This is Patitas (Paws), he is a street dog of CholChol who has chosen the William Wilson girls internado as his home. He comes on weekdays for his breakfast, dinner and tea with his friends, and I’m not sure what he does on weekends, I’ve never really seen him around. The girls don’t always eat all of their bread, so what’s left over gets given to Patitas. In return for food, he protects the girls from the ‘dangerous’ people in CholChol – ie men on bikes, the dustman, and men in general. When he sees any of the above mentioned outside the internado he will bark, growl and chase after them until they go away. This frustrates the men (the binman in particular) and poor Patitas normally gets a few stones thrown at him in the process.
Patitas is well loved by the girls, and a few of the girls have brought in proper dog food for him, rather than just leftover bread. Kathy is a real dog lover, and she asked the inspectors (the peple who look after the children in the boarding house) if we could build a kennel for him, so that he’d be warmer and so that he’d be the official internado dog. She said that he protects them, and she wanted to give him something in return, and that she hates to see him cold and lonely.
Last year (before the summer holidays) Patitas was much healthier, he had a spring in his step, his eyes had a sparkle to them, and his fur was in much better condition. Before the summer I had my doubts that he’d survive without the girl’s bread….However, he spent the summer down at the CholChol river, where people camp out selling sopaipillas, and other typical Chilean fast food. I was at the river with my Mum, and I saw Patitas and shouted out
“Mum! Look, it’s Patitas, he’s alive! And look at his belly, he’s been eating well. Isn’t he so cute? I’m so happy he’s still alive!”
My Mum had never seen or heard me be so compassionate about a dog before, because before I came to Chile I was super scared of dogs.
Now that it’s winter, and the weather’s getting colder, and Patitas doesn’t have his kennel, he’s getting ill. His fur is looking worse, his eyes are dark and closed (one was a bit pussy the other day too). He sits on the ground shivering, and his legs are just skin and bones. He’s looking really ill, and I hope he doesn’t die.
I often wish he was a bit prettier and had less fleas so that I could stroke his ears and ruffle what’s left of his fur – but he’s an ugly dog, let’s be honest. But at the end of the day, I respect him, thank him, and am starting to love him.