Saturday, July 9, 2011

Portillo's mascot

Welcome to my hotel, gringo
     Her name is Rasca and she is a very large St. Bernard. This post, which is dually motivated by  comments regarding Rasca's last blog appearance and my own desire to describe the dog, is about her. Where should I begin?

     I don't know how old Rasca is. But that doesn't matter. She's ageless. Should Rasca pass away, however unfortunate that might be, I'm sure she'd be quietly and immediately replaced. Would they name the next St. Bernard, "Rasca"? Is the present Rasca, even the original Rasca? Who knows. Well, actually, a lot of people know her story, as she belongs to a rather long and prestigious line of St. Bernards that have given their lives to the hotel. And only one has been named Rasca. According to resident historian/telephone operator, Elena, Rasca's predecessors include: Diego, Barry, Madeleine, Domino, among others, who's names I've already forgotten. Diego was the most recent, but had to be put down due to an "accident" with a guest that nobody talks about. Here's what I think happened, as I see this type of thing happen everyday: some naive little child grabbed the dog's face and shook it violently. Diego, being an animal, responded... and, well, that was his end. This story also contains the secret to Rasca's personal longevity, as well as her ever-growing popularity.

So much life
     Rasca is the laziest dog that I have ever known. I wasn't joking with the previous caption: "Rasca, uncharacteristically doing something." I've met some slow moving beasts, but Rasca takes the cake. Or rather, Rasca slowly drags her body towards the cake and engulfs it gradually like a boa constrictor. Going back to the previous story, Rasca is treated like the family dog around here. Except there are hundreds of families in Portillo. Instead of being petted vigorously, and with so much love, a few times each day, Rasca encounters gangs of super-affectionate children over and over and over again. Everyday, all season. And she just takes it. What's a dog's primary survival skill? DON'T BITE THE CHILDREN. Fortunately for Rasca this skill was learned many years ago.

     Now let me clarify: Rasca does not get abused. Far from it, actually. This dog has got the perfect life. Eat, lay around, lay around outside, repeat. I'm sure that she's a very happy dog. What intrigues me, though, is her benevolent tolerance, which brings us to her rising popularity. See, there are two ways of looking at Rasca - a) she does absolutely nothing or b) she's does everything she's supposed to. I've clearly explained the former; Rasca chills hard. To understand the latter perspective, I need to describe a common scenario. A travel weary family arrives at the hotel, three kids in tow. Rasca is sleeping on the lobby floor. The kids, very bored after the 3 hour trip from Santiago, want to run around. Yet instead of going wild, the children are effortlessly pulled towad the big ol`St. Bernard that rests at their feet. She opens her eyes and they freak out. She rolls on her back and little hands shoot onto her stomach. Thanks, Rasca, I can now receive these guests in peace. Then, after the parents have completed their check-in, the whole family decides it`s picture time with their new friend. Everybody gathers around the canine. Hold still, Rasca. Perfect. Oops - photo was blurry. Take it again. Rasca, don't move. Great. The family gets their wonderful snapshot with the Portillo's official mascot. Can you name many other dogs capable of holding the same pose for hours? Me neither.

Celebratory close-up
    So here's to Rasca, our dog! The one and only St. Bernard in Portillo since I've know this incredible place. She may not be the most active, and I often wonder if she's all there, but she's the life of the lobby and an attraction to all. Plus she doesn't bite the children. Thanks, Rasca!


  1. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!
    Alec, you describe stoic and wise Rasca (it is a she, right?) with such a wit.... I would love to come to Portillo just to get aquainted with Rasca!
    Thank you for your story!

  2. I liked this one, alec.

    x bro x bro,


  3. Great story - hope to meet her