I have come to believe that the whole thing about having a dog as man’s best friend is a largely caucasian tradition. Latino families, for example, prefer chickens.

Every day as I walk (run) to my bus stop, I pass one house that has chickens wandering around its yard. They don’t keep the gate closed, so the chickens are spilling out onto the sidewalk and into the street. I’ve seen cars swerve to avoid hitting chickens. This is downtown LA, mind you. Suburban area. Bit north of Compton. The LA riots came within a few blocks of here.

Elsewhere on my block, next to the house with the large attack dog, a rooster guards the house. For those of you who don’t know, roosters don’t just do their trademark cock-a-doodle-doo in the morning. They do it whenever they damn well please. Which is all the time.

Across the street from where I work is a shanty. The yard is walled up with junk, so one cannot actually see into the house or the yard. However, one can hear the chickens. Lots of them. I have never seen anyone go into or come out of that house. I presume it is inhabited solely by chickens.

Yesterday, I got an idea of why some Latino families keep chickens around. While I still assume most families probably keep them for eggs, I have a suspicion that the guys at the end of the block from where I work keep them for cockfighting. I was walking by them yesterday — they’re a bunch of scraggly looking dudes who just seem to hang out in their driveway a lot, King of the Hill-style. As I’m passing them, I hear a loud BAWK! in my ear, and whip about to see a rooster in the passenger’s seat of a van. Like a dog, it had its head out the window. It bawked again. I looked around and saw that every guy there had a rooster or a chicken, and most were grooming them. One guy was fitting his rooster with some sort of custom footwear. It was like chicken Barbie, with grown men.

Ah, LA…