I recently had the opportunity to take an amazing trip to Bogota, Colombia. The lush greenery was magical; the thin mountain air … even the weather was awe-inspiring, switching from bright and sunny to torrential rain several times a day.
Of course I spent most of my time watching and getting to know the dogs there.
|This guy came to help us when we got lost.|
The first thing I noticed was that the stray or “homeless” dogs there looked remarkably healthy and happy. Well-fed, comfortable, with beautiful lush coats, white teeth, big smiles.
After asking some locals, I learned that many people feed strays and take care of them as if they were their own. Maybe this is about a general respect and honor of dogs; maybe it’s related to less caring about “ownership” then in the U.S., more of a sense of community and togetherness.
|Sorry I woke you, Buddy!|
Whatever the case it was heartwarming and ensured that every walk or drive around the city was joyfully filled with lots of happy doggy smiles!
|Stray waiting for scraps|
|Dog with a hat!
Yes we gave him Pesos (the other guy with the hat)
The other big contingent of dogs that you couldn’t miss were the Military/Police dogs. These came in two major varieties that I noticed: the Guarders and the Sniffers.
The Guarders were typically Rottweilers, sometimes German Shepherds.
They were usually muzzled, and without exception perfectly behaved.
They’d stand by their handler’s side until told to sit; sit until told to walk; always calm, always awake, aware, vigilant.
I never saw one of these guys’ muzzles come off so they could do what they were no doubt trained to do. Thankfully.
The second group was the Sniffers. These guys were almost exclusively Labs, whether Black or Yellow.
They wouldn’t wear muzzles – no safety concern, I suppose; and also you want your Sniffers’ sniffers to be unobstructed.
Unlike the Guarders, these guys were occasionally allowed to socialize with one another. And I also noticed that unlike the Guarders, the Sniffers would often pull at the leash, jump around goofily… in general much “worse” behaved. Less strictly trained. I once had a K-9 sniffer unit in Brooklyn explain to me that sniffing/tracking dogs are often allowed to be undisciplined or untrained in those ways, precisely because you didn’t want to impede their intuitive tracking/sniffing instincts.
|The Guarders weren’t allowed this close to one another.|
It being Colombia, I guess it’s pretty clear what most of them were trained to sniff for. They did do a lot of directed sniffing of car trunks and tires.
But they were everywhere – in front of the mall sniffing bags, and just generally on the lookout (smellout?) Below is a Sniffer inspecting a bag in front of the President’s quarters. Do you think he gets special Presidential duty because he’s Chocolate?
There was at least one dog there who didn’t work very hard at all – Matilda, our friend’s fat Beagle.
|The extremely rare Colombian Pudge-Beagle, in her native habitat|
She was quite adept at eating though. And sleeping. And apart from looking at the dog wildlife, that’s pretty much what we did on our trip too!
Which gets me wondering… can anyone sniff me out an arepa con huevo in Brooklyn?