An Excerpt from MY PASSION FOR ANIMALS. This piece is from a short story about my grandfather, who was given away like a puppy when he was a child. His father, my great-grandfather, was a very wealthy, very cruel man.

The big man rode his stallion home later that night, actually a little before dawn. He landed shoulder first in a ditch by the side of the road, swore at the animal and the moon, somehow remounted the less than cooperative stallion, and eventually made his way home. The horse’s hooves pounded by a sea of stockyards where his prize beef herds were kept. The bulls and the steers slept curled-up on the ground, like giant stones. But in a yard nearby some of the cows had been lowing loudly. Today many of the calves were weaned. The heartsick cows called, each to her own calf. And the frightened weanlings sounded plaintive and helpless, beckoning from a mile around the bend, each to its own mother’s voice in the twilight.

Aguado rode by his corrals and paddocks, by several large barns where his numerous thoroughbred Andalusians were kept. The horses perked their ears forward then far back, tamping the ground when they heard him.  It was near daylight when he hammered the ranch hand’s shack and deposited his animal, then went to the house. There, his wife lay awake but motionless in bed. Would he be a mean drunk tonight?

At last he staggered upstairs in the dim blue light of dawn. He stared at his wife from their bedroom doorway while swaying from side to side. Then Aguado lumbered forward and fell, face down, into bed. He slept. He snored and did not dream.  Docille sighed and patted the thick wavy hair on his head while her heart and her breathing calmed.

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