Sunday Stills: Pets in this life… and the next

In addition to the human skeletons that are ubiquitous during Oaxaca’s Day of the Dead celebrations, dogs and other animals are also represented in the colorful murals and sculptures found all over town.

Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tlee), also known as Xolos or Mexican hairless dogs, are believed to play a special role in the afterlife. They are revered as spirit guides that help us journey from this world to the next. If you’ve seen the movie Coco, you might remember Dante as the Xolo who accompanied the little boy to the land of the dead.

Here are a few of the creative representations of the animals we’ve seen on our Oaxaca wanderings.







Hop on over to Second Wind Leisure Perspectives to read about the joys of adopting older animals and to see pictures of Terri’s beloved dogs. You can also click on links to other blog posts on this week’s photo prompt, All About Pets. Feel free to join the paw-ty with your own post about the animals in your life.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

70 thoughts on “Sunday Stills: Pets in this life… and the next”

  1. You captured the beautiful essence of the spirits of humans and animals in the “skeletons” they’ve left behind, Janis! This belief fits into my eternal view of our sweet animals! Gorgeous pictures and what a cool celebration to see firsthand!

  2. My fav is the one with the cameleons (?) on the head of a beloved ancestor…
    Also, for some reason it makes more sense to me as to why the Xolos are hairless…journeying between two different worlds must be hard on the hair!

  3. Hi Janis, I have been really enjoying following you on Instagram, especially this past week. I have not yet seen, Coco, although I have heard a great deal about this movie. Your photos are vibrant, beautiful and disturbing:) I especially like the representation of the boy holding the bird. A photo? A painting? Great photos!

    1. Coco did a great job telling the story of Dia de Muertos in a way that was easy to understand. The boy with the bird is a mural, but it would make sense that the artist used a photo as a base to create his/her art. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my photos!

  4. Beautiful photos, Janis! I’ve been really enjoying them on Instagram as well. I am fascinated by the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations and loved the Coco movie. Thanks for sharing!


  5. These are amazing photos you have here Janis – interesting how they embrace this life after death for beloved pets … makes it less sad that way.

  6. Hi Janis! I love the Mexican imagination and their approach to the “after-life”. Making Halloween time about memories and remembrance instead of candy makes it so much more psychologically and philosophically rewarding for all people (not just kids.) And the imagination? I’ve always loved Katerina and the stories and imagines behind her….and now I have a reference for the pets! ~Kathy

    1. Images of La Calavera Catrina can be found everywhere! I love to see the gorgeous young women dressed in period finery with their faces painted as skeletons. Although I didn’t see it, I was told that some children have adopted trick-or-treating in Mexico. I can understand the attraction of free candy, but I hope that new “tradition” is short lived.

  7. There’s some great artistry displayed here. I wonder what it is about “hairless” dogs that makes them so special in this culture. Or maybe, those were the only dogs in that culture at one time due to the heat?

    1. Good question… I’m not sure. Perhaps I need to do some more research. Although I’ve seen artistic images of these dogs, I haven’t seen one in real life. I guess if they are spirit guides to the next life, it’s better that I don’t see one anytime soon 🙂

      1. For sure, you don’t need a guide for quite some time. I believe I’ve seen Mexican hairless dogs. Like hairless cats, they look…well, naked. Their skin has sort of a waxy feel. Seems like a glitch in evolution to me. In hot, sunny climates they risk sun damage, in cold climates they freeze. ;-o

  8. As soon as I began reading this post, I thought of the movie Coco. We just re-watched it this weekend with our grandsons. Makes me cry every time! Great photos!!!

  9. Don’t laugh but I had no idea what the Coco movie was all about … or what on earth the land of the dead had to do with Coco Chanel.

    I looked up the movie.

    I’m glad Coco Chanel wasn’t involved 😉

  10. My eyes lit up with the capture of the boy and the bird, wonderful as it certainly for me portrays innocence and gentleness. I do believe that we should chat more about death as it is all part of the rich tapestry of life. No running away from that one, taxes, on the other hand, are another story.

    1. That mural is so lovely… very peaceful. Do you have Death Cafes in your area? They provide a opportunity to have an open, honest discussion about our beliefs, fears, desires, and questions regarding that very subject. If you haven’t heard of them or been to one, I encourage you to seek one out.

      1. No we haven’t any Death Cafes. I have never heard of them before. There are different organisations around that people can utilise such as a hospice. At the moment an organisation is trying to pass a Euthanasia bill through Parliament. I hope it goes through.

      1. Janis, thanks for the heads up. I wonder if I have, or WP has, blocked your IP addy because of something outside of our control. When this blogging stuff works, it’s great. When it doesn’t, I’m usually clueless about why.

  11. I love these photos, Janis. The colors are so vibrant. We have a 14-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He is the sweetest thing and starting to slow down. I like to think that he will always be with us in some form or another.

  12. It’s interesting how your photos capture the integration of death and nature: skeletons and vivid and vibrant flowers are combined, sometimes as part of the hair or decoration of the skeleton, sometimes in their setting. Very insightful!

  13. A nice spin on the theme, Janis. It looks like you and Paul are having a good time in Oaxaca. I can’t believe how fast time flies, as I remember you talking – almost a year ago – about going to Mexico for the Day of the Dead…

  14. Colors explode in Oaxaca like no place I have ever been. You have confirmed that with your great photos. You probably know that the Tijuana soccer team is called the Xolos. I went to a game a few years ago and still have the hat with a mean red dog on it. Viva Mexico!

  15. One day we will get to Oaxaca…. lured by the food, the people, the colors, the culture. Love the photos especially the second one ~ that takes quite a lot of imagination and creativity! Impressive.


  16. What a fantastic response to Terri’s Sunday Stills. I was completely unaware of the Xolos or the reverence for which they are held. That one in that first image reminds me of my dearly departed pup Nelson (a long-legged Jack Russell). I hope he’ll be waiting for me to safely guide me to the next world when my time comes. Can’t wait to visit Oaxaca. I hope you are doing well.

    1. I love the idea of our well-loved, departed pets leading the way when our time comes. Oaxaca is an explosion of colors, sights, sounds, and delicious food. The exchange rate is allowing us to eat very well (although I’m currently jonesing for a home-cooked meal… with no hot sauce 😄).

  17. Janis, how cool to be in Oaxaca for Dia de Muertos! Many years ago in Guanajuato, I saw the cave of mummies honouring the dead — which I found just a bit chilling. These skeletons look quite cheerful.


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