I am an Army wife. I live on an Army post with my Army husband.
He is American. I am not. We live in Europe. We are both foreigners here, except when we are on our little “piece of the USA” which is the little post up in the mountains where we live. Then I am the foreigner. It’s a strange concept to me sometimes, but not a terrible thing. I like being different, and I don’t really need social interaction much, as I live with my best friend anyway!
If we were living in the USA, I think this would be more of an issue than it is here. Here, there are many “foreign” wives – wives who are not American, I mean. I have met many German spouses living here – so they are only foreigners when they are on post, like me – and I have met many Russian, Spanish, French, Italian and other European spouses. We (the “foreign” wives) seem to be drawn to each other in many ways. The language issue – not so much in my case, as I do speak English as a first language – seems to be the biggest barrier for making friends with the American wives. Another major thing is the cultural issue. Americans are very different to the rest of the world – it’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a fact of life – and this stands out very clearly in a place like this. They stick with each other and tend to gravitate toward each other in the same way us “Ausländers” do. Perfectly natural, anthropologically. Trying to explain these cultural differences is very difficult when you can’t see it in person. It’s little things and big things.
The unfortunate attitude toward family pets is the one that gets to me. It’s not everyone, for sure, but it’s an upsetting amount of the military/American population living here. They don’t seem to understand that dogs need space. Dogs need to interact with other dogs. Dogs need to WALK. Dogs need mental AND physical exercise. Big dogs need physical exercise, small dogs need mental challenges and lots of exercise. A large majority of the people living on this post (and I’m told, generally everywhere) don’t seem to get this idea. They seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to keep a big dog (there are many Golden Retrievers, Labradors, GSD’s that I have seen/heard) in an apartment and only take them out twice a day to pee and poop. And that’s it.
And then they wonder why their Chihuahua is nasty and nippy and attacking visitors, or their Labrador chews on their furniture and shreds their socks, or their poodle is pooping on their bed, even after going outside. It boggles my mind that, despite so much evidence for exercise and social interaction as a correction for this, they just don’t see this correlation. It actually pisses me off. I offered my services, when I first arrived, to walk dogs for people who were just not getting the time (babies, half day jobs, etc) to do it themselves – but I had no responses. It was quite surprising to me! I wasn’t even charging much!
As I said – it’s not all of them! I know quite a few who walk their dogs regularly and take them to the dog park to play almost every day or on the weekends. But they are, sadly, not as many as you’d hope. But, in comparison, I know FAR more “foreign” pet owners (especially the Germans – they love their dogs) who are truly dedicated to the well-being of their pets. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met ONE foreign spouse here with a dog, who I have not seen out walking with them daily.
Of course the rest could just be inside and I’ve never seen them because they never get out! *shrug* I am open to convincing arguments…
The number of pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, you name it!) that are abandoned on army posts when the family leaves, is disgusting. It’s not surprising that the local rescue centres and adoption agencies generally won’t ALLOW Americans to adopt animals from them. They refuse. If you are in any way affiliated with the US military, they won’t let you even look. They’ve had enough of cleaning up after them. This is sad for the wonderful people who DO care for their animals and DO want to make a difference.
The reason I am ranting away is because recently we have been trying to catch a stray dog running around on post. Initially I thought it was a friend’s dog, but thankfully, he is safe and sound still. So this big, stray dog (and he’s most likely a mountain dog, like mine) has been “loose” for about 2 weeks or more now. Sightings have him looking thin, bedraggled, matted and dirty… and very scared. 2 Weeks and there have been no posters put up (and you CAN get permission for a lost dog poster) nor any postings on the local animal support websites or Facebook pages (and there are quite a few) and the MPs have only now gotten involved because someone actually piped up and said she’d seen him digging in the garbage and was worried for the poor boy and she posted this on our local animal support site. So now that more eyes are involved, the search and rescue operation is now in full effect. But, TWO WEEKS? How can any caring soul have just done NOTHING when their dog went missing? They could have told neighbours to be on the look out, or told the MPs, or asked for an email to be sent to their unit to keep an eye out.
If it was intentionally left out, so they didn’t have to deal with the cost of flying him/her home to the US, what does that say about them? How does a HUMAN BEING make a conscious decision to just abandon a trusting, loyal dog? Or their cats (so many are just left in the buildings, or in the stairwells, or just kicked out into the cold completely) and even rabbits? German animal shelters are no-kill shelters. Surely they could have tried taking the dog to one? The Germans won’t refuse any animals if they have space. If they are full, they suggest somewhere else. They _love_ their animals and they are RESPONSIBLE for them through their whole lives. There’s a sad lacking of that in the military community. Everything seems to be disposable. And that’s very sad, to me.
Once again, it’s not all of them – but it’s a scarily large number and it breaks my heart. It gives the good military people (and that’s 90%, seriously) such a bad reputation and it makes things difficult for them to do any good.
Ok. Rant over.
I just needed to get that off my chest.
My thanks to all my friends (foreign and “domestic”) who love and care for their animals – AND other people’s animals – and are trying to do the right thing, always.
I hope we can catch this poor bedraggled pooch before it’s too late.