Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Dogs

Sorry to have disappeared for so long. Since I arrived January 5 this project has become more of a nightmare instead of less of one and I am really really hoping we reached the low point the past 10 days because I have grown weary of the drama. I love the Chileans but they can be bigger drama queens than I could ever hope to be.

I've been wanting to talk about the dogs. Here in Santiago dogs wander the streets. Some are obviously street dogs, especially out near the airport where our warehouse/office is, but many seem to be pets who are let out to roam the way we used to do in the States back before we all got a clue.
When we first moved from our temporary office to our permanent office at the warehouse back in January there was a dog. This is a bonded warehouse which if you don't know what that is please don't ask me to explain but it has to do with customs control and shipments arriving from outside the country and it is a highly secure place. The entire warehouse complex is surrounded by a security fence and we have guards on duty and they have to inspect the trunks of cars that come into and out of the grounds. Even if they know us and we show up at the exact same time every day they open the trunks. This dog was living on the warehouse grounds and so of course being the total animal victim that I am I bought a box of dog treats and I keep them in the office and every now and then when I go out for a smoke I give the dog a treat. This is her:

She is a true old lady mutt and is fairly well fed for a dog here in Santiago - she eats the scraps from the warehouse workers' lunches. She loves her treats and she loves me because I talk to her and pet her and evidently she hasn't gotten much of that until I came around. She has a name - something like Martina - but I have only heard one of the guards call her by name and he has a really thick Chilean accent. She is lazy and in the afternoons she looks like this

OK so anyway. I bonded with Girl (I call her "Girl" since she speaks Spanish anyway). Girl gets let out of the locked gate a few times a day to wander the streets (!!!) and early one morning we were getting settled in the office and I heard this horrible dogscream from the street and I ran to the window and everyone who has a window desk was telling me "It's OK - it isn't your dog" and when I looked out this little black dog was limping on the sidewalk across the street and I watched as he squeezed under a fence and limped off, obviously wounded but also obviously not immediately mortally so. This little dog stayed on my mind, especially since I didn't see him again. About 4 or 5 days later I left to go back to the US for a week.

The morning after I returned we pulled into the warehouse and the little black dog was outside our fence. Sam told me it was the one who had been hit by the car and he had been kind of hanging out.

All that week the little black dog was hanging out outside the fence. He is a tenacious little guy and spent the whole day outside the fence and when we left at night he was sleeping on the grass and when we arrived in the morning he was still there. About Wednesday I started passing dog biscuits out the fence to him and he was so obviously starving. You could see his ribs and he just wanted so much to be at this place. I talked to him and he is just a puppy and I squeezed my hand through the fence and he would "chew" on it but very carefully - he never put a scratch on me.

Friday last week I was at the end of my rope about this dog who was just so hungry and so at the end of the day I scavenged for lunch leftovers in the kitchen. I came up with two rolls and one banana. I took them out and asked the one female guard "por favor" and she opened the gate for me. He inhaled them.

Saturday we worked. When I got in the car that morning I told Jorge I was going to work on a Saturday on ONE condition. Jorge is scared of me (and rightfully so - he fucking SHOULD be) so he was willing to accommodate. I told him I was going on the condition that we first go to the mall near the office and go to the grocery store so I could buy a bag of dog food and while we were at it we could buy some breakfast stuff for the staff who are so beaten down it isn't funny.

Last Saturday my little black dog experienced heaven. At the store I bought more treats for Girl and a huge bag of food for little black dog and two stainless steel bowls - one to hold his food and one for water, which I have no idea where he had been drinking but once I saw him drink thirstily from a dirty mop bucket. Little black dog last Saturday was fed from bowls - all he could eat or drink. We had leftover salmon sandwiches from lunch and I snuck a couple of them out to him and he hoovered them. There are a lot of dogs here y'all and this one stands out - he is a pet quality dog with so much love and he only wants to please and be a puppy and eat and drink water. I brought 4 Petsmart tennis balls back with me from Atlanta last time I was home for Girl but she is so old and lazy and I threw one and she looked up at me like I was the gringa loca that I am so I gave them to Eduardo and he loves to play with his balls in the office. Saturday I took one of them back and little black dog learned to play fetch and he is good at it. Eduardo gladly gave up one of his 4 balls because he is scared of me. And rightfully so.

A couple of days ago one of the guards told me (in Spanish but I understood because I can understand like maybe 4 or 5 words) that this guy's name is "Cholo." So the guards have named him and the guards let him in every now and then and the guards even sneak him food because I have witnessed it. So I started calling him "Cholo." Yesterday someone was leaving and I was talking to Cholo and I called him Cholo and this guy laughed and so I thought maybe I should look up the word on my translater. Cholo means "hybrid" or "of mixed heritage." How perfect is that?

Many people from our customer have been at our office for the past two months - temporarily there kind of full time until this operation is on track - and they are basically arrogant and superior SOBs. One in particular has complained about the dog (Girl) not fitting with their image. There is no signage or anything else which would identify this property as serving theirs and Girl has been around a long time here and anyway it is OUR company who rents the office space to THEM and so everyone on our side told them basically they were full of shit. One guy in particular approached me about me befriending Cholo and I told him to his face that Cholo was starving to death and how would it look for their image if the front lawn was covered with the dead bodies of starving dogs? I managed to twist it so that I was protecting THEIR image. I have to fight for this every day.

That said Cholo needs a home. He is the most loving dog. Seriously. And I am not a dog person. Also I don't have a lifestyle at this point to be able to have a dog or this would be a no-brainer for me. He would be with me for life because he really is that good. But I travel too much and it would not be fair to this great dog for me to take him to the US where he has to learn another language only for me to leave for 1 or 4 or 8 months. Cats can deal. Dogs can not. In one week I have almost taught him to not jump up. He is tenacious. He is loving. He certainly needs to be de-wormed and needs shots. He needs to travel to the US if there will be a loving kind home there. He needs to be neutered so there will be fewer excellent pet-quality dogs wandering the streets starving to death.

So I love this pup enough that I am willing to go half on the cost of travel which is not certain but at least a few hundred. If anyone wants to consider it I will get specifics. This really is a most excellent, intelligent, loving dog. Anyone? Anyone? Don't make me bring this dog home to a family where he is abandened for months on end . . . and don't make me leave him here on the streets of Santiago when all he wants is love.

Just say the word.

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