They say that you can gauge a community’s prosperity by the condition of its dogs. But sometimes financial hardship has nothing to do with the suffering people inflict on their animals. On more than one occasion during my travels I’ve been horrified to discover that people I’ve known and even liked tether their dogs with short ropes just outside the backdoor, never walking, exercising, or releasing them. I once asked someone who kept his dog this way why he wanted to have an animal at all. His response was that the dog was his “alarm system”. I never again looked at him the same way.
The dog in this photograph, however, was doing fine. He was part of a pack that moved freely on a street in La Yagüita (a barrio in the Dominican Republic), each dog marginally owned by a particular person or family but generally found lounging as a group. What I found most heart-warming was that a number of the dogs made their home with a man who lived on the brink of destitution but still chose to commune with his canine friends. Sometimes money just has nothing to do with it.