This post might be a little sad, especially for animal lovers, so…fair warning.
One thing that I’m not sure I’ve talked about all that much is the stray dogs here in Moldova. There are a lot of them. Some dogs are tied up at houses, but tied up outside, and it seems to be more of a security measure. And they definitely make it known when someone is approaching their territory. The rest run pretty much run free.
This has its good and bad moments. As my host sister pointed out awhile ago, dogs like to be free. And this is true. I can attest. My dog at home dashes out the door like a wild man the minute he gets the chance. Loves to chase things. Some get to know you and kindly welcome you home as you walk down the sidewalk to your house. But…problems arise when I become the thing the stray dogs want to chase here. Not a huge fan of that. Generally, they like to chase cars, bikes and runners. And other dogs. Well, I am a runner. And I’ve definitely been chased. A few times. Luckily, I got this fantastic dog buzzer from Peace Corps that makes a high pitched sound that only dogs can hear. And boy do I use that. It’s…sort of effective. Definitely better than nothing. But those dogs, they are not easily put off. I also yell mean things in Romanian and English at them. Not sure if they’re multilingual…
The other issue arises at night. When they all start “talking.” Barking endlessly, all at once. And loudly. See, during the summer, it’s nice to leave the windows open while sleeping. Let in the cool air. But that means that any barking matches the dogs initiate float in through the window as well. Last night was one such night.
I’m not sure if these dogs have gangs, or what was happening, but boy were they out in full force last night right around 4 a.m. And, lucky for me, there’s a whole pack of stray dogs that congregates right outside our apartment building. Getting woken up by dogs in the middle of the night is never a fun thing. In fact, it sort of makes you want to gather up all the strays and put them in a sound-proof compartment for the night. Especially when you can’t get back to sleep. But what hushed the noise last night was two sharp gunshots after quite a bit of loud, simultaneous barking across the town. I’m not sure if the shots were aimed at any of the animals, but that has been known to happen. And, as an American in Moldova, it’s initially a little shocking to hear, and then a little sad to think about. Every time it happens, I’m initially a little shocked. But, after being woken up repeatedly in the middle of the night, and chased down the street regularly by canines with teeth beared…I’m beginning to understand better.
That said, my site mate and I continue to try and do our part in taking care of the strays outside our building, tossing them chicken bones and other leftover food. The puppies have all moved on, so my new kick is feeding the cats in the stairwell…including the cutest little kitten, who I’ve named “El Tigre.” Feisty little fellow. Just the other day, we came home, opened our door, and El Tigre ran in, running around to each of the rooms in our apartment. Kitten adventures!