Stray dogs have become a normal part of everyday life. We taken a liking to one dog in particular, Stew. He lives on University grounds.
During a conversation with Seki—a Samoan student—and Gloria, Stew approached us. I gave the dog a whine as Stew trotted face forward.
“Hey dude,” said Gloria. Stew got up close to investigate. “Hey! I know, but you smell so bad, I can’t pet you.”
I whined again. The crickets keep a coming.
“You gonna pet him, Umu?” Gloria dared me to.
I grinned and whined.
Gloria laughed. “So sad. We love him, we pet him but your hands—mm, okay.”
“—he smells bad,” added Seki.
“Yeah. All dogs do.”
Stew began sniffing me.
“Wait, weren’t we supposed to give him a wash this weekend?” I asked.
“I think someone tried to,” said Gloria. The dog laid on the grass and gave up looking for attention. “I’m sorry, babe.”
I gave yet another whine.
“No,” Gloria said.
“He’s much more drier than he is,” I added, citing the tropical cyclone that passed through our small island last weekend. “Wait, what’s his breed?”
“I don’t think we know.”
“Don’t ask me, I didn’t know,” chuckled Seki.
I snorted at Seki’s joke.
“I think he’s probably a mix of things,” said Gloria. “Him being on the streets like that.”
Seki and Gloria continued their conversation as Stew trotted to another part of our veranda. Katniss walked into our cluster looking for him.
“Oh, he’s over there,” I exclaimed.
“Come here,” Katniss called out in a higher pitch. She laid a can full of tuna on a bowl. “Come on.”
Katniss was a bit frustrated at Stew’s stubbornness. “You gonna stay?”
“Besides, how—” I knew from our conversations Katniss really wanted to bring Stew to Seattle.
“She’s the one that might bring the dog back,” interrupted Gloria.
“Really?” asked Seki. “She likes dogs?”
“Like, how is she going to get that through Customs?” I asked again, mindful of the fact this is only our second week in Samoa.
“I don’t know, she’s already been in touch with people. I think she can make stuff happen if she wants to, Katniss.”
“I can’t imagine how much Customs duty she has to pay for that.”
“Yeah, maybe a lot. We’ll see.”
One research paper on stray dogs and dozens of phone calls later, Stew decided not to go to Seattle. It’s sad, because Katniss and I both happen to live, breathe and eat on Coast Salish lands and Katniss worked so hard to bring Stew home. But then again, maybe we were meant only to be friends with Stew.