Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Life Without the ‘Ol Snip Snip; A Case for Spaying and Neutering

It’s 4:40 AM. The nights have gotten colder so my fan/white noise maker is off, and every dog near my house (at least 20) are barking. Now I don’t know if this happens every morning since my fan is usually on but my God, how can people live like this! Laying in bed I was motivated to write this blog, and why not, I won’t be sleeping anytime soon.

We North Americans are fortunate to live in a world where spaying and neutering is not only accepted, but in some cases mandatory (like when adopting from a shelter). Most people agree with it knowing it keeps the population down and dogs and kitties off the street, away from starvation, disease and wreaking havoc on the native bird population. Here is a different story. From the many talks I’ve had with Paraguayans I have learned that: I have yet to find a word for spaying (I just say ‘cut the equiptment’ and add gestures) people do have a problem with street dogs but don’t care to do anything about it, there is a shot you can give female dogs every six months for $2, they think castrating a male is bad (machismo society here) and/or people don’t care about the lives of dogs and cats. This last one I can understand, if you’re poor and barely have money for your family why should you care about dogs when you’re just trying to get by. But I live in the city, and there are many well off people here yet the story is the same. They have them mostly to guard the house (usually about 2 or 3 big Sheppard like dogs) but there are also pet dogs too; usually the little, hairy kind who are treated much better than their guard dog counterparts, aka allowed in the house, but just the same usually given rice, mandioca and bread as meals.

What it’s like to live in a world without spaying and neutering…

1. Obviously, there are dogs everywhere you go. In the schools, in the plaza, on every corner (this is also true for chickens and cows except maybe not so much in the plaza or schools, here in the city at least. God knows what it’s like in the country). I’m sure there are many cats as well but they are good hiders.

2. Most of the dogs I see are males because no one wants females. They are either cast out in the streets or fields or killed.

3. Giant dog testicles cannot be ignored. It is not enjoyable.

4. This means that there are a bunch of testosterone crazy males runnin about and things can get a little weird. The other day I had to walk past two male dogs humping on the sidewalk, and I don’t mean the kind of humping to show that one is more dominant than the other. This was different.

5. And so when a female in heat is present there are about 49 males around her going nuts.

6. More aggressive males, more likely attacks.

Which brings me to my story.

I was at my friend Lauren’s site for the night with another friend Julia. Lauren inherited a sweet little girl dog named Luna from the volunteer she followed up. She’s a medium sized dog, golden in color, a little overweight and cute half pointy half floppy ears. That night we watched a movie and hung out, Luna enjoying all the company. The next day it was cloudy, grey and cold and we weren’t sure where the bus would be coming since it was Sunday so we decided to play it safe and walk a little ways down the dirt road to a spot it was sure to go by. Luna was so psyched to go out with us, all we had to say was jaha Luna! (let’s go) and she was jumping all around and spinning in circles.

As we set off we weren’t sure if she should be walking with us because of other dogs, we tried to make her go back but she wanted to come and kept following. Mostly, the other dogs just ran up to her and greeted her, body language alert and curious, sometimes playful. The farther away we got though, the less dogs she knew. As we neared the bus spot we came across this one house that had a chain fence around it, and thank goodness to because inside were three very big German Sheppard males barking at us and very angry. Luna stayed on the other side of the road not wanting to get near. The next house had a smaller dog who started barking but was not in a fence, he started to run over and stopped a little in front of us. Suddenly, from an open part of the gate, came the three Sheppards at top speed. Oh @#$%. The first one got there, body language dominant but not overly aggressive and started to sniff Luna, but a second after that began the smaller dog, having become brave with his 3 bigger pals there, attacked.

After that it was four against one. They all went after our poor girl at once. She cowered, trying to be as non threatening as possible but they wanted to kill. I just rememnber seeing her on her back as they pulled at her skin. We were in shock! We obviously were not about to jump into that and couldn’t find any rocks near us to throw at them. After what seemed like a minute but was probably 7 seconds, Julia yelled “Throw your shoe!” and began taker hers off. At that same time I saw a branch with lots of twigs on it, almost like a broom. Julia threw her shoe as I brandished the branch around my head and threw it. This got their attention and they ran off.

Fortunately Luna was more shocked than anything, the worst of her injuries being a bite on her hip which wasn’t bleeding to bad but made her limp. Poor girl was saved by her fat and loose skin, which was all they were really getting a hold of..and us of course. The worst part of it all was that the people in the house didn’t do a thing. I saw one just sitting and looking out from the window and another come out and close the gate after we all passed. It made us pretty infuriated at the time. After that any dog that came up to us we acted as bodyguards throwing rocks and making the noises that makes dogs go away (yes there are noises here dedicated to that purpose, one is a kissy noise and the other is one of the most ugly noises we can make with our vocal cords. If I accidently make it to your dog when I come back to the states I apologize now!)
I’m happy to report that Luna is doing fine now. They brought her back home and gave her a bath and disinfected the wound. She spent the rest of the day sleeping.

Dogs don’t just attack other dogs, these guard dogs are known to attack people walking by, especially when it gets darker out. To fend them off you make the appropriate noises and throw rocks.

This is what life is like, and it makes me wonder at point does a society make the switch from dog as neglected house protector to dog as much more. I write this more about dogs because, well there isn’t a problem really with cats running out into the streets and attacking (unless rabid of course, but I have yet to see that) or barking or night, and you can’t really see their testicles. Also, here it’s more common to have dogs than cats, I’m still baffled by the amount of women I’ve seen shying away from kittens (how is that possible?) and when a cat does have kittens they are usually killed by dogs anyway. Sad but true. I got my kitten because she was a female and no one wanted her, also there was no way I wanted a dog. The cats stay inside and on the patio, the dog would have to go out on the street where all the other dogs roam free, ready to defend their territory. Oh the stress!

But let me leave you with a happier story! Last night my friends Dan, Emm and Thomas slept over for Dan’s birthday. I was in my room, Tom was on the bed in the living room and Dan and Emm were on a big mattress on the floor. The next morning I go out to the living room and sit on the end of the bed. I look down and see this weird black figure on the floor. As I got a closer look I realized it was the carcass of a tarantula, its legs strewn about beside it, and looked to be headin in the direction of Tom’s bed! One of my cats had killed it during the night and thus saved Tom, Dan or Emm the hiivie jeevies from waking up because a tarantula was slowly crawling up their body. Way to go kitties! And yes, they will both be getting spayed…as soon as I can find a vet who doesn’t just work with cows.

here's a pic of the dead tarantula going for the bed and the mighty huntress

So as I finished this blog everyone sleeping in my house woke up so we could get into Asuncion. As we were getting ready the dogs were still barking, so much so that it made us wonder. Finally Tom looked out the window and there were about 10 male dogs surrounding this poor female in heat, all of them try to get at her. The poor dog’s neck was all bloody from all the males grabbing her by it and she was just trying to get away. Then my two neighbor dogs who live together, one German Sheppard one some pointer mix, were GOING AT IT. They were going to kiiilll each other! They are the same size but the pointer is much younger than the Sheppard (named Oso) Oso was bleeding by the ear and they just kept snarling tearing and blood was everywhere, it was aweful. Of course no one else came out of their house so we ran out and were beating the pointer with a huge plastic tube we put poster paper in, throwing bricks at him point blank. Nothing. He would not stop tearing up Oso, but Oso wasn’t’ leaving either.
A person finally came out of the house that Oso and the pointer belong to and tried hitting them with a stick. Then another neighbor came out and took off his belt and whipped them, that finally made them stop. It’s aweful. Please spay and neuter your animals.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


....is what you normally hear coming from the mouths of the chipa sellers on the bus or the street. Chipa is very famous here in PY; as a mid day snack (marienda), or in the morning with some codico or mate. Sometimes it takes the form of a yellow bagel, a mini loaf of bread or, in the event that I’m making it, stars and smiley faces. Now I don’t make it often, in fact I’ve only made it once, and that was this past Wednesday the 31st of March or chipa day. The 31st of march is the day that all of Paraguay is making chipa. Now why would everyone be slaving over a hot tatakua when you can just go out to the street and find someone selling it? Because it’s tradition. It’s like us coloring eggs, it’s done every year for Semana Santa (Easter). The reason is that Friday, the 2nd, no one eats meat, so there must be chipa around to sustain and nourish the body for this day.
I, of course, wanted to get in on the activity of some imposter bagel makin, so I headed across the street to the neighbors house to check things out, laugh, get laughed at and share some semana santa traditions… specifically, chipa making.

We started in the kitchen…like ya do, first my neighbor Maria started with mixin of the chipa mix.

Ingredients: mandioca or some other sort of starch
Butter or fat (Some make chipa w pig fat, you can because when you bite it it squeaks)
Queso Paraguay (PY has it’s very own cheese… they love it and are v proud of it, I have yet to Share their enthusiasm)

Mix and mash and fold it all together until a Paraguayan tells you it feels right (to my untrained hands it felt the same the whole time, like playdough)

Mold it into a traditional bagel shape or mini loaf of bread or if you invite a
Norte (me) over they might make untraditional shapes like hearts and fish.

Next have some lunch

Then a siesta

Then heat up the tatakua (brick oven) by starting a fire in it and letting it get
really hot, while it’s getting hot have some terere and make a broom out of a
long branch and leaves

when the tatakua feels like bowels of hell, spread it about so it’s just hot
coals and sweep them out the side of the tatakua with the long tree broom

Then put in the trays of chipa into the hot tatakua and cover the entrance so they can cook.

Apparently you just know when they done

Next take them out, let them cool, eat some, give some to other people and
and save the rest for fri (the day of no meat, except fish, and chicken, all the meat is eaten thrusday night for the last supper)!!

It’s a very nice tradition involving many family members, also neighbors come as well because some don’t have their own tatakua

Easter Sunday isn´t that big of a deal here as it is up there, i think. It´s called pasqua and everyone is just supposed to be happy that jesus came back from the dead. zombie jesus. and today you are also allowed to hit ppl your age and younger since during the other days of semana santa you couldn´t. So you can get it all out of your system today. Praise the Lord!