In Brazil there are many motels specializing in short-stays that are – how can I put this delicately? – romantic in nature. With alluring names like Swing, Alibi and Absinthe, these establishments offer pleasure-seeking couples a cosy haven far from nosy onlookers, with the right trappings: mirrors on the ceiling, seductive music, subdued lighting and a comfortable bed. (I know all this only through hearsay.)
It was such a romantic setting that Wallace entered on a blazing hot afternoon. As he walked into the motel room, he grunted with satisfaction. Pink curtains were drawn against the bright heat, the bed with red linen looked inviting and air conditioning was keeping the room deliciously cool. Only his companion was missing but she would be here soon. He walked over to the full-length mirror along the wall and liked what he saw.
“You handsome devil!” he said.
The door opened. He turned and took a sharp intake of breath. Rosa was standing just inside the doorway looking gorgeous. He moved towards her.
A few months later, as a direct consequence of this encounter, Wallace and Rosa became the proud parents of six healthy, tail-wagging puppies.
When I read about these new pleasure-motels in Brazil that cater to canine clients, I thought it was a joke because the dogs I’ve known have always been happy to conduct their love-making in the open: the diffident courting with delicate sniffs, the coy back-and-forth interchange (“Should we?”, “Now?”, “Yes!”, “Why not!”) and finally the unbridled action when we, as onlookers, would turn away in embarrassment.
But the prestigious New York Times is not prone to cracking jokes in its sombre pages. With increasing intrigue, I read what the Times’ Brazil reporter Simon Romero wrote about Animalle Mundo Pet, “an eight-story enterprise in an upscale district,” which featured “beef-flavoured Dog Beer (non-alcoholic), a dog spa with a Japanese ofuro soaking tub, and canine apparel emblazoned with the symbols of the local soccer clubs Atlético Mineiro and Cruzeiro.”
Romero went on to record the gushing praise of the hotel’s clients.
“I adore the romantic feel of this place,” said Andreia Kfoury (in Romero’s article). “I’m definitely bringing Harley back here when it’s time for him to breed. He is very macho, and would be a hit in this place.”
I was astonished to learn that Kfoury and her husband, both avid motorcycle buffs, had bought $500 worth of imported Harley-Davidson brand items for their dog. I wondered how they managed to inculcate their passion in their pet. I began to imagine Harley – when he is not busy at the motel – proudly wearing the trademark black Harley-Davidson jacket and standing guard at the Kfoury’s house, barking with scorn at any Yamaha motorcycles that pass by. Then I imagined him talking about his obsession.
“These Japanese machines are ok for the city commute but nothing more,” he says dismissively to his friends over a bottle of Dog Beer at the Animalle motel’s pub (surely they would have one for the dogs to unwind after their strenuous activity). “They look dull and sound duller. The Harley-Davidson looks majestic. And listening to its deep exhaust note, especially on the open highway, is like listening to your favourite rock band over a glass of whisky. The heart stirs; the soul awakens; existence becomes worthwhile.”
His friends nod sagely, impressed by his eloquence. “Cheers to Harley-Davidson!” they say and swig beer.
I shook myself out of the reverie and showed the article to my colleague sitting nearby. “Isn’t it crazy?” I said. “Motels for dog lovers! And I don’t mean people who love dogs. And branded merchandise for animals!”
“Not that crazy,” he said, “My cousin is obsessed about her pet Jacinda. She feeds and cares for her like a baby. The other day, we asked her to join us for a movie. ‘I can’t,’ she said gloomily, ‘Jacinda is sick.’”
“But taking care of a sick animal is different,” I said.
“Yes, but Jacinda is not an animal. She is a virtual pet: she only lives on the web. And she’s only a few months old but already owns lots of merchandise – purchased with good money by my cousin – and one day, when she is ready to have a family, I’m sure my cousin will look for an online motel for her.”
Paddy Rangappa is a freelance writer based in Singapore. Read more on his blog: http://theflip-side.blogspot.com