El ir a los perros

This won't come as any surprise to anybody who really knows me, and certainly not to my dogs Amos and Sadie, but I am a huge dog lover. And just as Lima, Peru is a whole new world for visiting people, it is also a completely different lifestyle for dogs, especially in the very poor areas.

I have only seen a very few instances of what we Americans typically think of as the human/canine experience. Which is to say I've only seen a handful of dogs walking with their owners on leashes. My observations indicate that most of the dogs in Lima don't have owners, but live from day to day on handouts and throwaways from people (surprisingly few of them appeared to be underfed). And just because there does not seem to me to be a tendency on the part of people here to form the normal "pet" relationship with dogs, that does not mean the dogs do not exhibit protective tendencies.

I photographed a rather large tan colored dog who seemed to take a protective posture in front of children lined up to receive shoes from the Samaritan's Feet group. This dog had an unnaturally short tail which I suspect was probably bobbed by a truck tire rather than a trained veterinarian. Dog experts warn us not to ascribe human emotions and motives to dogs, but the way this dog interposed himself between the children and bystanders and scanned his head from side to side seemed unmistakably protective.

Another dog I saw walking with a family outside a church prior to a service was doing a perfect "heel" with one of the children, despite not being on leash, and seemed to be looking ahead side to side.

And while there seems to be this protective tendency, there is also a wariness of unknown people and also of soccer balls traveling at high velocity.

I saw a very cute, friendly-looking charcoal and white stubby-legged scruffmutt at the town of Pachacutec on Sunday that I had to fight the urge to bring home with me. But who was I to say he was not happy where he was?

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