You can learn a lot about a place by observing how dogs exist within that society. I’ll compare the U.S., Ecuador and Laos; three nations I have lived in with vastly different cultures.
In the U.S. stray dogs are almost entirely non existent because any that do are quickly trapped and put in cages. Many are spayed or neutered to control further breeding. Any captured dogs are put up for adoption and in the best case moved to a bigger cage, perhaps a house and yard. In some cases, when no one can be found to adopt the dog in a timely manner, the animal is killed. I’m aware that many Americans pride themselves on ‘freedom,’ but it is one of the most sterilized and regulated places I have ever been and you can see it via how society treats feral dogs.
In Ecuador feral dogs live alongside humans. They fuck in the streets and no one cares. They are also pretty scrappy and can be aggressive. They bark often and if you mess with them they will not back down. The ones that are pets rarely have leashes (the U.S. is the only nation of the three where it’s common for dogs to wear leashes). The dogs in Ecuador have a lot in common with the people. There is little regulation, at times things can be chaotic and if they see something they don’t like they will surely raise a ruckus.
Here in Laos—a Buddist nation—the feral dogs are very passive. I mostly see them lounging around. When a human walks by they are likely to follow them with their eyes but almost never bark nor show dependence or aggression. Cats can sometimes walk in front of feral dogs here and they don’t react. That’s similar to how the people here are as well. I sit in town everyday as the world walks by. Everyone looks at me without expression. No one talks to me.
In Ecuador people would sit down and make noise. In America, eventually, some authority figure would come and inform me I was breaking some regulation—perhaps because I’m not a customer or because the park closes at night.