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in a




Lorraine and Dog in their room at Rosemary Gordon's Clinic in Colan, Peru.
All my bedding from the van is layed out on the floor to make cleaning easier,
as dust comes in just as it did in Cairo.

~~~Associacion Humanitaria San Francisco de Asi~~~

~~Colan, Peru~~

Rosemary Gordon

If you're a vet or vet tech, construction worker,
or just someone who enjoys caring for animals,
and you'd like to give the gift of time or funds
while experiencing the wonders of Peru,
contact Rosemary Gordon
through her web-site:
pawprint.gif Associacion Humanitaria San Francisco de Asi pawprint.gif

Your generosity will be most appreciated by Rosemary,
as well as these indigenous Peruvian dogs.

All photos copyright Lorraine Chittock

2008 Dog Calendar

Latin America from a dog's perspective...

To purchase copies of

for friends and family click:


Chunchi, Ecuador.
All photos and copyright by Lorraine Chittock



As in many villages, dogs follow their people all over.

living statue

Initially, I only bicycled with the dogs, for fear I'd loose their interest at a slower pace. And it was impossible taking group shots. Now, they're a very organized pack, and there's times I'll have ten with me. No catastrophies yet...


Cats is my main concern while walking so many dogs. These are some of Rosemary's thirty, most who come and go as they please, always coming in at night.

street scene

Assistant Marie Luise cauterizing an ear which has been notched to signify the animal has been sterilized. Dr. Victor is working with her. They're able to do nine animals in a day. How many if an injection was available? Click on if you're interested in alternatives.

vendors orange

On one side where I'm staying is desert cliffs, on the other the ocean.


These dogs are all owned, but with no fences, are free to have their own lives. Here, they're interested in the white female who's in heat.


Dog and Bruiser in a happy moment. Much older than the other dogs, they don't interact at all, and during walks, generally act like curmudgeons. They're also not crazy about the heat. Soon, we'll be with llamas...

living statue

When I arrived, there were a number of dead sea lions on the beach. This one has been transported out into the desert, presumably because a home owner didn't want it in their view.


The dog version of a hammock, the canvas on the boat is dry, off the ground and comforms to body shape.


This area and the beach homes remind me very much of Holly Beach, Louisiana, before Hurricane Katrina wiped the town off the map.

street scene

This is part of the enclosure where five of the dogs live. If you're traveling this way, please come and take them out for walks! As far as enclosures go, it doesn't get much better. But these dogs prefer being out.

vendors orange

A dolphin possibly caught in a fishing net.


You'll notice the kids aren't wearing shoes in this store. For many, it's too great an expense.

living statue

I love fish. While living in a Costa Rican fishing village, I got tired of seeing animals I swam with being slaughtered. The same has happened again.


Fishing people are having a tough time this year. The fish don't seem to be biting is what I'm told.


Dogs congregate on the beach around 11am when free food comes from the sea.

street scene

A number of people have died in the village in the past few months. Women are cleaning pots outside, dogs gather for any leftovers. You'll notice the walls are mud.

vendors orange

A goofy looking dog with owner.


Rosemary has transformed a plot of desert land into a mini-oasis. This is the guest house for rent by the night, week or longer.


This is in Sechura, the town I was camping outside of when I contacted Rosemary.

living statue

This is the building I'm staying.


All over, I see kids with a strong bond with their animals. I also see people petrified of dogs. I think some people have a genetic disposition towards animals, like anything, some of it is what we grow up with, and some educational.

street scene

Though dogs may not always be invited into homes, they're very much a part of people's lives.

vendors orange

Libertad, both ways on the main street.


This dog was taken to the closest vet in Piura, (an hour away if you have a vehicle) to have its eye sewn shut.

living statue

I have a lovely desert garden outside the building I'm staying.


More, one of Rosemary's workers, who uses a horse and cart for his work. He's coming down from the hill behind where he's gotten sand for building needs.

street scene

Gas is $4 a gallon here, which is ludicrous for people earning so little. The moto rickshaws have been in use for about 15 years in Peru and are used as taxi's. This is the main drag into Colan, and dogs regularly lay in the middle. I hope they move to the side when tourist season begins in a month...

vendors orange

One of the more expensive beach homes. The smaller wooden ones you've seen go for $40,000 approximately. Many had severe damage during a tsunami about ten years ago.

living statue

This is Noe who is an educator for Rosemary, and Marie Luisa, who's a vet assistant, a Noe's relative Kirk and dog, Rambo.


Noe, during a de-worming session for the public, Rosemary's in the background.

street scene

Noe de-worming animals outside where I'm staying. Notice what is used for fencing.

vendors orange

Pigs have a crappy life in many parts of the world. This one will spend much of it's life in this enclosure until it's slaughtered.

living statue

Rosemary and More at one of the entrances to the sanctuary.


Rosemary walking with a few of her animals through the pueblo.

street scene

Rosemary outside a house in the pueblo with a moto taxi.

vendors orange

During a Spanish lesson at one of the empty vacation homes.

vendors orange

Marie Luise adjusting a light during surgery.

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Animal Lovers
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For those of you who like blogs
you can check daily,
this is the wrong site.

My internet access is erratic
and is the overriding reason for nothing,
and then a sudden plethora of notes.
It will probably remain this way
until someone 'gifts' me
a satellite phone.
Anyone have a spare laying around? ;-)

November 30, 2007

Imported dry dog food is expensive here. Local variety not as much so, but dubious in quality. Rosemary feeds her dogs yams five days a week, and dry food the other two. Since I've been taking seven of them on strenuous bicycle rides, I've upped their food intake. This is getting pricey. Then I discovered the fishermen who are getting the bigger fish return about 11am, about the same time as when I lived in Guiones, Costa Rica. Fins and heads are free.

A few days ago, I collected about five heads of manta and small shark, as well as 8 well developed shark fetuses, and fed them to the dogs after our walk. As in Costa Rica, I'm not feeling very good about this. I felt worse today when I saw a small dolphin being butchered. (Not the Flipper kind... And not sure if it is a dolphin, but that's what the fisherman said.) I was asked if I wanted any for my dogs. I said maybe, walked away, pondered. I returned and somehow ended up with the liver which is huge. $1.60. I cooked it. It reeked. I haven't been very squeamish about these things since living in Cairo, when years ago, before you could buy pet food (we're talking a long time ago, in 1994...) I bought chicken legs, put them in the pot and boiled them until they looked like dead hands grasping the air.

I divided it between all fourteen dogs. They all had plenty, so that should show you how big the liver was. I haven't been eating fish lately, and my meat consumption has dropped radically...

Early this morning I took my van to the welders, with the three meters of metal I bought in Paita for $7, and had him weld me a bicycle rack. I don't have the bicycle yet, but figured while I'm not living in the van, things like this are easiest done now. He did a great job. His charge was $10. That's for a number of cuts, and joins. I'm trying to think of what else he can do...

After dinner, I decided to head down to the beach with Dog and Bruiser to watch the sunset. Picked up five heads for tomorrow morning's walk. When I turned to return home, Bruiser wasn't around. I went along the beach and he was trotting towards me. In his mouth was the dolphin's head. (not the Flipper kind...) The bicycle (borrowed from Rosemary) has a basket, so I thought it easiest if I carried it. While taking it away, this may have been the first time Bruiser's ever growled at me. I left him and the head out on the street... Meanwhile, Dog won't eat any of the selections provided.

Bruiser's done. Drank a ton of water and then rolled around on the bed. Dog too, almost like it was she who'd done the eating. Bruiser made hardly a dent. I tossed it in with the five dogs, see how they do, one at a time... It could be very quiet tonight with all these bloated bellies. Cats certainly have nothing to fear coming into the garden tonight. According to the fisherman, it was a good fishing day today. The dogs would agree.

November 29, 2007

At the same time I was sending an email to Rosemary, telling her I'd be leaving in a week, I was reading one I'd just received from a magazine editor telling me the story I'd written several months before won't run until the next issue, so don't expect payment until March. This was money I was counting on to pay for gas to get to S. Peru. Panic.

However, I must be progressing in mental evolution, because within a few hours, not only was I 'ok' with this, I'm happy about this turn of events. True, it means when I do leave here it'll be BAKING HOT. But, it's taken me some time to get settled so I can continue photographing and finalizing my book.

What I find fascinating about the bumping of the story, is that this is a story I did solely for money and possible connections, as opposed to love of the subject matter. In fact, I hated doing the story. It ended up being something completely different than what I originally proposed, and just the number of emails which flew back and forth was ridiculous. Once it was finished, the editor asked for a rewrite. The first I've ever had to do. I was pretty happy with the outcome. He then asked for 27 additional changes. This for a story only 750 words long. I complied while gritting my teeth. He still wasn't happy, and let me know he himself was going to have to redo whole sections.

Now, there's a question of when I'll be paid. I decided to refer to the contract which I'll filed carefully in my computer folder by the name of the magazine. It's nowhere. Completely vanished, along with each version of the story. Gone. I'm incredulous. It's like I never wrote the piece. Which I rather wish I hadn't. It makes me recommit to doing ONLY what I love doing. Then, even if worse comes to worse, at least I'll have enjoyed myself! It has been a VERY slow and sometimes painful process to get to this point. Money has often talked. What I kept discovering more times than I'd like to admit, is that the bigger money offers ended up being VERY poor deals when I did an account of hours invested.

And it was just this morning I uncovered a weird belief I have. I was having a mental conversation with myself (as one does) and said, "I could be making a lot more money if I worked on stories I didn't like." Well. Where on earth did that come from??? And here was proof positive a few hours later completely contradicting that. Isn't life interesting...

Walked with seven dogs on the beach, instead of bicycling. I felt I had to bicycle in the beginning, or else they got sidetracked and I'd loose them. Not a big deal, it's a very small place, with very little traffic. They know where the food source is. It was brilliant going slowly again. The dogs loved it, I loved it. I felt so glad we're staying longer!

November 26, 2007

Over a week ago I recognized I was happy day in and day out. There were difficulties, but the overall feeling was one of joy. It struck me that this is how people who are 'born with a smile on their face', operate everyday. Wow. It was profound. I wasn't born that way. I have to at times practice being happy before sinking (or lifting) into the state.

I seem to have forgotten what that's like at all! I camped in the desert last night with Dog and Bruiser to get a decent night sleep. I slept like a log. Returned by 6:30 am to bicycle the five dogs. Then gave each fish heads which had been cut off bodies on the beach. It rained a bit, just enough to make it impossible to get the sand/dust from my shoes and track it in the room. Took pictures of the place while the woman next door screamed at the kids to get ready for school. She screams much of the time. It's what drove me to camp last night. Enough. Writing isn't working. I'm in a funk. What happens then? I write about being in a funk which is boring. And cement it in.

Need to practice feeling good!

I'd like to update you on Blanco, the dog covered in engine oil. I returned with one of Rosemary's educational people to say when their dog could have de-worming. But my main motivation was too see if anything could be done to let him off the three foot long rope, which he seems permanently attached. To make matters worse, as he circles the tree, the rope gets shorter.

I introduced myself to his wife, as the woman who'd helped shampoo her husband's oil covered dog. She completely denied any of this had happened. I was stunned. Peruvians are stereotyped as stabbing you in the back, and being liars and thieves. I've heard this from different gringo's and have read of it in books. This was my first experience. All my other encounters have been positive.

All these little dramas remind me of how exhausting it can be living in a small village if you're not much of a social butterfly.

November 25, 2007

One of the problems of sleeping in a village is the dogs. They're active at night. I have my own two, plus the five on the other side of a fence made from bamboo. Last night brought in a full moon. For years now, ever since we began traveling together in 2003, Bruiser desperately wants to be out during these nights. Last night, he slept in the fenced yard while the other five barked far noticeably more than usual. Finally he came in. A short while later the five began howling. Real coyote howls. Even while we camped in coyote areas, my two never joined in. Last night as the five howled, Dog, while sleeping began making tiny howls which grew in volume. She continued once fully awake. Bruiser swung his head around. Never has she done this before. Then Bruiser joined in. Both of them, in what felt like a primal session of...what? Dog Dancing??? I felt I was with strangers. And I was so obviously excluded. What was going on was so animal oriented. In retrospect, I wish I'd suspended my astonishment and joined in...

November 23, 2007
Thanksgiving Day

I'm really getting into to this idea of not making plans. It is, after all how it is when people retire. I'm just ahead of schedule. And might not ever retire! The projects I'd like to work on is endless...

A month ago I'd really wanted to be in Ushuaia for Christmas, as it's THE place and time overlanders meet. And since I've met so few, it felt like I'd be meeting members of my 'tribe.' This really conflicted with my other plan, of not having a plan. Of just seeing on which path I was led. The other day I got an email from which said amongst other things:

Like driving cross-country, you can't possibly know in advance if or where you may encounter detours, hairpin turns, or passing cars passing cars with noses and whatnot pressed to the window. Moreover, little, if any, of the scenery you travel through will remotely resemble the destination you have in mind. Yet neither the "constellations" you see nor the unexpected maneuvers you take will ever mean you aren't headed exactly where you want to go, moving as swiftly as possible, getting closer every flippin' day.

The longer I travel like this, the more I'm certain not making plans, for me, is the way to live. I have no idea who'll email me tomorrow and say, "How about if..." Does this way of living work in the 'real' world? If/when I return to the states (the 'plan' is I'd like to next year, but that's many country's away...) I'd like to see. I'm sure it's more challenging when everyone around you is plan-bound.

Anyway, an opportunity arose to live at this shelter and help out, and so in the course of a week, the plan to go to Ushuaia, about 4,000 miles and several countries away, went out the door. Then I debated, how long should I stay here? Making plans is ingrained in our culture. However, I'm sensing it's getting close to leaving. A vague sense of unrest is the only clue. I'll wait and see what 'cards' unfold.

Until then, everyday, while Rosemary Gordon is away on holiday, someone comes to me with an animal problem. The closest vet is an hour's drive away, if you have a car and can afford gas at $4 a gallon. Most are making under $400 a month. It's not realistic to ask people to do this. It's not realistic to tell people they shouldn't have pets if they can't afford it. That's like telling people to abstain from sex until they're married. Or, not to have children unless they earn a certain income. Many people here love their animals. Certainly, others don't. Same as anywhere.

Tonight, a young boy knocked on the metal door of my compound. He had a box with kittens in it. I made sure not to look too closely. Nasty trick to ask your child to dump off unwanted kittens. I'm assuming that's what happened. My Spanish is bad enough that I could've gotten it wrong. I told him as best I could that the woman who takes cats won't be back for another month. There's only dogs where I am. Which is true. More accurate is, I can't take them. I'll be leaving here. The woman who runs the place has 30. She can't take more. She does run spay/neuter clinics here for free at certain times. So, the adults could've had the mother fixed then. I feel hard-hearted. It's Thanksgiving. I dread morning and finding the box at my door. I have no idea where the boy lives, so couldn't return it...

Same problems, different country. I would love letting animals breed with whoever they want to breed with-it is after all their lives. The problem is they breed frequently, have many offspring who in a short period of time do the same again. Humans protest and have the animals killed. Part of the perpetual cycle is garbage. Which was actually Rosemary Gordon's first project when she arrived here eleven years ago: to collect, divide into what can/cannot be recycled and dispose of the remaining by burning, as opposed to dumping in the desert, where stray animals eat, and then procreate. Her system is not ideal, but it's a system.

While I fret about the kittens, I cook dinner. Thanksgiving Dinner. In Colombia, after months of searching, I came across metal tins which act as a pressure cooker which you can use over a fire or burner. I've never (in a long time anyway) eaten food which tasted so good. It's fast, efficient and easy. And healthy, since you don't use water and then throw that away. I'd cooked an apple earlier (think of the best baked apple you ever had), and there was probably still some residue inside. I added yams, ten cloves of garlic, an onion, cut ginger, carrots, a small piece of beef, oil and salt. Delicioso. Absolutely incredible. And I thought, I don't need the beef.

Did I feel I missed out at Thanksgiving? My parents are English, so though we and other English friends got together for a big dinner, and it included turkey, we didn't do all the other usual Americana stuff. When I started working, for years I was a restaurant or hotel employed and always worked. Besides, I don't watch football, and hate that gorged feeling that's pretty mandatory. Or is it??

It's getting time for me to try vegetarianism again. A year ago I was for several months after a bout of being sick from eating beef cooked on the street, and getting tired of seeing manta rays slaughtered next door where I lived in Costa Rica. Then, I had a guest who was a meat eater and the next thing I knew... With this new mode of cooking, it'll be very easy. Having great fruit and vegetables, though it may not look as pretty as in the states, certainly makes it easier too. Some say it's easier to eat meat here as the animals have lives. Some do, some don't. There's a pig across the street who's probably lived all of it's life in a brick enclosure less than four meters wide. There's five sheep in the other direction who have free rein.

The lives of the dogs in the sanctuary are mixed. Rosemary's pretty much adopted all fourteen, and won't be finding homes for them. As with the 30 cats who live in amazing structures, most are free to come and go. They choose to stay. The dogs in the front house all take turns at being out, except during the tourist season which is upon us. The five in the back, get very little human interaction and are never out, though their enclosure is huge by shelter standards. They're safe, they're fed, they're off the street. They're not free. I have very mixed feelings about this, most of it due to my own values which I impose, as most animal lovers do, on the animals.

I'd like to donate some money so the five I walk to be taken outside after I'm gone. I miss them already. Would that money be better spent helping another dog who's covered in mange? Or those who need, even want to be spayed after numerous litters?

These were all issues I'm sure Rosemary battles with constantly. As the only gringa for miles around. As well as overseeing part time vets, a vet assistant, a man who does de-worming and educational training and some teachers who insert animal care into the curriculum. And though her mother was Peruvian, she was raised in S. Africa. This isn't really her culture. It's a lot. It's tiring. It was almost cold today. The kittens if left anywhere, will probably die in the night. And hopefully the owner of the cat will get her fixed next time there's a clinic.

If you're a vet or vet tech, and would like to spend 3-6 months here volunteering your services while seeing an entirely different way of living, please contact Rosemary at: Your generosity will be most appreciated by Rosemary, as well as the animals and people here. If you're traveling, and think you could help by giving a hand, you'd be welcome too!

Rosemary's website is currently being updated. If you'd like to donate funds, please email her at the same address.

November 15, 2007

Before I got to Peru, I felt I wanted to stay put in one place for a while. Preferably in the northern desert, while I could, before it got to be summer here and became too hot. I also wanted to take Spanish lessons, which I have NOT done this entire trip! (It's amazing how well you can get by on intuition and a little knowledge...) I wanted the dogs to have more frequent interactions with the same dogs.

I thought all of this might happen in the Cuzco area where I have a contact. In fact, it's happening NOW, in Northern Peru. I can't emphasize how much easier it is to see serendipity at work while you travel. It really is something you can count on-both at home and away. By the time I arrived in Peru, I recognized I was a bit worn out after six months on the road. I felt very homesick, for mid-town Sacramento where I lived in the late '80's and Africa. I was missing friends. I was tired of everything being new. I was tired of looking for places to camp, in areas where camping was difficult. I needed a break. Cuzco was still a few thousand kilometers away.

A few months ago, Jessica, a woman at the Humane Society of the United States had given me the contact for a woman who had an animal sanctuary in Peru. I forgot about the note until I'd moved further south. I emailed anyway. The woman, Rosemary Gordon, wrote back insistent I come and see her place. I looked at the map. Two hours only, in the wrong direction. I had a hunch it was the right move. I headed north.

Rosemary was born here but grew up in S. Africa. In her house, one block from the ocean in a tourist town called Colan, were trinkets I recognized from Kenya. Peru was already disorienting as it reminded me of Mauritania in West Africa. Here was this woman with a strong S. African accent in a house full of furnishings from Kenya!

In her garden are night time enclosures for THIRTY cats she's taken in. There are also SIXTEEN dogs. One with paralyzed back legs, one with a leg removed and others, all with stories. For the past few years she's been organizing spay/neutering clinics, education programs for schools and inexpensive de-worming programs. The enclosures for all these animals are very large and constructed mostly from bamboo. She welcomed me to stay a few days in a building which has a beautiful desert garden with palms, acacia and beoganvillia, with five dogs on the other side of the fence. That was 2 1/2 weeks ago. I'm still here, and a week ago Rosemary returned to S. Africa for a six week holiday. Every morning I walk the five dogs and check to see if everything is running smoothly with the Peruvian couple who take care of the upkeep of the animals and housing. In the afternoon I walk a few more dogs, toss around affection and give medicine.

One of Rosemary's dogs has many problems. It's hairless breed, which is indigenous to this area. Personally, I just don't 'get it'. Why have a hairless animal when you can have hair?? Isn't that the huge benefit of having animals? One of the reasons these hairless were originally bred is because there were tribes in this area that ate dogs and presumably, it's easier to skin an animal if you don't have to worry about hair. For those who don't know, there's a history of eating dogs all over the world. Even the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition who crossed America ate dogs, which some of the Indians they encountered thought abhorrent.

As I wrote previously, there's a huge number of stray dogs here, and many do not look good. I'm surprised to find so much procreation in a desert area where there appears to be very little abundance when it comes to food. People live very sparsely, the dogs even more so. In the small room next to mine, I watched a vet and assistant do nine spays in a day, two days in a row, in a room which most vets in the US wouldn't dream of operating in. But they've had only one death in a year, and that was due to anaesthesia. Amazing. But it made me realize how futile it is to attempt to lower a dog population with surgery. Injection is the way to go, otherwise, these attempts, wonderful as they are, are merely a drop in a very large bucket. For more info on non-surgical sterilization, check out: If you're a vet who'd like to volunteer here for three to six months to do spay/neuter and other veterinary services in RUSTIC but rewarding conditions, please e-mail me and I'll pass your address on.

The women who's the assistant to spay and neuters has a really genuine love of animals and I'd heard her mother was the same, and they had many. Indeed they do. Fourteen. When I went to her house I asked to see them, as there was only two in the living room. The rest were out back in an area which would have the Humane Society reeling in horror - small, concrete floor half the size of the room where I'm staying. In a way the situation reminded me of people who had birds in Cairo. In a city of 20 million, they keep all the parks locked because every time they've opened the gates, the grass and plants are trampled. If you're someone who has an affinity for nature, where do you go? How do you fulfill this deep need? You get an animal. And what animal best represents freedom and wildness? Birds. So thousands of people have ten of thousands of birds locked in cages in Cairean apartments. Some see the sun, others never do. I honestly believe these people don't realize the contradictions in their lives, that by fulfilling their own needs, another species is denied what is natural and a gift - flight.

The reason I went to the assistant's house is for Spanish lessons! I'm trading Spanish for English lessons with her, and a man who also works with animals doing de-worming etc. I tried doing this with neighbors in Costa Rica and it just didn't work. These are the first lessons I've really taken in the almost two years since this journey into Latin America began. My excuse? Nothing really valid, other than I'm lousy at languages, or haven't been able to afford them, or I've been in a hot area and haven't wanted my dogs to be stuck in the van. And, I've always hated classes. Interestingly, I'm really having fun learning! And so are they. It's probably not the most efficient way to learn. But it's a great trade. The fact that they're animal people means I also get a lot of animal terms which are important to me.

Lessons are while strolling along the beach, or stopping at one of the tourist houses which are empty most of the year - just like in Costa Rica. It SMELLS like the ocean, because apparently the right kind of seaweed doesn't grow close to the equator as it's too warm. Here it does. Unfortunately, there's some disturbing scenes here which point out problems throughout our oceans. There's a huge amount of carcasses on the beach; mostly pelicans, but also sea lions, turtles and one day a dolphin. Some of this is probably the result of getting caught in fishing nets. No one is sure why the birds are dying. The fisherman have their own set of difficulties. There's little in the way of fish compared to a year ago. Every morning I see what they bring in-it's not much. When I was in Costa Rica, there were similar problems.

Interestingly, when in Costa Rica myself and my dogs had continual problems regarding other dogs in our neighborhood - not so here. Though Dog at times has been overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, and there's been some squabbles while Bruiser has tried to be protective of either myself or Dog, that's been all.

I believe it's possible the attitude people have to dogs is directly related to their numbers. Though I still see plenty of bonding between the two species here in Peru, it may not be as pronounced as in other countries. It could be too early to say for certain. I am seeing the stereotype of dogs as pariah much more. As you walk down the street, they're everywhere, and in this dusty environment they're dirty and not always aesthetically pleasing. Many are mangy mutts. Nothing like the purebreds in dog food commercials.

My initial impressions of the five dogs I began walking was no different. They seemed an unruly, ill-disciplined crowd with no real leader. Though now I see five very distinct personalities, they were just five dogs who barked and leaped all over me vying for attention when I walked into the run. After two weeks of taking them for bicycle rides, and forming a pack who usually follow my lead, I'm fond of them all.

These are the result of many generations of dogs which date back thousands of years. Their job has been to guard territory. They bark at you, chase cars, they travel in packs and fight in an effort to win the affections of females in heat. When women dump out the water, they're there in the hope there's something edible in the water. You have to really love dogs to see them as endearing. And many do. As always, I see men walking along shadowed by their companions, women going to market accompanied by their hounds. And as always, people ask about my dogs and say, 'Ah, they're good companions, yes???' A young man came to the door last night with Blanco, who somehow got covered in car oil. He wanted to know what to do, and if I had anything for parasites. While we talked (me in very bad Spanish and only understanding half) he cooed to Blanco and unashamedly lavished the dog in affection. The photos I'm taking of people and their dogs could be manipulated. But they're not. The love is genuine.

Blanco was my first 'patient'. Though I'd given the man shampoo the night before, when I went to his house in the morning the man said it had been too cold to get the dog wet. Correct. I knew I should let him do the entire procedure, it's his dog. But I lathered and he wetted Blanco down with water. I told him the medicine I had for fleas and ticks, and other for worms was 70 cents. Enough for 15 bread rolls. As I suspected, the man didn't have it. Today, he's on his way to the capital of Lima to work for two months and more than likely has exactly enough for the trip there, and no more. Living close to the edge is something I understand. There was hushed words between him and his family. A fishing family, they were cleaning the meagre daily catch. I asked if he could pay when he returned. He eagerly shook his head. I won't be here, I'm happy to pay for the medicine of course. But, I realize Rosemary is here all the time. It's a large village with lots of dogs...

As always, I'm fascinated by the dualities of life. This is all wonderful and I'm grateful. But you never have everything. Like West Africa, it's incredibly dusty, MUCH more so than Cairo and sweeping the floors once a day is really not enough. (Though I'm not about to do more!) I'm often woken by the rooster, or the 5 dogs in back barking at something/someone walking past. (Dog and Bruiser have been perfect of course...) The closest internet cafe is a 30 minute drive away. Gas is $4 a gallon. There's no perfect place. There's interruptions whatever the lifestyle. You just do the best you can and try to remember as Ted Simon, the author of Jupiter's Travels wrote, The interruptions ARE the journey.

My stint of homesickness, and longing for Africa is over. I'm happy I'm here. Happy to be working on the Hispanic Hounds book, while finalizing, On a Mission from Dog, and writing magazine articles.

As I've travelled these past six months, my interest in photography has been renewed with every dog photo I've taken. It's the first time since completing my book CAIRO CATS I've felt this much passion towards a project. I foresee these pictures resulting in a book entitled, HISPANIC HOUNDS.

Perhaps my most challenging project so far, (not always helped by having my own two dogs with me!) it's perhaps the most rewarding. Dogs in this part of the world are not always viewed positively and can be extremely wary of humans. Just pointing a camera in their direction causes some to flee or act aggresively. Others who've stuck around are in the 2008 calendar of HISPANIC HOUNDS.

Though we all bemoan the internet from time to time, I'm amazed and grateful I've been able to put a printed product together while traversing several countries! I'd like to thank Doug Arnold, the designer for FIDO FRIENDLY magazine, for proofing the calendar. A designer for many years, he says HISPANIC HOUNDS looks great, and is impressed by the quality of Cafe Press. I hope you are too!

November 1, 2007

I'm currently in Northern Peru! It's desert, and initially I was camping on farmland where almost no mechanical machines is used. Work is done by human hands or horses. Though many countries adopt practices which cut down trees and bushes surrounding fields, they have not done so here. Because of this, there's a huge amount of bird life, and since the surroundings are swampland, desert, acacia trees, as well as fields of cotton, maize and rice, there's a multitude of habitats. Incredible numbers of eagles, osprey and other raptors hang out in trees waiting for field mice to appear from underneath dry rice paddies. I saw parrots, amazing red and black birds, and a tiny hummingbird smaller than two inches from head to rump. All in one place!

Though it may seem strange to camp on farmland, for me it's somehow comforting, and reminds me of some good times spent near the Sawtooth Mountains in Arizona. I need some familiarity, (Some people regroup in anonymous hotels, me in farm fields!) as I've been on the road for SIX months after leaving Costa Rica! Only now is it beginning to be much easier camping. Previously I'd drive for hours with no where I felt I could stop or even pull over where it would be safe for the dogs. Though it's possible there were places. It's not always easy being one person taking care of two dogs, while also tending to cooking, driving, maintenance etc. I think there's always been other stress due to being fairly isolated. Because I'm also working while traveling, I'm out of synch with other travelers. People I'd met previously are far, far away by now. However, I've made some connections and hope to meet up with like-minded souls shortly.

Bruiser, appreciating the meals I cook for him, decided the other day to have a go at driving - to help out. I'd pulled over quickly and leapt from the van to take a photo of a dog accompanying a horse, cart and their driver. I left the engine running. Being on flat ground, I didn't put the brake on. Bruiser decided he needed to tell this dog a thing or two. While leaping over to the driver seat, he pushed the gear shift down, out of park, and into drive. And off Bruiser and Dog went, down the road without me...

Entering Peru was like driving to a different continent, not just a different country. Away from farmland, it reminds me very much of West Africa with structures of rattan similar to Sudan. It's been a bit disorienting. Some of the people from poor communities off the beaten tourist path, were initially a bit suspicious of me taking pictures of dogs. Surely I must have an alterior motive, this must've thought. This also reminded me of the Sudan! Having said that, like Sudan there's been some incredible friendliness and generosity, such as when I took photos of a man guiding his horses and cart accompanied by his two dogs. Afterwards, he insisted giving me some vegetables he was transporting, and would take no money from me. If anything, people sometimes ask for something in exchange for pictures, not the opposite! Now I just need to figure out what to do with these enormous bean-like things...

And the street dogs.... There are incredible numbers of them, and quite a few in pretty bad shape. I haven't seen so much of this in my journey thus far through Central and South America. I had a contact through the American Humane Society of a woman here who grew up in both South Africa and Peru and was educated in England. I'm currently staying at her shelter which she's built up over the past 11 years. I'll tell you more about that in the next blog.

I'm going to continue enjoying sunsets which I haven't seen for many months because of cloud cover, and the moon rising at dusk. And worry less about finding camping spots. I suspect places were there, but quite possibly stress was making them invisible to me. One of the lessons in life I'm still learning!

Thank you for your continued interest.
best, Lorraine

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