Associates' Best Friend

13 February 2006
4:55 PM

In the afternoon heat, Memo lies down for a nap. See more photos of Memo on Flickr.

This is the second in a series of snapshots of life in Pocuro.

Through the years that associates have come and left out house in Pocuro there has been one constant: Memo. Memo (“Bill”), short for Guillermo (“William”), is our enduring house dog. And what a dog he is: after 10 years, he’s got unchangeable idiosyncrasies that you tend to associate with age. He lives outside and liberates himself from the yard through an unpatchable—we’ve tried—hole in the back fence to stroll around the neighborhood. He hates water and baths, but regularly douses himself in the irrigation ditch by our house. He likes barking at and sniffing other dogs, but he’s really a big coward. He makes a more diverse range of sounds that just about any dog I know.

So they have a dog, you think, big deal. The funny things is that Memo really is the community’s dog as much as he is ours. Everyone in our small town seems to know him. When Memo follows me into the nearby store where we buy bread (which is always—I tell him not to, but he doesn’t listen to a twenty-something whippersnapper), the storekeeper shoos him out by name. When I was walking through the neighborhood I heard a little girl say to her mom, “Look Mom, it’s Memo!” I even heard that Memo was on TV. During a special on Pocuro, a shot showed the Calle Larga plaza when Memo was on one of his roaming fieldtrips there. Now he’s practically a television star.

Everyone also knows that Memo has a mind of his own, so we don’t get blamed for the crazy things he does. Even so, it’s a little embarrassing when Memo strolls through the chapel on Sunday during Mass. But that only happens every now and then. Like on Sunday.

Jack, the Santiago house’s dog.

While I’m talking about our dog in Pocuro, I should also mention Jack, the Santiago house’s dog. Jack is widely acknowledged as the better looking of the two. That’s not saying much for Memo, since Jack has just three legs; I don’t make the facts, I just report them. Jack is also more stranger-friendly than Memo. While Memo only lets established friends pet him, Jack will jump on anyone’s lap indiscriminately so long as you’ll pet him. I suppose the moral of this story is that people will like you if you’re friendly, even if you’re one leg short.


Thank for your wonderful story about Memo. You captured so much of his personality. I wanted to share something of his origens.

On December 24th, 1996, Cristian, Amara, Carolina, Jude and I were sitting in the associate home in Santiago, when we heard a baby crying. We opened up the door and in stumbled a small little puppy with eyes closed. He sensed his way over to Jude’s warm folded legs and curled himself into his new home. (A desire of many Chileans!) And that was how “Memo” came to the associates.

The next year Memo and I went out to re-open the Pocuro house. Memo was already known in Pocuro from our regular visits. People were actually quite upset with his name because no animal had ever been named “Bill.” Soon his legend grew. Back then his favorite past time was hiking up Pocuro Hill, which is a cactus littered hill overlooking the town. When we arrived to the top, he would spot goats and look at me with bursting excitement. Upon saying “Andate”, Memo would dash down the hill chasing a herd of awnry goats.

Memo once accompanied me on a mountain treck up to La Laguna de los Toros. He was exhausted, his paws were splintered, but he refused to leave my side. On the way down we found a mountain stream and he held on top my back as we floated down. My back was scratched to pieces, but Memo would not leave me.

I remember the weekend we went to Santiago and left Memo to tend to the home. Like any good teenager, he had a party while we were gone. We came home to find him with a common street dog by his side. Memo was sheepish but content.

I also remember his bouts with sickness. There were times when Memo would tremble and yelp for days in such terrible pain that I would hold him to sleep. We took him to the great French doctor in town, who gratiously provided treatment for free. The ladies liked to take Memo because they thought the doctor handsome. At that time we had X-rays of Memo that revealed bone cancer. The doctor did not think Memo was long for the world, but several months later we took Memo again and he was healthy and showed no signs of problems. Ten years have come and passed with Memo! Memo has fallen (or jumped) off a truck, been beaten by dogs and passed through terrible illness. Sometimes, I think the hardest part for him must be that his masters come and go. It makes me happy that you have learned to love him and all of his quirkiness.



As a woman whose life has been strongly impacted by the addition of a dog this year, I loved the story. Both the original story and the background. Enjoy Memo!

Hello. I just wished to advise you that some parts of your site are onerous to comprehend for me, as I’m color blind. I have problems with tritanopia, however there are other kinds of color blindness which will also experience difficulties. I will understand most of the site OK, and those parts I have problems with I am able to understand by using a special browser. All the same, it would be cool if you could consider we color-blind types when carrying out your next website re-working. Thanks.

[Collin: I have moved your comment to a different entry about this site’s redesign. The email address you left is invalid. Please contact me via email address for a response. -Ryan]

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