Thursday, September 20, 2007

Looking for a Pet?

As we have traveled to various culturally and historically significant sites around Peru we have come across the Viringo (aka Peruvian Hairless Dog). The Viringo is an ancient breed of dog (it appears in ceramic representation as early as 750 AD) kept by the Incas and other pre-Columbian cultures throughout Peru. It is in fact hairless, apart from some hair usually on the crown of the head or tail, is prone to sunburn and dry skin and feels warmer to the touch than other dogs (though actually it is not - just an illusion because there is no hair to diffuse the heat). Recently, the Society for the Preservation of Peruvian Culture decreed that each historical site in Peru must also have a Viringo on site for purposes of authenticity - never mind the fact that the dog did not exist - and doesn't thrive - in all regions or the country. When the Spanish invaded and later conquered Peru they also nearly caused the extinction of the Viringo. However, the dog was revered in some cultures as a mystical symbol and these societies managed to maintain the breeds' existence so that it is no longer on the verge of extinction. Our latest trip to the North Coast of Peru took us to the town of Trujillo (see a future post on our adventures there) where we encountered some Viringo puppies for adoption. Caleb was enthralled and I am a sucker for puppies but must remind myself always that puppies grow up.

And beyond puppies or any variety of baby animal, I must admit I am not a pet person, actually, I'm not really an animal person. It isn't that I support, defend or condone animal cruelty or that I don't understand why people have pets, it's just that animals and I weren't meant to be. Frankly, this dislike is rooted in not wanting to be responsible for the upkeep of a pet. Kenny had/has a turtle (it lives in Utah now) and I was all too often in charge of feeding or watering him and hated it and I know if we had a dog, or cat or rabbit or monkey (Kenny's latest pet idea) the cleaning, feeding etc. would fall to me. Luckily, Kenny's chosen profession makes having pets nearly impossible. Of course we know people in the Foreign Service with dogs and cats (though we'd never have a cat since I am allergic and I tend to think that cats aren't very friendly anyway). But, the stories of shipping crates in the holds of airplanes and pet quarantines and shots and papers and on and on are typical and terrible and a sufficient deterrent. And so, for now, we are sans pets. And though the hairless Viringo puppies were awfully cute (or at least not as scary looking as you might expect a hairless dog to be), we have seen the grown-up version and it leaves something to be desired in a family pet.


Jessica said...

My 2 year old is on my lap as I read this and he keeps saying "funny elephant" as he looks at this picture. So, basically, if it looks like an elephant, maybe it's not the cute and cuddly dog for you!

(I have a friend Ilene...see comments on shoe post...who knows someone in Lima, Peru...go to her blog and see if you know each other!)

Ilene said...

Well, hello there.

Fellow LM Montgomery fan and the word "ruminations" in your blog title is definitely evidence of a kindred spirit.

Fun to find a new blog to start nosing around.

Anyway, my sister-in-law's name is Heather Patterson. Ring any bells? She is my husband's sister and has been in Peru for a year, I think.

Ilene said...

Yay! I love playing these "do-you-know" games. Well, tell "hello" to Heather for me! Get to telling her that she needs a blog. She is hilarious.

Blogging is bringing the world together, I swear.

Paige said...

I hate dogs, and that one makes me want to throw up.

But I did really enjoy the history lesson about that hideous creature.

Paige said...

And all you people should know blogging Mormons are only one degree of separation. I know, because I check all of their blogs.

Kristy said...

Ah, the peruvian hairless dog. I suppose it solves the problem of a shedding pet. I happen to think they are the most hideous things I've ever seen. I can't wait to see your Trujillo pictures. I still feel sad that we lost all our pictures when our camera was stolen there. Huaca de la luna was one of my favorite sites in Peru. I found it to be very fascinating!

Nate and Sina said...

The grown up versions gives me nightmare images and a voice in my head repeats, "A dingo ate your baby."

Celia Fae said...

Thanks for the bday wishes. I'm glad you are back, I've been waiting for pictures from your trip. Get on it.

Come to CA. We can hang out. Paige looooves to share.


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