Living with dogs in the Philippines

I can finally experience living in households with dogs. It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to own a dog, but the travelling lifestyle of my family meant that we cannot provide a good environment for any pets– that’s why we never had one. Luckily, I get to interact with dogs of friends and relatives of mine. But this year, here in the Philippines, I’m not talking about living with just one or two dogs, I am talking about a total of 9 dogs!

At some point in January (of this year), there were even 14 puppies living with us! I can tell you, it was impossible to pass by them without being “attacked” by any of them for a playful fight and cuddle. It was so much fun. Unfortunately, they all had to be given away one-by-one until only one puppy was left (he’s called Hans Olaf.)

Hans Olaf
Hans Olaf is the baby in the group. He hasn’t joined the pack yet.

I enjoy living and interacting (on a daily basis) with these 9 dogs and watch them live their laid-back life. They hang out at the beach in the afternoons and swim in the sea (sometimes); they sleep under the shade of coconut trees or dig a burrow on the ground to keep themselves cool. I notice that they seem to form packs when they congregate at the beach. Other dogs from different neighborhoods also congregate at different parts of the beach, but always being careful not to wander into other dog pack territory. These lucky dogs seem to be on a gap year for life.

Dog named Pupu
Pupu is the most playful of the pack

There are dogs everywhere! It seems every, as in– every, household owns at least one dog. But I see so many street dogs too. I’d be willing to wager that they have owners and only go home come feeding time.

Luckily so far, I only have good experiences with all the dogs here. I have not encountered any aggressive dogs so far. They seem to be just minding their own business.

Dog named Putoy
Putoy is the diva

I see many differences between the European and the Filipino way of raising dogs:

  • dogs here are (mostly) not leashed, they can just run around freely
  • most of the dogs here serve as watchdogs (protecting their owner’s property)
  • many are very poorly taken care of (their fur is infested with all kinds of lice, fleas, and ticks), dogs are usually not brought to vets in case of infections or sickness
  • most of the dogs are mixed breeds (it’s not common to see full breeds)
  • the dog food section in supermarkets is about 1/10th the size of the dog food sections in European supermarkets (dogs here are being fed leftovers or, worse, forage for their own food out of trashcans)

But for dogs with caring owners, one thing is definitely in common: they are treated as part of the family in the same way as in Europe. Our dogs in our household here definitely do get lots of love and affection.

And last, but not the least: I never get it when somebody asks the question whether one is a dog- or a cat-person. Why choose only one? There is enough love to go around for everyone. As for me, I am a dog AND a cat person.

Koala is the alpha male of the group