In Ecuador, dogs are everywhere.       Cats aren’t that well-liked or common.  Birds are rare.  And, well, they eat their guinea pigs.  So, in this country, dogs are the chosen pet by all.                                

It seems that an important part of living in a house is to have guard dogs fenced inside your compound or living on the (flat) roof.  Their purpose is solely to bark.  Many other dogs roam and poop in the streets.  Their purpose is to bark and chase away other dogs.  Sometimes they are fed regularly by an “owner” or kind neighbor.  More often, they survive by scrounging the community garbage bins and poking around restaurant entrances waiting for scraps.  Some are mean and bond together to terrify a passer-by.  Most are sweet.  Their skinny sides, and matted, dirty fur are their common trademarks.

Today’s post is entirely for the dog lover.  I’ve been attempting to capture “life of a dog” 
photos for two years now, but my niece Allison did a far better job of it in her eight days 
in Ecuador.  Thanks goes to her for most of these images. 

Some dogs sleep on the sidewalks, others choose the shade of a vehicle. 
There’s bus station dogs, and classroom dogs…. yes, many dogs just wander into classrooms and sleep away the afternoon.  We’ve all learned to just step over them and carry on. 
Hostal Dogs….
Restaurant Dogs…

                                   And some have a favorite street corners or business to guard….

Some dogs even ride tourist attractions to get a pet from dog-loving visitors!

Pet food is expensive in Ecuador, and most families feed their dogs the human’s left-overs from lunch.  Bread rolls, rice, scrambled eggs, meat, fish, soup, and chicken bones (sometimes with some meat attached) are common meals for an Ecuadorian dog.  If there’s no left-overs that day, the dog usually doesn’t get fed.  Vet visits are also quite a luxury.  Many dogs don’t get that privilege.

This is Jose’s regular ritual of fixing a dinner of left-overs for each of his dogs. 
Overall, dogs are just part of the scenery here and not often treated with kindness or extra attention.  But in the past two years, I have also seen an explosion of tiny-dogs, the kind that people carry in their purse and backpack.  I’ve also seen dogs in cars, on leashes getting walked, and even inside people’s houses!  So, I have to assume, that the western idea of “dog as part of the family” is changing how some Ecuadorians are viewing their family pet.  

I’ve never had a dog before and don’t consider myself a dog-person.  
But I’ve come to realize that my Ecuadorian family has the sweetest dogs of all.  

This is Balto.  He accepted me immediately as a member of the family and all he wants in life is some chicken and some pats.  He’s getting old for an out-door dog, so I try to give him some love, sneak him some of his favorite bread rolls, fill his water bowl and straighten his blanket-bed each day.  In return, he faithfully sleeps every night outside my door and lulls me to sleep with his snoring.

This is Joy, his constant companion.  She’s feisty and fiercely protects her food from Balto.  She’s the first one to the fence to announce a neighbor walking by.  She also loves being touched, and her favorite day of the year is when somebody cuts her hair.  She’s just too cute when she can see again! 
I miss these dogs.  I’m sure they’re wondering why I left in such a hurry.