Bending down, I scratched behind his ears and asked him ever so politely if he had a few minutes where we could relax. He chose one of his favorites locations...the sand pile which was actually pretty cool. His name is Chiquito which means "tiny". But he's been called a lot names. Everything from "King" to "You Little Piece Of ____. And just about everything in between. People have all sorts of ideas of dogs. Some like them, some are afraid of them and then there are the ones that have never gotten to know one.
Our group called him Jukey. Not really sure why, but that gives you an idea that each mission group that comes to Camp Buenn Nuevas tags him according to their estimation of the little guy. He's kind of a hit or miss kind of dog. He's here one minute and onto something else the next. He seems to do most of his heavy work at night. During the day he lies to take long, long siestas under the vehicles on camp grounds....
I like to think of him as "Ambassador", chiefly because he is there to greet everyone and to make the guests stay a little more enjoyable. However, it's up to you to take at least a little initiative. He wasn't going to push himself on you. But he was always around, somewhere.
|Looking out his window (with a yawn) at "siesta" time|
Me: So, boy, how did you get this job?
Chiquito: Really, I'm not sure. I mean look at me. I'm not very big. Don't have much hair. And I'm only three years old. I don't have a special breed attached to me. Some people think I'm a mutt. But, it's kind of funny, because I think God is using me, just like he uses you humans. He uses little old imperfect me to help make his perfect plans. I see it all the time.
About this time, I figured I was getting far more than I bargained for. But....he had me hook, line and sinker. I had to go on and see where this was going to go.
Me: What do you mean by that?
Chiquito: Well, I see all sorts of people come here for mission trips. Some come thinking they are going to change the Dominican people and they end up changing themselves. I see it in their eyes...in their attitudes. They even treat me different. It's awesome to see.
Me: How so?
Chiquito: I hear it when they're at the picnic tables. Most of them forget about my hearing. I can hear almost anything they say. And they kind of forget I'm around. But they say things like, "I'm glad I came along on this trip. It's opened my eyes to so much. I feel like a changed person". And this is the thing I really like. They start talking to me and petting me. I think they use me as a buffer for the pet they had to leave at home. And through me, they feel like they're connecting with them. It's pretty awesome. Some even go so far as to give me a hug.
Me: What's the most rewarding thing about your "job"?
Chiquito: I'd have to say it's hearing people say they are going to come back. There's nothing like having a familiar face get off the bus. It makes my day, for sure. Even though you can't tell, my heart leaps for joy when I see that.
Me: Most disappointing part of the "job?"
Chiquito: Kind of the opposite. I just have that extra sense of who's going to come back. They don't have to say anything. I just know. How about you?
Chiquito: Yeah, you. I've been watching you all week wondering what you were up to. When I found out you were a writer a lot of it made sense. Because you sure asked a whole bunch of questions and did a big bunch of people-watching. A little like me, really. But how about you?
Me: Chiquito, I thought I was asking the questions. I wasn't really ready for this.
Chiquito: I'm sure not. Well, are you?
Me: Am I what?
Chiquito: Coming back?
Me: Okay, I'll try to answer that as honestly as I can. Yes, hopefully, I'll come back. But there's some hurdles to clear. We've talked about building a new baseball diamond in Las Charcas. If everything comes together, I'll be back in November. If not, I don't know.
Chiquito: Hmmmmm. Okay, that's acceptable. Hey, you'd better go. The bus is getting ready.
Me: Thanks, boy. My best to you and everyone else you meet.
With that, the skinny little four-legged guy got up from the sand pile and began walking away. He had the walk of a dog with bountiful pride. He clearly did not have his tail between his legs.
P.S. As the bus began to pull out of the Camp Buenn Nuevas driveway I looked down. There was Chiquito, or whatever you want to call him, peering up at the windows as if to say "Adios". "You little stinker" I thought. And you wonder why God chose you for that job.