Monday, September 13, 2010

In Celebration of Canine Diversity







(Rob writing) We’ve had our share of trouble with dogs in this little village. At the internat where Aaron lives, locally known as the “invalid internat,” there is an “invalid” German Shepherd-type dog who limps around pitifully on three legs. After watching his slow progress, one would think there was nothing to fear from such an animal. One would be mistaken.

On the weekends, the internat staff is minimal, so this dog seems to think he’s captain of the guard. Last weekend, Old Three-Legs and his cadre barked at me and started to advance threateningly as I came in. I confidently shook my fist at them and told them off, as I had seen members of the staff do. The little dogs backed down in fright, but the battle-wise Old Three-Legs showed me every tooth in his head and started to close the distance. I was stunned at how fast he moved. I am ashamed to admit that I showed my true color, yellow, and ran for the building. We had to get the nurse to rescue us.

This town has a large, vigorous and mostly unrestrained canine population. These dogs are not shy about any of their daily activities. They walk into cafes and beg under the tables. They root through the trash piles on market days. They sleep in the sunshine on the sidewalks or even in the road. They are not even shy about, aah, ensuring the continuity of their species, even going about it with an air of boredom.

I am happy to say that they pursue this last without any taint of prejudice, racism or discrimination. They make no effort whatsoever to preserve breeds or bloodlines. I suppose, in a sense, they’re good Communist dogs-- each has the same station in life. Large or small, dark or light, all are welcome. This line of conduct has led to a certain sameness in their appearance. They are drawing from what one might politely call a limited gene pool. I believe the vulgar term is “inbred,” if that helps you to understand. Almost every one of them could be a front running contender in the annual Ugly Dog Contest. In celebrating canine diversity, they seem to have all but destroyed it.

I am confident to the point of certainty that if any member of PETA had to endure what we have endured from these dogs for these last weeks-- the snarling threats, the incessant, ubiquitous barking all through the night, the sudden coronary-inducing barking from concealed positions behind fences-- then he or she would immediately purchase a firearm and actively pursue a violent eradication program.

Regarding the birds:

Before we came here, I read a book about the famine here in the 1930s. The author spoke proudly of the many nightingales that lived here back then, so I was looking forward to hearing some. Alas, no. Around town here, I have seen only a few primary species.

The first is barn swallows. They’re fun to watch because they’re such excellent flyers, like little stunt pilots. But they line the soffits of many buildings with their nests of mud and straw, and under each such nest is a sizable pile of droppings. Dirty birds. This town is full of them.

The second is a sort of cross between a pigeon, a dove, and a rat. In honor of this country’s complex consonants, I have dubbed them “pdvrats.” These birds make the ugliest sound ever to issue from an avian throat, a sort of croak like a crow’s.
Then of course there are crows; all the world has crows. And there are smaller birds of a type that like to travel in flocks; I can’t identify them. But there seems to be very little variety of color, and certainly no nightingale song.


  1. Dogs and birds... both gross. But you've got Aaron, and he's a delight!

  2. I love the updates and that you can still keep a sense of humor about your observations! We're not too far from you, though in a much more aesthetically pleasing part of the country. There are dogs everywhere here, too. Not too many cats but it's easy to imagine why :-)

  3. Oh, I love both dogs and birds! But maybe not the mean dogs.

    Aaron looks so sweet :)

    Do you think you can get any pictures of Brady now??

  4. Maybe they ate all the nightingales? In Brazil there are no monkeys in the city and the immediate vicinity anymore b/c the poor people ate them all :(


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