©Arnold Plotnick, DVM

Picture Perfect Dogs of Peru

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Since retiring from veterinary medicine in 2017, I’ve had more time to pursue my favorite pastimes: travel and photography. The pandemic has made travel more challenging but not impossible. In October of 2021, I finally checked off a major item on my bucket list: a trip to Peru.

My visit took me to Lima, Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Paracas and Machu Picchu. I expected the mountainous vistas, colorful clothing, fabulous food and cultural history. What I didn’t expect was so many dogs! In every city, on nearly every street, I saw dogs roaming, playing and napping.

©Arnold Plotnick, DVM

In the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima, while walking along the Malecon, I saw a man tending to his three prized Chihuahuas. I asked if I could take a photo, and they obediently posed on the wall overlooking the Pacific.

In Aguas Caliente, where Machu Picchu is located, I spotted a beautiful Peruvian Inca Orchid, the national dog of Peru. It’s a head turner because … it’s hairless! This girl was a real stunner.

In Ollantaytambo, I visited a small clothing shop. A young dog befriended me, following me inside the shop. She wouldn’t leave my side. Was it a ploy to get me to linger in the shop longer? If so, it worked; I bought a sweater. I couldn’t tear myself away from this sweetie. I got my daily dog fix, and the owner made a sale.

My favorite place was Cusco, a picturesque town with charming cobblestone streets, whimsical shops and great restaurants. While strolling the Cusco streets as dusk approached, I spotted a dog sleeping by a door, under a rack of handcrafted bags and tassels. The lighting was perfect, and I got my shot.

Doggies to the end

©Arnold Plotnick, DVM

The trip ended in the lovely seaside beach town of Paracas. My hotel was right on the water, where I witnessed stunning sunsets, as pelicans and flamingos flew silhouetted against the orange sky.  One afternoon, while strolling the beach, I spotted a yellow Labrador-type dog sleeping in the sand. The dog barely opened an eye as I crouched to his level and snagged my photo, with the colorful restaurant in the background.

Peru is a beautiful, fascinating country that has something for everyone. If you’re a dog lover (you are, because you’re reading this magazine!), you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of friendly dogs you’ll encounter.

Want to help the street dogs of Peru? Check out the nonprofit Allqo Llaqta Rescue Centre at allqollaqtarescuecentre.org.

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