Stray Dogs, Community Dogs, Feral Dogs, Vs. House Dogs
Miami has a reputation as home of the superfluous, profligate and ostentatious. As a resident and dog trainer in Miami I have a front row view of this. However, this existence contrasts sharply with most other parts of the world. On a recent trip studying canine behavior in South America, I couldn’t help but notice the stark differences between the dogs in Miami and the United States vs. dogs in South America. Through this exploration, it became evident that stray dogs and community dogs do not necessarily mean without a “home”. By home, I don’t mean to insinuate they are indoor pets, as we see in the United States; conversely they live outdoors, are supported, fed and cared for (to a certain degree) by one or many people. They may be referred to as outdoor dogs, community dogs, homeless dogs, village dogs or feral dogs. Contrarily, community dogs were not in a state of entropy.
One striking observation is that community dogs within their modus operandi, get along very well in the absence of leashes, human supervision and are naturally free within the community. The equanimity and harmony that exists within packs of street dogs is very intriguing to study. The order and lack of chaos is staggering and they acted in a visceral manor. You can really see nature working with these sentient beings. It is much more Darwinian than in the United States. One of the most glaringly obvious observations is that there were no small “designer” specialty breed dogs, nor dogs that require human intervention to propagate. The dogs that are so common here in the states (Boston Terriers, Bull dogs, Yorkshire Terriers, French Bulldogs, Pugs, Chihuahua and all the varieties that exist) were nowhere to be found. For whatever reason, about 90% of the dogs observed were larger mutts. The social fabric and culture that makes up the populations were certainly different than the states. There wasn’t a person in site that toted around their designer dog in their handbag as an accessory or any people flourishing ancillary pet products or trinkets that flood the market in their northern brethren. The zeitgeist is quite different in other countries where their reality is very different than ours, but does that mean that these dogs are not well behaved, are less loved or don’t live in peace and harmony within their communities? It didn’t look like this was the case.
Many of the dogs in question were very friendly and there was palpability in observing how Canis lupus familiaris domesticated. Their cunning, charismatic personalities were a thrill to watch. It is not an axiom that social unrest, bites and disease were a fait accompli. We got a firsthand look at this every step we took as we toured around several countries and witnessed homeostatic community dogs that weren’t the least bit recalcitrant. Community dogs would follow us up volcanoes when we were on treks or merely coming out from a restaurant. They were gregarious and wonderful dogs. As you can imagine, many of the dogs were intact. This is arguably perplexing because many intact dogs in the developed world or in the United States have aggression problems, are targets for other dogs, exhibit more dominant and territorial behavior.
The homeostatic nature left me in awe and yearning to stay and study them more. It was an incredible and mystical trip that left more questions than answered but it was a wonderful experience that I will never forget.
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