Gorogoro means to be lazy or to hang around in Japanese. We named a dog Gorogoro soon after meeting him over two years ago. He belongs to the landlady of the “green house” we’ve lived in three times now during our visits to Nong Khai. The house is unforgiving in many ways. Institution green, concrete, huge barren bathroom with a cold shower, staircase on which it’s far too easy to bump your head arriving at the second floor landing. But we fell in love with the house, the large upstairs balcony, the outside kitchen the landlady allowed us to use.
We slowly fell in love with Gorogoro too. He’s a very nervous dog. He yelps at the slightest hint of foreign intrusion, and when you try to get close, he runs away, usually to a spot underneath the neighbour’s house (the green house is attached to the landlady’s house on one side, and on the other, a house belonging to an older Thai woman who tends to her garden with grace and precision, and who has the largest breasts either of us has ever seen.)
Gorogoro let the neighbour and the landlady near him, and no-one else. Eventually, he stopped barking at our approach, but every time we tried to get close he would run away. We eventually accepted that this dog would never let us into his family; he simply couldn’t. We named him Gorogoro (we don’t know his actual name because our landlady doesn’t speak English and we don’t speak Thai) because he never leaves the little stretch of soi (sidestreet, more of a bright, gardened alleyway in this case) from the street-gate at one end and our neighbours’ house on the other.
Then, one day in our third stay at the house, the unthinkable happened. He still wouldn’t let us near him, but once when we had the front door open because we were cooking outside, he simply walked in. We thought he would be mortally terrified of being inside strange property. But he took what would become known as ‘his spot’ under the table by the stairs, and let us pet him and talk to him. He looked calm, assured, maybe a little sad. He let me give him Reiki.
He stayed for hours, only leaving when the landlady got home. He started doing this fairly often, and even stayed the night once. But nothing ever changed the day after, and he would still never let us touch him outside the house. Did he used to live there? Was there something about us he felt comfortable being around? I remember Gorogoro now because as we rode to breakfast this morning, we found him quite far from home, sniffing garbage, not noticing us at all.