22 Apr,2017 By Jagabond
“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
I love dogs. I grew up without one, as my mom was fearful of them and therefore I was too. It wasn’t until my late-20’s that I met a Tibetan Spaniel that changed my opinion about canines. Years later I shared a bed with a Dalmatian who warmed my heart.
When I visit art museums in Europe, I see paintings of men with dogs…going back so many centuries. A dog’s natural place is with humans, and always has been. Living in Bahrain exposed me to stray dogs, and the pack mentality. The animals still survive, but they don’t seem happy. Luckily in Europe, with the exception of some urban areas in countries like Romania and Bulgaria, dogs are a part of the culture and the human family.
People accuse me of overdoing it with dog photos, with one for nearly every city I’ve visited. Lately I’ve even become that weird person who carries milk-bones in his backpack to feed the dogs in my neighborhood, not unlike the elderly feeding pigeons from park benches. I finally sat down and combed through my pictures, highlighting man’s best friend in Europe. I hereby present Jagabond’s ‘Best in Show’ – my favorite European dogs.
2nd Honorable Mention – Krakow, Poland
‘Dzok’ was a dog in Krakow, one of my favorite cities in Europe. His owner died of cardiac arrest in a main square, and Dzok was left homeless. The city adopted him as their mascot, and locals kept him well fed. Sadly, his life ended when he wandered onto the train tracks at an inopportune time. Krakow honored the beloved Dzok with a statue, celebrating stray animals everywhere. Dzok is no longer with us, but his spirit deserves a spot on this list.
1st Honorable Mention – Zadar, Croatia
Growing up in the U.S. I never saw dogs in restaurants or bars. The recent phenomenon of service animals has changed that, but still it’s nothing like Europe, where dogs are legally allowed most anywhere. I met this cute pup at a heavy metal bar in Croatia, though he seemed very young and unsure of his surroundings. I snapped this pic in 2013, so he’s older and mightier by now, I’m sure!
3rd Place – Annecy, France
Annecy flies under the radar as a hidden gem of Europe, with some amazing gastronomy and a picturesque lake. It’s also the home of Jasper, a basset-hound who I got to meet twice. My friend and I ran into him our first day, then again later in our trip…the second time he recognized us and walked over to say hello. He was only a young guy at the time…I hope he’s grown into all that loose, hanging skin!
2nd Place – Mons, Belgium
My neighbor in Belgium had the prettiest beagle! I never knew his name, as it was some French word that was hard to pronounce. He used to wait for me as I left for work every morning, poking his nose out through the fence. He knew I kept dog treats in my car, so I always had to put the car in neutral, get out, and feed him. This is the only time I ever considered stealing a dog.
1st Place – Arras, France
Touring Christmas markets can get mundane, as you constantly witness a stunning lack of variety…similar ornaments, food, and hot wine. The Chow Chow I met in Arras shattered the boredom with his cuteness. He saw me with my camera and practically posed for a picture. His fluffy hair was well-groomed, and he had the personality of a curious cat. Best in show for Europe!