Here in west Buenos Aires you’re never more than one foot from a dog. But a dog on a leash is a different matter. You’ll maybe see one dog a week being taken for a walk. And not because dog owners want their dogs fat and lazy, but because most people have a yard or a garden and the dogs are outside all day. Nayla, being special and spoiled, is only just getting used to the outdoor life but it’s normal for most canines in the west. Some people who don’t have big gardens will let their dogs out into the park or street for half an hour then call them back. If I see a dog being walked in our neighbourhood it’s probably a proper posh breed or he’s being trained.
Downtown dogs live a different kind of life, being walked on a leash, taken to the park on a leash and spending the rest of their lives inside. It’s hard to have a dog outside all day when most people don’t have more than a balcony for outdoor space.
Some porteños prefer to have their dogs follow them around town, not on a leash but patiently trotting alongside them and waiting outside the store. I saw one dog following his owner carrying the newspaper in his mouth (I’m not sure whether the owner let her dog carry the newspaper because he particularly enjoyed it, or because it was too heavy for her and didn’t match her outfit.) I am in awe of this doggy behaviour and want to show Nayla so she can aspire to newspaper carrying without newspaper chewing.
And when porteños don’t have time to walk their dogs, here come the dog walkers. Most commonly seen in Palermo but walking all over the city and even in some of the more well-off neighbourhoods in the west, these young dog walkers have to be fit in order to handle up to 10 dogs at a time. The Buenos Aires dog walkers also need to act as doggy dieticians, behavioural psychologists and vets and have the patience to deal with angry owners when doggy is delivered back home with a leaf in his blow-dried fur.
I want Nayla to see the dogs being walked so she can aspire to this too. Currently I don’t think she would be accepted by a professional dog walker due to her inability to walk on a leash without licking the pavement, digging for bones and trying to sprint one block to reach a cat.