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Issue 06

The Yellow Dog: Luteina’s Attitude

Diana Salgado

Diana Salgado is a Christian food engineer working on projects to reduce food waste in the UK.

Luteina. Photo: Diana Salgado

If you were a food scientist that loved dogs you would understand why all my dogs have “scientific” names. My first dog – officially – was a Bichon frisé mix called Zymomona. Zymomonas are a group of bacteria that produce alcohol from sugars in mezcal, a Mexican alcoholic beverage. At the time of acquiring the dog, I was researching those bacteria and I thought Zymomona made a perfect dog name. She is a great, fun dog addicted to chasing/fetching the ball. She’s thirteen years old at the moment (and counting), not fully healthy but happy. She eats bolognese some days after my mum hurries to finish our calls to go to prepare the Italian dish for Zymomona. 

More recently, I bought a Poochon which is a mix of a white Bichon frisé and a brown French poodle. No doubt if you had taken canine genetics classes, you would know that a white dog + a brown dog = a yellow-with-white-patches dog, right? This time I was doing research on tomatoes and thus Luteina made a great name for my dog, lutein being the molecule that gives the yellow colour to yellow tomatoes. I love to think that Luteina has a big personality under that mini body full of energy. She has all sorts of characters: superhero, archenemy, automatic floor cleaner, codependant, histrionic creature and more. She has her own voice and responds accordingly. She’s part of my own fantasies and we enjoy being together, each in our own way. Nobody loves Luteina like I do and nobody loves me like Luteina does. It is a relationship that can be understood as how the creation was originally meant to be: we are a team in symbiosis. It is great to know that her own “personality” (I call it dogsonality) is what actually makes her fun. That tremendous need for hugs and strokes makes her dig herself into my hands and twist her whole body. She would stroke herself all day with my hands moved by strings if she could.

But having a dog is not all fun. Luteina has had health problems – twice in her short life. On the first occasion a groomer cut more than necessary off her ears. She got such severe infection and pain that she refused to move. She looked at me as if saying, “Goodbye, this is the end of our fun-loving relationship, it’s time for me to depart, you keep living your life in happiness with the next dog.” This was her histrionic character of course … I took her to the vet, gave her antibiotics for a week and she got better. In no time she was jumping and chasing balloons again. The second time was when she broke her claw when going to chase the noise of the neighbour putting his rubbish bin outside. She came back full of blood on one paw, crying and blinking fast. I never fully understood what happened but she was clearly in lots of pain. I felt so bad about her, I rushed to the vet’s rooms that were about to close. They received her immediately and put something like a cast on her fragile little arm. She was looking at me with the same expression I saw in her eyes the previous time. She felt miserable for the following twenty minutes, not moving. I removed the cast and suddenly she was “healed.” She started walking as if nothing had ever happened. I’d love to have this attitude sometimes in life, Luteina’s attitude: I make a drama when things look bad but thinking wisely, they’re not that bad … should we play?

Franz Marc, Dog Lying in the Snow
Franz Marc, Dog Lying in the Snow