Monday, February 4, 2013

A Dog Day Afternoon

Leaving the Paladar, the first thing that struck me were the number of stray dogs hanging around, near where our driver, Camillo had parked the bus. I assumed they were strays because they were unusually thin and hungry looking as well as small in stature compared to the dogs I see in the US. Wiry little and medium sized terrier mixes were all over.

They were also not aggressive. Many, and there were about 10 or so, lying on the ground taking a nap. Others were playing. That many stray dogs in one spot would have caused concern, here at home. However, these dogs were as laid back as the people who were also nearby buying goods and snacks from a small store that fronted the parking lot. Neither the people nor the dogs were concerned about each other. It was obviously a peaceful, non stressful co-existence, one that I saw replayed in every venue in which we ventured. The dogs were literally everywhere, and it is a situation that does not exist in the US.

The Cuban dogs showed me that our dogs, our pets are as high strung and stressed out as most of us are. American dogs are very vocal, very aggressive, very jumpy and very leery of people, especially with strangers. You almost never see in public a pack, of dogs, let alone one or two at a time.

Where I went, there were dogs, most of whom were obviously strays, dirty, mangy, showing signs of combat and survival, ribs showing. They were looking for food, or napping in the middle of the square, or taking shade near a big planter as people walked by pursuing their day, not concerned about the dogs. The dogs not concerned about the people.

During my entire time in Cuba, I counted four dogs being walked by leash, two pekinese living the life on a parch over a Paladar getting set to open and doing the American thing of barking at passersby. The two peks were shiny and obviously well kept, real lucky dogs.

We treat our pets like possessions, like a new hat or designer label adornment, denying or refusing to allow them to express their “animal-ness,” preferring to turn them into furry little human like critter/companions. In Cuba, a dog is a dog, an animal that is also part of society or existing on the fringes, with an equal right to the planet.

More to come..

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