A surprising oddity as we hiked the Camino de Santiago de Compestela was the dogs. Yes, the dogs. They seemed strangely indifferent towards us pilgrims. We passed dozens and dozens of them – some even lying in the middle of the path – and not a single time that I can recall did a dog even turn it’s head to look at me unless I made a great effort to get its attention. When strangers approached to pet them, they seemed just to barely tolerate it. Occasionally, they’d interact a bit, but one got the impression that unlike most American dogs, none of these dogs really cared too much about the attention. Their attitude was almost condescending.
I’d have thought that occasionally one might actually approach me or become startled and bark at me or at least get up and walk away. But no, I didn’t see it happen even once. Even on the rare occasion when I actually stopped to pet a dog, the dog seemed rather unexcited by the whole thing. Sort of like a cat!
The breeds we encountered seemed familiar including many German Shepherds. In comparison, our family’s German Shepherd puppy, Brutus, was bred and born on an Amish farm. Brutus is a spastic high strung ball of energy – and that’s after a year of fairly heavy socialization.
So what gives? What is going on in the rural Spanish canine community? Is this behavior all just an elaborate ruse these hounds organize to amuse themselves by messing with pilgrims’ minds? Are puppies in Spain routinely initiated into some sort of secret society complete with a master dog who controls their minds and their behavior? Do rural Spanish pooches smoketh the weed?
Are they really all just cats in disguise? Investigation is ongoing.