By D. E. Finley
Brrr! It was a cold crisp, winter morning in Brazil – a frigid 62 degrees! My Portuguese teacher, Fabianna showed up at our house wearing her winter woolies – hat, gloves, scarf, jacket, and thick, workout pants. We were going on a morning walk to have a conversational Portuguese lesson and to get my dogs’ workout in.

Aren’t you going to freeze wearing just shorts and a sweatshirt?” Fabianna asked me, looking concerned that I would get frostbite.

“No, I’m used to cold winters,” I reassured her, “I grew up in Northern New Jersey in an igloo and drove a dog sled to school.”

“But, what about your dogs?” Fabianna persisted, “Will they be warm enough with just their fur?”

After reassuring Fabianna that my forty pound, golden retriever mutts, Rocky and Baylor, wouldn’t catch pneumonia, we headed on our walk and lesson.

As Rocky and Baylor yanked us along at a sporty clip, we approached a white, styled, medium sized, poodle with a pink, fleece jacket and matching pink bows. She was being walked by her owner who was dressed more for snow shoeing in Alaska than a 62 degree day.

The woman’s poodle yapped at Rocky and Baylor like they were invading her galaxy. Thinking it was their galaxy, Rocky and Baylor angrily lunged towards her.

They growled, “Pink jacket wearing wuss!”

The poodle lunged back.

“Nao Priscilla! Nao!” her owner scolded.

But, Priscilla, more agitated than a guest on The Jerry Springer show, was too upset to listen. Standing on her hind legs, she jerked her forearms to gesture like an angry Italian in a traffic jam.

“Oh my gosh! Priscilla is giving Rocky and Baylor the screw you sign! – ‘dar uma banana’ “, Fabianna translated for me.

Rocky, being the nuclear physicist (Mensa member) of my two dogs, sensed the insult. He pulled so hard that I lost control of his leash. He darted over to Priscilla, and tried to tear a hole in her sweater. Then, Priscilla snapped Rocky’s sun goggles and tried to rip off his Texas Longhorns sun visor. Baylor was howling and pulling to try to provide backup support.

“I can’t take you anywhere!” I yelled, “Get back here, Rocky!”

Then, Baylor lifted up her paw, and joined her index nail and thumbnail to form an “O”, Brazilian, for asshole, waving it at Priscilla. I never knew Baylor was so bright, but now wasn’t the time or the place for praise.

Finally, the dogs settled down to make amends, lingering over each other’s heinie fumes. Priscilla’s owner, Paula, and I apologized to each other. Fabianna complimented Paula on her matching pink scarf, mitten, and hat ensemble – a mother and poodle set.

After wiping the foam off the Rocky’s and Baylor’s mouths, we walked further down the street. I spotted a dog trainer with my other neighbor’s large, golden retriever, Domingos. I asked Fabianna to talk with the trainer in Portuguese to see if he could give my dogs obedience classes too. The trainer proudly demonstrated all the tricks that Domingos knew at eight months old.

“Sit Domingos.” Domingos sat.

“Shake Domingos.” Domingos shook.

“Roll over Domingos.” Domingos just stood there.

“That’s because your dogs are making Domingos nervous,” the trainer explained.

Likely story.

Next, the trainer asked Rocky’s and Baylor’s ages, which were eight and seven.

“We have a saying here in Brazil”, the trainer explained, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

At the price he was charging, I wasn’t willing to pay him to teach a new dog old tricks either.

“Well, my dogs will just have to be socially inept for the rest of their lives,” I explained to Fabianna.

“But,” she answered, “it’s never too late to give them a little fashion sense. Besides, they look cold.”

Copyright D. E. Finley 2005.

To read previous articles by D. E. Finley click below:

Brazil Life: Home Safe Home
Brazil Life: Hose Shopping
Brazil Life: In-Laws In Town
Brazil Life: Got Floss
Brazil Life: Hiring a Maid
Brazil Life: Brazilians are so Nice
Brazil Life: Gringa Goes Shopping at Carrefour
Brazil Life: Amazon Encounter Lodge Vacation
Brazil Life: Keeping Track of My Purse

D.E. Finley is a writer and graphic artist. You can visit her website at
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