I should be asleep, resting for the next day, but I can’t sleep. There is a dog howling somewhere on the ground ,14 floors below our hotel window. It is a mournful sound and repeated every few seconds as if controlled by a timer. I picture the dog’s head thrown back and its mouth forming a string of o’s …….just as depicted in a favorite Far Side cartoon I saved for years. But in that cartoon, someone was there to respond. This dog howling on the streets of Yerevan is most likely a stray with no home, no owner hence, no responder. The howling eventually ceases. Is that because someone threw the dog a bone or because it just gave up and quit???? Even with the silence of night returning, I cannot sleep. Now I’m thinking of other such dogs we’ve seen in Armenia and it keeps me awake.
Though not frail or emaciated looking , she had probably whelped her puppies recently. Her breasts were swollen and red and she was scrounging for food along the gutters of the street. Where were her newborn pups? I’m certain they were not waiting for her in a warm basket or in a box with a blanket, prepared especially for their coming. Most likely they were nearby in one of the old concrete buildings, huddling underneath debris of some sort , where the mother dog was trying to shelter them from the cold February winds of Armenia. How could she or any other mother dog feed herself and nurture her pups as a stray on the street?
|Stray dogs resting in intersection of streets in Yerevan,Armenia|
Then there are the "dump dogs"---born near the garbage dumps, fed by the garbage, and thrown there when they die. There are the abandoned dogs who lose owners for various reasons just as in the U. S. They suffer from not being accustomed to life on the street. They are seen walking up to strangers, wagging their tails and appearing to be friendly as they beg for food. Then the stranger kicks them or yells for them to “go away”. Only once have I seen anyone respond positively to such an animal. It was at the bus stop and a child gave the dog his hunk of bread. The adult accompanying the young child encouraged this action. It was literally the first act of kindness towards a stray animal that I’ve witnessed in Armenia, and it may be the only one.
As I lie awake thinking of all of this, my eyes begin to feel heavy and I know sleep will come in the wee hours of this morning. I also know I must write about these thoughts. As in other writings, it is more a compulsion to clear my head of such ramblings than to produce a solution to this troubling issue in my current world. I am not up to problem solving in this culture of poverty and neglect where people, too, have their stresses every day.