The bitch was in heat. The six lusty males gathered around her were all vying for her canine attention. They were courting her near the unofficial garbage dump—where residents deposited their household refuse to be picked up by garbage trucks—alongside the road, just below Miss Gelly’s house. The stench and ever-present horde of flies bothered them not in the least, as they concentrated on their pre-mating ritual. Low growls and ferocious snarls were part of that ritual; each male wanted to be the one joined with the female, and their hostile objection to each other delayed the outcome.
It had started just a little over a week ago. The bitch’s genital area had become swollen, and her body was secreting a substance that emitted a powerful odor, which, when inhaled by the males, drove them wild. At that stage of her reproductive cycle, she was not yet ready for male attention and had firmly rejected their undignified, amorous advances. So they had followed her around, unable to do more than sniff here and there. Occasionally, a growl of warning from the female would be needed to check the exuberance of an over-eager male.
She was now ready, and her male suitors knew it. Her behavior had undergone a dramatic change. She had become playful, teasing—gently nipping a male ear or rolling around among them and exposing her underbelly. It was evident, though, that she was giving preferential treatment to a big, one-eyed male with a rough, battle-scarred coat. The other suitors, while resentful, were nonetheless wary of his big, sturdy frame and snarled their disapproval of the extra treatment, but kept their distance.
Four New Villageans—three men and a woman—stood approximately forty feet away near a concrete drain, into which, the runoff water from the higher elevation areas of the community poured. The woman had been the first on the scene; she was on her way to market when she noticed the rutting dogs. Although Saturday was an extremely busy day for her, she couldn’t resist the impulse to stop and watch. The three men had joined her individually over a twenty-minute period.
While the humans watched the frantic animals, two more male dogs appeared. One of the newcomers was the shortest of the lot; even the bitch stood a few inches taller. What he lacked in height, he sought to compensate for in a self-appointed right to first claim. Although the female kept sidestepping his hurried efforts to establish himself as the sire of her yet-to-be-conceived whelps, he persisted in his Sisyphean efforts.
Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the story “Dog day Saturday” from the novella, New Village. New Village is an anthology of stories telling the story of a typical Caribbean community from the late fifties to the early eighties. It’s now on sale on Amazon kindle.