I befriended a young street dog while staying in Sorata, a small town located in the Andean highlands of Bolivia. On my first night in town, I dined at one of the small cafes located just off the plaza. There were a number of street dogs hanging around the corner - feeling sorry for them, I bought some salchichas con papas(sausages with potatoes) from a local vendor and fed them.
Walking across the plaza on my way back to the hostel, I was escorted by two of the dogs. We were soon joined by a 3rd dog. I was out of “dog food” so I had nothing to feed the newcomer. He had short hair, a moderate skin rash on his rear hindquarters and walked with a limp. When he was standing still, he dangled his leg. I surmise that at one point in his young life he had been hit by a car, a common occurrence among street dogs. Like most street dogs he had no name, so I nicknamed him Pedro. Bidding Pedro and the other two dogs farewell, I made my way back to my hotel.
The following morning, I made my way back to the plaza where I ran into Pedro again. When I called his name, he ran to me, wagging his tale. Like many street dogs, Pedro was fairly scrawny so I bought him two plates of salchichas con papas, and he gleefully gobbled it up. Afterwards, I sat down at one of the park benches, and Pedro lied down on the pavement besides me as I patted him on his head.
The life of a street dog is not very fun – abandoned by their human owners sometime early in their life and left to fend for themselves on the streets, most of these dogs become full time scavengers. In Sorata, the dogs hang around the plaza during the day, looking for scraps of food on the ground or soliciting handouts from patrons of the park. At night, the dogs target the garbage cans located just outside the small cafes and food stalls surrounding the plaza.
Over the next couple of days, I would hook up with Pedro whenever I went to the plaza, buying him some street food or some raw meat from the butcher shop located in the outdoor market. Pedro really relished the raw meat. At no time however did Pedro beg for food – but I fed him just the same. On two occasions, Pedro followed me back to my hostel – the first time, he tried to enter the hostel but the owner shooed him away.
After waking up one morning, I walked to the roadside fronting the Hostel – about 600 meters from the plaza – to be greeted by Pedro, who appeared from the bushes located at edge of the nearby soccer field. Apparently he slept there overnight.
On my last day in Sorata, I tried to find Pedro a home with one of the villagers. But alas, no one wanted to adopt Pedro. Too bad, Pedro was a very sweet dog and would have made a nice pet for someone. I will miss him….