Stray DOGS - pain and pleasureHave you heard about stray dogs in Bucharest? Did you know there is more than 100 thousand of the here in Bucharest? Well if not , maybe you at least heard about the most recent incident where street dogs killed 6 year old kid in Suceava or the one from last year when a woman was savaged to death in Bucharest.
For the past 6 months in Bucharest I met a lot of stray dogs. From lonely cute puppies to Caine rau lurking for its pray in the dark alleyways. From the German shepherd to bulldog. From clean and playful to smelly and lazy. From marked and tamed to wild and aggressive. I saw them all...running on the streets, preventing the traffic fluency, chasing "the other gang", raiding the trash in the early mornings, waiting for a cuddle in the evening breeze on buss stops, pretending to be limping to get more food or simply lying in a shade to cool down.
100 000 stray dogs in the streetsSome claim there are over 100 thousand of them in the Romanian capital, some say its just 35 thousand. The truth will be somewhere in the middle. Still, the numbers are considerably falling. At the beginning of the century there were 300 thousand stray dogs, while in year 2006 the number dropped to 200 thousand.
From my observation there is not much of them visible to the public, especially tourists. If you stick to the main streets and boulevards you can often see stray dog begging for food or lying in a shade. But as soon as you sink in to the bowels of the "real" Bucharest you will get completely different picture of stray dogs in Bucharest and also the people around them.
I have been living on 3 different places since the time AIESECers lured me in:-) All of them without exception were/are swarmed with stray dogs. On Sunday I was returning from a late night walk to my newest neighborhood between Mall Vitan and metro station Dristor - strada Blajel. Not far from the entrance to our block there is a small playground. As I was passing it, my ears detected barking. I started to count. One, two, three, four,...adrenalin was pumped into my veins. 5 dogs on the right, 3 dogs on the left. 20 meters to reach the entrance..and the light. My steps stretched, pupils dilated, throat narrowed. Barking was closer and closer behind my back. Where are the keys?! Just keep the pace and walk. I felt the sweat running down my back and the heart pounding. In the bag!!! You are fucked, they got you! 10 meters. Just one glance behind me while tearing the bag apart in a key search. BARKING! Clink, clink...Beep!...save zone behind the door reached. Ass saved....for this time.
In every neighborhood(block of flats packed together so dense you can watch the TV of your neighbors) there are dozens of such dog packs. Mixed races, different aggression level but the same desire - to survive.
Community issueI don't think they would really hurt me but statistics are clear about it - 75/day - number of people bitten by a dog in Bucharest. Ceausescu was a visionary without conception. He just drove all the people from villages into the town and their dogs just had nowhere to go. So they followed their masters. In a way, the master-dog relationship is still working in here. Although the dogs are stray and free to roam around the city. They usually stay in their neighborhood and are loyal to specific group of people, specific block. The community in the block on the other hand is taking care of the dogs. In winter they build shelters for them. Giving them food every day. It seems no particular order or system is in place in here. One time the dogs get food from people living in number 25, sometimes people from 27 are taking care of their shelters.
The people do not ignore the issue, they are aware of the situation and solving it according to their resources. Locals do take care. I observed many and many people in the neighborhood to give food in front of the entrance or watter if the weather is too hot. And it makes me feel much more calm and peaceful inside.
UBI TripodMost interesting thing are SHOP dogs or local store dogs. Many shops are taking care of one specific dog. Every day when I am leaving for work, they put dog food and water in front of the shop and pet the dog when starting the day and the same happens when they are closing the shop. I found this particularly amusing and warmhearted. Even on the main boulevards this is happening so you do not have to risk anything to encounter Bucharest mutual affection between Humans and Dogs.
One example for all. Ubisoft is having its own stray dog pack to take care of. It's main star is Tripod. Three legged fluffy creature roaming around Expozitiei street won the heart of UBI security and eventually all the employees. Now he has its own facebook account and better treatment than many regular dogs.
California Ten - Project RomaniaOne particularly interesting story is present on site of Schnuffie.com. Ten volunteers from California set out for an adventure in to the maze of Bucharest streets and other Romanian locations to help and understand the stray dog issue in Romania. To know more about the culture and mostly to have an adventure they will never forget.
So far my Ass is safe and dogs kept at bay:-) Keep checking the site for more stories...
One video for you :