I love dogs – and it’s a common sight to see them rule the road in excess numbers in many under-developed nations, where reproductive control is lacking. However, in Cusco the situation is slightly different. While the majority of these second citizens live in the streets, their physical heath is higher than one might expect. These canines generally sport coats that are shiny and mange-free and rarely do their ribs show. Their days aren’t typically spent browsing the local garbage sources or tailing feeding human friends, hoping to score a morsel. Nope. Instead, they live a dog’s life, lazily lounging on doorsteps or in packs on street corners. Visitors can always expect these street kings to be friendly and social and often interested in saying hello.

In Cusco, however, I get the feeling that the attitude toward domestic pets is different from my own. While the vast majority of these dogs appear to be stray, I suspect that each pup can be paired with a human companion who feed and care for them as we would expect of any other pet. Yet it looks as though these pets have more independence than our own when it comes to leashing, kenneling and monitoring in general. Possibly, this is because they possess a sub-family status or, conversely, are honored as equal citizens. In either case, this laissez-faire attitude generates a few health concerns that would alarm any American public health and safety official as I’m not sure who’s responsible for cleaning up after this wild bunch. Apparently, they haven’t figured that one out yet.

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