Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Ladro en Español

For those of you who do not know, I have a dog named Padfoot. Yes, like the Harry Potter character. He's a very special dog, the kind that involves a lot of explanation. He has always been special but moving to Buenos Aires has only made him more so.

After being shaved he tried to run from my camera.
Let's take a look at Padfoot's issues before we moved.
Padfoot was abused, left in a garbage bag in the woods along with his brother and mother. He was rescued and I received him as a gift when he was almost 9 months old. I later found out that if dogs do not socialize with other dogs and humans before 8 months, they will be slightly off, forever. Curses.
So, my little Padfoot has some oddities, such as his long list of fears:

  • Cameras. Flash or no flash, he will run away and hide. He knows the sound of a digital camera turning on, he recognizes all camera like objects. That is why, in the 3 1/2 years I have had him, I have taken so few photos. The only ways around this fear are to use a cell phone, webcam, zoom in from far away, or ambush him and hope to snap one photo before he sprints away.
  • Basketballs, Kickballs and Ping Pong balls. Please note that tennis balls, footballs and soccer balls are not on this list, he seems fine with those. My best guess is that the fear has something to do with the sound the balls make when they bounce. If he hears them, even in the distance, he will go absolutely apeshit and try to get close enough to destroy them.
  • His reflection. He simply cannot grasp the fact that it is himself. He seems to become filled with confusion driven anger at the sight of his reflection. He is infinitely perplexed by his inability to smell or touch this other dog.
  • The Drummer Boy. No, not a person with drums, but the song. He truly hates the song. It is amazing that I can turn it on, watch him bark like crazy, then turn it off and see him calm down immediately.
  • Unfamiliar exit strategies. Seeing as he was abandoned, his whole abandonment complex is not all that surprising. However, it is not all exits that bother him. In all the places he has stayed and lived, he has understood that if I exit through the front door, I will return. However, glass doors tend to freak him out. If I exit through anything bur the front door, he assumes he is being left, forever and ever, with no hope. He also will not accept being tied up outside a store or even our own house, for that too equals infinite abandonment in his mind.
  • Rain. This is a common fear among dogs. What I find interesting is his need to be in tiny spaces during rain storms. I also like to be in small spaces when I am upset, it was something I realized when I was a kid. Padfoot mimics this and follows me from room to room, hiding in closets and under beds.
  • Falling Snow. Note the "falling". He's totally fine with it on the ground. In fact, he loves snow on the ground. However, if it begins to fall, he will bark at it and jump in the air, attempting to snatch it all from the air. 
Padfoot loves sledding with Abby and I.

Padfoot moves to Buenos Aires

All those fears remain now that we are in Buenos Aires. However, I believe his ride beneath the plane shook him up a bit but more than anything- it's the language barrier.
Yep, I said it, it's the language barrier. In the United States, Padfoot ignored other dogs. He did not want to play with them and if they attacked him, he would lay down in defeat. However, ever since our arrival to Buenos Aires he has become incredibly aggressive towards local dogs. He nearly chokes himself at the site of them, lunging toward dogs 3 times his size, growling and barking viciously.

Padfoot walking alongside Francis, his US buddy.
 I thought it was the plane ride, until I took Padfoot on a walk with Francis, my friend Sara's dog, who is also from the United States. Padfoot was 100% normal. He basically ignored Francis and was totally calm. 
On two other occasions, Padfoot has encountered dogs on the streets and taken a liking to them. When I began talking to the owners, I realized immediately that they, too, were from the United States. 

So now, I imagine Padfoot frantically barking at other dogs and the translation being something like "WHERE AM I?! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!". I imagine him, walking the streets of Buenos Aires, in a state of pure panic. My poor, lost puppy. I hope that after 7 months he has at least learned how to tell the other dogs "No ladro en Español!" (I don't bark in Spanish).

Do you think dogs have a language?


  1. Hahahaha... oh, poor Padfoot. I'm glad you've gotten to the root of his problem and realized he needs to be around other English-speaking dogs :)

  2. Poor Padfoot and his many neuroses! I am glad he found a friend though!

  3. poor Padfoot, with all his huge list of fears! My cat has a huge list of oddities too...
    Maybe it IS the language!

  4. Katherina, what kinds of issues does your kitty have?