From the March/April 2002 issue
Hear the author read his story
see the illustrations for this story
This is a story about my great-grandfather’s dog. This story takes place in Mexico in the town of Tampico, where my great-grandfather, Rosalino Dominguez, had been trying to get land for poor people, but that was against the government’s laws.
My grandmother told me, “The only time he had ever cried was when he had to leave his dog.” The dog’s name was Pinto, and in Spanish that means spotted. Pinto was a very energetic dalmatian, and very big. Every day when Rosalino came home from work, he would say hello to his wife, then spend almost an hour with his dog. He (and sometimes his wife) would throw sticks for Pinto, play with him and pet him.
But one day the government found out that Rosalino had been trying to get land for poor people. Men came over and threatened his life, so he had to leave. My great-grandfather decided to go north. He’d heard that in California there were jobs. He decided to go north even though he would have to leave his beloved wife and dog.
“My beloved wife,” he exclaimed, “I must leave you but I will send what money I can.” He ran to Pinto and gave him a very tight hug. And once he was done, he finally walked away from his home.
Rosalino’s wife and dog watched him get smaller and smaller as he walked further and further away. Going, going, gone.
And so he began his journey north in search of a job. On he walked without stopping unless it was to drink from a stream or eat some cactus. He had no other supplies. He walked for days and even waded across the enormous Rio Grande, the river that separates Texas from Mexico. After walking for days he looked up and saw something that made his heart skip a beat. A railroad station!! He did not have any money, but that was no problem. He could sneak into a boxcar. So he ran up to the station and went up to a conductor.
“What direction is this boxcar train heading?” he asked.
“North,” the conductor replied. “Why?”
“Just wondering,” my great-grandfather replied.
My great-grandfather could not believe his luck. So he jumped in a boxcar and the train pulled from the station.
As he rode in the boxcar, Rosalino started really feeling lonely. He missed his wife, his dog and his cozy home. His life was perfect up until the cruel government got in his way. It wasn’t fair that all the good land went to the rich people, and the poor people who worked on it got nothing.
He walked, hitchhiked and rode trains all the way to the Imperial Valley in California. There in the Imperial Valley, he found plenty of work picking tomatoes, peaches, cotton and whatever else he could find. He sent what money he could to his family.
Rosalino and the other farm workers lived in whatever shelter they could find near the fields where they worked. So usually they would have a big campfire at night and talk about their lives. Almost everyone there had left people they loved and had to work their hardest just for a little money. Sometimes to get people’s minds off their troubles, Rosalino would talk about the funny things Pinto used to do.
“He would chase his tail all day long and once he caught it he would shake it around like a baby’s rattle!” Everyone would laugh at this.
One night, while they were sitting around a campfire, they heard a rustling in the bushes. They saw a glow of eyeballs, and out crawled a beaten, exhausted, but happy, Pinto.
“Pinto, is that you?!” Rosalino cried. He threw his arms around his beloved dog.
Everyone agreed that Pinto’s arrival was a miracle, so the next day they took him to a church to be blessed. Unfortunately, Pinto died about a week later from exhaustion. But still, that dog walked and tracked my great-grandfather for about 2000 miles across deserts, over mountains and through rivers.
Through love and determination, Pinto was finally reunited with the man he loved so much.