It’s a Dog’s Life in La Paz

On my first day in La Paz, I noticed on the way home from the airport an overwhelming number of dogs roaming the streets. I could not believe it; it seemed as if they were taking over the city. I noticed that every dog I saw was also quite large as well. Dr. Miguel told me that it was very common to see large dogs roaming the streets. Small dogs are prized in La Paz, in fact, I am not sure if I ever saw a small dog running around loose. After some time had passed, I had become accustomed to seeing the stray dogs everywhere. However, one of my friends told me something that really got me thinking. She told me that her family had a dog that they let out everyday and the dog would come back every night to be fed.

It seemed like such a foreign concept to me that owning an “outside” dog in La Paz meant feeding it at night and giving it a place to sleep. It really made me think about what it means to own an animal. In the US, we do the same, but we usually leave our dogs in our home most of the day or perhaps give them a fenced in yard to run around it. At first, it seemed almost cruel to send your dog out to run in the street all day. The more I thought about it, however, perhaps we are the ones who are cruel for not letting our animals have the opportunity to run about. I try my best to keep an open mind and objective when observing other cultures, but this was an opportunity when my bias crept through without noticing. It made me question how many other times I have let my bias affect me, but I had not noticed. I now know that in the future I will need to do a better job of actively trying to keep my biases in check when working in the field.

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