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Dirty Dogs

Just back from a walk in the park. Three of our local dogs - Bella, Dougal and Sampras - decided to come along too. So after a while I stopped by the lake and the dogs lay down and wandered over from time to time to have their heads patted.

There is no better way to be stared at in Tirana than to be seen keeping company with street dogs and even touching them. Pedestrians, runners, cyclists and motorists all turned to stare on the way by. One guy was staring so hard that he went off the road and started heading towards the lake.

Apart from staring most people don't actually say anything. Only one person has ever commented. He said that the dogs were dirty. Which they are - they live on the street, they find their food among the garbage. But I don't understand why people are concerned about dirty dogs when every street in this city has a pile of overflowing garbage, often blocking the pavement and often located directly outside a restaurant or cafe. Our own fine street has two such piles.

In fact, if it weren't for the dogs eating the garbage and probably killing the rats that feed on the garbage the place would be an even worse mess. Dirty dogs are the least of this city's health and safety problems.


tironsi said…
Well, if the garbage started walking around, making noise, and possibly coming and infecting you without you doing anything, people would notice it even more. The problem is that people have learned to put garbage out of their minds. You have to when it surrounds you. The dogs are more difficult to ignore, so people lash out at them even on account of the garbage. Like they say in Albania, "kur s'ke c'i ben gomarit, i bie samarit"

Hey, don't be too hard on Albania. Greece (a European Country) has so many stray dogs in some areas, it's scary. In my area which is supposed to be a nice area, I try to go for a nice jog around my quiet neighborhood and I'm chased for kilometers by a trail of barking mutts. I call the police and they just shrug, and can't do much.

Now, I like Dogs and don't harbor any ill will towards them, but I just don't believe the Greek's mentality of "Oh, the dogs need to be free". Well, when I can't take a jog or walk my infant for a stroll without having to be on guard for dogs, then that's too much. Yes, many of them are friendly, but a few of them are not, and this is what worries me.

But, I have a compromise or bribe for them. I always carry a soft envelope of dog food and if I see a dog who appears aggressive, I open the envelope and let the food spill out onto the pavement and then keep jogging away. No dog has continued to chase me once the "Gravy Train" has rolled....

Anyways, I see Albania is now starting to get on your nerves, which is what they call Phase II in a foreigners' experience in their new country.

Congrats Alwyn, your honeymoon Phase with Albania has ended.....
Anonymous said…
Tirana is not as bad as Prishtina for dogs! There they tend to hunt people in packs at night time. Everything is relative I suppose...
annabengan said…
Yes, you're right - the Tirana dogs are not that bad to have around one by one. But when they form gangs after the sun goes down it can get scary. However, only once I had to jump onto a car to save my ass. The worst thing with the dogs is that they are constantly japping and howling during the night in the alleys...but that's what they invented ear plugs for!
ourmanintirana said…
Welcome Tironsi - fair point, though given the choice between rats and dogs I'll take my chances with the dogs. And just because the garbage doesn't move it doesn't mean it is not going to make you sick. As for what they say in Albania, my basic and formal Albanian doesn't help me understand the significance of the donkeys and saddles. Maybe you could enlighten me.

Scruffy, I saw lots of very large stray dogs in Athens which surprised me. And I can certainly understand your concern when there are kids involved.

The honeymoon phase actually ended after I came back from Prague - I've just been trying not to let it show too much.

Sorry I have no pictures of Athens - forgot to bring my camera.

Anonymous, I've heard they had problems in Prishtina - I also heard that one of NATOs many tasks was to shoot them. I know that in some rural areas they have had the same problem with packs of dogs becoming very aggressive. Maybe being in the city and being around people makes them more wary and less confident.

Anna, I had a friend who was chased through the park in daylight by a group of dogs, though I have not yet had any problems other than being barked at. Having said that, I am also wary of unknown dogs coming my way after dark.
tironsi said…
Literal translation is "when you can't do anything to the donkey, you hit the saddle" I can't think of a matching English proverb, but you get the meaning.
Vlad said…
Go to local sport good store and buy air horn used at futbol game. this scare dog away. I use when walk in park and no dog bother me, and horn no hurt dog either.
ourmanintirana said…
Thanks for the tip Vlad
Vlad said…
a said…
I love Dogs. They are delicious.
gjena said…
I really don'tunderstand why people in Kosova and Albania get so upset about stray dogs.As far as i know most of the population in both places live in houses.It would be a very good idea if these people stop complaining about the dogs and start making a place for them to live in their gardens.I'm saying this because I'm from Prishtina myself and since i've known for my self we always had 2 or 3 dogs and lots of stray cats in our garden.It doesn't cost much and it keeps dogs off the street and its a very easy way of giving a happy life to a dog or cat that otherwise would be kicked chased in daily bases or even shot.I really hope that someone will consider my sugestion.

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Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

Petrela Castle

This is Petrela Castle near Tirana. The site has been fortified since the 4th century, but the oldest surviving parts are from the 13th century. Today the castle is a restaurant where you can enjoy lunch while taking in the views.