“Shortly before we met, my bestie and roommate, Mercedes, started making noise about wanting to get a dog—a decision about which I was truly ambivalent. While we had had a dog for a few years when I was a kid, I wasn’t raised with them and, to be completely honest, I felt that choosing to cohabitate with another species was a little weird. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, I just didn’t get the attraction. So, I said to Mercedes, ‘It’s fine with me, so long as you fill it and empty it.’”—Michael Tallon
By Michael Tallon
ANTIGUA Guatemala—(Hubris)—November 2023—Facebook reminded me recently that, ten years ago, this little bug came into my world. She would go on to teach me invaluable lessons about love and identity.
Shortly before we met, my bestie and roommate, Mercedes, started making noise about wanting to get a dog—a decision about which I was truly ambivalent. While we had had a dog for a few years when I was a kid, I wasn’t raised with them, and, to be completely honest, I felt that choosing to cohabitate with another species was a little weird. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, I just didn’t get the attraction. So, I said to Mercedes, “It’s fine with me, so long as you fill it and empty it.”
She was used to me being an idiot, thank God.
Anyway, Mercedes went to the local pet rescue one day to find a dog. As I recall the story, when she got there, she met Mosca first, and really liked her, but felt that she should meet the other pups, too. There were over a hundred of them and, while she cuddled and pet the other doggies, Mosca (then named Sparrow) waited patiently for her to finish the rounds. Then, after a few hours at the rescue, Mosca and Mercedes met again, and fate was sealed. Later that day, Mercedes came into the apartment with this beautiful girl.
Now, as you can see, Mosca only had one eye. The other, we learned, was lost to a slingshot when she was a puppy. So, she’d been mistreated as a young thing, and Mercedes told me it would be best for me to back off and let her get comfortable in the house. That was fine with me, as I was still completely indifferent to the whole affair.
For the first week or so, when Mercedes wasn’t in the apartment, Mosca just sort of kept to herself. She did her thing, and I did mine. We each kept a respectful distance and didn’t much mix—but I will admit that I sort of liked her wiggly charm. She was a nice doggie, that much had to be admitted straightaway. Still, I’d not say we were friends at first. We were neighbors, I suppose—polite to one another, but not close.
After two weeks or so, Mercedes had a gig across the road at Café No Se. Normally, I’d have joined her, but I was busy closing an issue of my magazine, La Cuadra, so I stayed home to work. One of the things I loved about our apartment back then was that when Mercedes was singing at the Café, you could hear her from our place, as it was just across the street and a few doors north. That evening, I was sitting at my desk, small glass of mezcal by my laptop, typing away at some story, while listening to my best friend sing the blues across the road. It was a moment damn close to perfection. I was a writer, a professional writer, having a drink in my apartment under the volcanoes, with the sounds of Big Mama Thornton ringing out from the inimitable power of Mercedes’s soul. I did not think anything could make the moment better—until Mosca snuck across room and slyly rested her chin on my thigh.
I looked down at her, and smiled. She looked up at me with her one big eye and a sense of serenity and love that transcended all barriers. In an instant, I fell totally and completely in love with that pooch. For the next eight years, she was by my side. Or, rather, by our sides. While Mosca and I did bond powerfully, she was always Mercedes’s pup first.
We were together right up to the end, when her many injuries and setbacks became too much for her to bear. Over the years, she was struck by a car and lost her back left leg, which led to problems with her spine and increasing pain. In early 2020, we had to say goodbye—which we did at home with the help of our friend, a veterinarian, who graciously performed the final act in our living room. Mercedes was petting her back, while I held her paw. In the end, she looked at me as if to make sure it was OK. I told her it was, and kissed her furry face. I still weep to recall it, but, my God, what love she brought to our world.
Through her I learned that personhood is not the purview of human beings alone. She was herself as much as any of us are, and if there are souls, she was one of the finest—so kind, so compassionate, so pure and good.
I don’t share these memories often, but I’m glad the mood struck me today. Remembering her will remind me, as I move through the world, to be gentle, loving, kind, and always ready for cuddles and belly rubs with my partners of the road.
Love to you all, and thanks for being my friend and teacher, Mosca. I miss you soooooo damn much, and simply always will.