Where I’m from in the U.S., you almost never see animals roaming the streets except for squirrels. I guess I’ve seen a lost dog or two over the years, but it’s very unusual. In Kathmandu, there are always stray animals around. It can be really sad to see. Cows are sacred in Nepal, and it’s considered a sin to kill one by many Hindus. I think it was even illegal in Nepal for a long time (maybe still is?). Cows are very useful because they provide milk. While bulls are used to pull plows and for breeding, they’re not as valuable as cows. But people can’t kill them, so they often let the bulls out onto the street, where they hang out and cause traffic jams. Actually, I don’t really know what becomes of them. Are there NGO’s that take care of stray bulls? Besides cows/bulls, there are usually chickens pecking around the side streets and monkeys that hang around certain areas of Kathmandu, like Pashupatinath. And of course there are the dogs.
When I was very small, we had cats at my house, but my brothers were allergic, so we had to get rid of them. I was quite bad to the cats anyway. I remember I loved to sneak up behind them and pull their tails, so it was probably good that we gave them away. We also had a variety of fish at different points in my childhood, hermit crabs, and even chickens for a while. But never a dog. I expressed interest in getting one when I was a kid, but my parents didn’t want to have to take care of it. I get it. Dogs are a big financial and emotional investment. I put the thought out of my mind for a long time until I met Tri. When he was five, he begged his parents to let him have a dog, and Buwa and Mamu agreed. The dog was something like a golden retriever, named Joni. Ever since we got together, he has talked about this dog. He’s told me countless stories about Joni’s love for chasing cats and scaring away the neighborhood kids. Strangely, he also liked to eat balloons and money. He was quite an unruly dog but very loved and really a member of their family. There’s actually an interesting NOVA episode about dogs and their relationship with humans that helps to explain why our species are so close.
Since Tri started to tell me these stories about Joni, I’ve developed this growing desire to get a dog, and coming to Nepal has really sealed the deal for me. I was never really around dogs while growing up, but now that I spot at least 15 dogs a day, I can’t get enough of them. They fight and cuddle and play with each other and the people around them. They’re so full of personality and life.
And they can be so cute too! The cats we had when I was a kid were kind of cute, but none of the other animals we’ve had were even remotely cute. Dogs, though, especially puppies, are so adorable. Lately there have been a few puppies romping around the street outside of our house, and I just can’t help but sigh whenever I see one.
With all of these dogs around, Tri and I have been seriously talking about getting one ourselves. Since we’ll be going back to the US soonish, we can’t get one now, and even once we get there, we’ll have to wait a while because with me applying to grad school, we won’t know exactly where we’ll end up. But once we finally settle somewhere for a while, we’ll definitely get a dog 🙂 I can’t wait!