Lucky Pup, Luckier Humans

My dog is a big hit with some of my students. One in particular asked me when his birthday was a few days. We found him on the street near in a small town near Colca Canyon in Peru, so we’re not really sure of his exact age. Not wanting to confuse her, I told her the day we found her, which happens to be two years ago today. She replied that she hoped all his friends would come his birthday party, but “the little green men are everywhere and might get them sick”. Smart girl.

We had arrived back in Cabanaconde from a grueling hike down the canyon the previous day and we saw him again; this skeleton of a puppy that had a camouflage dog shirt on that covered his patchy brindle fur and rib cage, paint or something else stuck to his nose, and head bowed.

We didn’t plan to bring him back with us. First, we just wanted to get him food. After buying some tuna and talking with a store owner in the plaza, we confirmed he didn’t have a home anymore. He slept soundly in our hostel room, hardly making a sound and smelling like garbage. We brought him back to Arequipa for a veterinarian visit. The journey included hitchhiking a ride on a semi-trailer truck out of town to the Andean condor spot, another hitch on a moto with a small cargo bed on the back, and finally a bus. We learned there that he had moquillo, canine distemper and had no more plaque on his teeth, hence his stinky breath.

Since the beginning, Alqo has always been a road warrior. There’s a tiny space down by our feet that he can fit in? Done. A long walk around town to find a “dog-friendly” hostel? Okay, cool.

He enriched our trip by making us slow down, getting into extraordinary situations, and sleeping in interesting places. Instead of ending in Argentina, we stayed put in Peru for the next five months.

Happy adoption day, Alqo. I think you are lucky to have bumped into two bleeding hearts animal lovers back in that plaza, but we are even luckier to have you as our animal companion on these three crazy continents, making us laugh at your stinky breath yawns, your yoga positions, and how much you love to run when we go to the monte.

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