I don’t have my own pet in Paraguay. I travel too much and it’s not exactly practical to fall in love with a fuzzy friend and then spend a mountain of money to ship it to the States at the end of my service. But, there is a dog that owns me in the community. She’s my neighbor’s dog.
My neighbor has a house in Asunción so she is not always in the apartment next to me. Because of this, her dog ranges free for the majority of the week. I don’t know who feeds that dog, but someone does and it’s not me. But, I do pet that dog and talk to her and if I make too many pancakes I give her a few—she’s amazingly picky about what she eats and I don’t cook meat so beside pancakes we are somewhat at an impasse when it comes to food.
Sometimes I let my neighbor’s dog into my house—she’s allowed to sleep in the bathroom when it is unbearably hot and she is allowed to sleep in one corner of my house when it is pouring outside. She has fleas and smells, which is why she is regulated to certain regions of the house: dogs and cats are not seen here the same way as they are in the States.
Despite my minimal love the dog bounds to meet me when I come home and whines until I pet her. She often follows me around the community. She will wait for four hours at the house of someone I’m visiting so she can walk me home. She’ll brave crossing into other dogs’ turf, which could cause a fight, to go on long walks with me.
She’s a perfect example of what so many doctrines tell us we should be: giving, forgiving, unconditionally kind, and low-maintenance. We should all strive to be more like her.