The kindness of strangers is one of the most rewarding things about travel. Realizing that there are good people all over the world, and that connections can be made no matter where we are from is extremely uplifting.
I have had countless help from nice people in all of the countries I have been to, in ways both big and small. A chivalrous stranger in Mexico gave me his jacket to keep because he noticed that I was cold. He saw me shivering, took off his jacket, handed it to me and walked away. A sweet old Arabic woman consoled me in an airport after I broke down in tears over a difficult farewell. We couldn’t communicate in words but she patted my hair and make motherly clucking noises that were effectively soothing. Some have helped me when I didn’t understand the language. Others when I was sick. Some warned me of places to avoid at night. Some became friends, and others I only saw for a moment.
And sometimes it is not a person who comes to your rescue.
My husband and I were followed by a stray dog for weeks in a little town outside of Oaxaca, Mexico. We didn’t know where he came from. He just appeared out of the blue and stationed himself in front of my mother-in-law’s door. He was a big dog, although you could tell he had not eaten well in a while. His age was difficult to calculate and as far as I could tell he was some sort of mix between a German Shepard and Black Lab. His eyes were soft and brown in the way that only dog’s eyes can be, and he looked like he could tell a tale or two if he could talk.
Although we were not really in a situation to keep a dog, one day we heard rumours that some of the neighbours were thinking of poisoning him. We immediately picked him up and took him home with us. He was extremely well-behaved and just a noble creature-full of dignity despite his somewhat doggie-vagabond appearance. (This was quickly remedied of course with a good washing, some food in his tummy, and some TLC.)
Just a few days later, I had an incident with a cyclist. I had opened the passenger car door to get out and the biker, who was on the sidewalk nearly ran into the door. Even though he was not supposed to be on the sidewalk he became enraged and came toward me, as if he wanted to hit me. Hobo (we named him after the Littlest Hobo.: Canine hero in a Canadian series in the 80’s) who was in the back seat, jumped in and with three great booming WOOFs the man backed off and went on his way. Although we barely knew Hobo, his instant loyalty to us and instinct to protect saved me from a potentially ugly situation.
This was not the only time that he stepped in as guard dog.
One day I had him with me in town. There was a large crowd gathered for a free concert and I was pleased that Hobo was so calm and friendly, especially with the kids who couldn’t help but tug at his ears or pat his head as they walked by. All of sudden he let out one of his loud WOOFs and turned into a different dog. His hackles raised, he glared at someone behind me. I turned, and sure enough, someone was trying to get at my purse. Everyone around me turned to look at the called out pick-pocket, who made a very hasty retreat.
Hobo was so expressive and became so close to us (and my husband in particular who he followed everywhere) that our superstitious neighbours were convinced that he was a reincarnation of my deceased father-in-law (some even insisted on calling Hobo by his name). But THAT is a ‘tail’ for another time 😉
Any Canucks out there that remember the Littlest Hobo?
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