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Peruvian Country Dogs--City Dogs

Peruvian Country Dogs--City Dogs

Hello and good day!

One thing I've always found interesting about travelling and living in Peru are the dogs. At least in the places where I've spent a lot of time, there are dogs all over the place and many wander the streets freely.

Some folks in Peru seem to care for their dogs in the same style as we do here in the United States, as cherished members of the family. But a lot of folks treat their dogs as workers whose job is to bark at people passing by and attack intruders.

If the dogs do their job fairly well, they will be given food.

Beyond that, the dogs are free to do what they will, which usually means wandering the street in the neighborhood around their owner's house, interacting with other dogs. There are also a lot of stray dogs meandering around in the street. They live off of whatever scraps of food they can find and are not confined to any particular block.

Given the large volume of dogs wandering around, you see a lot of dogs posturing, growling, barking at each other, fighting over mating partners, and generally mixing it up, just about everywhere you go.

I'd never realized it until I lived in Peru, but dogs can be really loud.

Unfortunately, it isn't uncommon to hear dogs out in the street late at night handling their dog business, which can disturb your sleep greatly, if you aren't accustomed to wild barking at 3am in the morning.

For folks that are used to it, it is no big deal.

I've eaten breakfast with my in-laws before and mentioned that I didn't sleep a wink the night before on account of the dogs. They looked at me totally uncomprehendingly. They'd slept deep and sound, oblivious to the ruckus.

They are used to it.

When you walk by a house, the dog who lives there tends to work itself into a feisty lather. Unlike dogs in the US, Peruvian dogs aren't usually fenced in. They are right there on the sidewalk or in the street with you.

They rarely attack, but they do show their teeth and get mighty close. They follow you, barking non stop until you are no longer in their territory. It can be disconcerting to the uninitiated.

I remember on one of my very first days living in Peru, a dog started following me, growling at me and barking in a way I found threatening. I tried to pick up my pace and walk faster, but the dog trotted along behind me.

In an act of desperation and fear, I turned around, lifted my hands in the air to appear bigger and stronger, and yelled at the top of my lungs. I was trying to scare the dog into leaving me alone.

It had no effect whatsoever on the dog. It did however have an effect, a humorous effect, on a group of onlookers who got to see a crazy man overreacting to a dog in the street.

After the failed attempt at shouting the dog away, I turned around and kept walking briskly and eventually the dog left me alone. So far, I've been describing city dogs, who are relatively harmless.

Country dogs are a whole different story.We call them "campo dogs". Campo dogs will attack and they are truly aggressive towards strangers. They're job is to defend the territory against wild animals and they are willing and ready to fight and die to protect their land.

My brother Brian in particular has had many run ins with campo dogs working out on cacao farms. You walk onto a cacao farm and the house might be 5 acres away from you are walking on.


You told the owner of the farm that you'd be coming that day, but a time wouldn't necessarily be agreed upon. Sometimes the farmer will be working near where you are entering the property.Other times they might be all the way on the other side of the farm.  

That being the case, you have to be very aware of the possibility you might run into a dog. If you do run into a dog, they will likely start barking wildly and getting in a position to lunge at you.

I've been through this a couple of times myself and it is tense. Brian's advice is to have a big strong stick with you when you walk onto any farm.

If the dog starts going crazy, you get yourself into a nice firm stance with your knees bent, you hold that stick up, not threateningly, but in a manner that will allow you to swat the dog if it lunges at you.

You aren't looking for a fight.You are just trying to buy time until the farmer hears the barking and comes to call off the dog.

With that stick held up, you look the dog in the eyes calmly and try to put off the energy that you are not to be trifled with, and that you too are ready for a fight to the death.

You stand your ground and you wait, never breaking your eye contact with the dog, keeping your knees bent and staying in a strong fighting position. If you show weakness or turn around and walk away, the dog will bite you.

There have been a couple of lunges and a couple of missed swats over the years. Fortunately, neither of us has ever been bitten by a campo dog or had to hurt a campo dog. But there have been dozens of intense face offs and it always feels like it takes an hour for the farmer to show up.

When the farmer eventually does come around, they usually give a casual whistle and the dog retreats from the scene.Its funny how a casual whistle can break up something so intense, and then you just go on with your business like nothing happened.

That dog might even come up and want some pets from you later on, now that it knows you are friends with the owner.

What got me thinking about this is we have my brother in law and his wife in town from Peru, and they commented on how quiet our neighborhood is. I asked my brother in law what sounds are missing that he would be hearing in his hometown.

The very first thing that came to his mind were barking dogs.Treatment and relationships with animals is one of those fascinating cultural tidbits that you can observe wherever you go.

Every place is a little different.

Anyhow, I hope that you have a great day today.

Thank you so much for giving me a moment of your time.


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