Monday, August 10, 2009

Hand-Me-Down Dogs

I miss Brinkley!

(Seriously, just look at her, just beautiful)

Not having a dog is so painful. There are all of these adorable street dogs that just want someone feed them and not throw rocks at them. When they realize I’m not going to hit them or run them off, they just grovel for attention. I don’t pet them, unless I’m about to go into the house where I can wash my hands, because they are really dirty, they aren’t used to people petting them so they might bite, and they eat the trash and dirty diapers that people leave in empty lots and along the side of the road. I am hurting greatly for a poopy free puppy of my own.

In my site, Carly has an adorable little Paraguayan mutt name Luna, who I intend to adopt as my niece. Luna is an adorable white little 1 ½ year old bundle of energy. Carly adopted her from someone in the community who was trying to get rid of the puppies from a mother dog who was ill. Carly took the little runt, Luna, who was the only puppy who survived; the mother died as well. Carly had a box welded to her bike for Luna to sit in while she rides around town; if she runs alongside the bike other dogs will attack her. Dogs here chase anything that moves quickly including joggers and motos. Unfortunately, Carly and Luna are only going to be living in Campo 9 for nine more months. Then her service time is over and she and Luna are returning to the states.

I don’t know what I’ll do after that to get my puppy fix. I’m in danger of adopting a dog of my own because there is someone in the community who has a boxer who has puppies frequently so there are a number of boxers around and about. I have a serious weakness for boxers. And Boston Terriers. Heaven help me…I don’t know if I could turn either one down.

The only real impediment would be whether or not my new host family will allow me to have a dog. I subtly inquired on my future site visit whether or not they’ve ever had dogs. Evidently they used to have 2 dogs and 2 cats; they currently have 1 kitten. So they are a pet friendly household.

Ideally I’d just like to find an adult dog on the street that I get along with and make him mine; I don’t want to do the puppy thing. Another possibility is the ‘hand-me-down dog’ option. It seems that volunteers who don’t want to/can’t take their dogs with them back to the states pass their pets down to other volunteers. I spoke with one guy who is the 3rd PCV owner of his dog, and he isn’t taking her with him either. Also if I have a dog that I can bear to part with, I’d feel much better leaving it with a volunteer.

People here aren’t quite as enthusiastic about their pets as people in the states are. Today Pabla mentioned that the volunteers she trains often list their pets as one of the family members, which was very surprising to her. Dogs in particular often are a part of the household mainly for security purposes; they protect the yard and house from intruders. While I have certainly met some people here who love and care for their pets just as much as any US family, they are in the minority. For example, Jenna and I sometimes have to pretend to throw a rock at a dog near our house who runs at us very aggressively when we are anywhere near his unfenced yard. The owner is a customer at the dispensa that Jenna lives at, so one day Jenna made a comment to her about the dog’s behavior. The owner told Jenna that the dog didn’t know us, which is why it acts aggressively. Her advice, throw a rock at him and he’ll run off. This woman gave us an official invitation to her hit her dog! If I have a dog and someone tries to throw anything at it, I’m going to be holy-hell pissed. If I knew my dog was in danger of being hit by frightened people, I would put up a fence or tie it up.

Another interesting point regarding dogs…Its almost impossible to get female dogs spayed because very few of the vets know who to do it. I thought this was vet school 101, but evidently not. Instead, responsible pet owners have to give their dog a birth control shot every 3 months. It costs about 10mil [$2]. Unfortunately most people don’t want to go through this hassle, so many people just ‘kill the bitches’ to avoid the puppies. That’s a quote from Carly, who was using the correct terminology. However, her word choice caught me off guard since people aren’t usually talking about dogs when they use that phrase. She said it forcefully because she was not happy about it, which startled me even more. After not hearing many swear words in English for so long, the slightest one sounds much stronger than normal. Carly told me that the people in her neighborhood were very unhappy to have a female dog in the neighborhood and advised her to get rid of Luna.

In the end, I know I’m happier when I have a dog. However it’s a big expense, a lot of responsibility, its harder to take vacations, and setting up life back in the states would be harder. I guess we’ll have to see.

1 comment:

Emily said...


My name is Emm and I came across your blog looking for info on Paraguay. I am going to be an environment volunteer there in Sept! I have been trying to find someone to contact about a few questions I had mainly 1) best way to get money there (travelers checks or is atm ok?) 2) what clothing is needed/appropriate and other packing must-haves 3)laptops? 4) communication with home 5) exercising. If you could please email me at I would greatly appreciate it!!! thanks