Santiago introduced us to the Chilean stray dog. They are numerous in the parks and streets of the capital and San Pedro is no different. My assumption is that every town and city in this country has a dog problem.
But it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. The paragraph I’ve written above may give you images of starving dogs in packs scavenging the bins. But it seems to be anything but.
While some dogs wander round in groups of three or four many are solo. Moreover, these dogs are well fed. Both here in the desert and back in Santiago it appears that the people feed the dogs. They might not take them in, but they do apply a duty of care to these animals.
Santiago dogs often wear coats. They tend not to hassle people beyond an initial look and respond well if a passer by strokes them, even if there’s no food involved.
My favourite scene was seeing a dog at a road crossing and a car stopping to let him cross. The dog knew exactly when to move.
These animals are town and city dwellers with almost human instincts. They’re friendly, apparently happy and live in a place where they’re not just tolerated but almost wanted. Almost.
I find it a bizarre paradox that a population that has presumably discarded these dogs can also look after them so well.