Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where the Purebreds Roam Free

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina— In the thumping, screeching, Capital Federal, a city where drivers race down the avenues as if blindfolded, ignoring traffic lights and weaving through the lanes, it’s a miracle pedestrians brave the pavement.

Even more remarkable, however, are the canines that accompany these pedestrians on their afternoon stroll. To an outsider, the well-groomed golden retriever who wanders, seemingly alone in this city, is surely a stray. To a Porteño, he is like every other argentine dog that travels sans leash: well trained and aware of his surroundings. In Buenos Aires, amidst the chaotic vehicular traffic, the sidewalk permits a calmer ritual as dog owners allow their pets to explore the rich aromas and curious objects that populate the block, without cumbersome attachments.

One could assume that this method of dog walking was related to the small size of the city’s canines. Not so. Hardly put-him-in-your-handbag Chihuahuas, these pets are of the German Shepard, brown and yellow Labrador persuasion. As Palermo native Olga Valls explains, the dogs here are like “caballitos,” or small horses.

In this laissez faire metropolis where ‘late’ is ‘on time,’ where endless dinners begin at ten, where getting mugged is a mere annoyance, the purebreds who roam free are not the exception, but the rule.

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