2010-05-06: Dogs

Since returning from New Zealand we have noticed a marked change in the weather. I think the hot season is finally abating a bit and we are in store for milder temperatures. Last November I was speaking with a third year volunteer and he advised that if I could make it through February, the worst would be over. I’m beginning to think April is a more appropriate cut off for the transition from hot to mild. Regardless, it is better now and I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it.

Today I weeded the path to the compost bin, which was clear just two weeks ago. Before I hacked away at it like a drunken cricket player I couldn’t even tell where the original path was. My old garden, which was wiped away by Tomas, is now almost completely covered with weeds. Even the Baca tree is starting to green up again. I’m amazed at how quickly the vegetation has recovered after the widespread destruction caused by a category four cyclone.

Yesterday I made a big step towards re-building the garden and re-establishing the green zone around our house. The bele patch across the footpath from our house was blown down by Tomas. Thankfully a few of the stubborn plants continued growing in their cyclone induced horizontal position. Bele is pretty easy to plant as all you have to do is take a stem, cut it half, and stick it in the ground. I gathered up 26 stems and planted them along the fencerow in our front yard. It is much easier to weed this area and hopefully they will provide good growing paths for the long beans I’m trying to start there as well.

I threw a few cabbage and eggplant seeds out among the second garden I built on the east side of the house before we left to New Zealand. Several sprouted up and now I have about 8 cabbage and 5 eggplants on their way to healthy plants. I transplanted a tomato plant from my nursery to the new garden and moved a struggling capsicum and basil plant from the first garden. Hopefully the shade the new garden receives will help the plants fair better during the hot days.

In other news, the dogs are getting much worse. I have come close to loosing it several times since returning from New Zealand and am trying desperately to maintain my sanity. The main problem I have are the owner’s absolute refusal to try and control their mangy mutts. Not only do they not feed them, give them vaccinations, or spay or neuter them, but they completely ignore the incessant barking of their dogs all throughout the night and dog pack fights right outside their front doors. Most recently dogs have started cornering other dogs in the bush and barking at their victim for hours on end. One night I got so frustrated I grabbed my cane knife and climbed the hill outside our house fully prepared to decapitate one of the four-legged demons.

This particular dog had been barking for hours at a helpless smaller dog stuck in the bushes. I could hear the owner playing the guitar, drinking grog, and singing songs next door so I new they were fully aware of what was going on but for some reason they either choose to ignore it or just don’t give a crap. I really don’t comprehend how a responsible dog owner can stand by when their dog attacks another dog for hours on end and do nothing about it. This is especially disconcerting given the number of small children, many barely able to walk, strolling around the village at all times of the night and day. It would take less than a minute for one of these disease ridden hell beasts to seriously maim or kill a small child. I’ve personally witnessed our neighbor’s dog attack a nine year old girl at least 5’-0” tall. If one dog will do that, I can’t image what they could do to a small child while roaming uncontrolled in a pack of 10 other dogs.

A few nights ago during a full moon I felt like I was in the middle of a coyote pack. About 100 dogs starting howling and yipping in unison and then eerily stopped after about 10 minutes. This cycle continued throughout the night while in between the group howls, packs of 10-20 dogs would dart up and down the village footpaths viciously growling and fighting each other.

We know we aren’t the only ones bothered by the wild dogs as the chiefs of the village brought the dog issue up in January’s community meeting asking all the owners to respect the one dog per household rule. Samalu, the council chairman, said he would bring it up in the February council meeting to discuss a resolution. Before that council meeting I noticed it wasn’t on the agenda and asked him why. He said he forgot and would bring it up during the meeting. We reached the end of the meeting and he had still failed to mention it so I brought it up before the 13 councilors. It was discussed in Tuvaluan for about a minute and the meeting was over. I asked Samalu what the resolution was and he changed the subject. Later that week when discussing dogs with Samalu hoping there was some sort of plan to address this problem he joked around that even he was breaking the rule on the number of dogs allowed per household and then conveniently changed the subject.

Every time I bring the subject up with other councilors they give me a blank stare and start talking about something else. When I ask my neighbor to control his dogs he either keeps walking without responding or simply ignores the request. I’m quite frankly flabbergasted at the whole thing and often it feels like I’m in an episode of the twilight zone. Third world or not, nobody has an excuse to be an irresponsible pet owner.

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