There are many experiences to be found in Peru for even the most seasoned and cynical amongst us, food poisoning being undoubtedly my most visceral and recurrent.
While Machu Pichu steals all the column inches in every tourists guide-book there is to be found lurking in certain markets and Inca temples a treat of the animal kingdom rarely praised or recognised for its brilliance….the Peruvian hairless dog!
Your intrepid reporters initial encounter with this fascinating gem of the canine world happened by chance on a tour of Lima’s downtown animal market. There was I, ignoring scents and sights of dubious origins, gazing into cages, tanks and all manner of containers, when there before me, paws to the glass, was a vision of evolution at its finest.
Devoid of hair other than a gingerish protuberance on the skull and another dash on the tail, the Peruvian hairless dog, cuts a striking figure. Older animals have their skin tanned in the thrashing sun to a wonderful dark hue.
The temperament of the older animals can appear to be a tad aggressive – expect enthusiastic barking, howling and occasional showing of teeth when you approach but fear not this is merely a preamble to an imminent warm reception. Once tamed this breed shows itself to be a companion of exceptional intelligence – perhaps key to its longevity – depictions of the hairless dog date back to 750 AD.
As always the addition of a harness, some intensive training and a cigar of your choice is strongly recommended if one was to consider ownership of such a fine animal.