Street Cats and Dogs of Portugal
When travelling, I am one of those people that is saying hi and becoming friends with a cat in a window or the sad-eyed stray dog on the street or feeding the homeless kitten while others are busy pointing and clicking their cameras at the sights (and waiting for me to get a move on).
I remember one trip where I came back and found I had photographed almost nothing except my furry friends. Not that this bothered me, in some countries such as Portugal, the pets in the windows and out on the streets and also the strays are an integral part of the character and atmosphere of the country.
Take the Alfama district in Lisbon, Portugal, for instance: the Alfama is a maze-like historic residential neighbourhood of labyrinthine streets, alleys and walkways with washing hanging out and crazy electric wiring criss-crossing haphazardly everywhere over the walls. It is full of picturesque corners and nooks and scenes with cats and dogs looking out of windows or odd places.
The cats and dogs of the Alfama have in a way also become a tourist attraction. The black and white fellow looking out of the yellow house, perfectly framed by the window, was there for years (and I do hope he still is) watching people come by and almost every tourist visiting Lisbon castle got a taste of the Waldorf and Statler commentary of the two little ones up in the window by the castle entry.
Portugal sadly has a large amount of unfortunate stray dogs but it is often easy to mistake a treasured pet dog for one that has to go through life fending for himself (look below on how to help the unfortunate ones). In the warm months, pet dogs are as much out in the streets as strays, doing their thing or flopping down in the oddest places to take a nap. The fellow curled up around a tree belonged to port wine merchant close by and the owner of the german shepherd spread out from the dirt to the sidewalk was also probably near. Sometimes they are so relaxed and oblivious to the world that one worries if they are ok (the ones I saw were just sound asleep).
Cats are everywhere and when you think you have seen them all, look again as there is bound to be another one peering down at you from somewhere or enjoying the rays of the evening sun.
And for each cat you see, there are at least ten more out of sight, living in the streets, in derelict houses, in construction sites, in public parks and gardens, everywhere. Thankfully, there are the kind-hearted people that bring them food and water but there are all too many sick, sad and hungry.
The situation of street animals in Portugal, especially beyond the popular tourist centres, is pitiful. Only recently (in the past decade or so) help organisations have sprung up that do excellent work. They are obviously always in dire need of funds.
I have created a special gallery of the images on this page at FineArtAmerica – I donate all proceeds from the sales of prints of the images in this gallery to specific animal welfare charities in Portugal that try to help and better the lives of stray dogs and cats. Any help is much appreciated even if you think it is “just” a small thing like a greeting card, they do make such wonderful and thoughtful gifts that make a difference.
To the Donation Print Gallery