Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gone to the Dogs


It's 0 degrees outside, which always sounds colder to an American because I freeze in Fahrenheit, not Celsius, which is considerably warmer.

The ground-covering snow from three days ago has already melted into the asphalt and dark brown mud. But the disappearance has left me with a very clear understanding of why Romanians leave their boots at the front door during winter. It’s the dark brown doggy detritus.

You just never know what traces will end up at the bottom of your soles.

Right now Bucharest smells like a puppy poopy park.

All of those canine biodegradable souvenirs, while highly biological, have, in no discernable way, degraded.

It gives whole new meaning to the term "Watch your step."

Now I have a sniffer that barely even noticed the human counterpart of this kind of olfactory assault for most of my entire decade in NYC. I could walk oblivious through Times Square or into the underground train transfer points in the nether regions of Penn Station with rarely a wince or a crinkle. So imagine, if this snout could survive that urban decay, how bad it must be for me to notice that this city smells like one of those abandoned kennels usually mercifully raided regularly on Animal Planet.

Bucharest is a city known for its street dogs. Most of them were abandoned when the dictator dictated that everyone move out of the way of his ego so he could build the world’s second largest building on top of their old houses. The folks went into the apartment blocs. And the dogs went into the streets. The dogs aren’t dangerous, for the most part. Everyone feeds these outside critters. And nature has given them a way to remind you that, while you are inside, cozily snuggling up to your central heating, they’re still shivering outside looking in.

“P. U.!!” as we used to say in the third grade.

Hope, the mellow schnauzer, who can bark in Romanian and learned to souvenir in the street like all her new furry chums the last time we were here, is happy to make her own contributions. She says "Hello." <"Woof.">

(Bringing a dog to Bucharest is truly like carrying coals to New Castle, which you would have to presume already has a lot of coals. But we wouldn't have done it any other way.)

La revedere.

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