Posted on | May 15, 2012 | 9 Comments
I’ve always been a pet lover. From my early days with Suki – a Siamese cat I only remember from photos; to my youth with Tina, a lovable Basset Hound whose death devastated me; to my early adult years with the Doberman gang; to my current middle age with a mismatched set of over-excited house dogs; I’ve never felt complete without a pet in my life.
There was a time when I lived in a tiny beach apartment, alone in Cape Canaveral. This place was maybe 300 square feet, but it did allow pets, so it was worth the whopping $250 I paid in rent. In this tiny place, I lived with Sierra the Doberman, Muzzy and Mouser the cats, and Rio, the parrot. I remember how Muzzy – a HUGE orange tomcat – would lay out on the table and Rio would walk around and groom his fur. I’m sure that living with them in that cramped apartment helped prepare me for living with my husband and his two sons in a 25 square meter home when I first moved to Lima!
Now we’re lucky enough to live in a much larger home, complete with a lovely and fairly spacious garden (by Lima standards, anyway). It’s the perfect place for the three dogs we have now – not to mention our sweet little bunny! I’d have a cat by now too, except that our house is on a busy road, and as open as our house is, I’m not sure it would be possible to keep the cat in; I just think it’s too dangerous a place for gatos.
Limeños are very fond of their dogs. In poorer districts, you will see a lot of dogs that stay out on the streets most of the time. While Lima has more than it’s fair share of strays, you’d be surprised at how many of those street dogs suddenly start sporting doggy sweaters when the weather turns chilly! Dogs that you may have thought were neighborhood strays are often owned and taken care of by at least one family. My father in law used to feed and care for a large pack of dogs at his home in Puente Piedra; when he passed away, we assumed we’d have to gather up the dogs and find a place for them all. Turns out – they all belonged to various neighbors, and Fausto just enjoyed spoiling them.
In wealthier districts, you’ll see a lot more pure bred dogs. Poodles and schnauzers seem to be the runaway favorite, but larger breeds like Labradors and golden retrievers are also popular. The Miraflores and San Isidro dogs get taken for daily walks – often by the maid or by a paid dog walker. You don’t see stray dogs on the streets in Miraflores or San Isidro – those things are very frowned upon here.
When I was a kid, we always washed our dogs out in the yard with the garden hose. Sometimes when it got cold, we’d wash then in the bathtub, using an old sauce pan to pour water over them. Here in Lima, we send the dogs off to “PetHouse”, “PetLand” or “PetCenter” – combination veterinary and grooming salons. (Actually, we only use PetCenter now, because we like them and it’s close to the house) For about $10 each (a little more for the poodle grooming), they are picked up and delivered to our house; bathed, clipped and groomed. If they find anything out of the ordinary – my Sheltie has had some skin problems – they’ll even have the vet look at it at no charge and let me know if it needs treatment.
Buying pet supplies can be a lot more expensive than you would think; the pet stores have a really high markup. But like everything else in Lima, you can get much lower prices if you know where to shop. A dog bed that is priced around 120 soles in Lima is closer to 25 or 50 if you go to the area around Calle Capon, in the center of Lima near the city market. There are a row of stores, all selling pet supplies. Little dog sweaters and jumpers can cost 20 or 30 soles or more in the pet stores; I’ve found them at the Surquillo market for only five.
Pet food is also cheaper when you buy it bulk at the markets – The Pedigree that we buy is usually about 2 soles/kilo less than the grocery store price.
If you love walking your dog, there are plenty of parks and safe sidewalks around that will allow you that pleasure. While the rules vary from district to district, you should be prepared to pick up and dispose of anything your dog leaves behind. In Miraflores, there are signs posted in many of the parks that tell how much the fine is if you’re caught not doing so. At least around here in our neighborhood, the rule is followed pretty strictly.
If you’re moving to Peru with a dog or a cat, you may want some information on what paperwork you need to do. There is some information over on Expat Peru – Bringing a Pet to Peru.
How important are your pets to you here? For expats, do you find that having a dog or cat here is any different from back home?
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