21 November 2010

On the streets

If you live in a "wilder" neighbourhood, where stray dogs are left alone to roam the garbage and sleep under cars, you must be familiar with the image I'm about to describe.

Taxi - "Comunitaru' ( = The Stray)": this video is actually a satire directed at Romanian politicians and their obsession (at the time the video was made) with stray dogs, when the country has more pressing problems... But don't look too deep beneath the surface, enjoy the video.

I live in a neighbourhood with an especially bad reputation for being dirty and full of pick-pockets and stray dogs. Also, there is a huge parking lot between the buildings, so the local dogs have claimed the place as their own. Their favourite spots: under the cars, next to a small playground, in one of the small gardens around the blocks. One of them has been accepted at the entrance of a block Literally, they have gathered in packs and conquered the place.

Life of a stray dog

The "local dogs" are dirty and full of fleas, some of them have a hurt paw or missing a part of their tail.

Food can be hard to come by, especially with no garbage bins around, but there is enough garbage all around the place to rummage in. For the luckier ones, there is somebody who comes and feeds them and leaves them water.

A stray puppy my parents met on a trip to the mountains

Shelter from the rain isn't hard to find, there are cars to crawl under and roofed entrances to sit on. But the summer heat and the cold and the wind aren't as easy to avoid.

Surprisingly enough, they survive and some of them look almost well-fed.

The pack

As I've said before, the dogs around here gather in packs and are very territorial. People passing by are usually no problem (unless they smell suspicious) and if they have food, they are more than welcome. However, other dogs outside the pack are treated with hostility. They bark at the new dogs, warning that they are getting too close to the pack's territory. They can even get aggressive and try to chase away or bite the intruders.

We sometimes have problems like that, especially from big packs. Groups of two or three will rarely get out of their area, but sit put and bark at Aschiuta. The larger groups however often tend to be very hostile. To avoid any problems, we pick Aschiuta up for protection and maybe even chase the strays away. They have nothing against humans and if you show them some authority, they will back off.

The warning barking can be a bit annoying. Once a dog starts barking, the others that hear it will follow suit. It ends up as a loud concert that will most likely disturb the neighbours...

A little bit of "awww..."

When walking around the parking lot with Aschiuta, we sometimes meet a stray dog alone and then the two dogs can socialise and sniff each other and maybe even play. Aschiuta loves to play. She even tries to go and get friendly with dogs that would most likely bite her if she got too close.

This is how we met some of the local friendly dogs. First, there were the black dog at the other block and a small puppy (maybe related to the big dog). I think the pup got adopted by a child and his family, because I haven't seen it in a long while. The big dog is very friendly and played quite a bit with Aschiuta. He even tried to make advances, but we wouldn't let him, so he hasn't tried again.

Another adorable puppy strayed into the mini pack at the playground. We called her Codita ( = Little tail) because her tail had been cut off. She still wagged her little butt every time we met and acted a lot like Aschiuta. They always played together and became friends. One time, another bigger dog from the pack came and let the little ones sniff and jump around. I had some treats to train Aschiuta and divided them among the three of them. The older dog didn't even touch his share. Later on, Scorp told me that maybe he was leaving it for the puppy. Dogs can really care for their own. After a while, though, we couldn't find Codita at her old spot anymore... I hope she is still ok, maybe someone took her in their home.

Yesterday, as Aschiuta and I were going out for a walk, we had a little puppy following us. Of course, Aschiuta tried to make friends and the puppy was sniffing her happily too. Some passers-by were afraid that, being a bigger dog, Aschiuta would hurt the little one, so I left, to avoid an argument. Soon enough, I could see a man pick up the pup and try to convince people to adopt it.

I'm glad to see that a lot of the people living here are fond of dogs and look out for the strays. Some people though comment that feeding the stray dogs will only encourage them to stay around and make a mess...

Mihai Constantinescu - Iubiti si cainii vagabonzi ( = Love stray dogs too): I couldn't help posting this video... I'm sure a lot of the Romanians reading this will find the song nostalgic. I'm sorry for the audio quality, but this is the only video with actual pictures of stray dogs.

And finally, we couldn't forget our most personal stray story, because before the lively, happy and well-fed doggie that she is now, she once was a hungry puppy on the streets.

This is why I say to everyone, don't invest into "cute slavery"; a dog is not just a pedigree, it's a little soul with a lot of love to give. So if you want to get a dog and are ready to be responsible for it, look on the streets first. There must be one to warm your heart.

This is the story of our neighbourhood strays... They survive how they can and stick together no matter what.


Disclaimer: The videos shown here are the property of their respective owners.

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