October 1 is National Black Dog Day

The timing of National Black Dog Day and my recent trip to Peru could not have come at a better moment as the perfect subject for a new blog entry 🙂 huh you say?

Today is National Black Dog Day where in North America it is a day not only to celebrate our black-coloured (or mostly black-coloured) canines but a day to help promote their adoption in rescues and shelters.  It is well-known that black dogs (and cats) are usually overlooked at shelters by potential adopters.  Do people think black dogs are mean? Or they are just more drawn to lighter-coloured dogs? or multi-coloured dogs that might show more expression in their faces?

I don’t know the real reason but I found it very interesting in Peru, where I was just on vacation, that black dogs are the most respected and loved.  They are believed to play an important role in helping usher the spirits of those who have died to the afterlife.  There is no doubt Peru is a dog-loving country.  Dogs were EVERYWHERE!  Of course, I was in my glory trying to take photos of ALL the dogs!  I quickly noticed these were not street dogs, not starving dogs, not skittish and scared.  These dogs were smart and street-savvy.  They got out of the way of passing cars without panicking or waltzed through an open door to a restaurant or store.  Of course we tried to feed them and that’s when we realized they were not starving for food, they just wanted to be with people.  They have families and many are wearing collars, harnesses or even sweaters/t-shirts.  They wander the streets in the day and I began to notice them later in the day hanging out with their families in front of their homes or as darkness fell scratching and barking at the doors of their homes, asking to be let in for the night.  There were no fights, some played with each other, some just slept in the shade.  It was fascinating to see dogs exist so freely, without rules imposed by humans, and do so calmly and in harmony.  I witnessed amazing exchanges of play and body language between them, I really wish I had captured it on video.

Close to our last day we lined up to use a bank machine and a black dog wandered in, looked at everyone and lay down on the floor.  A local lady was singing to him “negra, negra, negra” which in Spanish means “black”.  He looked at her and wagged his tail.  He was wearing a green collar.  When the lady was done her banking she left and called him “Tino” and he jumped up and followed her along the busy street- no leash attached to that collar.  It was awesome!

Here are some of the dogs I photographed in Peru – all friendly, most in need of a grooming, at least by our standards, but lovely, happy dogs who are not starving, not street dogs and do not need to be saved.  They have loving families and homes 🙂

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