So when I left in December for my vacation in the U.S., we had 5 dogs at my house; Scooby, Negra, Fido, Chase, and Kutu. Scooby lives with the pigs, Negra chases the chickens, Chase a small, dachshund-sized white dog picks on Fido, the larger male dog with a crooked smile and submissive tendencies, and Kutu is the matriarch of the bunch.
Kutu is about 5 years old and she is the boss. Whenever strange people come to the house, she warns us of their presence with her strange yodel-yelping woofs. Whenever other dogs come nearby, she fearlessly runs out to scare them away and show who’s in charge. Whenever Negra comes into heat, Kutu snarls at her for bringing all the boys to the yard. Kutu is the boss, the “Alpha-female”, the Presidente, and all the household dogs know it.
So call me surprised when I return to Perú to find out my family has gotten three kittens, and that mean, tough, dominating Kutu, has adopted them as if they were her own puppies. I didn’t believe it until I saw them huddled up sleeping together on several occasions. But the most unbelievable part is that not only does Kutu sleep with the kittens, she also suckles them. Perhaps Kutu has adopted the kittens and feeds them because she can’t have any puppies of her own, I’m not sure, but all I know is that every time I see the kittens suckling, my heart warms and I chuckle a little.
So it has been about 4 months since one of my neighbors brought Hazel Leia into my life. Those 4 months have been filled with a lot of trials and tribulations, such as choosing a name, teaching some basic tricks, convincing her to not eat chickens like her bad older brother, and trying and trying and trying to get her to stop crossing the road in front of my house. But, these 4 months have been extremely happy months for me as well because each day when I am returning to my house, I am greeted by an exuberant little puppy who can’t seem to contain her excitement at seeing me. Whenever I am feeling a bit down, her goofiness picks me right up, and she is certainly one of my favorite aspects of my Peace Corps service here in Perú.
Whereas when I first got Hazel, I could easily carry her in one hand, it now requires both just to pick her off the ground. When I first got her, she loved to enter my room and squeeze under my bed to take a nap for the afternoon or the evening. Now, after a few months of eating a wide assortment of foods, she had grown quite significantly and has quickly outgrown the underside of my bed, instead choosing to upgrade to the underside of my desk, where she now naps on my bags of Tara seeds. Given that Tara is a type of legume, you could say she has her very own personal bean bags.
But, everything hasn’t been sunshine and daisies unfortunately. About 1.5 months ago, after I arrived very late to my house due to an movie event in Caraz, I was greeted by my host-dad who let me know that my beautiful puppy Hazel Leia had been hit by a car. Since that was all my host-dad told me, I assumed that she had died and they had already disposed of her. However, after mourning her during a sad dinner, I decided to go check the spot where my host-dad was sitting earlier and found that Hazel was not dead, but was in fact severely injured. She could hardly move, had blood coming out of her nose, appeared to have difficulty breathing, and had several cuts all across her body. I was devastated, but thankful that she was alive. I sat with her for a while, and woke up several times during the night to check on her. When I finally woke up Sunday morning, she was lying outside my door, still very weak, but at the very least responsive. Since she had managed to move in front of my door during the night, I knew that she could walk in some capacity, and so I had lots of hope for her recovery. So, I scooped her up into a plastic tub and took her into town to visit a vet. Now, vets here in Perú are not equipped to a similar level we are accustomed to in the U.S., but it turns out that this vet had just enough. She gave Hazel a thorough check-up, cleaned off her wounds, and then gave me a script for medicine and told me some signs to watch out for in the following days.
While I was extremely worried about the fate of my new puppy, by the following day her spirit had renewed and she was up and about, probably operating at about 30%. Within 4 days of the accident, she was miraculously back to her old self, walking around without much hesitation, regaining her appetite slowly but surely. Those first few days post-accident were extremely trying, but she pulled through, recovered to her old self, and is now once again a happy and healthy puppy.
Unfortunately, her date with death hasn’t deterred her from crossing the road as I had hoped it would, but I do my best each day to scare her away from the road in the hopes that she will learn.
Now, all that remains is to get her dewormed and get her up-to-date on all of her necessary vaccinations. Hopefully by the end of next week, she will have reached the “US standard of puppy health”, apart from being a tad bit more dirty (she hates baths).
So to Hazel Leia and ALL of the Peace Corps Pets out there in the world, thanks for bringing us comfort and solace during our 2 year journeys.
So about 2 weeks ago I decided to join the long line of Peace Corps Volunteers before me by getting a pet, in my case a puppy.
When I got back from my great Lake Hopping adventure at Laguna Parón with some other Peace Corps Volunteers in Áncash, I headed straight home to my host family. I was pretty tired, so I ate some food in our kitchen before going up to our tienda to just relax a bit. When I was up in the tienda, a few of the neighborhood kids came into the store to buy some food; eggs, tuna, oil, limes, tomatoes, gum, candy, etc. One little girl was holding an adorable brown puppy, but despite my questions, she shyly avoided telling me its name or even where she had found it. My host-mother eventually came up the tienda (store) and got the little girl to talk, and found out they had just found the puppy on the street, presumably abandoned because she was an hembra (female).
Then, surprisingly, the little girl thrust the puppy in my host-mom’s arms and said “Tómala, mi mamá no la quiere” (take her, my mom doesn’t want her around). My host-mom turned to me, handed me the puppy, and said “Mira, acá está tu perra” (Look, here is your dog!). I had been wanting a puppy for sometime, so I was thrilled by this unexpected turn of events. The funniest part of this moment however was when my host-mom decided to regalar a la chica (give to the girl) a huge bag of mangos; I got a puppy in exchange for mangos. Only in the Peace Corps would something so odd and funny happy haha.
She was very shy for the first few days, skittering away at any noise or sudden movement, but over the next few evenings I would sit outside reading my Kindle with her on my lap to try and get her accustomed to my presence. She was a shy little girl, but in time she began to come out of her shell.
When I first saw her, I was just drawing blanks about what I would call her. She looks like a chocolate lab mix, so I wanted to avoid all of the chocolate lab cliché names like chocolate, hershey, mocha, etc., but I couldn’t think of something that seemed to fit. Finally, after about 3 days of thought, I settled on a name for my new pup: Hazel Leia (had to get a nerd reference in somewhere with her).
Now almost 2 weeks later she is quite well adjusted and no longer runs at every noise and sudden movement. For the first 2 weeks, her diet consisted of food scraps/bread, but she is now making the transition to real dog food, despite the questioning glances of my host-family. I fed her the dog food for the first time last night and she immediately ate it without hesitation; she was extremely hungry. She is a little underweight and seems to have some fleas, so as soon as she puts on some weight, I will be off to find a vet and some anti-flea shampoo in Caraz so I can get her happy and healthy.
Eating dog food for the first time.
Hazel likes to play with my soccerball.
I plan to document her growth over the next 18 months on this blog to the best of my ability. But in the meantime, I plan to just get her healthy and properly trained.
This past Sunday, Mother’s Day both here in Peru and in the States, we finally met our host families who we will be living with for the duration of our 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training.I have a host mother and father, three host brothers, a sweet little dog named Bartola, a cat, a parakeet, and seven guinea pigs (called “cuy” here).We all seem to get along really well, and they were very impressed with my Spanish, even though I don’t think I always make sense.Mother’s Day was spent settling into my room, showing pictures from my life in the US, and visiting/eating with my host-mom’s family who live in the area.She has two sisters who live only two blocks away, and each is also housing a Peace Corps trainee.It was definitely an overwhelming first day, jumping straight into full Spanish immersion, but I survived it unscathed.
As the week progressed, I got to know my family a bit better and they got to know me more.The food has been wonderful, and they have been so accommodating; I showed them some pictures of me eating Ketchup when I was younger and they went out and got me some ketchup packets for my first meal, even though it was essentially stir fry.Each day my host mom packs me a lunch for training, which is usually some variation of rice, potatoes, meat, salad, and vegetables.She also packs me a new Peruvian fruit to try each day, so be on the lookout for a blog post covering all the new fruits that I’ve had the pleasure of eating.
So far, my experience with my host family has been incredible and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better over the coming months.It’s going to be a sad day when training ends and I have to leave them to go to my permanent site.