Aside from my ongoing “Dog Security-Industrial Complex” series, I don’t normally deliberately set out to photograph dogs I see, unless there’s something distinctive about them I see in the street that calls out to me. But usually, when I photograph dogs in the street setting, it’s not with the distinct intention of shooting them. My usual intent is to just shoot them as part of the “scene” – usual intent of documenting modern landscapes and human/ animal interaction with those.
However, within thirty minutes of leaving the Santiago Airport, I was accosted by a big, bushy tailed stray dog at the Estacion Pajarritos, my first encounter with a stray dog this huge and healthy looking. After two more encounters, I knew this was something I wanted to photograph continuously while I’m in Chile.Stray dogs are loved and cared for in Chile.
In a big Santiago park, there are even dog houses built by the government for them. As a consequence, the dogs are very friendly, relaxed, and when they look at you, you don’t see desperation in their eyes. These are not skinny third world bag of bones I see skulking around Manila, but confident, big, healthy dogs with nice coats that playfully rub against you then roll over waiting for a belly rub.
I feel the condition of these strays speaks a lot about Chile in general. The fact that there are numerous strays shows that there IS a problem, but then they are well cared for, so there are two sides to the coin of “oh, well, it’s a developing country, of course there are strays”.
It makes you wonder where these dogs came from. Were they pets that ran away? Excess puppies thrown away by people that couldn’t handle them?
Interestingly, I see very few stray cats around here. Chileans have told me that cats here run away because there are so many dogs. For consistency, I originally wanted this series to be only about dogs, but when I encountered two cool cats proudly looking back at me as I photographed them, I just had to include them in this series.