El Perro de Casa Número 3

Granada, Spain

In the valley between the Albaycín and the Alhambra is the river Darro. It runs eastwards from Plaza Nueva; the road running alongside eventually crosses over and leads up the hill to the Alhambra.

The steady stream of tourists making the trek supports a row of restaurants along the way. They share a paved strip overlooking the river, where they’ve lined up tables under billowy covers to provide shade. A fountain in the center breaks up the tables, and there is a space running along the length of the area left open where local musicians serenade diners and ask for tips. After coming down from the Caves of Sacromonte, I decided to stop here for lunch before climbing up to the Alhambra.

I noticed in all the Spanish cities I visited that there are dogs and cats everywhere, and they always seem to be on a mission — trotting along with no apparent regard for a nearby owner or the pedestrian obstacles on the sidewalk, making deliberate turns, and obviously heading to a specific place. I imagine a separate animal society here with its own agenda. In this square there were cats and pigeons, but one dog in particular kept appearing.

He’d walk the length of the dining area between the tables, seemingly surveying the landscape before heading into a slightly cracked door between the restaurants. Maybe ten minutes later he’d reemerge, and complete another scan. It was only when the tables started filling up that this became a fruitful endeavor. When he came upon a table containing delicious food, he’d sit next to the diner, and simply look up and wait for food. No barking or disruption, but a dignified expectation.

If no food came after a minute or so, he’d move along. A few people obliged him, and after inspecting all the tables, he’d go back inside for a break. But only for twenty minutes before making another pass. At one point, the dog seemed to have thought of something else he needed to do or a friend he’d forgotten to visit, trotted off down the street, and disappeared around a corner. This errand only took a short while and he was back soon enough, alternatively surveying the dining options, and resting inside. Not a bad life, I’d say.

A group of musicians stopped playing to sit down for lunch. When the dog saw them, he joined their table, and they fed and played with him. They were familiar with each other. When they noticed me watching and smiling, they explained that “this dog belongs to everyone,” but it seems more accurate to say that it belongs to no one.

 

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