La Lechuza y Su Perro
The Barn Owl and Her Dog
1. Part One
It was a windy yet hot night, as I woke up and stretched my speckled feathers. Another night watching and caring over a family that fears me. It’s common in these parts of Mexico. Many people believe that lechuzas, barn owls like me, are actually witches in disguise. We are guardians and we are sent here over and over again to protect the ones that we are chosen to guard over. We do possess a higher intelligence than other birds, but witches? No. I was led here to take care and watch over a young boy that lives in the tiny house made of clay. He lives with his mother and an older sister. I have been here for a bit; he is now just barely able to walk. These humans are quite clumsy during those years. Constantly watching over his house to make sure no coyotes sneak in. Coyotes, they are the main reason I am here. I can take two, just peck their eyes and avoid their jaws until they flee, I haven’t had to fend any off here yet, hopefully it will never be more than two.
My belly starts to ache, and I realize it has been a while since my last meal. I take a deep breath and let in the heat of the night. I start cleaning my feathers and removing any dirt or dust that may have accumulated during the day. One by one, I pick my tan and speckled feathers until every bit of dirt is gone, I even find a few ticks trying to get a meal. I leave the tree branch and start flapping my sleepy wings.
It’s amazing. I love flying. The wind under my wings, the smell of the earth, the soft noises of insects and small creatures. I take this time to take it all in. The pitch-black sky with bright stars all around me. Twinkling so far away. As I am lost in this beautiful trance, I hear a delicious squeaking of my next meal. I let the thoughts of the earth and stars fade as my empty stomach reaches my ear drums. “Squeak, squeak.” I start gliding every so slowly, letting my feathers fall gracefully against the hot wind. I see it now, a chunky field mouse digging away without any idea that it is about to be his final breath. In one clean and quiet swoop, I catch him in my strong talons. I don’t enjoy this, taking a life, but I must eat. I make his death quick and the least painless possible. I eat my breakfast under the blanket of stars perched on a pecan tree branch. As I finish the last bit of my meal, I thank the field mouse for his life, and I clean myself before I take off back to my position of guarding.
As I make my way back to my tree that is right in front of the little’s boys house, I find myself thinking why am I guarding this child? I have some qualities that make me fit to guard this small child. I can fly very fast, I am able to take down two coyotes with my strong beak, and not even mention my amazing eyesight! But why are owls made guardians? We sleep all day long! It is quiet a wonder that we have been able to save so many people and yet sleep all day. I did find this odd during the last child I looked after. I tried my hardest to stay awake and fight the sleep. It made sense to me to oversee caring for someone while they are awake, right? It makes the most sense. But I guess watching over them while they are at their most vulnerable, sleeping, is also needed.
The night becomes darker, and the hot air turns slightly cooler. I notice in one of the windows that the mom has left a candle on, perhaps she is still awake. I despise candles, even more when they turn to engulfing fire. Humans can’t see in the dark, so those candles are needed to get around, however, they need to be more responsible with them. I’m lost in these candles thoughts and watching the surroundings closely to make sure no coyotes come around when I notice a small dark figure. I am on high alert as the small dark figure comes closer. I start to spread my wings ready to go towards it and I realize it is a small black dog. A baby dog. It’s a Xoloitzcuintle.
2. Part Two
I look at the baby Xoloitzcuintle and notice that he seems distressed. I can’t see any injuries from here. He stops his walking and sits next to a bush with a worried look on his face. The Xoloitzcuintle dog is a dog of the Gods. They are also guardians and sent to protect those that are chosen for them. He was just very small. I decided to go to this soul and see if it was lost. I take flight and fly towards the small bundle in front of the bush. I land about two feet and make sure I let it be known that I mean no harm.
“Hola, are you lost?” I ask the hairless creature. We animals can communicate with each other but not the way humans do. We do it with our body and mind.
“No, I am just scared.” The little dog responds with a quiver.
“What’s your name? I’m Itzel.” I say as comforting as I can sound.
“I am Gabor.” He responded.
Gabor, I thought. A very strong name chosen by the Gods. I take a closer look at him, and he is young, but he looks strong already.
“Why are you scared, Gabor?” I say.
“This is my first time being alive in this body. I am sent here to take care of a boy. My mother told me it was my duty.” He responded as his shoulders relaxed a little.
My thoughts started to swirl, not only because he was young but also because this was his first time being born. It is a scary time; however, you don’t get guardian work until your third or fourth life. Why was this young dog made a guardian in his first? I have found it best to not question the work of the Gods above us and our guardian work.
“Are you here to care for Francisco? Don’t be scared, fear is only in the mind of the weak.” I said to him as I kept watch on the house on my left.
“Yes, I am here for him. I am told he will do great things and I need to protect him.” He responded while walking closer to me. “Are you here to protect him too? How long have you been here?” he added.
“Yes, I am here for him as well. It has been many moons. Since his mother brought him to this Earth. He is now barely walking and making noises.” I inform him.
“Hmm. Well, we are his two guardians then. I don’t feel that scared anymore. Will you help me learn what I have to do?” He asked and he wagged his tail.
I thought about working with another guardian. I have never worked with another Lechuza, let alone a dog. Perhaps this is a test. We guardians have been told about tests that the Gods send us. I’ve never been tested before but maybe helping this naïve and young guardian, is my test. Some test, test your patience, your ability, or your want to be a guardian. I keep staring at this little dog, he does seem strong, like I noticed before. But he is so young, I can feel his new soul radiating doubt and uncertainty. I will do what I must do, this is my ninth time on this Earth, and I will help another guardian with my past knowledge.
“Yes, I will help you. We will work together. Let’s go find something for you to eat and drink, I can tell it has been some moons since you last ate?” I ask a bit concerned.
“Only two moons.” He responds. I tell him to follow me. I glide slowly in front of him and he waddles behind me.
I guide him to my tree and told him to wait there while I go hunt for him. I went to look for another field mouse and some water for Gabor. I was able to catch another mouse but not as big as the one I had for my breakfast. I grab the mouse and take him to Gabor. As I slowly drop in front of him, I see that he was already sleepy from exhaustion. He must have walked a long way, I thought. I place the mouse in front of him and go seek some water. I fly into the well and grab a small clay cup in my beak, I fill it halfway and fly back to my new friend. At this point, I nudge him awake with my beak, he must drink. He slowly opens his black eyes and lets out a yawn.
“Here, drink some water and eat this mouse. You need something in your belly.” I say pushing the mouse with the tip of my wings.
He drinks all the water down in feverish gulps. He looks at the mouse and nudges him with his black hairless paw. He nudges him again and again. I notice then what he is doing and shout at him. “Stop playing with it and eat it!!”
He looks up puzzled and says “Okay, okay. I was softening it up.”
I give a hoot of frustration and look at the house, good, still coyote free. I shake my feathers out and fly on my branch above Gabor munching on his meal. The stars are even brighter now, and the crickets are singing their songs. Gabor looks up and me and yawns. I tell him he can sleep while I keep watch the rest of the night. He doesn’t even question it and is out in seconds. I think about how a guardianship with two guardians will work. I always questioned why a Lechuza was a guardian, you know since we sleep all day. I look down at Gabor and he is snoring and stretching out his tiny black legs. Maybe this is what the Gods want? Two guardians working together, one guarding the day and one guarding the night. I like this idea. I stretch my talons out one by one and give my feathers a quick shake. A hoot of optimism escapes me, and I settle for the rest of the night of caring for Francisco.
3. Part Three
The rest of the night was just like any other. It has been many moons that I’ve seen coyotes. I shake myself awake a little as the sun starts to slowly rise. Little Gabor slept the whole night, only letting out a few whimpers and snores. I ponder all night how this is going to work. The most sense is for Gabor to warm up to Francisco’s mom and see if she will take him in. That way he can watch him during the day, and I will watch them both during the night. If that doesn’t work, he can stay in the little shack behind the house. The sun starts shining brightly and as if he knew, Gabor wakes up with a jump.
“Well good morning, nice to see you got some rest.” I say as I let out a yawn.
“I didn’t sleep while I was on my way here. It was needed. So, how am I going to meet Francisco?” he says still sleepily.
“I think it would be best if you could be part of the family, their pet. You are a baby dog, maybe it will be easy for you to win over the mom.” I call out as I make my way down towards him and off my perch.
As we both groom ourselves, we see the door open. Mom is awake, she is the first one up and the last one to sleep. She has a pail, and she is off to the well for water. It wasn’t always just her, there was a dad once. But the last time I saw him was right after Francisco was born. He left one night and never came back. Humans are rather strange. My eyes get rather heavy, and I feel my body coming down with sleep. I know I must help Gabor with the plan.
I tell him that he needs to go towards the well just in eyesight of the mom. She is still there, fetching water. I throw some more dirt on him with my wings to make him look more pathetic. He’s already hairless but it should help to make him look more in need.
“Hey! Enough dirt, what are you doing!?” He barks at me while licking some dirt off his hairless lip.
“Just a little more roughed up. You need to look sad and hungry. On my ‘hoot’ you let out a painful cry. Okay? If this works, you become part of the family, and you watch him during the day. We will find ways to communicate and see each other.” I explain in a rush as I see the mom almost done with the heavy water pail.
“And if it doesn’t work? Where will I go?” he asked with worry.
“It will work. If not, you can live in the shack, and we will take care of each other out here.” I respond in as a reassuring voice as I can muster.
Gabor makes his way towards the well and rolls around in more dirt. As soon as he is sitting down, I let out a loud ‘hoot’. He lets out the most painful hearing cry and I see the mom snap her head up to find the owner of that cry. She yanks the pail out as quickly as she can and rushes towards Gabor. Her face looks soft and tender. She stares down at Gabor with loving eyes, and he lets out a little whimper.
“A mighty Xolo dog, what are you doing out here all alone? Are you lost little one? Let’s get you inside and away from harm.” She softly tells him as she bends down and picks him up.
I watch with calmness as I see her take Gabor in her arms into the house. My heart is heavy, but my eyes are heavier with sleep. It is time to leave the guardianship to Gabor and for me to get some rest. I stretch out my fluffy feathers and start picking out dirt left from throwing dirt at Gabor. I spread my wings I take off to the highest branch on the tree and nuzzle my beak into my chest as I doze off into a deep slumber.
4. Part Four
I wake up with a startle when I hear a faint bark below me. I look down and see Gabor, he is jumping and looking up at me with a big grin. He does another little jump as I shake away the day and fly down next to him.
“How was your first day with the family?” I say to him.
“It was great! Mom says I am going to be a protector. How does she know that? Sister is fun too and Francisco smells like milk. It was a good day. I got a bath and they fed me rice and chicken. But they call me something different than my name. They call me Tzoc.” He said everything in one breath while chasing a cricket.
“That is great to hear little one. I am getting hungry and it’s getting late, it’s time to switch.” I say as I look at him crunchy on the cricket.
“Before we switch, can I ask you something?” he asks with a head tilt.
“What is the light that they carry? Why does it burn?” he asks
“The candles? It’s fire. You haven’t seen fire? It is used by humans to keep warm and to see but it can be dangerous if not taken care of or watched.” I respond with my belly grumbling.
“It’s pretty though. But it hurt when I tried to smell it. Mom yelled at me and pulled me away.” he said with a sharp gasp.
“Be careful, little one, you are young and don’t know many things, but you will learn. Coyotes are another dangerous thing that you must watch for. Have you ever seen one?” I chirp at him
“Yes, my mom protected us once from one of them. They look like us only with hair and bigger.” He jumps towards me and licks the side of my face.
“Okay little one, go back inside and go to bed. It is my turn to keep watch. Have sweet dreams and I will see you in the morning. Good night.” I say wiping his spit off my feathers
“Good morning!” he shouts with a laugh and heads back towards the house.
I stay until I see him go back inside the house and see mom close the door behind him. He seems to fit right in. I think this will be a good fit and it will work out. I just must focus on getting him on track, he is still just a baby. A brand-new soul. I look around my surroundings and appreciate the dusk coming in. I look up and see a full moon, smiling down at me. It is time to fly and check the perimeter for any coyotes. I am not that hungry, I can go another night without eating, that mouse was filling enough. I stretch my stiff wings and take off.
The air is still warm but not as warm as yesterday. I do prefer the colder weather, but heat isn’t too bad. I feel the sky getting darker and the stars coming out, my favorite time. When I check the perimeter, I try to go as far as I can but still have the house in sight. I only do this to be prepared in case coyotes are hunting and sniffing nearby. The land is busy with the us that come out at night. I hear chirping and think that that mouse is lucky I’m not eating tonight. There are other owls around the area, but they are rather different They are light brown with big black eyes, and feathers with white specs. I am not sure why they aren’t guardians; it is a mystery why the Gods only chose us barn owls to be the guardians from the owl family. I start thinking about all the other species that are guardians, from land to sea. The good thing about being animals, is that we can all communicate and know who a guardian is and who isn’t. I circle this big area full of cactus and see a family of lizards looking for food below. Then I see them out of the corner of my eye. Three coyotes, they are all fully grown each of them a different tone of brown.
I hear them speaking. They aren’t kind spirits. I’m not saying that all coyotes or all predators are evil, however, these are. It is strange to see them all in a pack and even strangers that they are all male. They are far from where they need to be, there aren’t that many prey for them around this area only the humans. They are here for the wrong reasons. All they are taking about is how they are going to take the “small one” because it is easier. I know who they mean, it’s Francisco, he is the youngest child in the village. I stay close and keep observing. The taller one is walking with a limp and has a fresh wound, it looks deep. I wonder how that happened, an altercation with another predator or with a human. They just sit a stare towards the village for a while. Neither of them saying anything. I keep circling at a distance without being seen and just waiting for movement. They stay there for a few more breathes and then quietly get up and turn around to leave. I hear one say “not yet” as they fade into the darkness.
I stay still circling the area and thinking of the outcomes of when they came back. It is not a matter of “if” but of “when”, it was very clear that they will come back. But why for Francisco? What has he done? I think about their sizes and their teeth and then Gabor comes to mind, he is still very young, and I wouldn’t want him to get hurt. I spend the rest of the night thinking about what will happen when they come back and how we can both protect Francisco.
5. Part Five
I’ve been on my branch all night thinking about the coyotes. I think I have come up with a good enough plan. One in which Gabor and Francisco stay safe. The night noises start to fade as the sun starts to wake up. I am tired, it was a long night of thinking and worrying about those coyotes. I start to groom myself because with all those thoughts, I forgot my bath. I see mom coming out to get the water and out comes little Gabor. She yells at him to stay close because it is still rather dark. He comes towards my tree, and I fly down to meet him. Just then I hear the mom shouting at Gabor telling him to get away from me. I see her rushing towards us with a broom in her hand and I take this moment to fly behind the shack to avoid her. I wish she knew I was not evil but rather brought her to protect her son and, in a way, protect her and her daughter. The culture of hate and fear that surrounds me and my kind. I stay on top of the shack while she shouts at me and bends down and shouts at Gabor. He confused and a little scared. I tell him that it is okay and that I will explain later. Mom finally gets her shouts out and heads back to the well with her broom in hand.
I wait until the door closes behind her. Gabor hasn’t moved the whole time; he has just been staring at me with wonder. His little hairless body giving a small shake. I fly down to him and set my talons deep into the soft earth.
“Why was she so mad?” he asks with a tiny crack in his voice.
“Humans in these parts fear owls like me. They think I am evil and a witch. They think I am bad luck, and they don’t want me around. She has seen me before, though I try to stay out of sight. She always comes towards me with a broom and swings it around.” I say with the memories of those times.
“I am sorry for that. You are not evil.” he says coming towards me and placing his tiny head on my feathered chest.
“Thank you, little one, it is just myths that humans believe. Enough of that, I have some news for you. I saw three coyotes last night prowling the area. One had a limp and all three of them had hate in their souls. They were talking about coming to the village.” I explain, “I have a plan for when they do come back. It is obvious that they want Francisco, they mentioned “small one” and he is the youngest child in the village. I don’t why they want to do this; I only know that I felt hate radiate from them. “I finish explaining.
“What is the plan, Itzel? What are we going to do?” he says laying all four paws on the ground.
“You see that shack over there?” he turns and nods his head, “we are going to ask a frog friend a favor and hide him in the shack. You see there are certain frogs that live in the meadow a few miles away that sound like children crying. We will place him in the corner of the shack and lure the 3 coyotes inside of it. When they are all inside, our little frog friend will escape from the hole in the corner and then I lock the latch from the outside, and I fly to the window of Francisco’s house and steal a candle. By then you would have gotten this liquid I am going to get out of the shack, it makes fire go bigger, and you will place it all over the shack and then flee to safety and I drop the candle on the shack. Then there will be no coyotes, well at least not those three.” I say in one full breath.
“Okay Itzel, I will do anything you ask. I think it can work.” he responds
“It is settled then. Okay little one, it is your watch. Coyotes wont attack in the daylight but still try to stay inside and keep the family inside. Play with them and make them laugh, they will like that. I am off to get some sleep but if something does happen, come get me and knock on the tree as much as you can to wake me up. Okay?” I ask sleepily.
“Okay!” he says, and he licks my cheek and runs off.
I wait until he barks at the door and is let back inside. I like this little one, he is going to do great things. I stretch one more time and go to the highest branch and settle in for the day. I doze off with dreams of coyotes and darkness.
6. Part Six
I awake with a shudder of thunder and slowly open my eyes. The rain is coming and with that, loud thunder, and lighting. I don’t mind the rain, I dislike the loud thunder, it rings in my ears with pain. The rain seems to be a few minutes away. I shake awake and wait until little Gabor comes out for his last break before bed. Just as I was waiting for Gabor to come out, I sense them. All three of them coming towards the village. The door swings open and mom lets out Gabor to do his business before bed. He is pouncing his way towards the tree happily and I fly down to him in a quick swoop stopping right in front of him.
“Itzel! Did you have a good sleep?” he asks happily but then his face starts to look worried, “something is wrong.” he says as he looks around and gets closer to me.
“Gabor, they are on their way. They are at the edge of the perimeter on their way. We have to start the plan.” I tell him as I nudge my head into his tiny neck for comfort.
“Okay. We have to go get the frog. I can go.” he says excitedly.
“I will go, it will be faster if I do. I need you to wait by the shack for me. It will only take a bit. I will be right back.” I say as I start to take off, I see him head towards the shack
I take flight to the meadow. It isn’t that far away. I will just grab the frog and explain on the way. As I fly towards the meadow, I sense them getting closer and turn my body, they are running now and in sight. I stop midflight and hover while I listen. It is very clear now. How come I did not understand it before? They are all agreeing on the same thing.
“It is him. His mother was the one from the previous village. It’s him. He has come a long way.” One of them says with hate in his voice.
“Are you sure? I mean they all look the same.” the second one states with a hint of doubt.
“Of course, it is him!!! Are you questioning your own nose? Mine? It is him; he will pay for his mother’s doings.” the one with the limp hisses the words out while the other crouches in submissiveness. His wound looks worse, maggots have settled.
It all makes sense now. They aren’t looking for Francisco, they are looking for Gabor. Gabor! I think as I rush back to the shack. I have never flown as fast as I did now. I see him sitting next to the shack playing with a firefly. He is trying to catch it but it is much too quick for him. I get to him in a flash and stop right in front of him.
“Gabor, it is you they want, not Francisco. One of them was hurt by your mother. His leg is badly bitten. Do you remember?” I ask as I place a wing around him.
“Yes. She saved my sisters and I from one. He wanted to eat my sister and she fought him off.” he says recalling the event and twitching. “He wants me? Why?” he asks
“He said that you need to pay for your mother’s doings. It is called revenge. It’s a horrible feeling. They are coming quick; you need to go back inside, and I will keep watch at the door. Don’t come outside again until daylight.” I speak
“Okay, but what about you? Will you be, okay? They can hurt you. “he asks and settles his little hairless head deep into my protective wing.
“I can fly and avoid them. I can hide on the roof. There are many things little one. Let’s go, go towards the house.” I nudge him.
As soon as we head towards the house, we see the three figures coming towards from behind the house. They are smiling with malicious grins. The one with the limp looks bad. He must have an infection. Hope he goes quick.
“We have followed you for many moons small one. We are rather hungry after all that running.” he says circling the area.
I walk on the ground in front of Gabor and shield him with my wings. I can tell I look quiet stupid, have you seen an owl walk? I don’t care I protect my little one. If I could carry him off to safety I would but he is bigger than what I can carry. I see the other two coyotes, staying behind the one with the limp. I don’t know why but I sense that they don’t want to be here. Gabor whimpers behind me. What do I do, there are three of them and my little one needs protection. Why isn’t mom coming out for Gabor?
“Let us go and nobody gets hurt.” I say with as much confidence as I can carry.
“What’s it to you, bruja? Give him to us and you won’t get hurt.” the one with the limp snarls.
I remember the hole in the back of the shack, I think if Gabor digs a little more, he can fit. As the one with the limp turns towards the other two coyotes with a boom in his voice. He can sense that they don’t want to get involved, but he is forcing them. I turn quickly to Gabor and whisper in a hushed voice to him to run to the hole in the shack. He gives me a quick lick on the face and nudges me with his forehead and in a quick flash he escapes to the back of the shack. In that moment the one with the limp turns around rushes towards the shack. I notice with a flash of relief that Gabor has made in safely inside the shack.
The other two coyotes come charging towards me as the other goes straight into the hole trying to get in. I take towards the coyotes and charge at the smaller one, I sink my talons into his eyes and hear him scream in pain. In one yank as he tries to escape, I manage to gauge his left eye out, its squishy in my talon. I shake it off while he runs off into the darkness. The second coyote comes at me and as I charge my way towards his eyes, he takes a swift right and runs away.
I fly as quickly as I can and I notice that the one with the limp is a quarter inside the shack, Gabor is barking in fear. I feel my body fill with fear as I hear him barking and barking. I lunge at his ribs as hard as I can with my beak. He yelps in pain and jumps out of the hole. His teeth snarl with dirt and drool. I fly towards him, and I am so distracted in protecting Gabor, I lose my focus and he grabs my tip of my left wing and slams me down on the ground. In a moment, Gabor jumps out from the shack and bites the coyote on the face, the coyote yelps in pain and Gabor is still hanging on the side of his face biting down harder. The coyote tries to shake him off and I fly towards them and sink my talons into the other side of his face while pecking his neck.
We are fighting back and forth trying to get him to surrender and, in a moment, he grabs my wing and I hear a big crunch. The pain shoots through me and I am down on the dirt. Gabor flings off him and comes charging towards the coyote’s limp leg and bites down with full force. He yelps in pain and quivers down as Gabor continues to chomp on his leg, until I hear a break. I look over and Gabor has completely broken his limp leg off. The coyote drags himself away slowly and comes to a halt and his labored breath starts to slow until it stops completely.
I am still on the ground when I notice he not only grabbed my wings but there are small puncture wounds seeping with blood coming from my chest. I’m dying, I feel like I am fading away. Gabor comes rushing to me and puts his little body next to mine. He is whimpering as he licks my face and wing. His tears fall on my cheeks and I try to comfort him.
“It’s okay, little one, I will see you in the next life. You will do great things.” I say weakly.
“Please don’t go, I need you. Please.” He says crying.
“It is my time to go, little one. It is just my time.” I say while caressing his cheek with my beak.
“Please.” He cries softly.
“You will do great, take care of Francisco. I love you, little one.” I say with my last breath.
“I love you, too.”
About the Creator
Teacher, traveler, fur baby mom, reader, and writer. I enjoy writing historical fiction stories, fiction, poetry, true crime, and nonfiction.
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