Chile is bursting at the seams with stray dogs. They inhabit each and every street, some traveling in groups, others going stag, always possessing sass and an air of invincibility. Often, one will take a liking to you and follow you for a few blocks or six miles and then you’ll part ways as if nothing happened. He’ll resume his life on the street, and you’ll go on with yours sans dog.
The surplus of street dogs here is, I must regrettably say, ruining dogs for me. Call me a dog-litist, but they’re not in such great shape: They have patches of hair missing due to whatever vermin inhabit that real estate and they’re thoroughly aroused by pretty much everything. I want to sincerely thank the US for cultivating a culture where it is widely accepted to spade/ neuter your dog, thus nipping sexual maturation in the bud. I know that this is selfish, but I do not want my dog to be sexually active. I want my dog to be an innocent fluffball tushiemonster with no desires whatsoever to hump anything or anyone. Please, take Bob Barker’s advice and spay/ neuter your dog.
The thing is, even the house dogs bug me. They usually opt to sleep all day and bark all night. Literally, all night. They have a solid 10 hours’ worth of things to discuss with each other, and these things must be discussed at a very high volume across the neighborhood.
In addition to the unsavory appearance/ smell/ attitude of many of the street dogs, a similar culture of canine carelessness pertains to house dogs. As a [well, perhaps former] dog lover, my mind is boggled by this. Families seem to express so much interest in having them, but they do not by ANY means enjoy dogs the way we do in the States (*broad generalization alert*). Family dogs are rarely ever allowed in the house and when they are, it’s only to be locked in the laundry room to sleep at night. They are not the fluffy adopted family member we care so much about. I’ve even heard that the reason for so many stray dogs is that families keep their dogs until they’re no longer puppies and then release them. WHO IN THE WORLD WOULD BE ABLE TO PART WITH THE FAMILY DOG JUST BECAUSE PUPPYDOM HAS ENDED? Ageism.
Elyssa Garrett and the Non-Habit Forming Sleep Aids
Along with the sound of the barking dogs, the memory of what occurred still keeps me up at night. I’ve heard from many natives that Chileans are, notoriously, thieves; that they take what they want without asking. They deceive, coerce, steal. While there are many great things about Chileans also (they can be generous, kind, hospitable, fun), I’ve found this to be true on more than one occasion. Exhibit A:
A couple weeks ago, the Chaleco family engaged in a lengthy discussion about which dog they should buy next. They already possess two Yorkies they’re rather indifferent towards, so I’m skeptical about whether or not they should be adding to their canine family. Laura decided she wants either a Chihuahua or a Teacup Poodle. As a firm believer in mid- to large- size dogs, I begged to differ.
A week after this discussion occurred, we were walking to Grandma’s house when we happened upon a “stray” Chihuahua. This Chihuahua, while sans collar and no owner in sight, was basically on the front patio of someone’s house. But this was irrelevant to the Chaleco family. Without even looking around, they saw the Chihuahua they’d wanted for a whole week and ran after it at full speed, scooped it up, and continued walking with the terrified, shaking dog in their hands. They kidnapped a Chihuahua. They brought it to Grandma’s house and introduced it as their new dog.
Though Laura claimed she’d keep an eye out for posters abut a missing dog (though refused to post any Found Dog posters since “anyone could come along and claim the dog”–um, hello!! That’s how you got her!) it’s hard for me to accept the situation. You don’t just kidnap a dog off someone’s front porch but promise to return it should you receive a formal request. Really the best thing to do is just NOT KIDNAP DOGS.
Throughout the rest of the day, I daydreamed about ways I could set the dog free and make it look like an accident. I could stuff the dog in my backpack and walk towards school, letting it off on a main road where surely it could find its way home. I could leave the gate open “accidentally,” or post my own flyers reporting “my” lost dog and direct all inferences about said dog to an email account I’d set up for the occasion (chihuahuasrlyf@gmail?), then send someone to collect the dog. Perhaps I could revisit the house-did I remember which one it was exactly?-and leave a note with an anonymous tip about their dog’s whereabouts. It was all too much for me.
For the rest of the day at Grandma’s house, the Chihuahua was tortured with attention. The kids dressed it up, picked it up, threw it around. I almost cheered when the Chihuahua peed on Carmen, and later again on Laura. When we were leaving the house later that night, they called for the Chihuahua to come in from the backyard. It never came. They searched and searched but, thank heavens, the Chihuahua must have found a way out, or perhaps it wished itself away until it dis-apparated. Either way, tiny ugly Chihuahua, wherever you are, I’m sorry for what happened and I want you to know I’m rooting for you. To all the dogs in Chile, go home and stay there. These streets ain’t safe for you.
I’m very sad that this is true. Although this is a generalization, as you warned in your article, it’s accurate. I’m a very proud chilean, but the hole stray dog reality in Chile is something that brings a lot of shame to me. Sadly I don’t see it changing anytime son, but thanks to some small animalists groups there’s some hope in changing the retrograde mindset about dogs being somekind of toy instead of a proper family member.