I had originally planned to write about Roky and Big Poppa in my post about our day in Guatapé, but these two legends really do deserve their own story.
I’ll start with Roky. As we passed through the main square in Guatapé, a bassett hound was fully sprawled out in front of a restaurant, begging for his belly to be rubbed. Obviously I went over to help him out and play with his adorably oversized ears and undersized legs. He was wearing a collar that said “Roky” and I figured that he probably belonged to one of the local shop owners in the square. We shared a moment and he followed me around the corner. I was worried that he would wander too far from his home base, but thankfully he turned around and retreated pretty quickly.
On our way back to the hostel we decided to take a shortcut through a parking lot (which was more like a storage yard for old sh**). As we were about to exit, I was shocked to see a beautiful (albeit dirty) yellow lab laying in a sand pile in the corner. “How could a purebred dog end up in such dire straights?” I thought. I called him over and gave him some love along with my standard examination, checking for any obvious ticks, cuts, etc. One major takeaway when meeting both Roky and this mystery lab was that both boys were neutered—the first two that I had seen in Colombia! I immediately assumed that a spay/neuter clinic must have come to town and helped out these poor homeless purebred dogs. I am such a sap.
That night we were chatting with the hostel owner, an American from Ojai, and showed him photos of both dogs. What he shared was unexpected:
“Oh yeah, that’s Ron Jeremy (referring to the bassett hound) and Big Poppa (the lab). They both live in million dollar mansions about 2 kilometers outside of town, but they come in every day to hang out. We call the hound Ron Jeremy because when you see him walking down the street, the first thing you notice is his big d*** swinging from side to side, almost hitting the ground. And Big Poppa and I have an understanding. When he’s not in the sand pile he hangs out in the front of the hostel, but he’s not allowed to be on the porch. Otherwise, he starts to get territorial.”
“So you’re saying that the lab prefers to sleep in a pile of sand in a dirty parking lot versus being at his owners’ mansion?” I asked. Yup, he sure does. I’m not sure what the takeaway here is other than the fact that I met two beautiful, obviously loved dogs who get to enjoy some pretty serious freedom. While I wouldn’t let my dog wander the way that they do (I’d be afraid of cars, aggressive dogs, terrible people, etc.), I respect that they at least neutered their dogs and subsequently aren’t contributing to the stray population in town. The boys are also less likely to get in into fights, which is a win for everyone. On the sliding scale of animal welfare in Colombia, these two boys had it pretty good.
The next morning we departed rather early and wouldn’t you know who was asleep on the front porch before ushering us back to town? Big Poppa. The man, the myth, the legend. Of course, we didn’t give away his secret.
Man, I love dogs.