by Karla Gregory
Synopsis Bernardo finds a little dog at the hacienda one day and comes to love it. He knows that someday the real owner may claim it, but Amigo, as he has named him, has come to mean a lot to him. He hopes in his heart that no one will claim his friend. But what will happen if someone does?
Diego, Zorro, Bernardo, and several other characters are gratefully borrowed from the WD Disney series. They are not my creations. Don Raul, Eugenia, and Amigo/Pepe are my creations.
During the week of July 24 to July 29, 2000, we were treated to a week of dog related shows that replaced the airings of Zorro episodes for a week on the Disney Channel. I resorted to writing my own version of a dog story to combat the problem. The following story is the result. It helped me through the dry spell, perhaps it will help others.
July 27, 2000
It was a quiet spring day and Bernardo was currying his horse in the stables at the back of the de la Vega hacienda. His horse, Joker, was enjoying it so much that his eyes were half shut with contentment. Bernardo felt privileged to be able to take care of so fine a horse as the black stallion, Tornado, but he loved his Joker. They had been together since his arrival from Spain and it was as if each were meant for the other.
Not being able to soothe an animal with his voice meant that he needed a horse that understood his every signal and who had complete confidence in him. Joker was that horse.
Bernardo bent over to check Joker’s left hind foot and the horse raised it even before he gave the signal. Smiling, Bernardo patted Joker and proceeded to inspect the hoof and shoe.
When he let go of the hoof and stood up, he had the distinct feeling that he was being watched. Turning around slowly, he found that he was being watched by someone with long shaggy hair that hung down over his expressive brown eyes.
The little brown and white dog sat a few paces away from Joker with his head cocked at an angle, smiling a toothy little dog smile while his tongue moved with his panting. His body was mostly white as was his head, but his ears were a reddish brown and the hair on them was rather unruly and it stuck up in odd places. Bernardo looked around to see if there was anyone else about who might be the dog’s master, but saw no one. Smiling, he knelt down and held out his hand to the dog who continued to look at him a bit longer before coming near. Bernardo patted him on the head and scratched behind his ears.
The little dog wagged his tail in delight and held his paw up as though wanting to shake hands. Bernardo took his paw and shook it, then picked up the dog and went in search of its owner.
None of the other servants seemed to know anything about the dog, but they all smiled and petted it. The dog was happy with all of the attention. The cook was kind enough to put some milk in a saucer and the dog lapped it up gratefully. Bernardo also smiled at the cook to show his happiness. Just as the dog was finishing, Diego walked into the kitchen looking for Bernardo and was surprised to see him and his new companion. The other servants knew nothing about the dog and Diego made a few signs to try and ask Bernardo what it was all about since the cook was looking on, but finally just made a signal for Bernardo to follow him up to his room. Bernardo made a sign to see if it was all right to bring the dog with him and Diego nodded.
When they reached Diego’s room, Bernardo put the dog down so that both of his hands would be free. Diego watched the little dog go from place to place, sniffing here and there with a bemused look on his face. Then he turned to Bernardo.
“Well, where did he come from?” he asked, folding his arms.
Bernardo motioned that he had appeared in the stables and that no one seemed to know where he came from. Then it was his turn to ask a question. He wanted to know if anyone had visited the hacienda who might have lost their dog.
“No, Bernardo,” said Diego. “No one has been here today. He must have been wandering around the countryside and just happened to find our hacienda. What are you going to do with him?”
Bernardo at first shrugged his shoulders, then he got a funny look on his face as he watched the dog roam around the room. The dog noticed, and came and sat down at Bernardo’s feet looking up at him, totally ignoring Diego. Then to their surprise, the dog sat up on his haunches and smiled his toothy little smile. Diego had to smother a laugh behind his hand because it occurred to him how similar Bernardo and the little dog looked as they smiled to each other. Bernardo gave a pleading look to Diego holding his hands down to indicate the dog.
“So you want to keep him, eh?” said Diego. Bernardo’s smiling nod was his answer. Diego smiled and clapped Bernardo on the shoulder as he said, “Well, if we can not find his rightful owner I guess it will be all right for you to keep him. I just hope he does not have any bad habits or that he does not pick up any of yours.”
Bernardo was taken aback. My bad habits? he seemed to ask. “Yes, your bad habits,” confirmed Diego as he patted Bernardo on the stomach. Bernardo looked indignant and the little dog gave a sharp bark.
“You seem to have an ally already,” said Diego pointing to the dog and laughing. Bernardo picked him up, laughing too. “What are you going to call him?” asked Diego.
Bernardo wrinkled his forehead while he was thinking. Then he walked over to Diego’s desk and took the pen and wrote “Amigo”. He picked up the paper and gave it to Diego.
“Amigo?” Diego mused. “That is a good name for a dog, . . . mí amigo.” Bernardo did a double take trying to see if Diego was looking at him or the dog. Diego was not looking at the dog and there was a twinkle in his eye. Bernardo felt like he was getting the worst of this whole affair with the dog so far. But he shrugged his shoulders and patted Amigo on the head. Diego laughed again and reached over to pat the dog also. Amigo allowed it, but it was plain that he preferred Bernardo’s touch.
Diego said, “I have some time to practice my fencing now. Father has gone down to the valley to look over some of the cattle that the vaqueros have gathered. He will not be looking for me for a few hours. Come.”
He walked over to the secret door. Bernardo followed. “Oh. You’d better leave the dog in here,” said Diego. “We do not know how Tornado will react and I think it will be better if he stays here.”
Bernardo thought this a good idea. Tornado was a very important part of their little group and he did not want to do anything to disrupt the stallion’s behavior. Zorro depended upon him too much. So he put the dog down and pushed his hand towards Amigo’s face to indicate to him to stay. To his surprise, Amigo sat down and did not move. Pleased, Bernardo followed Diego into the tunnel and shut the secret door behind him.
He and Diego had only gone a few steps down the stairs when they heard Amigo barking and scratching at the secret panel. They stopped and looked at each other with alarm. They hurried back. Diego turned the ring to open the door and Bernardo ended up with Amigo in his arms as the little dog jumped up to meet him. Diego and Bernardo looked at each other again.
“Well, we cannot have him barking at the secret entrance and drawing attention now can we?” said Diego. Bernardo looked at Amigo ruefully. Diego continued, “Bring him and we will just have to see how Tornado takes to him. Who knows? Maybe they will become friends.”
Diego pointed a finger at Bernardo. “Just make sure he does not get too close until Tornado has time to get used to him, all right?” Bernardo nodded vigorously. Amigo panted happily in Bernardo’s arms.
Down in the cave, Diego went to Tornado and began stroking his neck and talking to him. Tornado’s head was up and his ears were pricked forward as he looked steadfastly at the furry bundle in Bernardo’s arms. He tossed his head a bit and snorted. Then he stuck his nose out toward the dog trying to smell him. Diego motioned for Bernardo to come closer.
Carefully, Bernardo walked over to Tornado making sure that he had a good hold on Amigo. The horse’s nose met the dog’s nose as they made their acquaintance. A good many deep breaths were drawn on both sides as they took the measure of each other. Then Amigo’s tail began to wag furiously and he licked Tornado’s nose. Tornado nickered softly and nuzzled the dog. Bernardo grinned at Diego who smiled back.
“So you like little Amigo, do you boy?” asked Diego as he slapped Tornado affectionately on the shoulder. Tornado tossed his head in agreement.
Bernardo put Amigo down on the ground and watched carefully. Amigo sat up on his haunches and Tornado reached down with his head and nosed the dog until he fell over. Amigo lay on his side with his eyes closed as though he was dead.
Bernardo was alarmed. He ran over to where the dog lay and bent to pick him up. As soon as he did, Amigo was licking his face and squirming happily.
Diego was impressed with the little dog. “Bernardo, I think this dog has been taught to do some tricks by whoever owned him before. He was ‘playing dead’. He surely fooled you didn’t he?”
Bernardo looked at Diego to say that he wasn’t the only one in this cave to have been fooled.
Diego said, “Yes, he fooled me too. Amigo is a dog full of surprises, eh?” Bernardo looked down fondly at the dog in his arms. “I am going to go ahead and get started on my fencing excercises now,” Diego said. “I’m sure there is something you can do to keep yourself occupied while I am busy?” He looked pointedly at Tornado’s stall and the obvious job that needed to be done there.
Bernardo sighed and nodded agreement. He put Amigo back down on the ground and went to get the shovel. He kept one eye on his job and one eye on Amigo. The little dog went to and fro around the cave, checking out all the interesting smells he could find. He studiously avoided the area where Diego was working out which pleased Bernardo. He did not want his young master to be disturbed while he went through his exercises. One slip might carry severe consequences.
After he finished with the shovel, Bernardo took down Tornado’s bridle and began to clean it. He found it soothing to work with the leather and to polish the metal. He became absorbed in his work.
Diego continued his workout, shedding both jacket and vest here in the cave, hanging them on the post of Tornado’s stall, and unbuttoning his shirt a bit. He was getting warm even though it was a cool spring day and the cave was usually cool.
Capitán Monastario was getting even better with his sword work and must be practicing hard also. Diego knew that he must keep his mind and reflexes sharp in order to stay ahead of the commandanté. He had begun the workout with the basic training moves that he had learned in Spain and progressed to the more demanding forms that he had taught himself. He moved with smoothness and grace through each exercise, honing his skills and his quickness. He became totally absorbed in his work.
Bernardo pulled the saddle off of its stand, checking the cinch for signs of wear and the leather of the stirrups to make sure there was no weakness there. Zorro’s life depended on this equipment and Bernardo intended to make sure it was in top condition. He paused as he always did for a moment to watch Diego as he practiced. He had seen Diego in Spain fencing as a student and even he could see that his young friend had progressed far beyond the masters at the university.
Bernardo allowed himself to feel pride in his young master’s abilities. “If only they could see Diego now,” he thought with a smile on his face. Turning back to the task at hand, he began to clean and oil the saddle.
Unbeknownst to all but Tornado, Amigo’s wanderings had taken him to the most aromatic object in the cave. There was a marvelous pile of . . . . used stall material . . . that drew his attention like a magnet. Bernardo had set it aside in order to dispose of it later. This material had to be taken away from the cave in order not to give away its location by the aroma such things generate. Amigo found it irresistible. He could not imagine anything that smelled any more wonderful and desired to cover himself with the scent as if it were a perfume.
Tornado watched in wonder as the little dog rolled and rolled, covering himself with his chosen perfume. Tornado shook his head as if to say, “Dogs. Who can understand them?” and finally went back to eating his hay.
Amigo gave one final roll to make sure he was thoroughly covered and stood up to shake himself until his ears flapped. Looking around for someone to adore him, he saw that everyone was absorbed in what they were doing. A little disappointed, he kept looking from one to another hoping for some attention.
At length, he decided he was bored and looked around for someplace to lie down. He finally saw something that would do. There was a jacket hanging from a post of Tornado’s stall that would be just the thing. Carefully, he grabbed the jacket by the sleeve and pulled until it came off the post. Then he dragged it over near the wall of the cave, only tripping on it once. Then as dogs are want to do, he pulled and tugged and used his feet to rake it around and around until he had it bunched up just like he wanted before lying down upon it. With a contented sigh, he was soon fast asleep.
Diego finished his workout and was breathing deeply as he wiped the sweat from his brow and went to get his jacket and vest. He was thinking about taking the sword up to the secret room and spending some time sharpening it before he changed into fresh clothing for the evening. He found his vest on the ground and looked around for his jacket.
“Bernardo,” he called. “Have you seen my jacket?”
Bernardo was just finishing up with the saddle and indicated that he seen the jacket on the post where Diego had left it, but could not see it anywhere now.
They spent a few moments looking before Bernardo happened to find Amigo and his impromptu bed. He put his hands over his mouth in horror as his eyes grew wide. There on Diego’s jacket lay Amigo, covered with that terrible stuff, getting the jacket as dirty as he was.
Bernardo knew his young friend and master, and he knew that this would not be a welcome sight. Before he could think of what to do, a movement to his left caught his attention and he turned to see Diego standing there with his hands on his hips, surveying the damage. Amigo looked up at them with his soft brown eyes, his tail wagging in friendship, enjoying the attention.
Diego slowly turned his attention to Bernardo. He did not say a word. He did not have to. He did not blame the dog. It was only doing what dogs do. But Bernardo had been remiss in not keeping an eye out for Diego’s things and in not watching the dog more closely.
Bernardo wished that he could shrink and vanish at that moment. He managed to sign that he would clean up the jacket and the dog and that he would finish cleaning up the used stall material and haul it away.
Diego said in a rather monotone voice, “See that you do. And if this dog is to remain in the family, he will have to learn some manners. He is clever enough to have been taught some tricks; it is up to you to teach him manners. He is your responsibility.”
Taking his sword and his vest with him, Diego turned and headed up the stairs to the secret room leaving Bernardo to take care of the problems.
Bernardo sighed. He went over and picked up Amigo, holding him out away from his body so as not to get any “perfume” on his own clothes. Amigo did not understand and started to squirm. Bernardo set him on the ground next to Tornado’s stall and tied him to the post with a piece of cord. Then he went to get the jacket and inspect it. It was going to take a lot of work to get it clean. The fancy embroidery on the lapels and sleeves had to be cleaned carefully so as not to destroy any of the delicate handwork. Bernardo shook his head.
He took the jacket over to Amigo and pointed to it and shook his head “NO” as he looked sternly at the dog. Amigo did not understand what was wrong, but lay down with his head on the floor and covered his eyes with one paw. He only knew that Bernardo was not pleased with him.
Bernardo next pointed to the pile of used stall material and again shook his head “NO” and looked sternly at Amigo. Amigo was beside himself because he knew was the object of Bernardo’s disfavor. He did not know what was wrong with what he did, because to him it was something he enjoyed, but if his new human friend had a problem with it then he would stay away from it. Not knowing what else to do, he put his head between his paws on the floor and looked up at Bernardo with his big, brown eyes, misery pouring out of them.
Bernardo continued to look sternly at Amigo, but then relented and knelt down to pet the dog on the head gently. Amigo lifted his head to look back at him. Bernardo stood up again and set the jacket aside. He found some of the soap he had used to clean the saddle and decided that it would do to clean the dog. He released Amigo from the post and took him over to the pool that was fed by the stream in the cave. When they were done, it was hard to tell who was wetter, the dog or Bernardo, but Amigo once again was a clean little dog.
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