The Story of Chiquita | Part I
She walked into my life that day and changed it forever…
It seemed like any other regular day to me during that time in my life; an afternoon to be spent lazing about in the hot tropical sun on the beach in a small, surf town on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. As I took to the palm tree-lined pathway that provided access to my favourite beach spot, I soon discovered I was being followed by two puppies, caught on the scent trail of my snack bag.
One was bold, confident, and trusting as she approached me without hesitation. She was quick to join me on my beach blanket for ear rubs and treats from my palm. The other puppy, however, maintained a safe distance. She was timid, uncertain, and retreated with each extension of my hand in attempt to pet her, yet the allure of the snacks I had with me was enough to keep her interest and she lingered nearby. After an hour of tossing her pretzels, my patience had earned her trust enough for her to accept the food from my palm.
She was a tiny little thing with wide amber eyes that seemed to define her entire face, especially with her floppy ears pulled back, nearly flat against her head. Her coat was a beautiful brown with dark brindle markings only further accentuating each pronounced rib. She startled at quick movements, cowered at a hand approaching from above to pat the top of her head, and backed away when one got too close. I wanted nothing more than to scoop up this sweet pup and pass on all of the love within me through a single (or preferably countless) hugs. But alas, I knew this was not the way to win this special girl’s heart.
As the sun began to set and the food ran out, I decided to pack it in for the day and head back to the small two-bedroom casita I was renting from a local family. Both dogs followed me from the beach, but as we made it to the main dirt road that ran through the entire town, the confident puppy turned left and carried on her own merry way (presumably to her home, with a content and full belly.) I looked down at the timid pup still by my side and expected her to follow suit, but instead she stared back at me, awaiting me to lead the way to my home. I made a right on the road and she followed.
Admittedly, I didn’t know what to think or do in the situation. Did she have a home too, I wondered? If so, why wasn’t she going there? Was she a real street dog, as her physical condition and temperament made me believe? Could I take in this dog? Was I even allowed to have a dog at my rental house? And where would she sleep? Certainly not in my bed for the night, given that she was covered in fleas and ticks.
“Well, little girl,” I said aloud to her, “What are we going to do with you? Are you coming home with me now, chiquita?” (Chiquita means “little girl” in Spanish and this is how I referred to her right from the start as I didn’t know how else to address her. Plus, my Spanish vocabulary was weak, yet I tried to input what few words and phrases I knew into any and all of my English sentences. I referred to her as “chiquita” so often in fact, that one day down the line I realized it had actually become her name and it just stuck.)
Chiquita traipsed along beside me as we turned to walk up the driveway to my place and I continued to wonder: am I setting us up for happiness or heartbreak?
All of those thoughts, yet none of them mattered because I knew she’d be staying with me for the night regardless.
[Part II coming soon.]