More Stealing: White Hitler.

6 05 2013
 This little guy definitely has a very special place in my heart. Hitler used to follow Nik to the river after his runs, but the Nik would chunk him in to the river, so he quickly learned to stay at my house and eat breakfast crackers with me. I was a little bit sneakier in getting him to bathe, as he would follow me to the river to wash my clothes and I would have to pick him up and carry him in with me, holding him while soaping and scrubbing him. My mom sent me a nice collar when I first arrived, and Hitler was the lucky guy to get it. With that intro, here is Nik’s perspective on the lil’ guy.
P1020187 (Small)
“Nobody feels bad hitting Hitler” reasoned Nic Thiltges’ Host Papa for why he elected to name not one, but both of his dogs ‘Hitler’ – well, that is reasonable.
‘Big Hitler’ is a fair-sized brown dog with one white paw. He is cute and fairly clean (an important aspect for island dogs). ‘Small Hitler’ (who will now be referred to as Hitler) is all white, skinny, and short-haired. He looks similar to a small greyhound. He has giant ears and thus most closely resembles a giant rodent. Jennifer (my fellow site-mate) calls him handsome, but Jennifer admires chickens so we can’t trust her opinion. Besides being the runt of the litter – always being beaten up by ‘Big Hitler’ – he has an undying loyalty to me and Jennifer. After showing him a modicum of kindness Hitler started following me and Jennifer back to Naviso whenever we passed through Nic’s site. He would stay in Naviso temporarily before we would pass through Nic’s site again on our way to Ambae or other destinations. Sometimes Nic’s Host Mama would hold him – Hitler being her dog – but she did this in our interest, believing we did not want Hitler following us (this is partially true – we have mixed feelings about Hitler). In general though, Hitler has basically become our dog, but before I go further I must explain to you ‘Island Dogs’ and what it means to be a Dog in Vanuatu (at least on the outer islands).
Humane treatment of animals – this idea does not exist on Maewo (well, most of Vanuatu). Thus, the idea of inhumane treatment of animals also does not exist. Therefore, if these ideas do not have any base in people’s behaviors you can not exactly pass judgment because, technically, there is no judgment to pass. Take this into your head as you continue to read – this will help your understanding. An Island Dog is most often a mangy mutt, can be anywhere from healthy and strong to an anorexic scavenger, covered in fleas, and usually dirty, but some keep themselves pretty clean – it’s 50/50. They’re usually growling at everything in sight – this being a product of constant abuse. Females usually have multiple litters as soon as they can possibly have puppies; the result is some very unattractive dogs and having to feed puppies does not help dogs who already scavenge for food. Kindness results in confusion and anger, fear and running away, or undying loyalty. Now, you might be wondering why dogs are so mistreated in Vanuatu. Beyond the fact that the idea of inhumane treatment of animals does not exist (this applies to cows, pigs, and chickens too) dogs are kind of useless. I mean, some Ni-Vanuatu appreciate the companionship of dogs, but they are basically another mouth to feed – in some cases they steal food, a big No-No if you’re an animal. Dogs are used to run pigs, chickens and cows, but beyond this they don’t do anything incredibly helpful. Moreover, they can be a burden and reproduce like crazy. Now, I understand, in America we appreciate dogs as companions and find them adorable. Those sentiments are present here, but overall Jennifer and I look crazy to the Ni-Vanuatu when we interact with the village dogs. Thus, dogs are rather unappreciated here and this leads to poor treatment because nobody treats something they don’t value well.
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Alright, now that you have completed ‘Island Dogs 101’ we can go on to describing Hitler. Hitler is the epitome of useless. Additionally, he has received a number of death threats (well-deserved in my opinion). Hitler cannot run Cows, Chickens, or Pigs and he eats Chicken Eggs. So, not only is Hitler useless, by Ni- Vanuatu standards he is a delinquent and most-deserving of a good stoning and, possibly, the death penalty. I guess this is all ironic considering that his name is Hitler and I have to say this Hitler has a way of winning people over too (or maybe they are just waiting for the Peace Corps Volunteers to leave before smiting him). Don’t get me wrong, Hitler smells, usually dirty and covered in as many flies as a cow, constantly licks his red rocket, has an unattractive black scrotum (glaringly apparent on his slight frame and completely white body), looks like a giant rat, always gets in the way, seems to be a little slow of thought, jumps on you constantly, and, if that’s not enough, he eats animal droppings; but with all this in mind he has managed to win acceptance by most of the village as the Peace Corps dog and people seem to enjoy playing with him and giving him food. This is a result of his determination to not leave our side, his seemingly endless joy, and the smile affixed to his face (yeah he seems to be permanently smiling).

Hitler sitting by us while we recieve our Children's Day presents

Hitler sitting by us while we recieve our Children’s Day presents

I am now fairly confident that he will probably always come to Naviso when he gets the chance. On West Maewo there seems to be a never-ending stream of more-dominant male dogs and Ni-Vanuatu who do not like Hitler. In Naviso he is surrounded by bitches and gets fed all the time and quite well. Additionally, bewildering as it is to me, Hitler is given a place of honor in Naviso; he is allowed where all other dogs before could not go. While I still do not like Hitler that much, I am starting to love him. How you might ask? Well like any bad habit, you might not like having it, but most of the time you enjoy it. With that, it seems like Hitler will be a constant fixture in the rest of my service on Maewo.

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