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Students can summarize the main points of the text and discuss its themes and literary elements.

Students will explore the short story Crazy Loco by David Rice, focusing on literary elements and themes.

I will be able to understand and interpret the main themes, characters, and plot of Crazy Loco.


  • What themes do you expect to encounter in Crazy Loco based on the title?



Author David Rice (b. 1964) has said that when he was growing up in a Mexican American community in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, he did not read any authors with characters who lived or spoke like the people around him. After a college career that required over twelve years overcoming his dyslexia and attention deficit disorder in order to obtain a degree, Rice has made a writing career dedicated to giving voices to characters “from the valley” and stories rooted in his culture and heritage. His short story “Crazy Loco” tells the tale of two brothers who struggle to find the right name for their crazy dog. Once the brothers realize just how “Loco” their dog is, the pooch never fails to live up to his moniker.*Watch Intro Video

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verb to comfort someone by removing doubt or fear

verb to beg or ask for something with strong emotion

noun a long string used to light explosives so they will explode

adverb with strong emotions of happiness or excitement


How crazy is this dog?

dumb dog

Que loco esta este perro

perro sonso


On his eighth birthday, the narrator and his brother receive a puppy, which they name Loco. The puppy grows into a wild dog who loves to chase butterflies and firecrackers and place his paws on the steering wheel as if he’s driving. When the narrator and his brother ride their bikes around town, Loco likes to run after them. When they go to the canal, the dog enjoys swimming; he is the only dog in the neighborhood who can swim. As he grows older, Loco begins to disappear for days at a time exploring the neighborhood, but he always returns. One day, the family leaves Loco in the car while they go shopping. However, upon returning, they discover that the car has been stolen with Loco inside it. Despite posting missing dog flyers, the family does not find him. In the end, they joke about how he must have gone to California.


On my eighth birthday my brother and I got the puppy we had begged for. He was part German shepherd and part something else that was very fluffy. We didn’t call him Fluffy, though. We wanted to, but there was some other dog in our neighborhood named Fluffy. Our dog didn’t have a name for two weeks. We couldn’t decide what to call him. Dad said we had to wait for the puppy to do something unusual, and then we could give him a name that fit what he had done. We watched him carefully. One day he followed our cat, Kitty Meow Meow, into a brown bag and couldn’t get out, so we tried naming him Losty, Baggy, and Kitty. But when we called him Losty, he looked as if he were frowning. And when we called him Baggy and Kitty, his ears didn’t move. He fell a lot, so we tried Stumbles, but that was a dumb name. He liked to roll around, so we thought of Rolly. But we had a cousin named Rolly, so we couldn’t call him that. He liked to chew on everything, so we wanted to call him Chewy, but we also had a cousin named Chuy. Though he had brown fur, we couldn’t call our puppy Brownie, because there were two dogs in our neighborhood named Brownie. He liked to bark a lot, but Barky was just as dumb a name as Stumbles. He liked to lick caca, but would never name him that.In frustration my brother and I decided one morning to just start calling out names: Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Lucky, Pepe, Pongo, Rex, Chile, Pepper, Rover, Sparky, King, Killer, Max, Rocky, Spot (though the dog had no spots), Bonita (but we had a cousin named Bonita, and besides, our dog was a boy), Chulo, Wolf, Perro, Corvette, Trans Am, Ferrari, Rooster, Tiger, Elephant, Snake, Cobra, Lizard, Shark, Fire, Eagle, Devil Dog, Hot Dog, Enchilada, Taco, Burrito, Nacho (n’hombre, no—we had a cousin named Nacho too), Chalupa, Chorizo, Fajita, Tortilla, Queso. Our dog didn’t respond to any of the names we used.

That’s when our father walked in. We told him what we were doing and he decided to try. “Lobo,” he started. “Fido, Rex, Blackie, Fluffy.” We told Dad we had used those names, but he kept on. “Speedy Gonzales, Slow Poke Rodríguez, Coyote, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Yosemite Sam, Tasmanian Devil, Cantinflas, El Chavo del Ocho, El Chapulín Colorado, Mil Mascaras, Perro Sonso!” But nothing worked. Our dog just chomped on his chew bone and growled. The following week we were all getting into our car to go shopping in McAllen when our nameless dog jumped into the driver’s seat. My father took him out, and as soon as he plunked him down on the ground, the dog ran right back into the car. “Perro sonso, get out of the car,” Dad said. But the dog just barked and put his front paws on top of the steering wheel. My mother shook her head and said, “Que loco esta este perro!” And that’s how our dog, Loco, got his name. From then on Loco took many rides with us in the car. He always wanted to get in the front seat with our parents, but Mom wouldn’t let him. We’d take him grocery shopping and to visit our cousins. If we left him in the car by himself, we’d roll all the windows down so Loco wouldn’t get hot. When we returned, we always found him with his front paws on the steering wheel, ready to drive away.He followed my brother and me all over town as we rode our bikes, always taking his time to smell things and pee on plants, cars, and trucks. If we called him, he’d catch up to us fast but then pass us to smell and pee on more things. Whenever we rode out to the canals, Loco jumped in the water and started barking. We’d ride along the canal and he’d swim beside us, barking as loudly as he could. Nobody else in town had a dog that could swim.One Saturday we went to a local swimming pool and Loco managed to sneak in behind us. When we saw the water, he ran and jumped in before we could stop him. All the kids in the pool started screaming, and the lifeguards tried to get Loco out with a long hook.

But he was too fast for them. He kept barking and swimming out of reach. The lifeguards made the kids get out of the pool. Then one of them had to dive in and carry Loco out. When the lifeguard set him down by the side of the pool, Loco shook his moplike body, then jumped right back in, barking even louder. I think he was bark-laughing. All the kids were laughing too, as were some of the grown-ups. Two lifeguards jumped in and caught Loco again, but this time they didn’t set him down until he was outside the pool gate. My brother and I had to take Loco home, and our friends told us that it took almost an hour for the lifeguards to get all of Loco’s hair out of the pool with their nets. We were afraid that our parents would be mad when we told them what Loco had done, but they laughed and Loco started barking. I guess Loco thought it was funny too. That summer our parents bought us a plastic swimming pool, but it was really for Loco. Loco’s other favorite pastime was chasing things. He chased everything—except cars, which just goes to show that he wasn’t loco after all. He chased flies, birds, balls, sapos. ..everything. All the cats in the neighborhood were afraid of him. Not Kitty Meow Meow, though. Loco would open his mouth and put the cat’s whole head inside and just carry him around the yard. It didn’t seem to bother Kitty Meow Meow at all.Loco even loved chasing cuetes. We’d light one and throw it, and Loco would race over to sniff it. We’d yell, “You crazy dog! Can’t you see the fuse is lit?” We’d try to keep him away from the firecracker, but, he’d always run right back to it and put his nose inches from the sparkling fuse. Then, palo! Loco would jump back and start barking, his nose singed.He’d chase bottle rockets too. We’d put one in a bottle and light it, and when it fired up into the sky, Loco would jump up and down, trying to catch it. When the bottle rocket went pop in the sky, he’d run around in circles, barking ecstatically. The only problem was

that sometimes he’d knock over the bottle before it fired, and then we’d scream and dash away, hoping the rocket wouldn’t come toward us and blow up. Our friends said we should just tie up Loco, but my brother and I thought that would take all the fun out of it. One day we were in the monte by our house, sitting around eating our Hunt’s Snack-Pack Pudding, when Loco got up from his sleeping position and began sniffing the air. Before we could even blink, there went Loco, running and barking after a possum. But clumsy Loco was in such a rush that he ran straight into some nopales! Eeeeeeloooo! We sucked in our breath at the sight of Loco’s left shoulder. It was covered with espinas. But Loco refused to whine as we walked him home, and he limped only a little. When we got home, our mother pulled out the espinas one by one, using tweezers and rubbing alcohol. My brother and I cringed each time she pulled one out, but Loco didn’t make a sound. He just sat next to Mom on the porch, every now and then turning to lick her hand as she worked. “See how brave Loco is?” Mom said to us. “Last time I pulled espinas out of you two, you cried like a couple of babies. You should be more like Loco.”“Like what?” my brother said. “You mean we should try to eat a cuete?” He and I laughed. “Huercos sonsos,” our mother muttered as she pulled out another espina.Loco didn’t sleep in the house like Kitty Meow Meow did. He slept outside and sometimes at night he barked, especially if the town

siren rang out its fire alert. When the siren called members of the Edcouch Volunteer Fire Department out of their beds, all the dogs in the neighborhood barked their own alerts. Loco’s bark was always the loudest. But one night the siren went off and Loco didn’t make a sound. Our father was one of the volunteer firemen, and when he came back from the grass fire that night, he told us that Loco was nowhere to be found. The next day my brother and I rode our bikes around town looking for him. We rode out to the canal, but he wasn’t there. We rode to the town swimming pool, but he wasn’t there either. We rode to the monte and called out his name over and over again, but there was no answer. For two days no Loco. Then on the third day, there he was on the front porch, seeming as happy to see us as we were to see him. And it wasn’t the last time he was to disappear. For the next year Loco was gone at least once a month. Where he went was a real mystery. Dad said Loco had a girlfriend in Elsa, the town next to Edcouch, but my brother and I didn’t think Loco was good-looking enough to have a girlfriend. It was a Saturday afternoon when Loco did his final disappearing act. The whole family was going shopping in McAllen. Loco jumped into the car with us as usual, but Mom and Dad said we couldn’t take him because we’d be out all day. Dad dragged Loco out of the car, but the dog just hopped right back into the driver’s seat and put his front paws on the steering wheel. He barked and went “grrrrrrrrr”—but in a nice way. “Come on, Mom and Dad, let Loco come with us,” my brother and I pleaded. Dad started to say that Loco shouldn’t stay in the car all day long, but Loco loved being in the car, and we all knew it.The summer before, we’d taken a family trip all the way to Madera, California, to visit our tia and tio and all our cousins. We had taken Loco in the car with us. He sat in back with a big bag of dog food and a water bowl that spilled every time the road got bumpy. It was

a great vacation. Our cousins had a dog named Trixie; we told Loco that Trixie was his cousin, and they got along great. Trixie liked swimming too. When we went to the lake near our cousin’s house, Loco and Trixie were the first ones in the water. Loco whimpered for a whole week after we left California. So whenever Mom and Dad said we couldn’t take Loco in the car with us, we always argued, “If he can go all the way to California, he can go anywhere!” This particular time Loco gave a loud bark, as if he were saying yes. And Mom and Dad couldn’t help but give in. When we got to the mall in McAllen, we parked the car on the shady side of the lot, left Loco a big bowl of water and a dog biscuit, and rolled all the windows down just enough for him to be able to stick his head out. Loco barked happily after us as we walked away. We shopped for a couple of hours, and then my brother and I wanted to go back to the car to let Loco out for a walk. Our parents decided that it was time to go home anyway, so we all walked back to the shady side of the parking lot. But our car was gone. Mom and Dad started wondering out loud, “Did we park somewhere else? Could the car have been towed away?” But they were forgetting the most important question. “What about Loco?” my brother and I yelled.Our parents quickly tried to reassure us that Loco was fine. “He’s a smart dog,” Dad said as he patted his thighs. “Wait a minute. I think I left the keys in the car!” He searched his pockets and then asked Mom if she had them.“You were the one driving,” she said.

My brother began to cry. “Someone stole our car—and Loco too!” Mom gave my brother a hug. “Mi’jito, don’t worry. I’m sure Loco is okay. Mira, let’s all go inside and call the police. Maybe they already know where the car is.” We went back inside the mall and alerted the police, and Dad called our tio in Weslaco to loan us a car. All the way home my brother cried, but Mom and Dad kept saying that we should think positive and that the police would do the best they could to find Loco. That same afternoon Mom made a lost-dog flyer with Loco’s photo on it. It was a picture we had taken during our drive to California. Mom made lots of copies of the flier, and we put them up all over the mall and in the neighborhood nearby. We even went to the dog pound in McAllen to look for Loco, but he wasn’t one of the sad dogs there. At that point my brother and I both cried a little bit. We gave the pound one of our fliers in case Loco showed up later. For two weeks no one called, and our parents got a check from the insurance company, because they said the car was most likely stolen. A couple of days later we went into McAllen to shop for a new car, and Mom and Dad took us back to the dog pound to check for Loco one last time. He still wasn’t there, but the woman behind the counter said we could adopt one of their dogs if we wanted to.My brother looked at our mother and said, “Mom, can we?” The woman behind the counter said, “We have a dog that looks a lot like Loco, and he can catch Frisbees too.”Mom shrugged. “Well, you guys want to look at him?”

We both shouted yes and followed the woman into the room with all the dog cages. A fluffy brown dog jumped up and began to bark at us in a friendly way. “One of the guys who works here named him Sparky,” the woman told us, “but if you want him, you can call him anything you like.” My brother put his hands up to the metal cage and the dog licked them. Then my father and I put our hands up to the cage, and Sparky barked, then licked us too. “I think he likes us,” Mom said. And that’s how Sparky became our second dog. Mom and Dad paid the adoption fee, and we walked out of the pound with a new pet. Sparky jumped right into the car just like Loco used to. My brother rode in the backseat with Sparky, and I got in the front with Mom and Dad. There was a lost-Loco flier on the floor, and I picked it up to look at the picture of Loco. He was in the driver’s seat with his paws on the steering wheel and his tongue sticking out. He looked so happy in our old car. “Mom, where do you think Loco is?” I asked. “You know what? I think since we left the keys in the car, Loco turned it on and drove away. And I’ll bet you he’s in California somewhere.” I smiled. “You think so?” “Oh, yeah,” Mom said. “Loco wasn’t a dumb dog, just a crazy one.”