MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Monday, March 7, 2011

For the Street Dogs of Chile ...

May You One Day Be Loved

Posted By Dawn Kairns, Author of  MAGGIE the dog who changed my life A Story of Love

My niece who is living in Santiago, Chile, warned me before we arrived in Chile. She knew I would ache when I saw the homeless street dogs of Chile. She was right.

If I can find good news about this it is that many of the dogs are at least fed (both by tourists and locals) and not emaciated compared to street dogs in other countries I have seen. Of course that is not true for all of them. The sad news is they don't have the magic of the human-animal bond, someone to love and care for them.

The Street Dogs of Santiago ...



You can see the lonely, lost feeling in some faces, like the first dog above. And when they are sick, they are alone, with no one to help and care for them. Some, like the two directly above, find their bonds with each other. A physician in Santiago told me that when there are too many dogs in this city, they are killed. I didn't ask how; I'm not sure I wanted to hear the answer. But they are not euthanized in the humane manner (injection) that we are familiar with here in the States.

People do have family dogs who are loved like we all love our dogs. The Chilean family my niece is staying with served us a delicious lunch one Sunday. We watched them spoil and dote on their dog as we do ours. And the family we stayed with in the Cochamo Valley had a black lab, Puff, who is very loved. He has a great life going up the valley with the horses to La Junta with the guests. (He accompanied us).

The Street Dogs of Puerto Varas ...





The dogs I met were all friendly, but it was sad to see they had come to expect not being touched. None of them sought people out for food or attention, but readily accepted the food offered. Interesting, though, many dogs refused bread -- they are used to receiving the meat and fish from people's leftovers!

One day I walked into the market in Puerta Varas to buy "meaty" treats. Since pesos seem a little like "play money," I didn't realize until later I had spent $12.00 on one round of dog treats! For future feedings, I bought hot dogs, which were cheaper than dog treats.

Puerto Octay ...





Punta Arenas ...



We were surprised by the number of purebred German Shepherds we saw. We were told that some people got dogs as puppies and then let them go when they became adults -- no longer the cute, manageable little pup. Wow. It happens here, too, doesn't it? But here it's hidden from of our view as they are swept into shelters. 
 
A Chilean tour guide in Punta Arenas told us that it is up to the mayor of each city as to what will happen to the street dogs. Here in Punta Arenas the mayor had decided to have all the street dogs killed a few years ago -- but the people of the city were up in arms. The mayor listened, so these dogs, for the time being, are allowed their lives.

The One Who Will Be Forever In My Heart ...

He's in Puerta Varas. I call him "Flash," after a German Shepherd from my childhood ... 
He followed us around town; waited for us outside the laundromat.
 
When he followed us to our rental car and lay down and watched us, I cried, and tried to explain we couldn't take him. We still had to fly to another Chilean city. I talked to a veterinarian in town about what it would take and what it would be like for him to get him to the States ...
When he watched our car drive away, my heart broke. I looked further into what it would take to get him here after we returned home, with both the airlines, CDC, etc. The logistics of vaccinations and a health certificate were quite doable. But the very long plane ride with stops with him riding in cargo, the possible refusal at the US port of entry and its ramifications if there was any question about his health, really scared me for his safety. So I am speaking with a family we met in the Cochamo Valley, a few hours from Puerto Varas. They have a friend who finds homes for strays there. Maybe ...

2 comments :

antics marie said...

I got my awesome little dog on the streets of Santiago in 2002! She is wonderful and magical and it was quite easy to bring her back to the United States! So don't hesitate people if you want a street dog from Chile.

Dawn, Author of MAGGIE said...

Thanks so much for bringing home one of the street dogs with you AND for sharing this!