Wild Bears, Wild Dogs: Nothing New in Romania

4 Jul

Einsam Hund

”Don’t go in the woods at night. Actually, don’t go during the day, either. It not safe, many bear.” said Adina, my host in Brasov. Her husband had used almost the exact same words of warning as he drove me to their house. I had read that the mountain range near Brasov was home to a staggering number of wild bears, and as I walked up the well-marked path to the White fortress overlooking Brasov, I was considering their words of warning. Being mauled by a bear would be a bad way to go, especially at the very start of my trip. When I arrived home and reported to Adina what all I had seen and done she assumed a stern motherly tone when confirming that I had walked in the woods. “It was a short path and it was really wide!” I said, defending myself.

After I’d survived the bears of Brasov, I had to be leery of other wild urban inhabitants: packs of roving dogs.

My friend Josh who traveled a similar circuit last summer, was a main influence on my trip. I remember being awe-struck when he described his encounter with a pack of wild dogs in Bucharest. He had ducked into some alley to pee and soon found himself surrounded. Fortunately, he managed to back away calmly. A friend of my hosts in Bucharest said he had often found himself in similar situations.

The dogs I had been seeing in Bran and Sinaia were fascinating. At first, I was alarmed to see them walking around freely, but then I realized that they are just a staple of Romanian life, like over-fed squirrels who own the diag in Ann Arbor. Except here, most of these canines were incredibly scrawny. They would approach you when eating, not aggressively, just in a pleading sort of way, widening their canine eyes. All you had to do was look away or shake your head calmly and they would slink off pitifully. Many of these dogs were typical mid-sized gray-brown mutts, but others came in a variety of shapes and sizes. I saw a pack of six in Sinaia while waiting for the train, and they looked like they had broken out of some kennel years ago—one was small and white, another looked like a dachshund, and yet another, like a husky. Anyway, yeah, wild Romanian dogs: disconcerting to see, but not as dangerous as I had imagined.

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