Reyneri Huete delicately manipulates the iron while she smoothes the clothes that little Bruno will wear at the feast that congregates hundreds of dogs in a church in Nicaragua, whose masters thank or ask for miracles to San Lazaro.
The 27-year-old woman interrupts Bruno’s jumping, who at seven years old is still enthusiastic, and perfumes and dresses him with the freshly ironed garment that simulates a tuxedo, to leave her house for the church of Santa María Magdalena.
“We bathe him from very early in the morning, we get his clothes ready, year after year we change them, this year he goes as a gentleman with his tuxedo and vest, to give thanks to Saint Lazarus,” Huete said when commenting on the story of Bruno, a schnauzer and cocker spaniel mix.
“He (Bruno) had a problem in this ear, he was operated on, and obviously we went to Saint Lazarus for him to intercede for his healing and thank God he had a good cure his operation,” adds Huete.
Dogs of different breeds, colors and sizes exchange sniffs and barks in a centuries-old tradition in the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbó in the city of Mayasa, 30 kilometers from Managua.
Nazareth Baltodano, 30, arrived at the church with Mancha, a one-year-old Chihuahua who had been evicted by a veterinarian after a wasp sting complicated her.
“We came to pay a promise because two weeks ago she almost died because a wasp stung her and she fainted, she started to convulse,” she said.
The dogs are brought before an image of the saint, patron saint of the poor and sick, on one of the sides of the altar of the temple, in gratitude for favors attributed to him.
The feast originates from the Gospel parable about the rich man and Lazarus, a beggar whose sores were licked by dogs.
We keep tradition
Priest Bismark Conde explains that in Christian tradition St. Lazarus is associated as a canine life saver.
“Here in the town of Monimbó in the face of plagues that have always attacked not only people, but also animals, the image of Saint Lazarus was a point of reference to also safeguard the life of these creatures,” he tells AFP.
The dogs wait their turn before the image of the saint, adorned with flowers and surrounded by candles, amid religious songs.
“We go around paying the promise to San Lazaro because he has worked miracles for us,” Rosa Rodriguez, who pets her pet Sasy, who months earlier nearly lost an eye from a blow, tells AFP.
“We always keep the tradition of paying promises to Saint Lazarus for our puppies, so we ask him for sanity, for health, so that if at some point they get sick, it won’t be serious,” Huete concludes.