Santiago de Chile Part II: Of Dogs and Men…

There’s no denying it. One of the things that never seems to attract the attention of foreigners to Chile is the omnipresence of its street dogs (quiltros galore!). Guest poster Kathleen Skoczen is no exception. In Part 1 (Santiago by Bike) of this 2-part post, she described what she saw and thought as she rode her rented bike through the heart of Santiago and visited the Museo de la Memoria. She dedicates Part 2 to the life of dogs and, like the good anthropologist that she is, reflects on the human element that weaves the place of dogs into Chile’s cultural fabric.

The life of dogs…

Another Guest Post by Kathleen Skozcen*

Dog and shop in San Pedro de Atacama

A dog waits patiently outside a corner store in San Pedro de Atacama

My very good friend in the Dominican Republic, Kim, and I had a discussion one day, as we often do when we are visiting together after months and sometimes even years of absence. She is the patron saint of animals in the Dominican province where she lives. Although not a certified vet, she does more for animal welfare in the province than all the other vets—okay, than the other vet. As an anthropologist interested in human health and well-being, I watch her tenderly and lovingly care and mend animals (homeless, flea ridden, mangy beyond imagination) and think, “there are lots of children who could benefit from this kind spirit.” When I finally gave voice to this observation, my friend assured me that taking care of animals is taking care of people.

“How is that?” I asked. Kim explained that instilling a sense of humanity and humility when it comes to animals easily translates to empathy and compassion for fellow human beings. It took me a while to agree that tending first to animals will somehow translate into improving life for the average poor, stressed Dominican family, and indeed, I still have a hard time with the concept. However, what I can say is that the status and health of animals, at the very least, is a reflection of the overall health of a society.

In Chile, while some Chileans have told me that theirs is a third world country (see more on that issue here), there is no evidence of that in the places I’ve traveled. A good indicator here is status of dogs, and dogs, as anyone who even passes through ever so briefly knows, are everywhere in Chile. On the one hand, why are they so omnipresent? And on the other, OMG, they all look fat and happy! Never mind that they are, sin duda, the friendliest dogs I’ve ever, ever encountered.

Dog begging in Santiago

Gimme Gimme! Lunch-mooching pooch in Santiago.

In the few weeks that I’ve been here, traveling throughout Santiago and a bit north and south, I would venture to say that I have seen hundreds of dogs in the streets, and of those, just two who were timid when approached. Having witnessed dozens of dog encounters, I have heard dogs barking or scrabbling fewer than a half dozen times. But after a while I began to wonder if it was indeed such a wonderful thing.

Who does take care of these dogs? Maybe they don’t need baths, but don’t they need vaccines? I understand there is a bit of debate about whether the Humane Society should come in and round up these dogs, provide shelters and food, but others think that they should let them be. I can fully appreciate this debate. They don’t look ill, they don’t act ill, and frankly I have a chocolate lab at home who spends most of his time lying around my house hoping I’ll take him for a walk, which, let me say with some major guilt, happens all too infrequently.

These Chilean dogs that are unleashed and presumably un-owned, frolic in the parks, sleep on busy street corners, and got the full attention of at least one 19-year-old gringo (my son) who couldn’t resist scratching and petting them at every opportunity. Based on his success, these dogs are well accustomed to such indulgences by passersby. We did see one beautiful purebred German shepherd chasing bikes on Las Monjitas. I wasn’t sure if it was someone’s dog or a stray, but it needed some discipline that’s for sure.

Are these dogs really better off on their own? There are so many of them, and while they are, I’m told, often fed by shopkeepers and workers, is there someone there for them on days off? Do they suffer from fleas? Where are their winter homes? While Cocoa (my lab) might not exercise enough, he does know where his next meal comes from and when, and when there’s a storm, he’ll be safe and secure. Is life on the streets the destiny of man’s best friend? To fend for himself?

Museo de la Memoria, Santiago de Chile

Museo de la Memoria, Santiago de Chile

I rented a bike in Santiago and stopped at the Museo de la Memoria (I highly recommend it, see Part 1: Santiago by Bike). After soaking in the details of this period, (this museum goes far beyond any textbook description) I found it hard to see Santiago, the neighborhoods, and the people in the same breezy light of a tourist.

I had been told not to miss the mansions on that side of town, and so, dutifully, I headed in that direction. Ironically (and probably very lost) I came across a Zona Militar and couldn’t help but stop and contemplate what that meant as I examined the houses looking for signs of the military. I lived in Santo Domingo for two years (1985–1987) during Balaguer’s second tenure as president of the Dominican Republic (1986–1996) and was routinely confronted with army vehicles blazing through the streets, which always seemed to be more theater than threat I thought. In Chile, during this same era, those vehicles blazing from a Zona Militar undoubtedly symbolized something quite different.

Kathleen Skoczen, Zona Militar in Snatiago de Chile

"Zona Militar" (military zone) on southwestern side of downtown Santiago.

I gave up my quest to find the mansions and headed toward El Centro and my temporary home.  I stopped in a park, unnamed on my map, and admired the largest trees I’ve seen in Latin America. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a small group of dogs wrestling away. Riding on, I passed three women trying to calm and control 7 or 8 dogs as I rode by—presumably more dogs who haven’t given up their love of moving wheels. So many dogs…

As I wound my way through the city with everything I had seen in the Museum and thoughts of Chile’s coup and its aftermath still weighing heavily on my mind, I wondered if it just might be that giving these dogs such freedom, with its burdens and joys, is something that people “need” to do. The wounds of Chilean struggle for liberty are still healing–they seem to be tender and fragile–and I wonder, do people resist denying their most loyal companions the same freedom they themselves once lost? These dogs are happy and friendly beyond belief; that they enjoy frolicking in parks, sniffing each other, marking territories, and yes, even indulging in the occasional garbage can is truly undeniable. They ask very little from the people who walk around them, often ignore them, and at times completely indulge their need for human attention. And it occurred to me that the memory of 17 years of oppression and struggle for their own freedoms still within living memory may be part of the reason Chileans seem to be so unwilling to imprison “man’s best friend.”

For more on First Impression of Santiago de Chile, see also:

Santiago de Chile Part I: Memories by Bike

Chile is Not a Third-World Country and other impressions

My own first impressions of Chile (almost 20 years ago!). This turned into a group post, so it includes links to a lot of other Chile bloggers past & present and their own first impressions.

And while we’re at it, take a look at Eileen Smith  has to say about Santiago over at Bearshapedsphere: Santiago in 36 hours and what happens to a pitch deferred.

Want more about Dogs?

Pitbull free to roam: the flip side of the Chile’s street dog issue

Bicentennial Chile Dog: And we have a Winner!

Lost Dogs: Quiltros  & Hero Dogs

In Search of the Bicentennial Chile Dog

Chile: It’s a Dog’s World


59 responses to “Santiago de Chile Part II: Of Dogs and Men…

  1. Margaret – You are a blogaholic and I enjoy every minute of it. My understanding was that “you would not be able to post as often this week”, and here you are, blogging away.

  2. Well, technically it’s Kathleen doing the work (and on the firing line) right now!

  3. Oh the dogs.
    My personal take on the matter is:
    1.- We are lazy about it. If it doesn´t affect us directly, we´ll have 100 other things to think or do before worring about street dogs that don´t belong to us in the first place.
    2.- Should we control EVERY animal that shares space with us? Should we sterilize and/or provide shelter the pigeons, rats, flies, cats or anything that live around us? This obsession with controlling somehow everything around us is sick. I´ve been in other countries, without any dog in sight on the streets. Those cities are clean, but I´ve also seen how most cats and dogs live there, and I don´t like it. Castrated, in cages, or forever confined inside little yards, to be ignored and left alone, until their masters remember them for some reason. (Of course, there are a lot of people that love their pets too, but what I described first is sadly acceptable and also somehow expected).
    3.- Can´t we just share the space we took by force from nature? Is the only acceptable place for an animal a cage or the meat display of a supermarket?
    4.- If those dogs, that are everywhere, are fat and seem happy, is because they have food, (and now you can call me crazy) so they are helping somehow to recycle part of OUR OWN waste of energy and resources, that otherwise would end up in a pile of trash.
    5.- I´ve read that in some places in NorthAmerica, my fellow groundhogs are poisoned and killed like a plage, for eating flowers in some old lady´s yard. If that´s the right way to deal with animals around us, I don´t want it.
    6.- Those dogs have a function that you can only understand after spending a few months or so in Chile. They are everyone´s and no one´s pet. They can belong to a street, or a yard, or a plaza, and live their lives peacefully there.
    7.- If we had the same population of stray dogs and cats, but sick and aggresive, then I would understand there´s something really wrong in all of this.
    Being a city groundhog myself, this subject gets personal xD

  4. Wow Marmo! (have you noticed how often I start a response with “Wow Marmo”?) I see this really hit home, but rest assured that I have neither seen nor heard of any plans for attempting to control urban groundhogs in Chile!
    Your opinions are very interesting… and you KNOW there are plenty of dog lovers out there who are going to call you out on them!
    Personally, I’m on the fence. For me the bottom line is responsibility. People need to take responsibility for their pets…and that also means taking responsibility for any pups or kittens (or marmotitas) that result from “nature’s way” need to be cared for and not just dumped on the street or worse.
    They also need to be responsible for any damage they do–whether that is biting someone or tearing the trash apart–if your dog did it, you need to take care of it.
    That said, I love that there are fat & happy dogs on the street that coexist with people… and I loved the whole idea of the Bicentennial Quiltro as something that Chileans (granted no all) identify with.
    What’s everyone else think?

  5. Thanks Margaret!
    I agree, if you do own a dog, you have to anwer for what it does. Strangely enough (I don´t know if in Santiago they have the same “culture”) but dogs here in Temuco rarely destroy the trash bags or cans. They seem to do pretty well from restaurants and groceries leftovers. Maybe helps that meat and milk are way cheaper here (I was talking to my dad a few days ago, he lives in Santiago and said that filete or lomo, I can´t remember, cost around 8 lucas there, meanwhile the same cut can be found at 4,5 lucas here in Temuco).
    I think that the dog population somehow self regulates; there are plenty of food, but even if they reproduce, I´ve never seen in any city that they breed to the point of have dozens of hungry dogs around, I think they should have a self regulated system (as animals, they are naturally balanced in that way) to not get pass the point of sustainability.

  6. I’ve seen dogs trashing the trash more times than I want to remember–but people throughout Chile tend to put their trash in high baskets or hang it from high hooks so the dogs can’t get at it. It may have to do with food, but I think it’s also related to canine curiosity.
    I also think that many of those dogs really do have homes to go to as the sun goes down (or comes up, as the case may be).
    I’m not so sure about the self-regulating theory. The dogs are not left to their own devices in the wild, but co-existing with humans who interrupt their ability to self-regulate. Furthermore, there are places outside of Santiago that people go to dump their unwanted dogs, and it is an incredible (and scary) experience to go through there even in a car (and I shudder to think of anyone trying it on a bike!)
    I guess I’m just looking for a happy medium!

  7. I tend to agree with Marmo’s take on this issue when he talks about controlling things. I personally think that, particularly in North America, we have gone nuts! For example, here in Canada it feels there is very little one can do that DOES NOT violate some bylaw, city regulation, or human right code. In an effort to create a more orderly society we have gone overboard and have overregulated everything.
    We cannot control humans to the extent that society would like to see. I don’t think I am alone when I feel like screaming: “please leave me alone” and stop complaining. I just want to go back to Chile, buy a small piece of land in the middle of nowhere, raise chickens, and hopefully NOT violate anybody’s space or rights.
    In Malawi you will be arrested for passing wind, (Malawi Government Proposes Fart Ban)

    Give me a break!!! and leave those happy Chilean dogs alone.

  8. Well I´m not an expert on the matter, and caould be wrong, but stray dogs in Chile are different in many ways to those I´ve seen in Mexico and Peru. At least here in the south, we never see them have demographic explotions. It´s true that people interfere with them all their lives, but I don´t think they ask for permission or advice whether to reproduce or not, and yet, there they are, fat and lazy, waiting for the green light to cross on a corner, behaving better than some humans.
    Hahahah, John Carr, you would be a wonderful groundhog!

  9. I am a groundhog! The picture you see of me has been carefully photoshopped to resemble a human being.

  10. @John- good point about governmental regulations–there are always 2 sides–while they take care of you on one hand, but they do it by placing limits on your freedom…now THERE’S a topic I have a lot to say about (note to self: write up THAT post!)
    @Marmo- So what do you think is happening differently here than in Perú and Mexico–AND, as Kathleen has mentioned, in the D.R.? Kathleen attributes it to something in Chilean culture. Makes sense to me…!

  11. Help us stop Big Brotherism, PLEASE. It is stifling all of our lives! Let’s hear what you have to say, soon. It may help lower my blood pressure.

  12. hajaja- no, sorry, it’ll probably RAISE your BP. I probably haven’t written it yet so it doesn’t raise MINE!

  13. Sounds like there may be fireworks coming up here.

  14. I have no idea of what could be different here. And is something across all Chile, dogs are 99% friendly.
    Maybe Peruvians and Mexicans use more chili in their foods, so that ends up affecting their dogs, xD

  15. haha- as in the revenge of the chili dog? Naw- I’m sticking with culture and how people feel about and treat animals! As in the place of animals in the culture…
    Any else have ideas?

  16. Oh, the dogs. I’m a bit torn on the dogs. I lived in in Pirque, near Puente Alto and dogs were often dumped out on the road. They hung out around the trash dumpster and looked far from well fed. Everyone around already had several dogs and the strays kept coming. It was really sad to me-here we have a couple dog parks which I could not possibly explain to a Chilean. Also, on the road to cajon de maipo, many, many stray dogs, sadly looking for the car that left or might pick them up. And pregnant females, often no more than puppies themselves-and people are generally against spaying and especially neutering. There are many dogs that aren’t dangerous-indeed look like Tramp but there are others who have mauled folks.

    As much as I hate unnecessary laws, they need some. Vaccination, spaying, neutering, licenses.

    But the dogs all disappeared. No idea what happened but I would guess it’s not good. And since you can’t tell which are pets, I would guess some roaming pets disappeared too. Different municipalities are different-I heard of one that actually has a dog pound type facility.

    One last note-I was raised in a rural area in 1950s Montana-before all the laws. And if your pet roamed, it was quite legal for a neighbor to shoot it. Probably still is, but people keep their pets home. Things change. If people don’t behave responsibly on their own, then we have more (many times stupid) laws.

    Many of the street dogs were real cute and smart. I would like to see adoption encouraged and identifying collars for all pets. And spaying and neutering.

  17. Yes, Laura, when I mentioned the dumping grounds for dogs, I was specifically thinking of the area between Pirque and El Cajón del Maipo. Both sad and scary out there! And volunteers take enormous bags of dog food out there just so they don’t starve to death. No one can convince me that this is better than neutering. Each animal should be a wanted pet, not some burden to dump on the side of the road… who DOES that kind of thing?

  18. Dog and animal consciousness, (is there such a term?) are part of the evolution of a society. Here is an example that Laura mentions, “I was raised in a rural area in 1950s Montana-before all the laws. And if your pet roamed, it was quite legal for a neighbor to shoot it”. I am not aware of any state in the US where shooting animals is still permitted.
    It is easy for Americans or anyone else to take their current values and try to ‘export’ them to another country without taking into consideration that that other country has not reached the same level of development or evolution.
    Many foreign visitors who arrive from a more advanced society will find fault with many aspects of Chilean society. However, as Annjie mentioned, it will put things in perspective when we make ‘apple to apples comparisons’ and realize that, as recently as the late 70’s, Chile was truly a third world country. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”

  19. John- I bet it’s pretty common to shoot an errant dog in the Chilean countryside too. Part of protecting your own animals. That pretty much looks like apples and apples to me.
    But the real discussion has more to do with urban culture, and this isn’t about exporting anyone’s laws to Chile or even about whether or not Chile is 3rd world (not this post anyway). But rather a reflection about (1) how/why it is that in Chile (unlike elsewhere) so many dogs share the public space with relatively little friction, and (2, which came up in the comments) the contradictory flip side of this laissez-faire-live-and-let-live attitude that results in so many abandoned dogs left to fend for themselves in certain sectors just outside the city.
    Obviously other countries have dealt with the roaming dog & irresponsible owner problems by creating pet control laws. Chile needs to (1) decide if it has a problem (there seems to be some internal debate on this), and (2) what it’s solutions will be.
    The bottom line in any peaceful society is respect and responsibility. Spontaneous social norms are the first step toward instilling culturally defined standards in the members of said society, and then laws are created as recourse to enforcing those standards. So in the end, it’s a matter of defining the place of dogs in Chile’s urban culture, getting people to agree on that role, and making them responsible for their actions in order to respect the rights of others.
    Hmmm- I’m thinking out loud here… am I convincing you?

  20. Margaret – Love your passion and eloquence, in that order. This is why I keep coming back here. We are in full agreement regarding the responsibility of citizens towards their pets. What I ‘m failing to get across is this. This type of issue is typical of more developed societies. Chile may not be there yet. So if the US or any other country has laws to protect both the public and the dogs, wonderful. Allow the Chileans a bit of time to get with the program.

    I can clearly remember when back in the seventies, amnesty international began its campaign for the protection of human rights. You should have seen the look in many people faces … what are these gringos talking about?
    There remains a LOT to be done in Chile. Elimination of poverty, as far as I am concerned, should be at the top of the list. Don’t you think? They’ll get to the dog issue soon enough.

  21. Elimination of poverty is a tall order. Don’t see why they can’t work on both at the same time!

  22. I love this discussion. I also, love the dogs a whole lot more. I vote to leave them in the streets of the cities, I loved them occasionally chasing a bike, I loved them being sweet and lazy and yup, even humping in the middle of an intersection, and I can imagine everyone else loves them as long as they aren’t causing major trouble. Maybe my friend Kim could give some tips to animal lovers on how to get them cheap health care and keep them healthier than they are already without disrupting their routines too much. She works with U.S. vets (a team of about 10) who go the DR (our corner of it) and spend a week or two vaccinating, cleaning up and neutering every animal they find or who finds them (people bring pets, farm animals, etc.). I like the comment, ‘why can’t we share the natural world with the animals and respect them’, why not indeed? Peg told us about the cajon de Maipo, and luckily we traveled on the other road, because it would have been hard for us to see the flip side of the coin. Some of those folks who want to keep the status quo in the cities, might want to start addressing those concerns, before it turns the public against the dogs in general. One other comment is, that I think Chile (I’m repeating myself) is right up there with France as the nicest place I’ve seen. Between the dogs and murals, never mind the Pisco Sours and wine… I wasn’t in Chile long, but I was very pleasantly surprised, and the fact that people are discussing the fate of the dogs with such sensitivity and nuance, convinces me that its not only a nice place, its a nice place filled with exceptional people. Viva Chile, (I’ll skip the end of that phrase 😉

  23. Kathleen- What’s chances of getting Kim to do a stint down here sometime? She could even check out our whale watching while she’s at it!
    Seriously though, I think what’s she’s doing is wonderful, and there are people here who are very much involved in making the lives of dogs better. (there are links on one of the dog posts–I think the Lost Dogs piece). And while I truly appreciate the sincerity of their efforts, I think sometimes they go too far, trying to give the impression that every dog on the street is an unowned, unloved, unhealthy, unfed, unwanted menace. Too many “uns” in there… It’s all about balance (I seem to say that a lot, don’t I)
    I’m sooo glad you finally made it to Chile and even happier that you liked it so much… and many Chileans will be very pleased (though incredulous) that you put it on a scale with France (especially if they knew how much you loved France!) So I guess that makes you a Chilephile! Welcome to the club!

  24. Margaret – I agree getting rid of poverty is a tall order. However anyone who lived in Chile in the 50’s and 60’s and looks at Chile’s living standard today will agree that it’s doable. I’m all for bringing Kim or anybody else to help raise consciousness about those quiltros. From my point of view, it will probably take ‘foreign intervention’ (meant in a nice way) to achieve a better life for “mankind’s best friend”.

  25. I really do love Chile for many reasons but a Chilena told me I would “get used to” the dogs. Some of it, I never could. Perhaps because of where I lived and seeing unhappy dogs eating trash(and Chileans don’t leave good trash lol). And puppies being born in the cold. The mother dogs that are starving themselves while nursing a litter.

    To me, it is partly what we are teaching the children. Teaching a child to be kind to animals-and I strongly felt that Chileans weren’t responsible pet owners-dogs went hungry or foraged or ate potato peels(I’m not kidding). Not because there was no money but because that was what was always done. Dogs roamed, sometimes in dangerous packs(a newborn colt was killed by dogs, dogs would cross fences to fight-and draw some serious blood) and nothing is done. It’s live and let live-but I think a dog like that is dangerous to children. actually, I remember seeing an article where a woman and child were mauled badly. Our neighbors proudly taught their 2 year old to kick dogs. I compare that with my granddaughter who kisses her dogs many times a day. To me, that is basic kindness that should be taught to children.

    But it’s a general treatment of animals there that bothers me. I saw horses so thin, they would have been confiscated by the Humane Society here. (And I really love horses) But it was common there. They let them out to eat whatever by the side of the road. I saw children harass the horses with grownups watching-rocks thrown! I just believe if you have animals, you care for them responsibly or give them to someone who can. But, Chile is not third world in many ways. And this was mostly rural, which is a different experience.

    But it is most hilarious to see in the USA people complaining that someone went to jail for “only 90 days” for animal neglect of cruelty. Actually I think that’s fair but it’s all about comparisons. Pets here are pampered to a ridiculous extent while children are hungry. Animals that are starving in Chile-well, that’s acceptable. I heard there is plastic surgery to add the parts back for neutered males. All countries have issues.

    But John…it is still legal…a quick perusal of the internet because of my own curiosity. This is a throwback to the open range of the Old west. At one point, there were no fences but later, it became law that the rancher was responsible for his stock-fencing them in. The old west was not nearly as romantic as people like to think.

    “You are responsible for keeping your dog on your own property. Montana law allows the shooting of dogs when they are harassing livestock or wildlife. Avoid a real tragedy and do the neighborly thing at the same time: Keep your best friend in his own yard.”

  26. Is it my impression or do others think that there seems to be a difference here between the treatment of country vs city animals?
    And it’s certainly different when you make your living raising livestock and someone else’s dog attacks them. A predator’s a predator.
    Dogs are predators by nature, so I suppose it’s just their nature to form packs and roam and hunt. Keeping them close to home goes against their nature, but it also makes it possible to live with them.
    I’m surprised to hear of so much mistreatment in Pirque. Especially of horses, but yes, of course I have seen horses and cows “pasturing” on the shoulder of the road in plenty of places just outside of the city.
    And we’re back again to responsibility!

  27. So Chileans are not as responsible as they could/should be. Neither are the Chinese, and before you start throwing rotten tomatoes at me, I know, two wrongs don’t make a right. So what’s my point? The same I’ve already made. Neither Chile nor China have had much exposure to foreign values. China is slowly changing but they do have a long way to go, especially when it comes to human rights. Chile will get there, I have no doubt. Be patient.

  28. Sure, there is a difference between country and city and between nicer areas and not so nice areas. I had some exposure to friends living in Puente Alto as well as Pirque though and they universally didn’t understand the gringo view-or so it felt. But I was raised with the values that, next to children, taking care of horses and dogs is top on the list. They can’t and shouldn’t just fend for themselves. Frankly, the Chilean horses act differently-they are tools, not friends. Really the point is that neighbors didn’t see those things as abuse or cruelty. And I couldn’t see how they could not.

    And I loved much of Chile and the people-maybe that’s why it was hard for me to witness the animal attitudes/abuse. It’s not Mexico or China. My solution was to feed everyone’s dog 🙂 and horses as I could-cut the grass and throw it over the fence.

  29. Every war that has ever been fought was the result of both sides having different values. Without exception, the conqueror went to impose their values on the defeated population. It’s about having DIFFERENT values. Having said this, I will say no more. I can see Margaret’s sigh of relief, 🙂

  30. Relief? hahaha, no John, I can be pretty darned stubborn… I think we’re both trying to get at the same thing, but saying it in different ways. I guess what’s bothering me about what you’re saying is the “they’ll get there” part, as if there were a single, linear path for development and that all groups will (or should) follow it and have the same end goals. No sir. Each culture develops according to their own needs and realities. They determine what is problematic in their society and work toward finding solutions that work for them. That is why each culture is different. The problem is that when those of us who grow up in one culture try to squeeze our square pegs into someone else’s round hole and think the round hole has to adjust to fit out peg.
    As Laura said, on working farms, animals are tools rather than members of the family, and they are treated accordingly. Kathleen told me about dog owners who got rid of dogs that weren’t fierce enough because what they needed was a guard dog, not a pet and it was pretty much a “you don’t work, you don’t eat” attitude. Abby also wrote recently about raising cows growing up and being full well they would be sold off when their time came ( That certainly doesn’t make her any less developed (I am in no way suggesting she abused her cows! Just that there was no sentimental idolization of them either).
    Anyway, I think we can both agree that Chile has certain problems and is working toward resolving them (right?) and what that solution finally is may have nothing whatsoever to leash laws and neutering policies like those in place in the US and Canada (or maybe they will)…

  31. Friends? Of course!!! I am POSITIVE that by now you have at least an inkling that I thrive on a good intellectual sparring match.
    Next time can you do me a favour? Could you please post something about a beautiful sunset in Reñaca, Con-Con or Maitencillo? 🙂
    This sparring thing is exhausting!

  32. Yes, a post about dogs! My parents will be very pleased about it -they could not stop talking about it when they were in Chile…

  33. There´s a clear difference between city dogs, and country dogs. All I wrote before was about city dogs.
    Life is harder for country dogs, as it is for country men and women.

  34. @John- OK- a summer sunset (or similar) coming up soon! In the meantime you can take a look at all the new words and expressions I just added to the Glossary (
    @Laurie- Hi! Please write and let me know what you’re up to!!
    @Marmo- yes, we’ve mostly been talking about city dogs. I always feel more nervous around rural dogs. I think they’re more territorial, less used to strangers, more nervous, and less predictable.

  35. Rural dogs are closer to being wild animals.
    This afternoon a dog waited with me a green light to cross the street, and I saw it look both sides of the street before crossing.
    How can you possibly not love that! It/he was in great shape, by the way.

  36. Ahhh, well I suppose we all have seen this here in Chile, but for your international viewers, here´s a little bit of Chilean city dogs:

  37. @Marmo- I totally agree about rural vs the more “civilized” city dogs and always love it when I see them waiting at the crosswalks for the light to turn green! They are so amazing!
    And about the video–I’ve got a whole post related to that!
    See Lost Dogs: Quiltros & Hero Dogs:

  38. Marmo – this is nothing but a cop out on your part. You leave me and Margaret battle it out, after everything has been resolved and sorted out, you decide to show up again. There ought to be law against this, 🙂

  39. ¡El Quiltro es el mejor amigo del hombre!

  40. Maravilloso! Quiltro en la cancha: más chileno que los porotos pues! Dog on the field: more Chilean than beans!

  41. “This afternoon a dog waited with me a green light to cross the street, and I saw it look both sides of the street before crossing.
    How can you possibly not love that! ”

    Yes I did love that!

  42. What about Puppy Mills in the US? How come they are still in existence and have not been outlawed? Any opinions anybody?

  43. Puppy Mills are one of the most horrendous creations to come out of the puppy business. Here is a quote “A puppy mill is a mass breeding facility where dogs are neglected, given little food, water, no exercise, little to no vet care, and are kept in small, cramped spaces. As a result, dogs are frightened, depressed, wary of humans, malnourished, and many other horrible things”.

    I am not by any means making light of this subject, but it does remind me of a comment you once made about something I wrote, boy, you have been gone from the US for a long time!

  44. I think those “Puppy mills” are terrible.

  45. They are not just terrible, they are HEINOUS. Good thing I am not in charge of animal welfare in the US. I would have all those guys locked up for a long time.

  46. If you guys don’t mind, I will change the subject slightly, because I have been reminded of a nice anecdote I had in the US. This was an evening in downtown Brookline, Mass.—blocks away from the Boston line—: on a corner was a RACOON tearing at a trash bag! The cutest thing I have seen. Unbelievable!

  47. Sure Raúl! Let’s move on to other wild urban animals! I used to have a problem with raccoons in one city house I lived in–man, can they make a mess! Squirrels too. And my brother sometimes gets DEER in his back yard (absolutely urban setting, but with a big park nearby).

  48. Have any of you have an encounter with groundhogs?

  49. Not any urban encounter anyway!

  50. Wow, what an interesting conversation. Again, I can’t read through all of it, but I can skim it ( I’m late for work again because of Cachando Chile!). Yes, Margaret, I’m an official Chilephile… evident when I go into a wine store and ask for Mont Gras … and I have to roll my eyes…. what is up with these gringos don’t they know good wine when they taste it (hee, hee).
    These dog video clips are precious. The first one I had seen before and while, touching, was very sad. The dog on the playing field, however; its not just that he’s there, he thinks he’s on the team, he takes the soccer stance and all. I love it!! Back to anthropology, based on my education I understand that we (meaning all species) are still evolving. Clearly human culture has interrupted evolution and changed the “natural” (whatever that is) course for most species on earth. I thought of that when I saw dogs waiting at street lights, trotting down sidewalks, sweetly begging for a treat and eyeing those garbage baskets (where they are smartly elevated). Chileans have adapted their curbside garbage practices to the ever-presence of dogs. Dogs love trash and I don’t think that will ever change: My overweight and very well-fed lab will still, after all these years of being penned in my yard, given the chance head straight for the neighbors garage where they keep their uncovered cans… I’m about to take a photo of the elevated baskets to them to show them what civilized people do with their garbage so dogs don’t have to eat it and get sick all over their master’s bedroom carpet! Some of my funniest memories of Cocoa (my beloved lab) are when he would “escape” and head for garbage cans… I would run out of my house, putting on my bathrobe, waving a raw hotdog, screaming his name. But alas, my premium hotdogs never stood up to whatever people throw away! Last weekend we took Cocoa for a much needed hike to the only state park we could get into (we are snowbound in Connecticut like I’ve never seen — third snowiest in history I think). At the trailhead we were confronted with more dog poop than I’ve ever seen in one place. Puppy mills? visit the local pet store and they don’t “sell” dogs, rescued dogs are now up for “adoption”. Puppy mills, while not PC, still seem to supply us with endless quantities of “homeless” pure bred dogs in need of a home for a mere $700. The breeders, who are trying to make a living in the dog-eat-dog world of corporation-only capitalism, end up in jail and someone is still making a good buck. If anyone wants to figure out how we should take care of animals, I hope you’re not looking north to this country!
    The Chilean dogs I saw (for a very limited time, mind you) have picked up some amazing, irresistible human traits. Living in close proximity to people in Santiago they have figured out how to behave properly. Is that because the folks in Santiago have co-evolved with them and we have a superior, more intelligent dog, or that Santiagans (sp?) weed out the bad ones and take them to the country where they are forever in exile? I hope that in Chile folks continue to take care of the city dogs, address the issue of dumping dogs in rural areas, and let the experiment continue 😉 BTW, who DOES clean up their poop? Please don’t tell me its other dogs, because if it is, I don’t want to know :)-

  51. Hi Kathleen- Glad to see I’m not the ONLY one who finds that Cachando Chile competes with work time!
    I don’t think anyone cleans up dog poop in Chile–and it’s very, very rare to see anyone walk dogs with a pooper scooper. Maybe the urban dogs have learned to do their business in the bushes! Except in Valparaíso, of course, where there’s no doubt whatsoever about where the poop is (just check the bottoms of your shoes!) gross.
    Ah- the word is “Santiaguino” BTW (I ought to put that in the glossary!)

  52. @Kathleen – That was precisely my part of my point, and you said, “If anyone wants to figure out how we should take care of animals, I hope you’re not looking north to this country”!
    I guess IF there is a moral to this post, it might go something like this: Let’s all remember that whenever we point a finger at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back at us”.

  53. Once again, Temuco and Santiago dogs seem to share some cultural traits; they often go to green, low traffic areas, such as riversides, grass or trees, to do their private bussiness. In Temuco you almost never see any dog poop on the streets, with some exceptions, when nature´s call is too strong.

  54. More urban mysteries!
    Right up there along with where the pigeons sleep… and speaking of which… has anyone ever seen a pigeon CHICK?

  55. At least here in Temuco, pigeons have a known schedule. They pass the day near plazas, and during the late afternoon, they go to the north area of Temuco, near the barley processing plant, and sleep in a forest there. Most of them do.

  56. Hm, learn something new every day!
    I wonder where where the palomas capitalinas go?

  57. Lek | Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 11:56 am |

    Street dogs are a sign of under-development (third world) but so too is the greeting you get when clearing the baggage from the airport and you are confrtonted with a scrum of taxi mafia all barking at you. What do you think? Are we more like Singapore where there is a quiet, calm line for a taxi, or India? You tell me. Anyway, the problem with the dogs is one for the responsible dog owner. I have two well tempered and trained dobermans and according to the law they must be muzzled. The street dogs, of course, are exempt from this law so guess what they do when they see my muzzled dobermans? Attack. Can my dogs defend themselves? No. Hell, they cannot even play ball or catch a Frisbee with a muzzle. Fair? No. Third world logic? Yes. Just like the taxi situation at the airport.

  58. I really loved every description you made, including what I would call “outstanding ending.” Maybe we are quite sensitive to those topics which remind us of all the suffering our country lived and experienced. Cheers!

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