It's fair and accurate to say that I have pursued a lot of strange creatures in my time. The list is long, winding, and very weird. I have been on an expedition to Wisconsin to seek out the state's very own equivalent of Mothman. I have sought out the legendary, menacing Goat Man of Texas. And I've traveled to the shores of a certain Scottish loch to search for a certain famous monster. Yeah, you know the one.
In addition, and over the years, I have found myself on the track of Mexican vampires, Bigfoot in the Deep South, and "Alien Big Cats" in the wilds of England. I've also traveled - on far more than a few occasions - to Puerto Rico, in search of the legendary, blood-sucking nightmare known as the Chupacabra.
On one occasion, however, my quest for the truth of the Chupacabra pushed me down a very different pathway: it thrust me into the heart of the mysterious story of yet another bizarre beast, one that was wholly unconnected to the Chupacabra, even though the location was the same.
It all went down on my second trip to Puerto Rico, which took place in the latter part of 2005. It specifically concerns the saga of La Piedra Del Perro. Or, in English: The Stone Dog.
The location of the story is a Fortin San Geronimo reef, located at the mouth of the Condado Lagoon. As for the centuries-old story, it revolves around a Spanish soldier named Enrique who, far away from his native Spain, adopted a stray dog that liked to hang around the military barracks. He named it Amigo.
The name was very appropriate, since the two quickly became firm friends. It wasn’t long, however, before Enrique was sea-bound again, to do battle with hostile pirates. As a sign of Amigo’s devotion to Enrique, the dog swam out to a rocky ledge as the ship left Puerto Rican waters, and stayed there until dark.
It was something Amigo repeated every day and every night. Soon afterwards, however, tragedy struck.
As the battle raged, the ship that Enrique was on-board sank. There were no survivors - at all. As if sensing that his master was no more, grief-stricken Amigo swam out to the rock for one last time. He never came back, dutifully remaining there, despite the very best efforts of Enrique’s comrades and friends to entice him back to the shore and the warmth of the barracks.
Indeed, Amigo sat there for so long, staring out at the ocean, that he was ultimately turned to stone. Or so the legend goes, of course. The story is a well known one on Puerto Rico, one that has become a staple part of the island’s folklore, mythology, and history.
At this stage, you might very well be wondering why I am mentioning this. Well, I'll tell you.
It was on my last night – and specifically as a result of a conversation with one of the hotel staff - that I realized my hotel room window actually overlooked the very reef in question where Amigo was turned to stone all those years ago (yes, I know - allegedly turned to stone!).
Sure enough, there was the large piece of rock, somewhat dog-like in shape, appearing to stare outwards at the huge, ocean waters and the crashing waves.
How appropriately weird, I thought: my expedition had begun with a quest to find one strange – and possibly supernatural - animal (the Chupacabra), and ended with me stumbling upon yet another, and right outside of my hotel room window, too!
Hunting bizarre beasts and creepy creatures, as this story demonstrates, is something just about as unpredictable as it is downright bizarre!