Visiting dream places with my dogs, discovering incredible cultures and ways of life, is in itself enough of an impulse to travel. However, other additional motivations emerged along the journey, aimed at helping others (people and dogs). All thanks to traveling with them, who taught me the love for dogs. There are three main goals in our project: 1) "empowering" potential travelers with dogs; 2) helping shelters and raising animal awareness; 3) learning about dog cultures of different countries and write about them.
EMPOWERING OTHER "DOG TRAVELERS
Our project –Viajeros Perrunos– was born with the idea of encouraging other traveling souls to embark on a canine adventure. I started all this because after a while traveling with Cocaí through South America I was asked many times how I managed to do it, if it wasn't very difficult, and specifically finding accommodation, transportation from one place to another and getting to restaurants and others. So when I returned home I opened the blog (viajerosperrunos.com) to share my experience and try to resolve all these doubts that, of course, I also had when I decided to adopt Cocaí and travel with her. When I receive a message or an email of someone thanking me because of us they have decided to bring their dogs on the adventure of their lives, I feel that all this is worth it. It's awesome. In addition, the more people we travel with our dogs, the more the tourist infrastructure will have to adapt to our four-legged companions. It's already happening. The change from when I started with Cocaí in 2014 to almost ten years later has been remarkable.
HELPING SHELTERS AND RAISING ANIMAL AWARENESS
One of my biggest goals is to contribute my bit in the social and animal cause. The best thing about social media in my opinion is that you can connect with very interesting people, including animal associations, groups and shelters that fight day after day for animals. You can share their admirable work with the people who follow you and make an appeal to anyone who wants to lend a hand to the cause. Our community is modest, but very faithful and committed. Thus, for example, on our trip to Asia, among all of us we got some contributions to different protectors that I visited, especially in India and Pakistan. This is a wonderful achievement for me.
But in addition to raising funds, traveling gives you the chance to do something else on the spot, even on a small scale. For example, introducing the locals you come across to a reality they don't know. In many countries, or rather areas of countries, ignorance and fear towards dogs abounds. Of course, I'm not talking about trying to impose something or change their culture (which is very different), but to show them that their beliefs about dogs –dangerous, impure, etc– are wrong. Dogs can be –and are– wonderful. Neither more nor less than our best friends and companions for over 10,000 years. A good handful of adults have learned a lot thanks to Cocaí and Chai (some have even admitted to me having lost their fear), but children are the most open to shedding the layer of prejudice they brought from home. I love watching kids play with my dogs, but watching them play with the local dogs they used to throw rocks at is even better. I can proudly say that wherever we have been, we have encouraged adoption, even among people that I would never have imagined, seeing their initial fear towards Cocaí. An Iranian friend picked up a dog from the street within months of meeting us and one of my favorite families in North Pakistan adopted a dog and named him Coci after Cocaí.
LEARNING ABOUT DOG CULTURES AND WRITE ABOUT THEM
Last but not least, because this is a great source of inspiration and motivation. Throughout these years and throughout the countries we have visited I have learned a lot about cultures. Of our kind, of our best friends... and of the one that unites us. It is really fascinating to witness how different it is in each place, without having to be better or worse. Just different. There are factors like geography, weather, religion or politics involved. What is clear is that the range of possibilities is immense when it comes to dog culture and our interrelationship. Especially in Asia, where each country is a world in itself.
A few examples: in Iran, due to some kind of law that prohibits locals from having dogs as pets, we passed through towns and cities where many people had never seen a dog before. You can imagine the scene; in much of Turkey dogs are welcome everywhere, from hotels and restaurants to archaeological sites and beaches; in northern India and Nepal you can find temples where dogs are sacred and revered. And they actually have a festivity in their honor. We will see in Africa.