Is there anything better than sitting on the soft grass in the sunshine, a warm doggie snuggled in your lap, watching your children chase giant bubbles across the park? I think not!
We've been volunteering with a dog shelter located outside the city; on Saturday afternoons, one of the volunteers there loads up his van with a few strays and whatever puppies they have for adoption that week, and bring them to the corner of La Heras and Col Dias, right next to the park. A group of volunteers in the city hang out with said beasts, walking the bigger ones, minding the smaller ones, answering questions from potential adopters, and collecting donations of dog food, toys, money and newspaper.
After dropping off our contributions with the guy who drives the van, we took our first dog for a walk.
"Tatiana" was an old, fat girl who waddled her way down the street, charming even the police officers, one of whom bent down to chat her up and rub her behind her stinky ears. (Wag, wag went Tatiana's bushy tail!) The walk was slow with many stops to sniff grass, pee and other dogs. The highlight of this first walk was pausing to watch and listen to the Capoeira Group, complete with berimbau, that was practising in the park. Mommy enjoyed the music, the boys enjoyed the "fight/dance" and Tatiana, well, Tatiana seemed to just enjoy being out and about.
Next came "Tuccu-tuccu", a middle aged fellow, mostly white with a few black spots and an enormous scar where he had recently had a fairly invasive operation. His recovery had obviously been swift, and he insisted on pulling and pausing often. We had been told that he was sometimes aggressive with other dogs, but fortunately we found him to be quite amicable and sociable.
A city-sponsored fair seemed to have sprung up at the park today, and the boys wanted some guitar balloons from one of the street vendors, so Tuccu-tuccu enjoyed many new smells as we wandered amongst balloons and bouncy castle and various city displays.
Other than the pulling, he was a very well-behaved doggie.
Our final victim of the afternoon was "Mulatu", a skittish gal who had to be convinced by the shelter staff that we were not out to get her. "Vamos!", I insisted, pulling her away from the street corner where she had been hanging out with the rest of her "pack". Eventually she must have decided we were not bad guys, because she began trotting along beside us, though her tail remained tucked between her legs for some time, and she periodically looked back at the group as though to inquire, "why have you sent me off with these strange people?!"
We decided to walk the perimeter of the park, rather than haul this poor girl through the crowds, and on the other side of the park, we came to a large greenspace where people had congregated to drink mate and watch the park performers who came here to practise rope climbing, ball juggling and bubble blowing each weekend.
As the boys were fascinated with the giant bubbles, and wanted to chase and break them in the air, I decided to have a seat in the grass for a bit and watch. Mulatu plopped down beside me, and snuggled her head into my lap. I tentatively gave her ears a little scratch, and when I stopped, she nuzzled up against my hand, and in fact, climbed more fully into my lap (she was rather a bit large for a "lap dog", but that thought seemed not to have occurred to her, and the formerly skittish street dog, undeterred by her size, pushed her furry, stinky body further into my lap and demanded all manner of tummy rubs and ear scratches for the better part of the next hour!
Once the boys were ready to go, I got up and tugged at our temporary lap dog's leash. "Vamos", I offered feebly, but she resisted, and instead rolled onto her back, relishing the feel of the cool grass on this warm, sunny day, and advising us that she was in no hurry to return to the group. It took a fair bit of convincing, and no small amount of pulling, to get the beast to finally get up and follow us back across the park!
By the time we dropped Mulatu back at the corner, her tail was cautiously wagging, and she seemed to have decided that we were friends.
We promised to return to the park next Saturday, with sellable items we were not planning to take back to Canada with us, so that the boys could set up shop along the street next to the booth, and donate their proceeds to the dog shelter.