The Chihuahua of the Soul

The yapping dog that sums up the Mexican experience

Q. As everyone knows, dogs seem to reflect their masters' personalities. Likewise, the breeds invented by a nation say a lot about that nation. Germans bred the German shepherd and the rottweiler: smart, loyal, faithful, yet a little cold, and not the kind of dogs you want to piss off. The French created the poodle: all about style, yappy, not great fighters, yet not as dumb as they look. Canadians created the Labrador retriever: good hunters and friendly family dogs. Gringos seem to have adopted the pit bull as the national dog—both are reactive killers of children. When I think of Mexican breeds, one type comes to mind: the Chihuahua, play toys forfresas like Paris Hilton. After thinking much harder, I thought of thexoloitzcuintle : bald and edible. Are these dogs the best representatives of the national character of Mexico? Does a Chihuahua really fit a nation of macho men and feisty women? Or are you really a nation of perros eléctricos : scrappy little survivors in need of some updated marketing—Dueño de un Perro Eléctrico

A. Dear Owner of an Electric Dog: Tengo que take issue with your pit-bull characterization. Wabs, negritos, and gabachos alike own them for the same reason the world respects and fears Americans—a Manichaean innateness that loves and kills with equal ease. The difference in comportment for both is a reflection of the trainer, and the results show up quickly—just look at us after eight years of the Bush II administration. Ahora, on to the Mexican dogs. Don't give up so easily, Dueño: Mexico's two indigenous breeds fully represent the Mexican soul. The American Kennel Club doesn't recognize the xoloitzcuintle (also known as the Mexican hairless) even though the noble critters date back millennia, much like Congress won't recognize illegal Mexicans despite their many years working in the United States. Chihuahuas are even more quintessentially Mexican: Napoleonic in complex, clannish, usually brown but available in all colors, maligned by gabachos as puny runts but secretly ferocious and smart, and bearers of muchos, muchos babies. Some p.c. pendejos might cringe at the comparison, but hey: better the anthropomorphic conversation deal with dogs than cockroaches, qué no?


Q. I'm a restaurant owner in Las Vegas. How come when a Mexican comes to apply for a job, he or she will bring several friends and sometimes their entire family? And when I ask them for their callback phone number, they get all paranoid and fumble through two or three phone numbers before they give the "right one." Dude, I'm not asking for a Social Security number! —Chef Viva Las Vegas

A. Dear Gabacho: Dude, the desert sun has cooked your brain into carne asada. Mexicans are bringing along friends and familia because they want you to give them a job. That's how so many Mexicans came here in the first place: Gabachos hired Mexicans, who knew other Mexicans and urged their bosses to hire them, who knew others until one day, Americans needed to dial 1 for English. Trust those family-bringing Mexicans, and make sure to put the smartest one in the head slot to whip his compas into shape. As for the carousel of phone numbers, the answer is any number of reasons: Maybe the Mexican in question is debating whether to give you a cell or home number. Perhaps he just moved into town and honestly can't remember his new número. But it's probably just that he's trying to remember which stolen identity he's using on that particular día.

 
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