks, the wood,
past the spray-painted walls
– where their shadows catch the eye
as the car lights flash by –
towards the late-night malls
near which one often sees
waste bags full of food
hanging from trees.

Lala is a one-house pet,
living out but inside a patio
closed behind the panelled iron fence
and the chicken wire net
of Villa de Juan Angelico
where she was brought as a puppy,
young, happy and floppy,
and stayed ever since
living a healthy life
eating processed food and mince
with no other obligation
(or was it nervous fixation?)
than to bark and growl at passers by
she doesn’t know, – not even why –
but as a faithful dog
she does her job.

Sure, she’s quite happy, but also jealous
of those freely runnings fellas
and drools after flavours
of moldy cheese and half rotten meat
such as Patricio’s mob
receive as frequent favours
from people of the same street.

Yes, there are people with hearts and minds
like the dog lady on Cerro Carcel who
is always ready to care and willing to do
the best she can whenever she finds
an orphan puppy hungry or lame
or any stray dog paralysed with pain.

There are also those who hate
dogs both in and outside the gate,
dogs of the city, forest and farm,
– heartless human sharks
not softened by dog charm.

Annoyed by little howls or barks
or having received some harmless dog bite
or, most probably, out of fear and spite,
they fill up with anger and want to cause harm.

However, most of them only bitterly curse
these creatures they would never nurse,
and never allow in their home
or give anything decent to eat.
In fact, they’d be scared to meet
the likes of Lala and Gerome.

But there was one nasty neighbour
who, as his main labour,
– to destroy the whole breed,
and not content with less –
mixed broken glass in dog feed,
or in minced beef or pork
then lured the neighbours’ dogs to eat
the gut piercing meat,
and watched the bloody mess
caused by his sadistic work.

Another used a simpler way
he caught and hung dogs in fence posts
in the gardens of their hosts
to stop them barking all day…

Dogs know what dogs are worth,
right from their birth,
it’s those humans who
obviously don’t
judged by what they do
and what they won’t.

Like the people who choose their dogs,
just to treat them like soulless logs
whether they are mixed or pure,
bringing up canine disasters
whom no-one can cure.

But free dogs can choose their masters,
like Ronaldo who, optimistic and sure,
stands guard on General Mackenna
alert with his nasal antenna
until comes a promising fragrance
attached to a person
who will give him a chance
to latch on and follow around
like a professional security hound,
– until other pleasant smells
cast new spells…