Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dogs

They're everywhere.

I don't understand dogs. I do understand dogs. As much as I need to.

Dogs are as American as gunfire on the Fourth of July. Dogs are as American as spilled beer on a pickup truck seat. Dogs are as American as the smell of cigarette smoke and dried puke in a dark bar. Dogs are like drinking buddies. Dogs are like that belligerent guy who directly approaches you at the bus depot, completely unselfconscious, full of confidence, and tells you to give him a sandwich, or a cup of coffee, or a handful of your money. Because he wants it.

I understand dogs as much as I need to, and that amount is only enough to keep myself clear of them. I like dogs as much as I like some flabby, stinky, 200-pound ignoramus who has decided that his time and thirst and hunger and need for a pocket full of change are more valuable to the world and more important than mine.

Dogs are everywhere here. Dogs are everywhere everywhere. I guess I can't help that. If I could I would. If I had a little gizmo about the size of a pack of those cigarettes, and it had a big red button on it, and I could push that button and instantly kill every dog on earth, I'd do it. Before you could clear your throat. For better or worse.

And I understand the use of dogs. They are tools. Humans found that out early on. Dogs are self-mobile, self-cleaning, self-feeding, reliable tools. They make noise. That's the point, most of it. Dogs are alarm bells with teeth. Fences that chase intruders. Killers for hire, and all they require is a bit of meat, some water, and a place to sleep.

That's good value for a paleolithic hunting team. And for neolithic gardeners and gatherers. For medieval farmers. For suburban commuters. And for Latin city-dwellers. I get it. Tools. Some love them. I don't. That's me.

Today is Sunday. I'm up. It's 7:11 a.m. I've been up since 4:57, before even a hint of daylight.

One of the first things I noticed this morning was the sound of dogs barking. In the city. Here.

That's unremarkable for several reasons. One reason is that you'd expect to hear dogs — dogs are everywhere, remember? People like dogs, as a rule. I'm in a country that isn't that rich. So people rely on dogs. Dogs are cheap security. Granted.

But noticing the sound of dogs barking is remarkable in some ways.

I'm in the very center of a large city. I call it large. It's officially got 350,000 inhabitants. Some say more — closer to half a million, but that's the city and the rest of the province combined. But a lot. For me. It's definitely an urban area here, and I'm in the middle of it.

So hearing dogs barking at all hours in the middle of the commercial district of a large city is not normal for me, because I don't frequent such places, and because, where I come from, there are only faceless building facades and machines in the middle of large cities.

Different. Different here. I realize that. Fine. I still dislike dogs. I dislike dogs the way I dislike raw sewage flowing in the street. (I've seen that, not here but in Seattle, so don't assume I'm only in the mood to disparage a place that isn't like home. Seattle wasn't like home either, but the sewage was real, surging up out of a break in the asphalt, spreading itself and its load of turds and wiping-paper in a wide apron across the southbound lane.) That much is how much I dislike dogs.

So, what? What now?

Not much, just an observation. No point to this. Only a note scribbled on the wall.

I don't like dog shit on the sidewalks either. I expect that someone does, but in this case I'm willing to bet that I'm in the majority, even if most actually appreciate the source of that shit while I prefer the shit to its producer. The good news in the world of local shit is that this is the rainy season. Rain washes. But there is bad news here too.

The rain doesn't seem to do anything for the shit. Shit falls. Shit sits. Shit dries. Rain falls, wets shit. Rain quits, and we got soft, smeared wet shit to deal with, because if there is one thing that people do with dog shit, it's to step in it and smear it around as much as they can. The rain doesn't seem to wash anything else away either. I still can't figure this out.

After the rain dries, the sidewalks are dusty and dull again. They're tile, not the rough concrete I'm used to, so I'm still surprised by this. I don't know about tile, except that when it's wet, it's as slippery as snot on a doorknob, so I keep expecting it to wash clean in the rain but it doesn't. We're always left with dusty shitty tiles. And barks.

Even at five Sunday morning.

You want some dogs? We got 'em. As many as you can carry. I'll even help you load them in your truck.

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