so my little girl got attacked by the school’s guard dog

It happened Wednesday, but I haven’t felt comfortable enough to write about it until today.  She is fine now. She is a remarkable child. She is blessed and cursed with having a game face. She is the one who did not shed a tear or cry or moan or groan when she broke her arm las year.  I have to study her to determine her actual level of suffering. She is the strong and silent type when I least want her to be.

The school nurse called, I flew over, got her in a wheel chair and hit the gas all the way to the emergency room.  I pulled up to the entrance and carried her past at least six men within feet of me who watched. I started to stumble as I entered the emergency room and everyone just stared at me carrying my little girl. I had major back surgery so I was starting to crumble and still they stared. I yelled for someone to help me, to take her, I shoved her into a man’s arms.

Soon afterwards the school’s administrator joined me “For legal reasons” she explained. I was too overwhelmed at the time to contemplate the legality of the situation. I wanted my daughter taken care of. While on the hospital bed the doctor asked me about the dog, I directed him to the school administrator. For what felt like an eternity they talked while my daughter suffered in pain without any treatment.  I went out to the main counter and asked the staff if they could at least give her some Paracetamol (Tylenol in the US). Again more stares. Damn you robots and your stares!  Back in the room I saw my girls legs start to tremble from the pain so I distracted her with items I brought with me: a drink, a blanket and an electronic game. I was so pissed that I forgot my little pharmacy. I usually carry my own stash of Benadryl, Tylenol etc. which came in handy when she broke her arm last year. I was able to shove one down her throat back then until help came. I was able to do something.

A lady came in with more paperwork to fill out. There were no introductions. Everyone just wanted my national identity number, phone number and address. “Can someone please help my daughter?” I went out a second time to the counter to beg for any pain killer: nothing.  I went back in and took a photo.

Image

Eventually her wounds were cleaned and she was patched up with some giant cloth like bandaids that kept the wounds closed.  Anything to avoid stitches. I learned that when I came to the same ER (on a previous occasion) with my son’s head cracked open: they glued it shut.  Stitches were the most popular measure of severity of her injuries when asked about the attack.  So if she doesn’t get stitches then she is fine right?

For the next 48 hours our phone rang off the hook.  I checked her for infections. Rabies was not a concern since after all it was the school’s guard dog. O thank goodness. I should be grateful. Yeah, that is some twisted shit right there isn’t it?

Friends and family were outraged by the concept. Yes folks, the school keeps an entire pen of guard dogs, on campus. Yes folks, one of the guard dogs tunneled out during recess and attacked my little 7 year old. Yes folks, my other child knew which of the dogs it was because he had seen it run around on the school’s field before, during school hours.

I am not angry at the dog and neither is my daughter. We have 3 rescued animals. We pet every dog on the street and in Chile, you can’t walk for 5 minutes without encountering a stray.  I have taken my kids for walks around our town and taught them how to behave when approached by packs of wild dogs and even worse, guard dogs. We have been surrounded by over a dozen at a time all barking fiercely and my kids and I knew how to move without provoking them.   The strays usually want some food and  affection. We happily pet and even give belly rubs to all interested.

You see rarely will you find the kind of dog we would define as a “pet”in the USA. There are two kinds here, the ones who are trained to injure you, these are the ones who are fed and sheltered and then there are the tame ones, starving to death in the public eye.

My daughter is healing at a wonderful pace both mentally and physically.  She does cover her ears at the mention of the incident.  When she hears dogs bark she freezes, hugs herself and shakes. I hold her and make her move on. What of the dog who attacked her?  My daughter told the school director she should train the dog. I am proud of her. While others want the dog shot or removed, my daughter sees a good creature who in her eyes did a bad thing. In my eyes though, the dog did what it was trained  and hired by the school to do.

I understand that the dog escaped. I also understand that having guard dogs near children is like having loaded guns near children. Accidents happen.

 

PS

Please take the time to comment on my blog as opposed to Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or in person for that matter. You can do so anonymously here, just grab a generic avatar and a creative pseudonym.  I won’t respond elsewhere: as I noted in the blog entry, too much “craziness”.  Gracias

Of course there is crime in Chile.

Is it safe?  Well, that depends on many factors, much like in most places.  Even within one country or one city for that matter some areas are more dangerous than others.  Your country of origin also weighs heavily on the perceived level of crime or danger here as well.  For a general outlook click on the link for the US Department of State’s report on crime in Chile and you will see that compared to most countries and specifically within the Latin American region Chile is about as safe a bet as you can take.osac

Now for a more detailed look you can go by region.   Follow the link provided by the police department and search under the different regions.  Mind you, I noticed that the map of my region was cut off right in the area where the middle and upper class live. Coincidence?  Conspiracy?  On the one hand I can easily see the person who chopped our section off assuming it wasn’t needed, since hey, that area can afford private security so why bother publishing it. I can also very easily see that area being strategically edited because there is a massive real estate boom in that area and a published record of crime in the area is bad for business. Keep this in mind when you look up the information on different locations.

Click to find regional crime stats.

I mentioned the relationship between private security and social class because social class is a big part of life down here.  No, it is not like India’s caste system, but it does affect day-to-day life here much more than in most places.  For now I have learned that the police department feels obligated to secure those in the lower income areas while in some cases, completely abandoning the middle and upper classes to their own devices.  The devices usually entail walled-in communities, gated entries, private security vehicles on patrol, private alarm systems, a host of loud guard dogs, barbed wire and even electric fences.  This is in the NICE areas, not the hood.

Ale

Click for her blog.

As of late a locally declared crime wave has hit our town involving smash and grab robberies of vehicles and businesses.  We have even had a few carjackings.  This of course was a fine opportunity to see the local citizens take action, beginning with one of my Twitter cohorts, Ale. She blogged about her concerns and then tweeted away. Our Twitter group supported her efforts and helped spread the word.   The campaign got the attention of the local police department as well as the mayor who has met with the concerned citizens at a coffee shop and later a restaurant to discuss their concerns. You gotta love that in lieu of the usual visual of a crowded room of angry citizens hissing at the mayor  whilst sweating at the podium here the mayor wines and dines with everyone….until they are conciliatory.

   

 

To date the community efforts have resulted in an increased police presence and the promise of someday, hopefully the construction of a local precinct. Currently the nearest one is 17 kilometers away.  Below you will see two aerial images of two of the most coveted real estate areas in the metropolitan area of Santiago: La Dehesa/ Lo Barnechea and Chicureo/Piedra Roja.  Both are links to recent newspaper articles regarding the same dilemma: They are demanding the protection of the public police force because they are tired of digging into their own pockets for private security measures that are not necessarily effective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The police force in Chile is more about bureaucracy than corruption so bribes are not in order.  If you do ever get pulled over just remember to speak English, smile and cooperate.  Based on my not-so-scientific research those of us who “Hablar poquito Spañol” were sent on our way a lot faster than those who attempted to negotiate the matter.  They are busy enough as it is with the student marches.  Imagine being instructed by your superior  to pry off cute little protesters from buildings for the world media to see.  Curious? Go ahead, it’s a link.

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Long Day

  huasa

 

     Amongst the 3,500 Chilean cowboys known as “Huasos” riding through town on Cuasimodo day there was a singular pink dot.
A girl who rode with her proud and stern faced father. A girl who started riding at sunrise and was now hot and tired after 7 hours of going from parish to parish. A girl who still had several more hours to go on this holy marathon.
A pink rose whose thorns the father gave room to grow instead of clipping them.

The Hideout

 

“So mom, want to go with us to our hideout?”  – Sure.  “Yippee!”

My children have asked me to tour their hideout and I was always busy or honestly not that interested.  As part of my campaign to kick the kids out of my home for as long and often as possible I suggested they trek through our “backyard” which is not ours nor a backyard.  I had previously scoped out the area, but not in detail.  I knew it was an abandoned ranch and after today’s stroll, I must say a pretty nifty hideout.

Behold the entrance.

hideoutentrance

Please note that all of the stones you see in the photos are stacked and not held together by mortar.  This leads to many a rock slide under one’s feet at the risk of twisting an ankle and to my children’t delight the option to remodel as though they were Lego blocks. So for now it is a tie: Mom’s nerves 1 vs. Kid’s cool factor 1.

romana

We suspect “Romana” is the name of the horse who once rode with the cowboy in charge of this land; this land that in the last several years was literally split by a fancy new highway.  On the one side a hill and on the other side the ranch slowly being invaded by hundreds upon hundreds of new homes, including mine.

stonefence

When I first moved here the cattle grazed in this part of the ranch and still do nearby. The cowboys have had to be very creative in maneuvering around the construction boom.  It is not uncommon to walk right into some stray cows, leisurely resting on a freshly manicured lawn whilst cars zoom by.  As of late my kids have taken to bringing stray dogs to this spot so they can have some shelter.  Loose rocks, stray dogs… I know, I am keeping count.

        hideoutporch              sticksnstones         cattleentrance

“…and there is a basement.”  Mind you that “basement” was previously covered and like the great explorers that they are they found a way to get in.  So naturally I asked what exactly was down there, because you know, I was not feeling that adventurous.  No bodies, good, just don’t linger because you know, we have earthquakes on a regular basis here and mommy doesn’t want, oh you know the speech. So let’s review the count: Sprained ankles, rabid dogs and crushed children.

basment

As we strolled past the hideout onto the ranch the eldest reminded the youngest ones to watch out for tarantulas.  “You see mom  just yesterday we got to watch a full wrestling match between two of them right here where we are standing! ” He wasn’t kidding either, they are native to Chile and referred to affectionately as “Baby Chick Spiders” since they too are fuzzy and um adorable? Keep walking kids!

ranch

gateway        entryway

playing

Not only is this an escape for my children it is also for our dogs.  I love that my pets can also sneak away, off the leash and romp.  Somehow I know the “pack” is safer with the four-legged ones in tow.

obstaclecourse

…and now for the anxiety driven parent test. How many objects in this shot set off your “Hover Parent” alarms?

     Just in case you were wondering, note the rusty nails on the log, the coil of rusty barbed wire and the fresh pile of horse manure.  Yes, the cowboys, or huasos as they are referred to locally still patrol the area, but rarely by daylight.  They still herd the cattle by weaving them in and out of the suburban sprawl throughout the night when the traffic and pedestrians are least likely to get in their way.  We have learned to drive very slowly when coming home late in the evenings. Once we managed to get ourselves completely surrounded by a herd and all we could do was wait, they were here first you know.

Signs of life at the ranch featuring the unforgiving thorn bush.  It is absolutely everywhere and at all ranges of height. I ONCE made the mistake of zoning out while jogging in this area, not realizing the sidewalks were lined with them … at eye level.

barbedwire     horseshoetrack     wiltedcactus

     Like a moth to a flame the piles of dirt were calling.    We ran as fast as we could up those hills, yes we, I still find them irresistible.  Our feet sank in up to our knees, the shoes left buried underneath the freshly dumped earth.  During the week truck after truck from the new developments dump earth  once held together by the roots of this ranch to its new resting place. I doubt it is the final one.

dirtpiles

     The pleasantly cool part of the day was ending. The temperature here swings from sweater to shorts weather within hours.  Now how do we get out of here?  They had no clue, they had not dared stray so far from their hideout before. Point for mom.  So the kids found the space in the barbed wire fence where they agreed I would most likely fit and off we went down the somewhat beaten path.

limbo     offwego

     So the next time my kids ask me if they can go out and play what do you think goes through my head?  Sprained ankles from the rocks, rabies from the dogs, buried alive in the hideout by earthquakes, tetanus thanks to rusty nails and barbed wire , eyes poked-out from thorn bushes, bacterial infections from horse and cow feces and tarantulas swallowing them whole.  ” Yeah, sure, go out and play!”

hideoutexit

Quick question: Why Chile?