In Search of the Bicentennial Chile Dog

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.

MST2009-Marching Dogs-500w

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:

MST2009-Sleeping Dogs Lie

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).

MST2009-Coastal Dogs

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.

MST2009-Playing Dogs

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.”

11 responses to “In Search of the Bicentennial Chile Dog

  1. Están en todas las ciudades y pueblos de Chile, de alguna manera, forman parte de la cultura urbana. No sé si en otros lugares tengan el espacio que acá se les da, pero me imagino que una ciudad sin perros, debe verse o sentirse menos amigable, y más fría. Son como mascotas comunitarias, y las calles son su patio. Hasta respetan las señales de tránsito; eso de que cruzan en los pasos de cebra es cierto, son más responsables y respetuosos que muchos de nosotros.

  2. Es cierto. Son geniales y absolutamente parte de la cultura y el paisaje nacional. Sin embargo, el otro lado del mismo cuento son los perros abandonados y descuidados. Por eso me alegro que parte de la razón de exisitir esta competencia es para encontrar alguna solución al problema de estos tristes seres vagabundos que también son demasiado presentes en nuestras calles

  3. Pingback: In Search of the Bicentennial Chile Dog « Cachando Chile … | Conteúdo Original

  4. i just loooove street dogs, they are really faithful to the temporary owner, i’ve seen that on the streets of Algarrobo, they always follow us around and they are really friendly too!!!… i remember that i went for the weekend there and me and my friends are completely dog-lovers! so we adopted a beautiful black one, and she followed us to the beach… she was all the time with us and of course when we went to lunch at the beach, there were like 10 dogs next to us!!!!! it was really funny!!!!!

  5. I have always been amazed at how tranquilo Santiago street dogs are, although country dogs seem more territorial and make me much more cautious.
    My theory is that since urban dogs are not locked up all the time, they just don’t get as neurotic as dogs in other places where they cannot run free.

  6. Es muy interesante leer como usted cambia de opinion, dependiendo del comentario que recibe…
    Personalidad de camaleon.

  7. ¿Crees tu? ¿En qué sentido?
    En este caso veo una consistencia absoluta. En otros posts es asunto de fomentar una discusión y explorar un asunto por sus múltiples ángulos.

  8. Pingback: Chile: It’s a Dog’s World « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  9. Una muy buena excusa.

  10. Pingback: Lost Dogs: Quiltros and Heros « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  11. Pingback: Bicentennial Chile Dog: And we have a winner! « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

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