Well I hadn't planned on this one
It's finally happened. While friends, classmates, and even my advisor (got to love how CSB/SJU fosters an environment where we become close enough with profs for them to give us dating advice) have joked about the fact that I will likely fall in love while I'm abroad, I have always rolled my eyes and laughed it off. After all, I'm only 21 and falling in love would just slow down my global adventuring activities. However, it has happened and while this is not exactly the ideal way I would choose to tell the world (surprise Mom and Dad, can't wait for you to meet him when you get here) I'm excited to say he's absolutely wonderful.
He's not quite what I expected, he's is shorter than I usually prefer, he's brunette (I normally go for blondes), and he isn't one to actually make concrete plans for us to see each other and instead we simply ˝see each other when we see each other˝. Despite all of this, when I look into his big brown eyes, I simply melt. I have found my summer love. His name is Buddy and he's a Sarajevo street dog (So yeah, any of you that actually may have thought I had fallen in love with another person, you can breathe now haha)
Now side note before everyone freaks out and yells at me about the potential for rabies and how can I be stupid enough to pet a stray dog. I was not quite as much of an idiot (I would prefer animal lover) as everyone is probably thinking.
Sarajevo has a serious stray dog problem, it is estimated that over 11,000 stray dogs wander the streets. As a result, the city has launched a concerted effort to ensure that these dogs do not pose a danger to citizens. They routinely round up groups of stray dogs and local vets provide them with all of their shots, including rabies (see I did at least think about that before I pet him, small steps in the right direction), sterilize the dogs, do a general health test, and make sure they are okay to be released back on the streets. The way you know if a stray dog has passed this inspection is by a green ear tag they're outfitted with. Buddy, has an ear tag, with the recent date of his vaccines, so everyone calm down, I was not entirely stupid and did have some regard for my personal safety.
Anyways, back to Buddy. He's a street dog and I pretty much love him. He's mid-sized (his head is basically at the height of my mid-thigh), he's got shot hair that's a mixture of black and brown, he has an angular face, a big tail, huge paws, and eyes that make your heart melt. Overall, he's adorable.
I met Buddy my first full week in Sarajevo. Addie, Laura, and I had gone to a cafe near old town that people at Addie's work had raved about (I thought it was over-rated, overpriced, and the desserts were mediocre, but everyone else loved it so maybe I'm just too picky). We were leaving the BBI center (the one thing the cafe had going for it was great views of the city from the top of the center) and as I was walking, a stray dog came up to me and just looked at me. At first, I was a little freaked out. Most of the street dogs avoid people like the plague, never look at them, and just mind their own business, probably the result of routinely getting yelled at by people. Buddy though stopped right at next to me and just looked up. I had a momentary thought of ˝uh oh, is a stray dog about to bite me? Def should have gotten that rabies shot. Can't wait to tell Mom and Dad about this.˝ But then I noticed the tag on his ear (meaning he wasn't going to give me rabies, see I thought about it), noticed that he didn't seem threatening, he was just sitting there as if expectantly waiting, and decided to take a gamble. I reached out and lightly pet him on the head (yes, I realize this was dumb, but come on, it's me and a cute animal, what do you expect). Rather than biting my hand off, Buddy started wagging his tail. I figured I was safe. I stayed for a few minutes (Addie and Laura laughed and patiently waited for me), took a picture of my new ˝love˝, and headed home. Buddy followed us for a bit, which was adorable but also made me sad since I couldn't bring him home. I wasn’t too worried. Most of the stray dogs we've encountered have areas they like to stay within and we always go by the BBI. I figured I would see him soon.
We walked past the square the next day on our way to Old Town and I looked around for Buddy, no sign of him. ˝Hmm, sad day, but I'm sure I'll see him soon, ˝ I thought and kept going. Sadly this routine continued for weeks. Every time I walked to Old Town I would scan the areas around BBI and hope to see Buddy. I never did Even Addie and Laura would look, but no one ever had any luck. I gave up on Buddy and assumed that I would never see him again.
Fast forward to this morning, I begin my fifth week in Sarajevo running late. We took a late train home from Mostar (blog on that to come later this week) last night and I was struggling this morning to get out the door (having to wait for the hot water heater to heat the water for my shower didn't help either). As I made the walk to the tram, I notice something on the corner. There's a new dog sitting there and he's looking right at me. As I continue walking towards the corner, the dog starts coming towards me. When we reach each, without a second of hesitation he puts his head under my hand. I know in an instant, it's Buddy. The same eyes, the same fur, the same size, the same look of ˝how dare you not pet me?˝. While all of this is happening though, I am still running late for work. But as I keep walking, so does Buddy. He walks the block with me to the tram station. Sits by my feet while we wait at the stoplight as traffic rushes past. Crosses at the crosswalk with me and sits and waits with me as I wait for the tram (as Laura put it ˝Is this real life or a Disney movie?˝)
My heart broke as I sprinted to the tram car and jumped on just as the doors slid shut (I kind of got distracted by Buddy's cuteness and didn't pay the closest attention when the tram arrived, oops, that could have made me really late for work). As I looked out the back window of the tram, Buddy was just sitting there looking after me, with his head cocked as if thinking ˝Wait, where are you going? You're supposed to love me and be my owner.˝
*This has all the making for a cheesy romantic movie, doesn't it? Boy sees girl, girl sees boy. Boy comes over. Girl is too scared to say anything. Girl finally does and they share a great moment. She leaves, expecting to see him again. But then he never calls and while heartbroken over it, she begins to forget and move on. Then when least expecting it, they meet again, after he has scoured the city looking for her (alright this part might be a stretch, but I'd like to think Buddy has been). If I could have kept up the whole Buddy being an actual boy thing that I started with going, this could have been great.
At this point, I don't know when or if I'll see Buddy again. I really hope I will. Addie and Laura agreed a couple weeks after our first meeting, that if I found Buddy again and he remembered me, I could bring him home. Looks like he does remember. And after telling them the story of this morning, they are entirely onboard for our new roommate. I doubt our land lord will be too plused though. At the very least, I hope I can find him again and give him some food. While supposedly in overall good health (at least based on his ear tag), he's clearly underfed and in need of some care. Regardless, I've found my love for the summer.
So what do you say Mom and Dad, can he become part of the family? Please, please, please!!