Friday, April 25, 2014

Sorry About the Rooster

Dear Person Whose Rooster Was Tied Up by Tibetan Camp Road,

I didn't do it. Neither did my dog. It was the other dog, the one the Teenager calls Pooh because he is a big bear-ish dog of little brain. Also there's another reason, which is why our dog, Sandy, is often annoyed at him. I'll get to that later. Along with a glimpse of human kindness. But first, Pooh.

A few months ago Pooh was a pathetic skeleton of a homeless puppy near the veggie bazaar. Thin flea-ridden coat, barely enough fur to cover his tail. A neighbor felt sorry for him and gave him a cookie, at which he perked up and followed her home and sat by her gate being skinny and hopeful. So she put out some meat, and there he sits to this day. Fatter and happier.

He's clearly part Tibetan Mastiff, or Bhote Kukur, which is kind of rude in Nepali (since bhote is a slang term for Tibetan-origin people like Sherpas or Tamang, so it's like calling a Japanese Spitz a "Jap Dog"), but that's what they're called and this blog just reports the facts. People come from the hills with armfuls of fuzzy black puppies and try to sell them on the street for a lot of money, but I've seen Tibetan Mastiffs in Mustang and the street-sale pups are to them what Tyrion Lannister is to The Hound. The ones that don't sell are often abandoned.

Pooh is now a shaggy tank of dirt and hopefulness, and he's still a puppy although he's already bigger than most other dogs in the 'hood, what with being a sort-of Bhote Kukur. He's moving slowly from being a Street Dog to being a Whoops dog, since he now sleeps in the neighbor's compound at night and she doesn't kick him out until dawn. She's even given him another name, Panther, although I still prefer Pooh.

So let me explain the categories of Nepali dogs and how they come into people's lives. If you're in Kathmandu,  it helps to appreciate them, because there are a lot of them and they bark all night and you may end up with one.

1) A Haute Dog. In other words, a "breed dog," which means it's fashionable and pricey and had its brain bred out of it. At least that's the case with our landlord's German Shepherd, who was so dumb she ate her own puppy. Although she does know how to ride on a scooter, so I guess she's not always dumb. Just a fun-lovin' single gal who intends to stay that way. These days the status-conscious Nepali wants a "breed dog," so as long as you don't look too close at the pedigree and don't mind getting a Jerry Springer Production of a dog that is it's own cousin, you can have a sort-of German Shepherd (big and chained), Japanese Spitz (white, fluffy and yappy), Dachsund (long, thin and yappy) or of course a Tibetan Mastif (bearish and chained). There is a hysterically funny blog post from a Bengali guy that shows that Nepalis aren't the only ones who think a "breed dog" is today's haute urban accessory. But some folks didn't get the status memo, and they end up with ...

Sandy, the Reformed Street Dog,
is now under the impression that
she craves organic lettuce.
2) A "Can We Keep It?" Dog. That's a street dog that followed your kid home, or was found in a trash heap covered with fleas, or otherwise started life as one of Kathmandu's 35,000 street dogs. Our dog Sandy is a Can We Keep It dog. You can also acquire a dog after the neighbor's dog had puppies. But you will never have to pay placement fees or get home visits from a dog adoption agency to determine if you are the right match for a dog. It'll just appear, usually with your cookie in its mouth.

Khoire, a Whoops Dog
shedding her winter coat.

3) A Whoops-It-Lives-In-Our-Compound Dog is a street dog that decides it likes your house. First it'll hang around outside your gate, and then it'll jump your high brick wall because they're all Superdogs, and one day you realize it's been in your yard for a year. There's a dog like that in our yard. Apparently the landlord even took her away in a car once and dropped her off somewhere, but she came back and now she has won. The landlady feeds her and the landlady's son built her a den of spare bricks with a little tin roof and we got her fixed and give her belly rubs. Her name is Khoire, which depending on pronunciation is either Brownie or Mangy, and she's Sandy's BFF.

4) A Community Dog is a street dog that gets fed by people because they're there. They hang out at butcher shops to increase the odds. Most dogs you see on the street -- which is a lot of them -- have achieved the status of community dogs. They're dirty and often pelted with rocks and may be limping from a fight or an encounter with a car, but they're free, and kind souls will generally toss them scraps of meat and the occasional cookie to supplement their diet of garbage pickings. Life may be short, nasty and brutish, but at least they're not chained. (Many of the owned dogs have it worse. They're on chains or in cages all day. That should be another category -- Jail Dogs.)

5) A pure Street Dog is just waiting to find a friendly butcher shop that isn't guarded by other dogs.

Anyway, back to Pooh Bear and the rooster.

Pooh looooves Sandy and wants to play, mainly with his nose to her butt. Which is the problem. He shows up whenever she goes outside because he really wants to be friends, and the first thing Sandy wants to do is pee, because she lives inside and knows that peeing on the floor is bad for her career, and he sticks his nose closer in appreciation, Hey I like your pee, let's be friends!, and although Sandy appreciates the canine bonding value of a good sniff, still, she's busy, and so she does what you would do if someone walked into the bathroom to make friends while you were on the toilet, which is to say GRRRRRRRR, but he's too much of a twit to listen, and it gets old. Today, I kid you not, he wiped his nose on her butt while she pooped. He is an actual brown noser.

Dogs and humans have our differences in regards to etiquette, but we seem to agree on the non-desirability of a wet nose as toilet paper. She gave the dog version of what the HELL?!?, and he backed off but kept wagging friends friends hey let's be friends, and dogs are more forgiving than humans in situations like these, so she shrugged it off and they walked along together, and he bumped into her and sniffed and she wagged wanly in return and all was fine. And then they saw the rooster.

He was tied up by one leg on a narrow dirt lane that opens onto Tibetan Camp Road. Sandy was leashed and couldn't go too close. Pooh, though, was as free as ... well, much freer than the bird, that's for sure. He circled around and wagged excitedly and lurched at the rooster with his big brown nose and from his perspective probably hoped to sniff something, hey let's be friends, and the rooster said SQUAWK FLAP SQUAWK squaaawk SQUAAAAWK FLAP FLAP FLAP FLAP

and broke the string and flew off into the great unknown.

Pooh looked confused. Sandy and I send our condolences to whoever was hoping to eat that rooster for dinner. It probably didn't go far, although you might have to climb a tree to find it. Lesson one: Roosters can fly surprisingly well. Lesson two: Roosters only stay tied up because they have nothing better to do. Lesson three: It's really dumb to tie up roosters on the street in Nepal. There are dogs like Pooh here, who will put a new idea in the rooster's brain, which is to break that wimpy little string and go someplace dog-free, like the sky.

I'll finish today's ramble about Nepali dogs with a really neat moment I caught outside a butcher shop (a.k.a. Street Dog Gathering Zone) ...

This boy is a street kid. He's probably one of many
who sleep on benches by the Jawalakhel micro stop.
He had a cookie, and he offered it to this street dog ... 

... who then licked his face.
They played like this for a while.
Two homeless guys, living on the street,
giving each other a moment of love and kindness.

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