Traveling to different nations, I’m always fascinated by how companion animals are treated and cultural differences between nations. In the U.S. about half of all dogs share a bed with at least one family member, and most of those not in our beds are at least in our bedrooms.
I met a young woman from Rwanda, Africa who worked for a summer in the U.S., and asked her what was it she was most surprised about in America. Rwanda is a nation that likes dogs, but her answer was, “I can’t believe people (in the U.S.) allow dogs in their beds.”
In many European nations, dogs are welcome in bars and restaurants. In Croatia dogs are welcomed on island to island transit, and throughout some of Europe dogs are permitted on public transport.
In some European nations cats are allowed inside or outside, but not in Japan, where cats are indoors only and increasingly inside only in the U.S.
All this as a backdrop of a recent visit to Peru. Like most places we’ve visited, it’s complicated. People make broad and sometimes mistaken interpretations.
In Lima, clearly dogs are loved and mostly well cared for, at least those that are owned. Still some street dogs exist, though they are rare. In fact, for whatever the reason, dogs there are groomed more often than they typically are in the U.S. Free-standing grooming facilities are rare, as most often dogs are groomed at veterinary offices. As a result, preventive care for dogs in Lima likely exceeds the U.S. Like most places in the world, including the U.S., there’s an economic component.
People in Lima who can afford what some might call extraordinary care don’t appear to hesitate. Specialty medicine doesn’t exist in Peru as it does in the states. Still people do what they are able. I had the privilege to meet Dr. Pancho Cavero, most known as a veterinary TV personality. Lesser known he’s also the inventor of wheelchairs for dogs, and even makes them at his clinic.
Routine dog training, particularly of puppies, is a newer concept but gaining steam.
Would people in Lima do the same for their cats? Now, that’s a bit of a complex question. Cats were at some point in time were clearly second class citizens, but that’s changing fast. Still, though, many cats are dumped outdoors. Having said that, trap-neuter-return groups are actively adopting altered cats from places like Kennedy Park in the heart of the city.
Like many third world nations, socio-economics do matter. Get out of the big city, and there are roaming dogs, and most cats are fending for themselves, attempting to sneak meals where they can.
Cusco is a city of 11,152 feet up in the Andes, hardly a small town but far more traditional. Because the city is at the foothills of Machu Picchu, it’s a major tourist destination, so there is some money there. Still, the culture is quite different compared to Lima.
Cats is Cusco have all the luck. While community cats do exist, most Cusco cats have it darn good, as they are kept indoors-only and loved. Usually, all families can afford is one cat per home.
Dogs may be “owned,” and spend the night indoors or in a family’s yard. At night or in the morning, they’re fed a meal of family left overs, and some do feed manufactured dog food. But family’s often have several dogs and can’t afford to feed them all. Why not spay/neuter? It’s mostly a matter of what people can afford, and that veterinary care is hard to find.
So, owned dogs are may spend the night inside, and they’re loved – but during the day they meet their buddies wherever there’s trash, or outside a restaurant. Of course, some are hit by cars, and greatly those who survive injuries do so without vet care.
Many dogs are street dogs, loosely owned by a community. People may (or may not) have names for the dogs, and offer periodic scraps.
These dogs are of all shapes and sizes, unlike street dogs in many other places in the world which a certain phenotype (or appearance) depending on where they live. So, street dogs in Ecuador may mostly have a common look, that’s not the case in Peru. Some look like pedigreed dogs, others are mixes, and of all shapes and sizes.
Most noteworthy, while some of these dogs are may not be trusting of strangers, aggression is exceedingly rare. Aggressive dogs are “dealt with” and don’t survive, and it’s been that way for generations. So, there’s likely little if any genetic base for aggression, which is a common trait of street dogs in most places around the world.
It’s always interesting how companion animals are sometimes victims of culture or socio-economic realities, or benefit by it depending on where they happen to live. I suppose the same is true for people.