It’s probably time to talk about the dogs.
The dogs of which I speak are sizable dogs, huskies and shepherds and all sorts of scary, Frankendog big-dog mixes. They lay low during Viña del Mar’s daytime and then come into their own when night cloaks the town, rising from shady slumbering spots, stretching their legs, and padding through the town on four stealthy feet.
They’re strays, of course. Strays that acknowledge the social compact that keeps all our lives from being nasty, brutish and short only because they haven’t yet unionized into a pack big enough to rip out all of our throats.
Beer at a sidewalk café Tuesday night turned into a contest between bloggers and dogs as to which group could drive the other away first from sheer annoyance. I know that bloggers have a talent for inspiring annoyance in the poker players they cover, but this match was no contest. The dogs won hands down despite repeated nose-whacks with a plastic menu. They were not easily deterred but thankfully the hostess at our café had more experience chasing the dogs off than we did.
Last night the dogs weren’t chasing cars so much as they were defying cars. When traffic is sparse, the dogs rule the road and woe to any car that forgets that fact. We watched one dog calmly trot alongside a slow-moving car, step into the car’s path when it came to a stop, and then sit down in the middle of the road, staring directly back at the car’s driver. The challenge, the air of authority, was unmistakable. All that was missing was the beating of his chest, but you had to imagine that if the dog had fists he would have done that too.
This morning a shepherd-bulldog mix decided to jog beside me for about a quarter-mile along the bicycle path that adjoins the beach. Normally if another jogger matches pace with me I use a little surge to put some comforting distance back between us. The folly of that approach against an animal with twice as many legs as me was obvious. Instead I gave my companion a quizzical, “Really, buddy?” glance.
He ignored me, as strays are prone to do.
It’s clear that these dogs haven’t answered to anyone in years. Their honor had been taken from them, their fates assigned to wander the land, chasing whatever thing catches their interest. Last night, a car. Today, me. Tomorrow, a squirrel or a gutshot straight draw.
Well, ok. Maybe not a gutshot straight draw. Dogs aren’t allowed inside the Casino Municipal de Viña del Mar.
Dave Behr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.
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