Big Ears

时间:2022-10-21 10:48:14

Shortly after we arrived in the village, a black dog with big, erect ears appeared. This dog lying by the roadside startled us because her huge ears made her look more like a wolf or a fox than a dog. Later, she would often wander about in front of the village committee. My fellow team members would give her something to eat. She came to know us better and gradually became a regular visitor to the village committee.

She did not always respond to the name “Big Ears” when we called. She was a wild thing. Despite belonging to a family in Dangran village, she only stayed there to sleep. Instead, she spent her days rambling around the vast area between the river and the mountain, taking care of herself by catching her own food. Since we began feeding her, she happily gave up hunting and spent most of her time here around the village committee. In the beginning, she welcomed any leftovers from the team’s meals, not worrying about the taste. Gradually she became picky and only ate the food prepared by the two girls in our team, ignoring the rest. The food soon attracted other stay dogs in the village. They created an extraordinary amount of noise in the courtyard in the middle of the night, turning it into a paradise for dogs. We had to drive them out several times every night. In the end, the only way to solve the problem was to place the swill bucket outside the gate.

Big Ears was extremely smart. When you were not looking at her, she would steal a glance at you from time to time. But when you locked your eyes on hers, she would immediately look the other way, acting all aloof and nonchalant. However, when the work team returned from a shopping trip into town, she would wag her tail enthusiastically. If you responded to it in any way, she would jump on you and leave plum-blossom-shaped dog paw prints all over you. We usually dodged her immediately, laughing and yelling at her: “Big Ears, get away!” She then jumped aside, and lay down.

Over the winter, I heard that Big Ears was pregnant. In the following month, she disappeared entirely. When she showed up again around the village committee, she was all skinny and scrawny… so obviously she had given birth. The team members quickly put together some nice food for this new mother, with eggs and everything. We heard that she gave birth to fi ve puppies, which were all in her master’s home in Dangran village. She visited the village committee daily and returned home when darkness fell (most likely to feed her children). One of our women colleagues wanted to adopt one of the puppies, but soon word came that all of them had been given away. Then, Big Ears brought a daughter of hers to us, presumably the last one left. It looked like the traditional preference for males also applied to those who adopted puppies. Now that she was with her daughter, Big Ears basically settled down in our courtyard. With their stomachs fi lled, they started running and playing in the courtyard, exactly like a scene from Animal World on TV. The puppy always crawled on top of her mother when she was asleep. Sometimes this annoyed Big Ears, and she would give her daughter a nip on the head, and the puppy would yelp. At other times, when Big Ears was really annoyed, she would toss the puppy into the corner, pin her down and gave her an angry stare. Sometimes they got so excited, they ran into our vegetable patch, leaving the newly grown cabbage a complete mess, and we would drive them out of our courtyard. Before long, they would sneak in again through a hole in the wall. In a courtyard so easily accessible from all sides, it was impossible to keep them out.

The two of them made the courtyard their home, and we welcomed them with open arms. It was a pity that the two girls in our team had gone to Nyinpa village, or the dogs would have been even better fed. Sometimes Big Ears would disappear with her daughter for a couple of days, perhaps for some “wilderness survival training”. At other times, they came back with ropes around their necks. Maybe their master did not like them to roam around. Then one day, the puppy was gone, perhaps given away. It saddened us to see Big Ears wandering around all alone. From then on, she became restless and barked wildly each night. At fi rst it did not bother us that much, but it got worse and worse. As soon as it got dark, she started howling, fi rst at the gate, then all around the courtyard, and wouldn’t stop for the entire night. We were kept up all night, so we have to get up and drive her away by throwing rocks at her. But she soon returned with a vengeance, leaving us scratching our heads. In the daytime, she would sleep in the courtyard like nothing had happened. Rumors started to fl y in the village, saying that the dog was possessed by some kind of demon, that’s why she went crazy. Others said that the dog was barking at a ghost in front of the village committee. Such stupid and unkind rumors upset us a lot, so we decided to cut off her food supply. We were sure that would work. It did not. Her spirits were as high as ever, howling to the sky at nights. So we had to take it up a notch to not let her sleep in the courtyard during the day, hoping that this would wear her out, so she wouldn’t have enough energy to bother us at night. This did work, so much so that when she saw us later, she would run off. Slowly, she no longer barked around the village committee, and went to make a nuisance of herself in other places. What would the neighbors think and what theory they would come up with? (We couldn’t help but wondering). The nights fi nally became peaceful. Even during the day, Big Ears was nowhere to be seen. Sometimes, we saw her at a distance in the village, and she was not all over us any more. We were all a bit frustrated, and joked that there was no ghost at all. To Big Ears, we were the real devils now.

Then one day, while we waited at the entrance of the village for our van from Phulung village to pick us up and take us to the county seat, the van never came, so we started walking along the highway. Suddenly, Big Ears came out of nowhere and followed us close behind. When we stopped, she would stop too. Then she went around to the front to lead the way. Once in a while, she looked back to see if we were keeping up, and accompanied us faithfully for four or fi ve kilometers. Even after our ride had fi nally showed up, she ran after for quite some distance. We were all really moved by this gesture and decided not to scare her away once we returned. What we did not expect was that she was back to her crazy self on that very night and it was only a matter of days before we shut her out again.

Now we can occasionally catch a glimpse of her here and there in the village. She sometimes sneaks into the courtyard to see her old stamping ground. She looks very well and her fur is all sleek and silky. But her howls can still be heard somewhere in the village, and the number of her followers seems to be getting bigger. We don’t know if she would calm down if she gets pregnant again. To tell the truth, we’ve all been missing the quiet and bright version of our friend Big Ears.

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