It’s a dog’s life

dogs, chile, santiago, animals, street dogs, south america

It’s a dog’s life


Dogs in Santiago, Chile

Oh, to be a dog in Santiago! Never before have I seen strays looked after so well as in Chile’s capital. Their little doggy faces smile up at you, happy and healthy. Their coats shine and there’s a plumpness to their bodies you don’t normally see in animals on the street.

Woof! A young black labrador has started following me on a walk through the park. He runs through the grass, sniffing the things dogs sniff, but always comes back to my side. He’s adopted me and I enjoy the company and his friendliness. He doesn’t seem distracted by other people and shows me a faithfulness I don’t deserve. When I sit down on a bench at one point he sits beside me, waiting for a pat (and, to be fair, probably some food).

dogs, chile, santiago, animals, street dogs, south america

dogs, chile, santiago, animals, street dogs, south america

He won’t get any from me this time but there’s no fear of going hungry. One of the reasons the dogs in Santiago are so healthy is because the locals have taken it on themselves to feed them. The animals are part of the community, part of the city’s population, and are treated with respect. Take, for instance, the market at the bus station. It has all the usual stalls… and then one just for dog food so people can pick up some tasty canine treats on their way home.

dogs, chile, santiago, animals, street dogs, south america

Speaking to an American guy who now lives in Santiago, he tells me about how he tried to feed the local dogs one evening. “I had some leftover meat from lunch so I went down the street to give it to them”, he explains. “But then a woman came out and started shouting at me. Apparently she likes to feed these ones and they always get the best dog food. She thought my meat wasn’t good enough for them!”

dogs, chile, santiago, animals, street dogs, south america

The dogs happily stroll the streets like they own them, they sit underneath your table at al fresco restaurants, and they play with each other in the park. Someone (either residents or the government) has even built kennels in the main park so the animals have somewhere to sleep. The dog bowls in front of the kennels seemed to always be well-stocked.

dogs, chile, santiago, animals, street dogs, south america

It’s nice to see a community take such good care of their animals. Too often you see dogs and cats neglected or abused on the streets. I suppose it’s easy to just regard them as pests that a city would be better off without. But that says more about the people than the animals, doesn’t it?

  • Sophie | Feb 29, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Heartening to see strays looked after. We’ve just adopted a gorgeous little stray from Romania, where the situation is very different and very sad.
    Sophie recently posted..The cliff divers at La QuebradaMy Profile

    • Turtle | Feb 29, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Oh, it’s always so tempting to adopt all the strays you meet. That’s great to hear you’re going to be looking after one.

  • Cathy Sweeney | Feb 29, 2012 at 3:17 am

    It really is nice to see the street dogs so well cared for in Santiago. You’re right — that’s not often the case. Enjoyed your pics.

    • Turtle | Feb 29, 2012 at 9:57 am

      I think all the world’s cities would be much nicer if people looked after their animals. They’re part of the population as well!

  • Leah Travels | Feb 29, 2012 at 3:42 am

    This makes me so happy! Every time I see a stray my heart breaks a little. I’ve adopted two rescues and they are the best. It’s great to see these sweet animals being taken care of the community. Great post!
    Leah Travels recently posted..A Gringa’s Guide to Rio’s Carnival ParadesMy Profile

    • Turtle | Feb 29, 2012 at 9:58 am

      How do you stop at two? Next time we speak I bet you’re going to have 3. And then 4… 🙂

  • Fabio | Feb 29, 2012 at 4:20 am

    …and wait till you get to Valparaiso! (Where maybe you already are/have been!) 🙂
    Fabio recently posted..Almost Twin BikesMy Profile

    • Turtle | Feb 29, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Yes, I’ve just been to Valparaiso. Amazing! Stay tuned for the post from there…

  • Wanderplex | Feb 29, 2012 at 4:34 am

    It’s awesome to hear how well street animals are cared for – really says something about the spirit of the people who live there. And nice post – it’s always interesting to look at a city for a different perspective – in this case through puppy dog eyes!
    Wanderplex recently posted..Suffering temple fatigue? Try seeing things in a new light.My Profile

    • Turtle | Feb 29, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Ha ha. I think the dogs were eating better than I was. Not to say the food in Santiago was bad… it was actually really nice. But no one found me and fed it to me! 🙂

  • Perfume | Feb 29, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Hey Turtle,
    Your blog reminded me of an Australian movie – Red Dog (its an amazing movie based on real story). Your blog is really inspirational. I don’t like street dogs but I will make sure to feed them whenever I get a chance. Thanks.

    P.S: Hey Turtle – Your blogs are always heart touching; each and every words in your blog go straight into my heart.

    • Turtle | Feb 29, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Oh, I’ve never seen Red Dog but have always wanted to! Maybe I’ll download it obtain it legally somehow…

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Feb 29, 2012 at 6:38 am

    The photos of happy street dogs reminds me of Gandhi-type quote “The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members.” It’s no wonder that Chile was voted #2 on 10 Best Ethical Destinations.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..INTERVIEW: Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Nelson Mandela, Graceland & 50 Years As South Africa’s Cultural AmbassadorsMy Profile

    • Turtle | Feb 29, 2012 at 10:01 am

      I didn’t realise Chile was #2. It makes sense though. It wasn’t what I expected from a South American country. The way they look after their dogs is just one example of a country that seems very comfortable with itself and looks out for the welfare of everyone and everything.

  • Bodlagz | Feb 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Those dogs look amazingly healthy for street dogs, a huge contrast to the street dogs here in Thailand.
    Bodlagz recently posted..Thai Superstition and The Face on The Mud Flap.My Profile

    • Turtle | Mar 2, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Yeah, I’ve the poor dogs in Thailand. You don’t want to go near them because they’re probably so full of diseases! 🙁

  • The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) | Feb 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Wow — that’s so awesome! I love dogs 🙂 Just another good reason to visit Chile! Great post, thanks for sharing.
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..In search of Lake PlacidMy Profile

    • Turtle | Mar 2, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Trust me, there are lots of good reasons to visit Chile!

  • Andrea | Mar 1, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Ahhh – the dog gangs of Chile; how I miss them! I’ve never been to another country with so many strays. I never noticed that they are well looked after; I don’t think Chile has anything like an RSPCA or Humane Society (correct me if I’m wrong)…

    • Turtle | Mar 2, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Of course, I should have mentioned the gangs. They love to prowl the streets together and bark at all the other dogs trapped behind fences. He he.
      I haven’t heard about an RSPCA equivalent in Chile… anyone?

  • JoAnna | Mar 1, 2012 at 1:11 am

    My street dog wasn’t treated this well. That’s why I adopted him and brought him home!
    JoAnna recently posted..Wanderlust Wednesday: Palm Tree in Aitutaki in the Cook IslandsMy Profile

    • Turtle | Mar 2, 2012 at 12:25 am

      Good on you for taking him in! Whereabouts did you do that?

  • Laurel | Mar 1, 2012 at 3:02 am

    So heartening to hear this. I volunteer to walk dogs at the animal shelter in Munich and love to hear the good stories.
    Laurel recently posted..Crushing on BarcelonaMy Profile

    • Turtle | Mar 2, 2012 at 12:25 am

      I hope people in Munich treat their animals well. Especially in those freezing winters!!

  • Danyelle Franciosa | Mar 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Really heartening to know that there are strays like this, they really need home and care. I hope some people in that place would mind to adopt any street dogs.

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  • Mike C | Jul 1, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Complete contrast to Belize and Guatemala. Even dogs with tags looked disheveled and flea-ridden. A crying shame to see so many dogs like that.

    • Michael Turtle | Jul 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      I guess it’s easy to just ignore the stray animals and live your life around them. But it brings a bit more meaning to a community when they show some compassion like in Santiago.

  • Nicole | Jul 22, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Great post! I am planning a move to Chile next year and want to bring my dog, and one of my concerns is how accepting they are of them. This makes me feel so much better!
    Nicole recently posted..Introducing…Bogey DogMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jul 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      You’ll have no problems with the dog in Chile. In fact, the biggest issue will be making sure it doesn’t get overfed! 🙂

  • Cornelius Aesop | Oct 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I know my wife is going to love Santiago simply for this fact, thanks for sharing.
    Cornelius Aesop recently posted..New Brew Tuesday: Rivertown Brewing – War Smoked Red AleMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Oct 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Good to know! It’s a great city, even aside from this. Make sure you give yourself enough time to check out some of the different neighbourhoods.

  • Robert Truog | Jun 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Really, These dogs are very lovely and healthy, but I am very sad see that, these lovely dogs are on the street. Thanks to sharing these lovely pictures . I love it.

    • Michael Turtle | Jul 12, 2014 at 5:53 am

      It is sad to see dogs on the street but it’s much better to see healthy ones on the street, isn’t it?

  • Juan Carlos | Aug 18, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Tu viste la parte mas bonita de Santiago, pero a sus alrededores, donde vive la gente pobre, hay muchos perros en pésimas condiciones, desnutridos y muriendo. Que viven en basurales buscando entre medio de la basura y escombros algo para poder comer, pasan frió en invierno y heladas, lluvias, la verdad que lo pasan muy mal. La gente los abandona a su suerte, y mas cuando tienen cachorros, deben sobrevivir. Es una pena, que no hayas visto la verdadera realidad.

  • Gib Smith | Aug 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I’ve seen this respect and love for dogs also in other countries like Romania where there is a large stray dog population. Nice article. Thanks.

  • Geraldine Mayor | Jan 31, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you for your heartwarming article.

  • mike | Nov 22, 2016 at 4:27 am

    Many of the street dogs in Valparaiso are not so happy and healthy. Owners should be responsible for their pets. There were over 5000 injuries from dog bites in 2010. We could help alleviate this problem by magnatory fines for owners and neutering programs. Lets hold these owners responsible.

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