Across the globe, dog owners, fans, and friends are celebrating National Dog Day and for Peru (and the Peruvian Hairless) it’s no different. Started a decade ago, the day aims to recognize the canines who complete our otherwise human families.
The bond humans share with dogs is unlike almost any other. With their big brown eyes (though my dog’s are actually blue), our dogs look at us with nothing but unconditional love. They care for us wholeheartedly and need us completely, looking to us to provide their food, shelter and safety. What they give us in return is unparalleled – friendship, loyalty, devotion and comfort. It’s a tough fact to face, but few beings will love us as unconditionally as our dogs.
Often called “man’s best friend,” dogs have played an important role in human life for about as long as humans have roamed the planet. In their initial roles, canines provided protection to people, guarding them from perceived predators by alerting humans to the dangers that lurked in the dark, and protecting them from the elements by cuddling up and keep their pack warm.
Some Peruvian civilizations believed this dog was a mystical creature.
Photo: Chris Smith Ronnie Schumate/Flickr
For those who lived in what is modern day Peru, that need for protection was no different. Enter the Peruvian Hairless, a breed that predates the Incas. The dog noticeably has no fur, save for a few patches here and there or a Mohawk atop their heads. They are usually brown or grey in color, though some are splotched with white or black spots.
The Peruvian hairless has been man’s best friend since ancient times. The exact origin of this animal remains unclear, and people speculate it may have come from Africa or Asia, but what is known is that this is an ancient breed of dog.
Archaeologists uncovered ornate pottery, paintings and other works of art that pay tribute to the Peruvian Hairless dating to 750 AD and they believe the dogs walked alongside people who made up the Vicus, Moche and Chimú civilizations. The pooches roamed through the Inca empire and slept in the beds of their owners, taking off the chill of cold Cusco nights. The Spanish conquest not only wiped out the Incas, it nearly extinct the Peruvian Hairless breed. While their numbers dwindled, the dogs survived, mainly living in rural areas where locals believed them to be mystical creatures.
The Peruvian Hairless predates the Incas.
Nowadays the breed can be seen throughout Peru, strutting the streets of Lima, Cusco, Arequipa and beyond. Because they have no fur they are noticeably warmer to touch which makes them great bed mates. It also means they are typically cleaner than their counterparts with fur, most notably being resistant to both fleas and the abominable “dog smell.” On the downside however, they are completely intolerant to cold temperatures and are at risk of skin cancer (which is why they often wear sweaters and vests). Not only a breed favorite among modern-day Peruvians, due to their loyal demeanor, the Peruvian Hairless has gained in popularity across the globe.
While I don’t have a Peruvian Hairless (yet), I do love all dogs, especially mine. For this reason, at my house, everyday is National Dog Day, though I will be sure to go the extra mile for my pup today – literally, today he and I will go for an extra long walk.
If going for a long walk isn’t your style, there are a few other ways to show your pup (or others if you don’t have one) just how much you care.
While the exact origin of this animal remains unclear, the Peruvian hairless has been man’s best friend since ancient times.
Photo: Bruno Girin/Flickr
Tips on how to celebrate with your four legged friend:
If you can call a dog your friend, you can:
1. Take your dog to the park.
2. Give your dog a good brushing and belly rub.
3. Have a National Dog Day party and invite all your friends and their dogs!
If you don’t have a dog but still love them, you can:
1. Adopt a dog from a shelter
2. Donate blankets, food or your time to a shelter
3. Write your Congressman or woman and ask that he/she support the ban of Puppy Mills and Gas Chambers in your state.
How will you celebrate? Comment below!
Terra is a self-proclaimed wanderlust addict. While many people collect knickknacks or baseball cards, Terra has made a hobby of collecting stamps in her passport. Already having seen much of North America, Central America and Europe, Terra embarked on her South American adventure with a curious spirit. She’s done a fair share of traveling through the continent, but admits she wants to see and do so much more!