I’ve always wanted to write a sweet little sympathetic entry about the fun furry four-legged creatures that populate the street here in Santiago. Dogs are pretty much everywhere. For example, there’s Fred (that’s what I call him) a kind of black cocker-spaniely-looking-dog that hangs out behind the police hut in the tiny plaza named after fennel about a block from my house (hinojosa, see? fennely). People feed the dogs, even build them houses out of cardboard and plastic. There’s mostly kind of a tolerance here, though occasionally you’ll hear really sad stories about group culling, which is terrible, and of course I’m not a fan.
Downtown the dogs are smart as whips. They know how to cross the street, waiting for a pedestrian to do the same, and following along. Smart pooches. Isabel Allende talks about the street dogs in her book “Mi país inventado” (My invented country), which is worth a look at any rate, in that she ambles on about this and that and returning to Chile and how no one knows how to manouver a grocery cart in the supermarket. But I digress. What Isabel Allende says about the dogs is that they’re a motley collection of dun-colored shepherdy dogs, the quintessential mutt that canine specialists say would be the yeild if we didn’t breed dogs for specific features.
I also have a story about how one time I had to recross the street in the proper place because a dog had followed me, and my route involved hopping a fence, which the dog could not. It’s a very tender story, with violins and whatnot.
But I cannot tell that story today. Nor can I tell the story about how people put neckwarmers on the dogs in the winter, and even t-shirts, and how I have been photographing these oddly half-naked dogs for years, though I will pause to show a picture of same.
I can’t tell the story because last night as I was riding my bike home from a flickr meetup with some new friends, a dog came up out of the blue and sank his fangs into the sole of my spiffy Keen shoes. I screamed bloody murder, and then started hissing “sale! sale!” (say: SAHL-ay), which my friend Mariela points out is kind of contextually wrong, because it really means “get out, get out!” when in actual fact, the dog in question is usually already outside. But he released my right heel and did not regrip, so while contextually wrong, the word sale is damn effective.
So there are no cute dog stories today. Just teethmarks in the poor unsuspecting heel area of my shoes. I’m happy to report that there will be no visits to the posta to get the antirabies shots. I’m pretty sure my shoes are already dead. But if they start frothing at the mouth, I’ll be sure to get them checked out.