Meet Maximus: He’s a family dog in Akhmeta, who I met during our somewhat surreal Thanksgiving celebration there.
His back left leg is fairly limp, the result of an incident with a car a few months back. But that giant hole in his side? That’s new. We’re not sure exactly how it got there, but the two prevailing theories are gunshot or livestock-related puncture wound. Happy Thanksgiving Maximus!
Apparently a few years back, he bit a Spanish girl who was visiting this strange little corner of Kakheti. Because of this, you’re only allowed to pet him with your foot. Like most family dogs here, he doesn’t come inside, because he’s essentially a stray with food-scrap and patio privileges. His injuries are similar to those of his semi-stray peers, who seldom manage to avoid injuries from street fights or erratic drivers. Bodily integrity is not a common trait among the dogs of Georgia.
However, as spay and neuter programs have yet to make an appearance, the number of strays and semi-strays grows constantly. Though they mostly keep to themselves, dogs are everywhere here, living their lives parallel to the human cycles of bazaar and mealtime refuse. Many folks from other places see this as depressing, but I’ve become so used to it that strays have become a practically neutral part of my daily experience. But I thought I’d mention these guys, as it makes a such strong impression on so many of my fellow countrymen.
At the intersection I most fear (and must daily cross), with cars churning about in incomprehensible patterns, I often see one of the most serene strays in Telavi. With long, grimy whitish fur and some genetic like to the massive sheepdogs of the region, he lays in the middle of traffic for hours. Watching as cars, mini-busses, and military transport from anywhere in the last seven decades u-turn, weave around stalled vehicles, turn and speed and stop to chat with friends, this dog calmly sits in between what would be lanes in some other country. Like some sort of lethargic crossing guard too bored to signal, he silently judges the drivers who pass him. Not wishing to damage their cars, they navigate around him, in the same sort of dance that defines pedestrian traffic and livestock herding. I hope he doesn’t get hit, but with the same shrug as Maximus’ family described his health, I continue my walk home. Like everything here, it will probably be some version of fine.