I have walked the Camino Francés twice... and while there are many dogs on the Camino, I can't recall seeing any that I could certainly identify as strays. Most belong to people...I took many photos of the "fierce" camino dogs (haha) if you go to the blogs and photos section of the Camino Francés topic.. they are listed under July/August 2008 photo album. Dog food is a nice idea... but heavy????
I walked the Camino last April and May and I was a bit worried before I started because I had been reading stories about people who had problems with dogs along the way. Well I had no problem at all and met nothing but friendly dogs all along the way. None that I would call strays,they all looked well fed and healthy, the ones that were loose in towns and villages were generally asleep in the shade. Walking by walled or fenced estates there were guard dogs snapping and growling at you but they were the other side of the wall or fence. My suggestion would be to not feed the dogs as you might end up with a friend for the rest of the Camino and you wouldn't want to be responsible for tolling someones pet away from home.
I had one very special experience with a dog on the outskirts of Los Arcos . The following is a quote from my journal written April 14, 2008 :
On my way here this afternoon just outside of Los Arcos a little wiry haired dog with a face like a collie ran out to great me like a long lost friend and followed me for about 5 KM . I kept trying to tell him to go back home he was going to get run over or lost at one point I even shouted at him thinking if he though I was mad at him he might leave and go back home. I guess he could tell that I wasn't very sincere as he would just circle around me through the fields and appear in the road in front of me a few minutes later. I was beginning to entertain thoughts of taking him along with me . We had been walking on a small country road basically a dirt track through farmers fields but up ahead I could see where it was going to intersect with a larger paved highway. I could see a van sitting at the side of the intersection with three people in it, two men and a woman. As we approached a man got out with a leash and called the dog over who went running to him. Communicating with my few words of Spanish and various gestures I was able to determine that he was their dog. Evidently he does this sort of thing frequently and they didn't seem to be upset about it at all.
My experience on the Camino Frances in March of this year was exactly the same as Dale's--practically right down to the little dog in Los Arcos. I sat in a square in Los Arcos on a bench and this cute little fellow wanted some of my ham sandwich. I told him I would not share any food with him but he was persistent. When he stood on his hind legs and propped his front paws way up on the back of the bench, I couldn't resist. Fortunately he didn't follow me on as I'd hate for him to have gotten lost on my account.
Our dog Tim came to us with two pilgrims, having followed them 30 km. from Carrion de los Condes. He is a fine addition to the family, and enjoys daily runs up and down The Way.
This summer we had a similar experience with Mimi, a German shepherd pup who arrived with a bike pilgrim from Holland. She stayed three months with us. She so charmed a couple from Belgium that they returned after their pilgrimage and took her away with them to a new life in Brussels!
Rebekah had three dogs when I came to call. I noticed that they followed the pattern of other Spanish dogs I met along the way: they knew when it was time for the daily siesta. Here is a photo of one of her dogs in the midst of siesta- and I think shortly after this photo I retired to bed for a 'short' siesta of my own... that turned out to be quite a long one on the comfort of Rebekah's spare bed!
All of the working barking dogs were chained up or behind walls so there's no need to worry on that score. But there are a few perrogrinos who will walk up and down the Camino to keep you company. I walked for about an hour with one outside of Arzua, and he really cheered me up after a night on the floor, then a drizzly start.
Thanks all for your replies, I really appreciate this ! I have no intention to feed well fed looking dogs, it's just that I know that there are a lot of stray and very very hungry dogs in spain. It looks like things have improved lately, at least on the Camino. I am very glad to read this.
Thanks again !
In september and october, i had nothing but good experience with dogs on the camino. In fact my friend Lucas, from Austria, saved a stray Greyhound, gave her shots, and took her with him from CastroJuarez, all the way back to Austria!! Cara, was her name, and even she had a good time with the dogs whom ran free at times. ...so the point is...even the Camino Dogs are mellow and loving! peace
We picked up a guide for 10 km in Eysus, France on the Via Arles in October. A large, white Pynénées dog started to follow us, then began to lead us. At a tricky part through a stile of barbed wire that kept cattle in but allowed walkers to pass, he did the weave perfectly, sat and waited, and then led us through the barbed wire maze at the other end of the cow pasture, then to a more obscure barbed wire gate, back onto the original road. For a couple of hours he would lead us to the next turn, sit and wait, then move to the next corner, across pastures, fields and along roads. He made peace with the farm dogs as necessary to clear our way. Finally after the thermal bath resort (closed the previous weekend), he left us at a barking dog that was moving goats from one field to another, an old friend of his, no doubt. At one point when I dropped behind my brother a few meters after a photo opportunity, the dog dropped back with me until I caught up -- a very good dog, indeed, concerned that I was a straggling sheep.
I have been back a month and still trying to assimilate and unpack.
An experience I had re dogs:
I was attacked by a dog in the small village just before Ruitalin. It was a big, gentle looking golden retreiver type dog and appeared to be sleeping in the sun. However, as I walked past it jumped up and attacked me. Luckily it bit my backpack, otherwise a piece of my bottom would have been gone. I have never been afraid of dogs, having owned many german shepherds since I was a small child, but it left me very shaken and quite cautious of other dogs I encountered. Most of the dogs seem to be in Galicia, most lying in the sun shine right on the path through the villages. A few gave a growl but kept their distance. Once day another dog was running towards me growling so, brave person that I'm not, luckily there was a church yard/graveyard that I quickly ran into and shut the gate. The dog hung around for ten minutes or so then lost interest. I quietly snuck out the back way and headed fast out of the village.
So remember, take care, be wary and don't assume all gentle looking dogs are just that.
I hope to update all about my camino once i get myself sorted back into the rhythm of life here. cheers, Jane