Animals, Australia, Japan, Korea
Comments 12

Themes: Dogs, Sweet ‘n Psycho

I was much disturbed by the barking of a dog, an animal that I fear more than any wolf. A dog is vastly braver, and is besides supported by the sense of duty. If you kill a wolf, you meet with encouragement and praise; but if you kill a dog, the sacred rights of property and the domestic affections come clamouring round you for redress.

At the end of a fagging [sic] day , the sharp cruel note of a dog’s bark is in itself a keen annoyance; and to a tramp like myself, he represents the sedentary and respectable world in its most hostile form. There is something of the clergyman or the lawyer about this engaging animal; and if he were not amenable to stones, the boldest man would shrink from travelling afoot.

I respect dogs much in the domestic circle; but on the highway, or sleeping afield, I both detest and fear them. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879)

On a rice-paddy lane last weekend. Friendly but distracted. Somewhere to be.

Well, it’s been too long between posts again. I have the best intentions, but get home from work ruined most nights, and on the others I go straight from school to a local hill, forest, park or river bank and spend an absorbing couple of hours rambling and taking pictures, then home feeling cleansed — but dinner, photo-editing and the Action Movie Channel consume my last waking hours.

I never blog when it feels like a chore.

Dusk is playtime. Sandgate, Brisbane. December 2011.

But some good news: today was my 62nd walk in Korea, a nice sweaty climb up a small but steep and beautifully forested mountain I’ve named Pointyhead:

Summit, Pointyhead, a few hours ago.

Also, summer “vacation” (as they call it here) is approaching. And here’s a new post. Good things come in threes. Or was that bad things? Anyway, things.

“Trail Days” hiker festival parade, Damascus, VA, 2006.

Today I’m starting with something I’ve been thinking about for a while. We all need a break from temples, mountains and me bitching about Korean school students. I already have my occasional Scene from a Stroll posts with a single picture taken on an urban walk. Themes will be sporadic posts devoted to a series of thematically linked pictures from my various rambles, captioned but otherwise text-free.

Street life, Busan. April 2012

(Actually, I say “sporadic” but I made a list of themes and motifs in my walking pictures and there are over 60!)

The Watchers. Hokkaido, Japan, 2009.

Anyway, here’s the first theme, beasts encountered regularly by most perambulators: dogs — the good, the bad and the bullet-worthy…

The standard greeting from a farmyard mutt. Hokkaido, Japan, 2009.

Friendly locals, Shikoku, Japan, 2009.

Dogs & rubbish piles, Korean staples. December 2012.

Temple dog, Jangyu Temple. January 2012.

Shorncliffe Pier, Brisbane, & some marine life. December 2011.

Rare local exceptions to the “small is better” school. March 2012.

Uh-oh. On the Weg der Schweiz, Switzerland, November 2010.

Friend Utah Mike & Maybe, Appalachian Trail, 2004. (Scanned film).

Over the Wall, Busan. April, 2012.

Two-Legged Terror. Hokkaido, Japan, 2009.

A Study in Wretchedness. Stray near N2 school a week ago.

The Little General. Busan, April 2012.

What’s the Password? (Nice dog; note typical trash pile.) Jangyu, yesterday.

Lord of the Manor. Where’s my rifle? Jangyu, yesterday.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote



  1. I love the “temple dog” photo. He looks so regal. Some of those dogs are psycho looking – you’re so right!

    • Yes, that dog was very friendly and laid-back, as was its equally regal sibling. But the psychos are lurking everywhere… Thanks for the comment!

  2. wow, great pics. I can see why it is scary to come across dogs in your travels. I hate seeing them on leashes, acting mean, of course. Makes me sad for them. The photo titled “Stray near N2 school a week ago” looks to be a Yorkie?

    • Yes, a dog should always be regarded as a potential threat when on foot. Most are okay and I haven’t been badly bitten as yet, but have resorted to stones as per Mr Stevenson more than once.

      As for the mangy dog’s breed, your guess is as good as mine. Poor thing looked to be on its last legs. It was a rainy day too — I rigged up a roof for it with some trash; have been back a couple of times to check but no sign of it.

  3. Stones are the best line of defense – I’ve been in a situation where throwing a few kept two large, barking feral dogs away on a wilderness trail. Though, today while jogging in the park I told my LP not to “scare the little dog” on our path…it was an asthmatic pug trying to find the perfect spot for a squat pee.

    • Yes, always spare the asthmatic pugs. They have enough hurdles to surmount as it is.

      Trekking poles, or at least a good stout stick, are multifunctional hiking aids I’ve used more than once — to threaten, not yet to make contact. Mr Stevenson packed a revolver on his walks. What a comfort that would be!

  4. Just love your doggy-themed photo-sequence, Goat! I like many of these pictures, but ‘Two-legged terror’ and ‘A Study in Wretchedness’ stand out for me!

    • Haha, thanks SW. That two-legged mutt did its best to drag itself onto the road to maul me as I passed, proving that not all dogs are smart (lost its back legs courtesy of a car). I demanded the photo as recompense. I actually felt guilty photographing that second cur, it looked so terrified. I keep going back to see if it’s there so I can feed it, but it hasn’t been around.

      Stay tuned for signposts, paths, brooms, rowboats and all manner of other trailside themes!

  5. I have had a few run-ins with dogs while hiking in the past. Got bitten by a Doberman on a French farm. I already hated dobermans – perhaps it knew the animosity I was harbouring. I completely agree with Stevenson!
    I have quite a sad dog-related memory from a bus ride in China when a dog starteed to cross the road some way ahead of us and the driver deliberately speeded up and swerved to hit the mutt. We heard it bumping under the length of the bus. An early lesson (this was in 1989) for me in different values, different cultures.
    Like other commentators, I particularly like the temple dog and feel saddened by the wretched stray.

    • That China story is gruesome, though not especially surprising, Rachael. Over here, of course, dogs are still on the menu in some parts of the country.

  6. Travels with a donkey. I encourage you to do the same.

    You should go to Croatia.

    Lots of donkeys there still in active use.

    They can keep you warm at night also (and I mean that in a non sexual way)

    • I am so glad to hear that. I’ve had some lonesome nights on the old trail but so far I’ve stayed within the bounds of respectability and species.

      That donkey is a great character. A very touching ending when Stevenson has o part ways with the beast.

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