We’ve met our share of cyclists almost every day we’ve been in the Carretera Austral; it draws adventurous travellers from around the world. On our last day on the Carretera, we saw a pair coming towards us with a dog galloping beside them. We were a long way from any habitation.
“You have a dog?!” Chris exclaimed.
“No, we don’t,” they replied, in frustrated tones. “He’s been following us since Puerto Rio Tranquilo.”
At this point they’d come 50 km from Rio Tranquilo. The cyclists had camped for one night, and the dog had settled beside them, waiting till they continued the next day. They claimed they hadn’t fed him, and had tried to lose him on the descents hoping he would turn back, but the determined hound would always catch up to them. They encouraged us to offer him treats and call him, but the hound refused our offer of shortbread and our entreaties of “Ven aqui! Come on! Who’s a good boy!” As we parted company, the dog – looking footsore but determined – continued loping north with the German/French pair. We later heard that Torrey and Lucie, not far behind us, had also tried (and failed) to get the canine to turn southward.
I wondered how the story ended. Most of the time, we never find out how some tales of which we see only the beginnings will end. We can only speculate. A few days later, though, the condition of Chris’s arm helped us to decide to retreat northward by bus as we shifted gears into Plan B.
Our bus back to Coyhaique stopped in Villa Cerro Castillo, allowing passengers to alight for 20 minutes. I had time to talk to the young woman in charge of the general store. I told her about the footsore but determined mutt we’d seen heading north, and wondered if she’d heard of a dog arriving in town on the heels of two cyclists.
“¡Si! Habia un perro de color café llegando aqui con ciclistas. Esta todavia aqui con una familia.”
(Yes. A coffee coloured dog arrived here with some cyclists. He’s still here with a local family.)
We’ll never know whether he ever got back to Rio Tranquilo, or whether anyone there even missed him. At least we know he didn’t continue to Coyaique, climbing switchbacks as the ripio changed to pavimiento. And we can assume somebody fed him and that he got a good rest. Perhaps he eventually got back to his original family in Rio Tranquilo, or maybe he found a new and better home in Cerro Castillo.
The dog had run 130 kilometres in about 48 hours. He’d looked footsore when we’d seen him after 50 km, so heaven knows what condition his feet were in after 130 km.