Our “Year Off” has sadly come to an end. Well at least it has for Dan. He started work a few days after we returned to Virginia. However, my search continues. With the extra time, I’ve been barreling through books, house hunting, job searching, cooking, spending time with my folks, and trying to organize the 25,000+ photos we’ve captured in the last year. Yes, you read that right, 25,000 files! Considering, we just experienced the equivalent of 18 years of travel (assuming 20 vacation days/year) in one calendar year, it’s not THAT many photos. Is it!?
The files are organized by date and destination. The goal is to go through each destination and pull out some of our favorite photographs with the hope of making a photobook of our favorites. It’s a lengthy process. There are just SO. MANY. PHOTOGRAPHS. Entire albums could be dedicated solely to photos of food we ate, photos of us on a boat, photos of sunsets, photos of dogs, photos of our accommodations, photos taken from the bus window, photos of construction sites, photos of signs, photos taken underwater, photos of our beers in cool places, and photos of Dan with his eyes closed. Since I probably won’t get those photos developed, maybe I’ll share some of them on here.
Here are some of the dogs we’ve hung out with over the last year. Captions include context and some pretty funny stories.
This is Baloo. We met in Ecuador. We became such great friends, we keep in touch on Instagram. He came with us on our hike and is in much better shape than we are. @llullu_baloo
We played fetch with this dog and may have intentionally thrown her hamburger squeeky toy by this giant Galápagos tortoise. The rule is, stay at least 2 meters away from wildlife. This dog clearly doesn’t mind breaking the rules. The turtle hissed as the dog got close, but I got the feeling that these two were already acquainted.
We were SO happy to finally see some dogs that weren’t barking at us as they chased us down. We were on edge during some of our hikes in Ecuador after hearing stories from other hikers about aggressive dogs along the trails, known to bite. As we hiked from town to town on the Quilatoa Loop, whenever we spotted dogs, we kept our heads down, avoided eye contact, and just kept walking.This passive behavior around dogs went against my natural instincts, but a lot of the dogs are extremely territorial. The dogs would often bark but would usually leave us alone after observing our non-threatening behavior. A few times though, we had to swat our walking sticks and yell in deep voices to get them to back off. It got pretty scary a few times, especially since the dogs seemed to have more confidence in numbers.
This was the tiny town of Muang Ngoi, Laos. I fed this dog some of my french fries on our first day.
He must have been following me for the french fries. There were a few of these scrappy dogs around town. Notice the rooster?
Another scrappy street dog in Muang Ngoi.
We were making our trip back to our bungalow after a day trip to the Mae Khamin Waterfalls in Thailand. On the scooter ride back, on two separate occasions, dogs LUNGED at us as we were riding by. One of the times, I had to lift my leg up to avoid getting bitten. The rest of the trip, I kept the long metal selfie stick in hand to swat away any aggressive dogs. I asked Dan to stop using the scooter horn to warn dogs to get out of the road. For some reason, I think the horn triggered them. Or maybe the ones that were aggressive were rabid. We were almost on our way back to our bungalow along the Khwae Yai river but decided to stop at a small roadside restaurant to grab food before the sun went down.
…and we were greeted by the sweetest dog!
Dogs combing the beach at sunset in Koh Tao.
These dogs must have been BFFs because we caught them on a date later on in the night at our favorite smoothie stand. They picked through the garbage as we ordered our millionth coconut/banana/peanut smoothie.
I didn’t want to scare these dogs, but there was a restaurant across the street serving dog. I understand eating dog meat is perfectly normal in other cultures, commonly ones where dogs haven’t historically been kept as pets. If you’re squeamish, don’t look at the next photo.
I actually stayed on the other side of the street while Dan captured this photo. The sight made me sad, but as a meat eater myself, I will not pass judgement, unless I want others to judge me for my choice to eat pork, beef, or meat on Fridays.
I don’t know which is cuter. The dog walking along the road? Or the two kids riding a bike that is WAY too big for them? This was the road to our room in Tam Coc, Vietnam.
Pals in the streets of Hanoi. Any breed can be a stray.
These dogs lived on a floating oyster pearl farm in Vietnam. I couldn’t concentrate on the tour being given because I kept thinking about how these dogs lived on floating platforms over the water 24/7. They were true water dogs.
Also a water dog.
More dogs living on floating platforms in the middle of Ha Long Bay.
This is Rice Field dog.
He loved us so much.
We couldn’t get rid of him.
This is Temple Dog. We saw him at the Bich Dong Pagoda in Vietnam.
The dogs that lunged at us earlier in the trip while we were on motorbikes had me on edge. BUT, in the name of exploration, I put my fears aside and we took bicycles out to explore the town around our lodge located in a rural area outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. We barely made it a mile before we saw THIS sign. I was extremely grateful for the English translation, even if it didn’t make much sense. Without the English translation, I would have taken one look at this sign and assumed an apocalyptic scenario where dogs (and kitties? Look at the photo!) had taken over this part of the world. It was only a matter of time before they conquered the rest. The next day, Dan wanted to take the motorbikes out to explore more of the area. I basically said I wasn’t going out on the motorbike unless he did some recon on the dog situation. He took the motorbike out on a solo mission. He came back, heart racing, practically out of breath and said “Okay. Everything is fine, but we shouldn’t go to the 3rd reservoir.” I asked him why and he showed me this blurry photo…
This photo makes me laugh every time I see it. Dan had motorbiked up to the 3rd reservoir, turned a corner, and saw at least thirty dogs running towards him barking. There were more dogs than the ones in this photo. I’ll never understand it, but logic told him to go FULL THROTTLE RIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE of the pack rather than turn around. The dogs didn’t move as Dan came barreling towards them on his motorbike. Most of them were perfectly fine waiting it out directly in Dan’s path, playing a game of chicken to see who would move to the side for the other. Dan didn’t flinch and continued forward. The dogs jumped out of the way about a 1/2 second before Dan would have run them over. They chased him for about a quarter mile before giving him up. I was grateful he was okay but couldn’t stop laughing at his story. “Why did you go THROUGH them!?” His answer was, “It was quicker to get back to the lodge that way.” I mean yeah…IF YOU LIVE. He’s still convinced me to go out and explore though…
I filled my basket with rocks just in case. Luckily, all we saw were cows who were happy to move out of the way for us.
This is Kaleb. He’s a street dog who lives on our block in Florida. Animal Control has tried to come get him. They’ve even shot him with tranquilizers but he somehow got away. They’ve given up trying to catch him. No one minds Kaleb hanging out. He’s protective of the neighborhood but not aggressive. He lets no one touch him and it took years for him to trust me enough to get this close. The neighbors take turns feeding him and giving him water. He’ll bark when he’s hungry and all you have to do is call him and he’ll come over. He loves it when we come to town because we feed him the good stuff. Like leftover Popeye’s, steak scraps, or fish.
We saw our old friend Hamlet while visiting our friends in PA.
We also saw my sister’s dog Akira.
We said goodbye to Charlie.
and hello to Pablo.
There it is. Now you know all our dog stories from this last year.