Chile Dog! OH Chile Dog! Wherefore art thou Chile Dog?
Dogs—they’re pretty high on the list of big first impression makers for newcomers to Santiago—maybe all of Chile. I’ve written about them before (See It’s a Dog’s World). Now the search is on for the First National Chile-Dog (no… not chili dog– CHILE DOG!)
Dogs. Some people love ‘em, others hate ‘em, and most just seem to accept that street dogs are a part of everyday life in Chile. And that, indeed, they are. So much so, in fact, that not only is a nice big dog represented on the mural that depicts the most representative elements of national identity (see: Street Art Chile) where this friendly looking guy shows up:
but they will have their own special place in the 2010 Bicentennial!
The Bicentennial Committee has announced a photo competition devoted to the ever-present “quiltro chileno” ( pronounced KIL-tro, the word comes from the Mapuche language Mapudungun and means mongrel or mutt). These uninhibited four-legged creatures like to be in the thick of things and show up just about everywhere.
I’ve always been pretty easy-going about Santiago’s street dogs. They tend to keep to themselves for the most part, and they do seem to sleep a lot–pretty much any time and anywhere they feel like it:
They take part in everyday life. I’ve seen them wait for a green light before crossing the road and even crossing at the specially designated zebra-striped pedestrian crosswalks. They even use public transportation on occasion (as does this guy who hopped on an ascensor in Valparaíso (left) or the other one who hung around an open-air seafood restaurant (right) waiting for patrons to toss him a bite (which of course they did).
Quiltros can also be very playful–watch for them in the Plaza de la Constitución, right in front of La Moneda. There’s a group that often runs past my house, and
I always liked watching them play—until of course, the night that a canine Ocean’s Eleven decided to hang out under my bedroom window, growling and barking and playing and fighting and yelping and following the every move of one particular female, as dogs are wont to do. When I discovered at a sleepless 3:30 AM that the carabineros won’t do anything, that Seguridad Ciudadano won’t do anything, and that apparently there are no dogcatchers or anyone else who can/will do anything and that the only viable option was earplugs, I was not quite as open minded about their right to public space anymore.
But they seem to have since moved on to someone else’s window, and I can now go back to enjoying their antics. And so can you. Catch your favorite street dogs doing their favorite street dog things, and send a picture (just one per person)
to the search for the Chile’s emblematic canine (the national Chile Dog!). You might even win a prize (cameras for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, and cash for the honorable mentions). Entries will be accepted through November 23, and all the details and fine print can be downloaded from the Bicentennial site (El Quiltro del Bicentenario).
The Bicentennial Committee organized this competition not only as a way to recognize the emblematic role the ever-present quiltro plays in our daily lives, but also to encourage their adoption and responsible pet ownership.
And for just a bit more inspiration, here’s a video made as part of the “Chile con mis ojos” (Chile through my eyes) series: “Mi Quiltro Chileno.”