Took out some trash today.
Seems mundane, right? The way it works in Gldani is there are these silver dumpsters that people basically bring their trash to, and everyone once in a while a truck comes and empties them. Near my house there are three dumpsters.
Today, I took trash to a dumpster for the first time. It was sort of piling up in our kitchen so I thought I’d handle it. The first two dumpsters appeared to be filled with plastic bottles, so I thought there was some chance they might be for recycling. Wishful thinking, I know – I’m just so used to recycling plastic by now that I can no longer wrap my head around just throwing it out.
Anyway, I put my trash in the last dumpster, which was almost full. As I walked away I noticed a dog walking up to the dumpster. As I watched, this dog stood up against the dumpster, sniffed at my garbage, grabbed a bag in its mouth, and carried it across the street, where it proceeded to rip the bag open and rifle through its contents looking for food. So that’s how the street dogs eat.
Anyway, apparently the other two bags weren’t its type, because it smelled them, then went to lay down and scratch itself. Later, it ran away, and another dog came to take its place.
I’m not really a dog person. That’s a bit of an understatement – in the States, I have serious issues with dogs. That’s mostly because the vast overwhelming majority of dog owners that I encounter in the US are fucking obnoxious. I’m not going to get into it right now – it’s just that I don’t like being licked by dogs, don’t like the smell of dogs, and don’t like the general chaos that a dog causes, but what I really don’t like is people who think that dogs are people too and that anyone who doesn’t like being licked, smelled, nuzzled, or jumped on by dogs just needs to be told over and over again, like we’ve never heard it, not to be afraid, and that Fluffy doesn’t bite, and that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, and that dogs are virtuous messiahs sent from heaven to us poor ungrateful and undeserving souls so that we might become closer to god and nature and all that is holy. Okay, I just made the last part up, but that’s seriously the attitude of these dog-people half the time.
Anyway, street dogs in Georgia, I don’t have a problem with. They mostly leave you alone. I think that whereas American people give the average dog the general impression that people love being completely covered in dog hair, smell, and saliva, Georgian people give the average dog the general impression that if they get too close, they’ll get beaten, kicked, or pelted with stones.
At first they made me kind of nervous. They would come a little too close to me, or I’d have to walk past them, and I’d start to worry since I haven’t had any preventative rabies shots and so I’d pick up a rock to chase the dog away. As soon as I reach down, though, the dog would immediately take off in the other direction – almost like they knew that a person reaching down was a precursor to a person throwing a rock. And since – regardless of the erroneous claims made by dog-lovers about their human-like intelligence – dogs are basically incapable of predicting what sorts of uses to which a tool might be put, and, rather, respond based on conditioning – I can only conclude that street dogs have learned by experience that a person picking up a rock leads to a person throwing a rock, which means that street dogs in Georgia probably get rocks thrown at them from time to time. I’ve also seen someone kick a dog, although I don’t know what the dog was doing to deserve this, and I’ve also seen two dogs that had failed to survive a crossing of a busy street. So, my point is, street dogs have a pretty tough life here, in terms of competition with other street dogs, coping with a population of humans whose attitude varies from indifferent to hostile, and poor adaptation to the fast-paced urban environment of Tbilisi (or Kutaisi, for that matter) in which crossing a road is often deadly. My friend even heard a dog-fight outside her window and found blood on the pavement the next day – presumably, two wild dogs were going at it and at least one of them was mauled.
So anyway, now the street dogs don’t bother me. They know to leave people alone, and I don’t even bother picking up rocks anymore when I pass them or they pass me. I have actually started to kind of feel a little bit bad for them. Thus it has come to pass that I’ve finally conclusively proven wrong everyone who’s ever wrongly assumed that I’m afraid of dogs because the idea that I actually just don’t particularly like dogs can’t fit into their tiny, dog-tinted worldview.
It seems like there are some people who actually do make it a point to throw food scraps to the street dogs. It’s a good way to dispose of the parts of animals that you aren’t going to eat, I suppose, and it saves everyone the trouble of having the dogs rip open people’s trash bags.
Another interesting facet of dumpster ecology is that apparently, at some point at night, the dumpsters become cat territory. I was coming home late last night and I saw something moving incredibly fast jump out of one of the dumpsters. I was startled, and my heart rate dialed up a tiny bit, but then I saw that it was just a cat, and it had other cats hanging out with it. I was happy to see them, since I am, after all, a cat person.