Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Friday, April 4, 2014

Life in Guatemala A to Z: Dogs on the Loose

Dogs are everywhere in the town of Panajachel where we live. There are no ordinances against dogs running loose, many people don't spay or neuter due to cost, and stray dogs "street dogs" are all over the place. They make do and seem content. I walk all over town without ever having one bark or growl at me, very unlike the United States where walking in an area with dogs running loose can be quite frightening.

A healthy-looking street dog fending for itself 

I asked my son in law why the street dogs here are so placid. He said, "Because if not, they are killed. Cops go around regularly kicking and beating the dogs. They often put poison in the gutters to keep them under control."

Nearly everyone keeps at least one or more dogs as pets, and these are the ones barking at passersby from behind the safety of a gate.

Many churches in the United States sponsor service missions to help the people of Guatemala. I think it's time someone comes over and helps the dogs! But then again, take another look at the dog in the photo. He looks like he's doing just fine.



28 comments:

  1. I have a US friend who moved to Mexico and started a mission to spay, neuter and vaccinate stray dogs. All the locals volunteer to staff the facility and she's persuaded veterinarians to volunteer as well.

    The dogs in Guatemala might be more socially acclimated, but I can't imagine the lives they must lead just to get a meal, let alone giving birth countless of times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maria, I don't know of any organizations like this in Panajachel but it would certainly be nice if there were. The dogs in town are doing better than the ones in poor villages. There they are practically starving. It is so sad.

      Delete
  2. Where I live, in Labrador, we have a very similar situation. The Innu people keep lots of dogs but take care of them in a very casual way. There is a pack of dogs that roams my town, North West River, coming over from across the bridge in Sheshatshui (the Innu Reservation ) . These are mixed breed but often include huskies etc... Not known for their friendliness. Yet these dogs aren't scary, indeed they are curious and kind to humans and dogs on a lead. Local people are split on the issue. Many dogs are rescued and sent down south to be adopted. It is how we got our lovely beast before we moved here. When there are too many, the chief will call for a cull then the rescue groups come in. It can be extremely cold and how do they eat? They go to the dump about thirty miles away. Sometimes kids have been caught throwing pups off the bridge. Terrible yes but who needs the rescuing? It is a dilemma I consider often as I try to make sense of my new home.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The street dogs in India can be quite vicious. Quite a few have mauled and bitten small kids. I am petrified of walking in areas infested with these dogs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rachna, I'm so glad they aren't vicious here. Otherwise I'd never leave my house and I'd miss all the wonder of living in Panajachel.

      Delete
  4. Oh, I wish there could be some kind of organization to help the dogs and reduce the population. I can't imagine so many dogs roaming loose like this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I found your blog this morning through

    Susan's blog: http://travelbug-susan.blogspot.com/2014/04/deaf-and-dizzy-fri-apr-4.html

    I am soooo envious that you live in such a beautiful place! We lived near the Mexican border when we were in Yuma, Arizona. We saw stray dogs often and they never seemed to belong to anyone. Sad.

    I look forward to following your adventures! ~ susan arthur

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Karen - stray dogs sadly are all around .. Sochi had lots ... and what to do - it's tragic either way ... it's a long cycle of educating people .. it's not the dog's fault ... and that of course is the crux of the problem ..

    I'm glad they're not causing a problem (yet) .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  7. That photo does look like a healthy dog - clearly the ones with nouse are the ones that survive. It's a shame people don't keep their dogs in check though and it's horrible that the police beat them.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings - AtoZ (Vampires)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Awww, hated to read about the abuse of dogs over there. I guess we have folks like that over here in Texas also. I've enjoyed reading your posts of living abroad! Some day!
    Sue Kuentz
    http://www.door2lore.com/3/post/2014/04/dollars-and-dimes.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, poor dogs. But sometimes putting them in a kennel, feeding and watering them but not giving anything in the way of attention seems just a cruel. I'll always have a dog at my side :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awww as a dog lover myself this is very sad to read. My favorite breed is the Chihuahua and I know I've read stories about the Chihuahuas in Mexico being as those told here in your blog post.

    ReplyDelete
  11. HI, Karen...

    I am APPALLED and what you said about the cops there. BEATING.. KICKING, POISONING... HOW CRUEL!

    It's so sad. There should be a more HUMANE way of taking care of the population of dogs.

    ReplyDelete
  12. That's interesting that the stray dogs are more placid than the domesticated ones. But I guess that's kind of how we got dogs out of wolves and such? By being a threat to the aggressive ones?

    It is sad though that the stray dogs don't have an environment of their own to live and thrive in.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sounds like an issue that will only improve if people change their attitudes about spaying and neutering. Too bad for all those dogs.

    ReplyDelete
  14. In Laos the dogs ran in packs and when there were too many, the people shot them. That was the hardest part of living in a country like that. Their view of animals was so different than that of the U.S.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Where I grew up, there were thousands (millions?) of feral cats. But dogs were not tolerated off-leash, because they can be dangerous. Those who own pets must be terrified of them getting into poison piles.

    Love your colorful A-Z this year. Viva Guatemala!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Awwww... that's nice that they seem happy but I guess a beating and poisoning aren't nice alternatives.

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a great theme for the A-Z. Really interesting stuff about the dogs!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Could not imagine a town where Dogs just get to run loose. There are strict laws here.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. :)

    Looks beautiful where you live. Spring is missing here and we're stuck with cold and grey. I also can imagine a place where dogs just run loose. We have a few people who let their pets run free when they shouldn't and it's amazing they haven't been injured by cars yet for as much as they dart around on the roads.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love that second quote on your blog about writing things to suit yourself. It's so true! The poor doggies! The one in the photo has his ribs showing!
    Visiting from A-Z :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm really enjoying reading about your life and town. So glad I found your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  22. That's interesting about the dogs. Maybe they should also "fix" the street dogs along with, um, taking care of the mean ones.

    ReplyDelete
  23. The reason the dogs behind fences bark is because they feel territorial. Fences give them boundaries that they feel they need to protect. Strays don't have boundaries. They go wherever there is food. It's so sad the cops hurt them, but I'm glad the friendly ones appear healthy at least.

    ReplyDelete
  24. We have plenty of dogs that need help here, too. Kill shelters and all that. Both our girls are rescues. It's the only way my husband I get dogs.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Even in India, stray dogs are a matter of concern because of the threat they pose to people.

    ReplyDelete