Dogs for the mountainlions

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Arriving very early in Hampi, all people are still sleeping. So I walk around the guesthouse area, and I notice about six dogs in cages. They’re curious and eager to get out, crying a bit.. Ofcourse my animal-loving heart feels sorry that they’re caged. Later I ask the owner about them. She says: Oh, we only lock them during the night, because of the mountain lions…. ‘
Doink. …say what?! She explanes that during low season when many people leave, the mountain lions come closer into town, and hunt for the dogs. We shouldn’t worry because now they stay far away because of many tourists, but just to be sure, the dogs are caged.
I’m stunned..the dogs -3 are giant Danish dogs-  seem suddenly very vulnerable!

I decide to make a stroll with an older Israeli couple on the beautiful rocks. When we get higher, a dog approaches us. Obviously a straydog, living around these boulders. He’s friendly and walks with us, climbing and jumping along as if he is a mountaingoat. When the couple is tired of the walk and go home, the dog stayed with me.
I notice an impressive scar over his head, from eye-to eye, like wearing a black mask.
When I walk down later, he follows me all the way to the guesthouse. A climber passes along and he says: ‘Oh that’s  ‘Zorro,’ we call him that way because he has a mask!“

When I’m with locals, they are suprised to see how dogs come to me and lay down next to me. I’m often surrounded by dogs, they must feel that I’m ‘safe’, or can feel the love for them. I can’t help but feeling sorry for the lovely homeless dogs who look into my eyes, and choose me as a companion…If it’s up to them, companions for life. All they want is to be loved. I wish I could take them all!

The locals tell me that the dogs are doing quite ok when it’s high season, because there’s many tourists and people around. Sometimes they get fed (by fools like me ;)) or find enough leftovers in the waste.
I can’t help giving them my leftovers. Outside the building tho- otherwise they get hit hard by the locals to get them out of their place.

But when it gets low-season, nobody feeds them, nobody’s even there! They are starving. The locals laughed and said: ‘They get ‘this’ skinny! ‘ putting their hands almost together.
As they get weaker, they’re also an easy target for the stronger. But in Hampi there’s also a predator looking for them! The majestic mountainlions come from the backlands to hunt for the dogs! Wow.

Back to my dear friend Zorro. The story goes that Zorro has survived an attack of a mountainlion, and the scar is a mark of a claw!
What a harsh world. Of course mountainlions need to eat too..but still ..imagine how it must be!

I hope that whenever I return, I will find him safe & sound,  just like the funny smiling white dog I befriended.
I realize that all over the world in tourist-area’s during lowseason all dogs must have the same struggle!

The nasty thing is, when dogs are puppy’s the locals find them cute, and they are welcome in the house, get fed, they are part of the family. But when they get bigger, they get banned form the houses, because they loose their cuteness and it’s just an extra mouth to feed. I often see in their eyes a broken heart.

Big respect for the survivers, and for being such friendly companions to me where ever I travel!




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