It's a Dog's Life / by Alan Strathman

Since the time I arrived here I have wanted to write, even if briefly, about the life of dogs in developing countries.  Being a dog in a developing country is a hard business.  I know that many dogs in the U.S. are mistreated and malnourished and abandoned.  But many also are treated like canine royalty--well fed, surrounded by toys, with cushy dog beds, and without the threat of being attacked by other dogs or abused by humans.  Some dachshunds even get to sleep with their owner.

In both Ghana and St. Lucia, when I walk down the road here (and this was just as true in Ghana) I commonly encounter chickens, goats, more goats, sheep, and a few pigs ambling along with me.  And cats.  And dogs. Dozens of dogs might cross my path on any walk of 15 minutes or more. And of all these animals the dogs have the worst of it.  They are usually scrawny, somewhere between skittish and terrified, with sores and injuries, and that look in their eyes that lets you know how stressful it is to have to be constantly vigilant for......everything.

Dogs that are not roaming around are kept on very short chains in dirty, disgusting areas without ever having the chance to get the kind of exercise that they so obviously need.  And they have most of the same issues that roaming dogs have.  Chickens, goats, sheep, and pigs are all treated more humanely because they have some monetary value. The companionship that a dog can give clearly does not compare to the cost of food and care.

This is not a call to action on the behalf of dogs.  That would be silly.  It is understandable that people without the means to feed and care for their families will not share what they have with dogs.  I just wish there were many fewer dogs living such lives.  Certainly, I have fed dogs when I had the chance--the person hosting the bar-b-cue last Thursday night might have wondered where all those burgers went.

When I have my own apartment I will do what I can for the dog population of my little village.  And I want say that I miss Tom and Collins sooo much.  Much more than I ever thought I could.  But this would be a foreign and stressful environment and I know they are being well treated in their new home.  Spoiled even I'm sure.

Earlier I said I wanted to write, if even briefly, about the life of dogs in developing countries.  Here is really all I needed to write:  It sucks.