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Adopted by a Vagabond Dog

Okay, this is my first post on this weblog – I’m doing this to help keep a record of some of the amazing things that have been happening to me. It’s Monday, I’m in the City of Volta Redonda, in Rio de Janeiro State, Brasil.

Who am I? What the heck am I doing here? We’ll all figure that out as time goes on. Right now, a few thoughts on the day.

Vagabond Dog

This guy is living in front of our house. He’s much too large to be a proper pet in our little house and yard, he’s probably full of fleas and other nasty things, and we just can’t get rid of him.

Much like my own spoiled Lhasa, Monica has a poodle that needs to be walked a few times a day. Since the backyard is completely tiled, this means a leash and a walk around the neighborhood a few times a day. Vagabond dog has discovered this habit, and happily waits for us, jumping around with pleasure as we unlock the gate and start our poop walk.

The other night, he was so excited about the walk that he playfully jumped all over the poodle – so much that I had to pick Billy (the poodle) up to save him from a dog-stomping injury. Big mistake, because every time I put the poodle down again, the stupid dog jumps all over him, and then me, after I pick him up. We tried this about five or six times before I retired in defeat to the safety of our iron-gated front yard with a poodle still full of poop.

Monica to the rescue. Billy and I left a few minutes later accompanied by Monica with a big stick. After raking it against the iron bars a few times to show Vagabond Dog who was boss, Monica only had to tap it on the sidewalk once or twice to calm down the big, stupid and obviously abandoned dog. He accompanied us, of course, but kept a respectful distance from the stick-wielding Latina.

As far as I can tell, there’s no Brasilian equivalent to the SPCA (meaning that there’s nobody to call to take the dog away and gas him in two weeks) – it’s probably just as well. The neighbors across the street have water and food out for this big lug, and he’s really causing us no harm, so Vagabond Dog will probably be here for a while. He’s really a nice dog – just too big for us. It breaks your heart to see him sometimes – he chased us in the car yesterday all the way out of the neighborhood.

Sometimes it’s the obvious thing….

The Tipo (our Fiat) has been giving us a few problems since it came back from the body shop (don’t ask). It was there for over a month, and I’m pretty sure the battery was completely discharged (alarm & sound system use a bit of electricity all of the time). On a recent trip to Angra dos Reis, we noticed that the battery didn’t have the juice to start the car when it was warm. Fortunately, there was usually a hill around to use for an inertia start when this happened, but it was something then needed to be fixed. I was able to have the battery replaced at a place in Retiro for about R$165. About $90 US. It solved the hot starting problem. As I was returning from town, I noticed the temp gauge moving into the red area. Nuts. I got the car home before the needle was completely buried and opened the hood.

Okay, I have a hot engine. Why isn’t the fan running? Out comes the multimeter, and we trace the fan circuit as far as possible. In case you were wondering, the positive lug of the fan is on all of the time and the negative side is switched and relayed. I grounded the negative lug and the fan spins, so we can rule out fan failure. After a few more minutes, I slap my forehead and decide to check the coolant level. Yes, the radiator CAN be so empty that you can’t get the fan to start.

Deciding that that MUST be the problem, I put the fan wires back together and walk into Retiro (I love being close to town) to buy some coolant, deciding that I’ll flush and refill the cooling system. I walked past a Texaco station, keeping an eye out for the familiar gallon jug of Havoline coolant, but there was none visible. On to the auto parts store, where I meet a clerk that remembers me from a previous visit. He’s patient, as I explain that I want to fill my radiator with something better (melhor) than agua. He brings out two liters of “radiator additive”, explaining that I need to put these in the Tipo and fill the rest of the system with water. I pull the bottom hose off, drain, replace the hose and fill the system with the engine running, repeating this until the water runs clear (about six times). I’ve got an audience (Monica and her mom) and some help ( Leandro, Monica’s 18-year-old son) as I am finishing. In goes two liters of chemicals (I guess they really don’t need antifreeze here) and the system is filled with the hose. The engine is running, the temperature gauge wakes up, and the fan comes on – just when it should.

I truly lead a charmed life.

20:20 Monday Jan 7, 2008






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