Saturday, February 9, 2013


I don’t know what it is about them, but I love them. All. Four legs, two eyes, two ears, one wet nose, one wagging tail and I am smitten. All my life, I have loved dogs, even before I ever had one in my life. For example, as a dog-less kid, posters of puppies adorned my walls. Therefore, living in a country where overpopulation of dogs is common breaks my heart. Too many dogs roam the streets with protruding ribs and empty bellies searching for food. They’re feral, aggressive and fighting to survive. Some have mange and barnacle like blisters where fur should be, some have gashes from dog fights, and some females have sagging nipples from litter after litter. It is an awful thing, to see the creature you the love the most neglected, abused, and slowly dying. I can’t stand it.

A few days ago, I saw the sickest looking dog of my life. Just writing about him now fills my eyes with tears and heart with regret for not doing more for him. He was so thin that his ribs and hip bones showed and so emaciated that that his back legs touched when walking, half of his fur was missing and in its place was barnacle like crusted mange, he was also bleeding from various gashes, and skin was so infected, his stomach and genital area looked charred. He roamed the bus station looking for scraps of food, patiently staring at people hoping for some mercy. He was totally ignored and helpless.  I instantly began to cry upon seeing him. Immediately, I bought him a cooked chicken leg and wing. I was afraid that maybe he’d scarf the entire thing down too fast causing him to vomit so I gave it to him bit by bit. In the middle of a busy, crowded bus station, people looked at me like I was crazy. There I was, squatting in between buses feeding a filthy, sick animal an expensive meal while sobbing. I also gave him fresh clean water and tried to catch him to take him to a vet to be put down or saved if possible. But it was clear that his time on the streets has made him distrust people so as quickly as he could he dodged my attempts and I lost him.  My cab arrived and I cried for the entire half hour ride to the Peace Corps office in Managua.

I cry often over the state of animals here. I just cannot help but think how easily this could have been Risa’s life, how she is the product of parents living this life and what her litter-mates are like now, if alive at all. Risa was so sick and neglected when I first got her. Two different vets told me that she would not live but I persisted and today she is just as every dog should be; happy, healthy, and loved.
Sweet Risa!


Since arriving, I wanted to do something for the dogs here. But my little Spanish and shy nature prevented me initially. Now I am fed up. I tried telling myself the tired and pathetic excuse of “It’s cultural and animals serve a different purpose here” but that never sat well with me. Honestly, its bullshit! NEGLECT IS ABUSE. I have never agreed with cultural relativism and will never let culture excuse cruelty. All living creatures are born with the universal right to live without suffering.   

I have had many conversations with various people in my site about my dog. Many people marvel at how healthy and pretty she is and think that she is a pure bred dog. When I tell them that she is a mixed breed and explain that she looks nice because she eats daily, gets bathed, and acts tame because she is treated well, I always receive looks of surprise or “this gringa (white girl) is crazy.” I also tell people that she is spayed and explain the benefits of it. They’re small steps but worth taking especially in places that disguise cruelty as culture. 

To help make a difference for dogs in Nicaragua, donate to Granada Animal Outreach and Casa Lupita!

1 comments:

Layla Mah said...

I found your blog while googling about the Peace Corps. I have read a few of your posts, some of which brought tears to my eyes, and I don't know you, but I really want to thank you for writing this blog.

I completely agree with what you say in this post about "Cruelty disguised as Culture." I could very much empathize with your description of your encounter with that dog at the bus station, and I wish more people felt and thought as you do; I truly believe that the world would be a better place.

It brings a smile to my face to read your story about Risa, and I wish the two of you many happy years together!

Thank you again for writing this blog and working to improve the world around you!

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