10.08.2008

Street Dogs

At night, there is continual barking and howling from the streets outside. We noticed it the first night we were here. Some nights it is not as bad, but other nights it goes on and on and on. It has kept one or the other or all of us up on occasion, even though our windows are closed and we are way off the street. It sounds like hundreds of dogs sometimes.

We started seeing them on our walks. The dogs are everywhere. But they especially love to be in parks. I thought I was only imagining that there were so many stray dogs in the play areas until my Russian teacher told me that one park in particular was the best mainly because there aren't as many dogs roaming.

These dogs are the big kind. I'd guess German Shepherd and Lab, maybe Retriever, with a little Doberman or Rottweiler thrown in for good measure. Many of them are as tall as Henry or taller.

Now, I appreciate a beautiful dog. I appreciate a loyal dog. I appreciate a well-trained dog. I plan on joining my boys in convincing their dad that we need a Beagle when we get back to the States. But these dogs? I hate them. They scare me and they scare my boys.

We have had three encounters with the animals in the last week or so, two of which almost made me have to bust out my mother bear/Xena Warrior Princess moves. And I don't like that. I prefer other ways of achieving an adrenaline rush, thank you very much.

One day we were walking just outside of our building and crossing a little alleyway. Calvin was a little ahead of me and as soon as he stepped into the alley, I heard the bounding and woof-woof-woof breathing/barking of a huge dog coming up the alleyway in our direction, straight for my boy. I couldn't see him yet but I heard that awful sound and yelled at Calvin just as he saw the dog himself. He screamed and ran the few steps back to me just as a huge dog lept toward him and saw me instead. Heh, heh, heh. The dog turned in mid air when I yelled and swung my sweater at him.(I am one scarey chic, huh?) He ran back down the way he had come. Meanwhile, Calvin was clinging to the back of my pant leg.

Yesterday I had Charlie and Henry in the stroller a few blocks away and we were walking by an open area with a short brick wall on the sidewalk side of it and a play area on the other. There in the open grassy area were FIFTEEN dogs. FIFTEEN. They were all laying there, mostly not moving, and I couldn't believe how many were in one place. I stopped before passing to take a few pictures, then continued.

Henry caught sight of the play area and asked if we could go in. I told him no because of all the dogs. He hopped out of his seat and said he wanted to walk on the little wall to the end and before I could think, he hopped up on it. Six or seven of the fifteen dogs jumped to their feet and started barking like crazy, and four of them bounded toward Henry, the closest one almost jumped onto his chest and would have knocked him over if I hadn't snatched him off the wall and screamed at the dogs.


They retreated and Henry crawled into the bottom of the stroller and covered his head with his arms and was crying. He calmed down a little once we rolled away, but he wouldn't move his arms from over his head the whole way home and fell asleep that way.

The thing is, the dogs are mostly more afraid of us than anything and both times, they have gone away when a larger person (me) yells at them. But what about the one time that there's a crazy one, who doesn't care and isn't afraid? And can smell that I am?

It freaks me out that both times, they came after someone little first. And that someone little was not bothering them in the least. What if I'm not close enough to protect my kids?

I know two people who were attacked by dogs as children - dogs who were domesticated and supposedly kid-friendly. Which these dogs are not. These dogs are hungry and wild. (Except for the dozen or so that this lady has taken in to beg for/with).

David has offered to get me a dog stick. But I don't want to hurt them, I really don't. I just want them to not exist, so that I don't have to worry about them.

Someone told us that every now and then the city officials think the dog problem has gotten out of control, so they toss out poison all over the city. David said, "Oh great, so then you have a bunch of dead dogs on the streets instead of a bunch of live ones?" And the person answered, "No. Worse. The dogs that don't get enough poison to kill them are everywhere. So there's a bunch of writhing, howling, dying but not quite dead dogs on the streets."

Maybe the city would hire me to swing my sweater at them until they all run away from the city and go live with their wolf brothers out on the steppe.

12 comments:

Helen said...

i do enjoy that in States there aren't stray dogs.
In Taiwan I could see them also everywhere. They were laying around on campus everywhere. But they were mostly fed. Even though they looked awful as most of them had had encounters with scooters (the main vehicle on the streets there).
I have read Moscow has a similar problem. That the dogs there live in metro stations (one pic here: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__b8fE7BnI80/SNFcDWDaFWI/AAAAAAAABaw/Re1kaV2_I4A/s1600-h/1hullkoer.JPG).
Mostly I feel sad for these dogs. It is not their fault that people took them as puppies and then through them out.
I have no good advice for you how you could protect your kids.

Katrina said...

Wow, that's pretty scary. I'm glad they don't seem overly-aggressive on a regular basis, but yeah, you still have to be vigilant just in case. I think I'd take the dog stick -- not to hurt them, just to wield menacingly. And the poison thing? That's so sad...

Janelle said...

I had no idea! If it were me, I think I'd take the dog stick and get the boys "walking" sticks.

It's terribly sad for the dogs too, what a miserable existence!

Code Yellow Dad said...

I think it is cute that you call it a "dog stick" rather than an extendable steel police riot baton.

MommyJ said...

i love the comment by code yellow dad... I don't have any idea what I would do with this kind of problem. I have one... ONE ONLY stray dog in my nieghborhood... okay, so it isn't a stray, but it might as well be cause it wanders all over teh neighborhood, throwing itself at car doors and barking and scaring little children. I'm bugged by one, so I can't imagine entire packs of them...

so, I know it isn't exactly a funny situation, but I did love your interspersed bits of sweater waving humor.

Valerie aka Mamalovelock said...

How scary. . . . I would be in the house. I don't like dogs as it is, but to have them everywhere would just be to much.

I am glad you guys are okay.

Christine said...

I think now would be the time to tell your boys that it's okay to play with sticks. I'm sure you never thought you'd say that. There's dogs all over Istanbul too but fortunately the government has neutered them all. So we have massive amounts of very tame, lazy dogs wandering around the parks waiting to be fed.

Linda said...

oh foo! i don't remember the dog problem being quite so bad as a missionary... I do remember some sweater waving though!

I might personally forgo the park idea - your children might be scarred for life!

Gabriela said...

Here's a trick Guapo learned on his mission in Argentina where they had huge packs of aggressive dogs: you bend over like you are picking up a rock and then act like you are going to huck it at them. I've had to do it several times and it has always worked for me.

We don't have stray dogs here where we are in Brazil, we didn't in Mexico City or in Caracas, but in Carmen (Small Town Mexico) there were TONS. When we would drive around town my kids would play "count the dogs".

Good luck. I'd get the "stick"

Big Jay said...

When I was in Scottsdale AZ there were a whole bunch of stray cats roaming around the apartment complex. My ZL bought a blow gun, poisoned the darts with oleander, and dealt with the problem. Maybe you guys could do something like that as a family one evening after midnight when everyone has already passed out.

Oh, and I've gotta see a youtube video of Code Yellow Dad frothing at the mouth because of the bailout. I've been doing some frothing lately too.

3 for school said...

Get the sticks. And stay away from the parks. Those kinds of experiences could make your kids fear any and all dogs (esp. big ones which I'm partial to.)

Christine said...

Code Yellow Mom,
I don't have your email. Mine is mccollum.christine.gmail
Can you send me yours.
Christine