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A practiced hand paints a thanka. Photo by Cara Starnbach, North India Program.

Zoa: the Best Dog of All Time

This is my first Yak post so far this trip, and after over three weeks of living in India it’s not unreasonable for me to have quite a bit to say. With this in mind I’ve chosen to make this post about a dog.

Over the past few days we’ve been staying at a guest house on the outskirts of Ladakh—very high up in the Himalayas where everything is beautiful and great. At this guest house is an adorable street-dog-turned-pet named Zoa. On this trip we’ve met a ton of dogs, but something about Zoa is really special, and a lot of that comes from her unique personality. She’s not the type of dog that runs up to you begging to be petted—although she doesn’t mind when you do—nor is she the type to sit in front of of you and wait until you feed her. Instead she has this interesting sense of independence where she just walks around doing her own thing, but always with a goofy dog smile on her face. In a way she’s a lot like the people in this part of Ladakh—calm, patient, self-reliant, and clearly content despite the limitations of living in the middle of really big rocks. This independence isn’t a rejection of us, however, and probably the most adorable thing to happen on this trip was when our group left the compound for a nice walk, only to find that Zoa had managed to sneak out with us and follow us around—giddily exploring the area despite her having probably been on the same walk like 800 times before. In fact, one story I learned about her is that she apparently left the guest house to follow a group of trekkers for several days before apparently getting tired and going back home. I think we can all learn something from such an adventurous spirit.

To wrap things up, Zoa’s the kinda dog you wish you could trade your own dogs for, and it’s always nice when our group makes a new friend.