From the Front Porch – Muy Malo Frito Bandito

It is my intention here to tell you a story about the above-mentioned muy malo Frito Bandito; but in order to do that, I must tell another story first. Think of a set of railroad tracks: If you look toward the end of the tracks, as far as the eye can see, they appear to merge into one – I hope these stories do the same.

Down along the bayous of southern Louisiana lives a Cajun man. His name is Sam Ayo. He is the brother-in-law of our son-in-law, Jason Landry, who is also Cajun by birth. They are both colorful people. I was privy to a conversation between them some years back. They had a long discourse concerning what part of an alligator was tastiest. Jason maintained that it was the meat in the tail, while Sam argued that it was, rather, the meat from just under the lower jaw.

At any rate, the only other time I saw Sam, he was doing some work on a beautiful Harley-Davidson he owns. He is a rough and tumble looking guy, who easily fits the profile of a Harley rider. Not only that, to complete the image, he works on the offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. But take him off that oil rig, and have him climb off that Harley and invite you into his home, you’ll soon see that Sam is an enigma – his dog is a Chihuahua – not hardly what you’d expect, or at least I didn’t.

Sam, however, does not let owning a Chihuahua detract from his image. In fact, according to our daughter Kristin, and Jason too, Sam maintains that, pound for pound, the Chihuahua is the fiercest canine alive. He claims he watched Animal Planet on TV once, and saw a Chihuahua take down a jaguar.

Therefore, since I’ve related Sam Ayo’s dog story I’ll tell you mine. As of my birthday on February 14, I too am the owner of a Chihuahua.

In the early afternoon of my birthday, I decided to take a short nap. Meanwhile, Janey and the grandchildren were going out to the Nicholson ranch, east of Deer Lodge, to see a newborn calf that was being bottle-fed, since the mother wouldn’t feed her. While they were there, Jenn Nicholson said they had a birthday present for me. So she and her three children, Rachel, Greydon and Logan presented her with a very small kennel that contained a very small dog. It was a Chihuahua – the runt of a litter born to some dog breeders who were going to do away with it because it was so tiny.

Jenn insisted they give the dog to her. She fed it, nurtured it and it finally began to grow a little bit. They’d given the puppy the temporary name of Fuggly, because, as they said, she was so ugly she was cute. She came complete with a birthday card, the kennel and a large bag of puppy food.

When they returned home, I was awakened from my nap, whereupon I was presented the puppy by our grandson, Jake Larson.

It would be erroneous to say that it was love at first sight, at least on my part; but after an hour or so I was really warming up to the little gal. She sorta grows on you, figuratively, not literally. (In the literal sense she hardly grows at all.)

The only thing we really had to do was change the name. We have a woman who is an RN out at the prison who rents a room from us. Her name is Carolyn. Anyway, Carolyn and Janey were thinking up all these names like Tinker Bell and Lollipop, and that sort of thing. So I saw right away that this was getting out of hand; furthermore, I said that since the dog was mine, I’d be the one to name her, thank you both very much.

Therefore, I came up with the name: Muy Malo Frito Bandito, which roughly translated means ‘very bad Frito watchdog.’ We call her Frito for short; and I think she’ll be a perfect watchdog. I’m already working with her, to help her develop a deep, throaty, menacing growl. None of this yip-yipping for Frito. Her growl will be enough to scare off any would-be burglars or other predatory beings.

Besides, as Sam Ayo says, pound for pound (or in Frito’s case, ounce for ounce, since she doesn’t yet weigh a pound), Chihuahuas are the meanest canines on the planet.

Mike McMahon is two-time winner of the Montana Newspaper Association’s Columnist of the Year award. He lives in Deer Lodge with his wife Jane where he’s working on his third book of anecdotes collected while sitting on his front porch swing with Frito.

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