Dogs With Places to Be

The streets are filled with vendors selling beans and corn tostada, people convincing tourists to buy fake alpaca sweaters and colorful fishing pants, and the garbage of Ritz crackers, Coca-Cola, and slew of other trash-snacks produced by corporate moguls who have gotten their hands on the small but fierce country of Ecuador. But the most consistent presence in the streets is dogs—dogs of every shape, size, color, texture, weight, and level of energy. And they all have someplace to be.

All of these said dogs have a distinct sense of purpose. They don’t stay in their homes and yards waiting for their “owners” (if they have them) to take them for a walk or let them outside for a scheduled departure of bodily fluids. Instead, they run from place to place (or sometimes choose to take a long nap intentionally in the middle of the sidewalk walkway) with purpose and determination. They take initiative and ownership of their lives and schedules and consequently get stuff done—they find their own food (a lot of times they eat the garbage that the humans prematurely put in the median of the road for the garbage truck to pick up), have friends (whom they greet from wherever they are at the moment—on roofs, in gutters, or from the kitchen of a local café or panadería), protect themselves and their territory, never get “lost” because they set their intension is to roam, and they care for each other and form bonds that make their lives fulfilling and satisfying.

A dog with a place to be
A dog with a place to be on a Baños, Ecuador rooftop looks through tangled electrical lines to the sidewalk below.

I am so inspired by the lives lead by the dogs of Ecuador. They seriously take their lives into their own hands and do exactly what they want to do day after day after day. And I’ve learned from watching their inconsistent patterns. Like the Ecuadorean street dogs, I need to be independent and constantly reorienting and changing my scenery. I need to be part of a community and to live life in the moment—always choosing my own path that aligns with my goals and is an environment to create a community. But unlike the dogs of the streets, I usually remember to brush my hair before I leave the house in the morning.

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