>> Friday, November 07, 2008
One of the most noticable differences between Nicaragua and the US are that there are street dogs everywhere. Most are very skinny and malnourished, and the female dogs almost certainly have a litter of puppies hidden somewhere nearby. Dogs here play a very different role than they do in the US--while our pets are members of our families, here pets are, at best, animals fed scraps in exchange for guarding a home or hunting mice. People don't hesitate to kick, run over, or throw rocks at dogs, and so most dogs are, quite understandably, very timid or overly aggressive.
Last Tuesday I was in the teacher's lounge looking at my calendar to count down the days to the end of school (about 5 days left!). A street dog came into the lounge and jumped up on my lap, trying stealthily to lick me on my face. Most of the other teachers were shocked and perhaps even disgusted when I started to pet her. I had some free time before my next class, so I went to the market to buy her some food, which she quickly gobbled up. She stayed nearby, either laying on the floor or making attempts to hop up in my lap. When I went off to class, she stayed in the teacher's lounge snacking on her food, and she was off exploring somewhere when I finished my classes.
That night I told Paul about the sweet dog I had met, and on Wednesday brought back the remaining dog food. The dog came back to school that afternoon, and hopped like an excited gazelle as I started getting her food back out. After she had eaten her lunch, I went off to class and she followed me into the classroom, where she layed down in the corner as I taught. When I left at the end of the day, the dog followed along, sometimes staying behind to sniff or explore, and sometimes running ahead and waiting for me to catch up. I didn't intend to take her home, but must admit I stopped to make sure she crossed the big streets safely.