Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gardel Barks Better Every Day!

Nostalgic Argentines always claim that Carlos Gardel, who died in a Colombian plane crash in 1935, sings better every day. That’s a way of proclaiming their devotion to, and the timelessness of, the legendary tango singer’s body of work. But if there’s one thing that Argentines, and especially Porteños, adore as much or more than the man who sang Mi Buenos Aires Querido (“My Dear Buenos Aires”), it’s their dogs.
Several years ago, I wrote an article about a dog-oriented entrepreneur in Buenos Aires who, in the aftermath of the 2002 economic meltdown, was making a pretty good living exercising apartment-bound animals for their owners. Paseaperros (dogwalkers) leading eight or more canines on leashes have long been a common sight in the city, but he and his partner earned the bulk of their income shuttling canines to the beach resort of Mar del Plata and back during summer vacation time. Many if not most Porteños do not have room for both the family and the animal in their private cars (or for that matter, may not even have cars). Thus, a mobile kennel was an elegant solution to the problem of keeping the extended family together.
Since then, if anything, Argentines have become even more dog-centric, with numerous dog parks, plus “pet-friendly” restaurants like the Museo Evita (above), around the corner from our own Palermo apartment, that welcome four-footed mascots (at least in their patio). Luxury accommodations, including the Faena Hotel & Universe, Four Season Buenos Aires, and Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt (pictured below) all offer packages that include doggie treats and toys (the Duhau’s goes by the name “Very Important Pet”). There's a plethora of pet boutiques and information sources, including a print and online magazine that goes by the title Oh My Dog. To their credit, the magazine promotes canine rescue services along with its fashion celebrity coverage and their purebreds.
Canine droppings, unfortunately, continue to dapple the city’s sidewalks. Whenever I’m in town, I always carry a few small plastic bags in my daypack so that, when I pass someone whose Doberman is depositing soretes on the sidewalk, I can point out to the owner that “Se te cayó algo…” (Loosely translated, “you dropped something…”) and provide him or her an alternative to leaving it there. Usually they are taken aback, but they get the message and sometimes even thank me for it. It seems a slow process sometimes, but they’re learning.

The photograph at top, by the way, is our late beloved malamute mix Gardel – named for the singer – of whom we always said “Gardel barks better every day.”

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