Dogs, big dogs, medium sized dogs are quite evident in many of Santiago’s streets. They are either abandoned or descendants of abandoned dogs. Most of them look healthy and well fed. They don’t form packs as this would stress their food supply.
These pooches are amiable and street savvy, they often sit on the sidewalk waiting for the traffic light to change. Their favorite hangouts are sidewalk cafes. Sometimes they will adopt a human and walk with him for a few blocks.
Some of the dogs have developed into skilful pigeon hunters who roam with an entourage of mutts who get leftovers. There is a trio of German shepherds who seem to be workaholics. They sit on the sidewalk of a busy street watching traffic. Once the light changes, they cross the street, turn and sit as if counting cars. I watched them for about twenty minutes doing their crossing and watching bit.
Another, a daredevil shepherd cross with something else, hangs out by a restaurant in the Bella Vista bohemian sector. When not being fed by someone, he sleeps on the street impervious of cars barely missing him.
Next to where I live an owned dog howls when he hears a fire siren. About once a week, two mutts come to visit the owned dog. Like visiting a prisoner, the two visitors sit on the street side of the barred gate and the house dog stares back at them fro the inside, it makes one wonder which dogs have a better life.
A TV station has a program where a veterinary team responds to complicated animal injuries. Quite frequently someone reports an injured street mutt and the vets respond, usually needing to shoot the dog with tranquilizers before treating him.
Dogs even surround the presidential palace. People working in the building have complained about the dog poo in the area. Political wags say, ministers and politicians walk through sh*t all the time.
As Chile enters its bicentennial year ( September 18th. 2010). The celebrations committee is asking for people to send it photos of their favorite stray. Yes, a mutt who best represents Chile will be selected as the Quiltro Bicentenario (Bicentennial Mutt).