Okay, I don't want to make my mommy sad, but here, in Nicaragua, I am now a little afraid of dogs. It's not something I can easily admit; not even to myself. I visited my Nicaraguan family from La Dalia the other day. They have a new "pet"/guard dog at their house. His name is Toby. However, if Toby walks anywhere near a person everyone in his vicinity tries to shoo or hit him. Vaya Toby! Vaya!
This is not all to uncommon with any dog in Nicaragua, due to the fact dogs and cats are not spayed or neutered and have therefore become more like wild/dangerous animals. Spending time around Toby for a few days really caused me to have somewhat of internal battle with myself. Dogs are bred to be around people. They need people for their happiness, health, pues everything.
However, I've found myself shooing different wild dogs, as well, because they are dirty, sometimes mean, and Nicaraguans are really upset by a dog's close presence. (I am someone who comes from a family which has always owned at least two big dogs at once. Our dogs sleep, sit, and live with us. They are considered part of the family. I miss you Sophie, Sadie and Izzie!) I haven't change my love for dogs, but I understand the difference between a wild dog and a cared for pet.
As for Toby, it's harder. I could see in Toby's eyes he still really wants to receive love and pets from his family members, even though they continue to neglect him. The whole time I kept feeling like I wanted to pet him, but at the same time I feared so much he would bite me after having so little trust in humans.
My supervisor Dr. Reyna has two precious dogs at home and she also treats them as family members. Also, in my neighborhood in Managua I see lots of people talking their dogs for walks, but these are more progressive thoughts towards dogs. Yet, my friend Lauren who worked in La Dalia through the Peace Corps, took in an "orphaned" perrito named mani, or peanut, and would constantly walk mani throughout the town, but many people thought it was strange.
When leading orientation for our volunteer groups at AMC, we now always talk about how to interact with animals when we are in the different communities. There was a participant in the past who decided to set her plate on the ground for the local dog to eat the remains of her meal off of the plate. Our Nicaraguan leaders were ofended and later threw the plate away, because to them plates are a nice item used for people and a wild, random dog is an animal that deserves to eat scrapes off the ground or a designated bowl. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to stop by Dra. Reyna's house and meet her family and doggies. As I was petting her dogs, she explained how much she loves them but then was sure to tell me, however, the dogs eat on their own designated bowls.
Last night, as I was walking to my house, I approached a girl sitting on the curb accompanied by a dog. The dog stood up to greet me, as many dogs do, but I tried to avoid the dog. However, I second guessed myself as the dog continued to follow me. I stopped and asked the girl if he was okay to pet and she gave me the go ahead. I began petting the cute doggie and talking to the girl. It turns out she volunteers with the equivalent of the SPCA in the States. She began to radiate her passion for helping out animals in Nicaragua. She told me a story of how she sat with a momma dog for numerous hours as the dog went through labor. It really was a spiritual moment for me. I took her number and I'm going to talk to her about possibly volunteering in the future. Although, a small, moment, it seemed like such a uplifting moment.
I will continue to understand more about people's different views towards dogs in Nicaragua.