In my previous post I mentioned how the dogs we encountered in Santiago, Chile, seemed solitary animals who occasionally moved in groups. In Valparaiso, a very colourful city on the Pacific coast, about 100 k from Santiago, we saw a striking exception to this rule.
We noticed a dog lying on the sidewalk, not looking very well. Beside her stood another dog who looked healthy and strong. We watched for a while and it became obvious that he was standing guard over his friend. He did not leave her side. We don’t know what was wrong with the dog, but clearly her friend understood that she could not look after herself. So he stayed with her, in close proximity. It was both sad and uplifting to see.
Apart from the usual array of dogs, we also saw some cats in Valparaiso. They looked pretty good, but I don’t know if they ‘belonged’ to anyone. Cats generally seem more capable of looking after themselves, finding food everywhere and, if healthy, grooming themselves.
I have also included a few pictures we took on San Pedro de Atacama, a remote town in the desert. Here too, dogs were everywhere. And they like to be with people. On one photograph you can see a man sitting on a bench, with ‘his’ dog curled up below the bench. Of course it’s not his dog, he may not even know it’s there. But the dog knows that the man is there.
In Valparaiso a dog chose us as his temporary family while we strolled through the area. Very friendly, very close. And from a distance you’d have thought he belonged to us.
But, in general, they don’t belong to anyone.
I think many of them like it that way.