Stella is a big sister! Stella (left) is our five-year old golden doodle we brought from Michigan and Pugsy (right) is her new little brother, a one year old Tico-Rescue dog. We decided the Pura Vida life is meant to be shared with not just one, but two dogs. Raising dogs in Costa Rica is different than in the U.S. There are appears to be no leash laws and dogs are everywhere. While some owners walk their dogs with a leash, many do not. Many establishments, including stores, restaurants and churches allow dogs to enter. The dogs here are street smart and well socialized. Beaches seem to be giant dog parks. We have yet to run into an issue with another dog or human on the beach. The dogs here are as laid back and friendly as the people. Since there are so many free roaming dogs and not very many people spay or neuter their dogs here, there is an over-abundance of stray or homeless mixed breed dogs. Pugsy is a direct result of this practice. We are guessing he is some compilation of pug, chihuahua, and /or dachshund.
Famous last words to the kids:”we are not getting any pets when we move to Costa Rica”. Prior to our move, we had to adopt out our bunny, Coco and our 18-year-old cat was laid to rest. It was quite an ordeal to bring a 70 lb dog here, and she almost didn’t make it, so we were not eager to add another pet that we would later have to transport. However, once we arrived and saw so many dogs needing a home, we were pretty much goners. If we had stayed back in the States, we talked about getting a sibling for Stella, so it seemed like the right thing to do. Only requirement is that it had to be a small dog to make future airline travel easy. Just our luck, a 8 kg dog needed a forever home. The shelter owner had rescued him from an abusive situation 7 months prior. He came to us well-trained and with a gentle, easy-going temperament.
We are fortunate to have found excellent vet care here and the cost, compared to the U.S. is much lower. Within the first couple of weeks being here, Stella developed a skin irritation that she licked raw and it became infected. We didn’t have a car at the time, so we called on a vet that made house calls – what an awesome experience and it only cost $30. We recently had Stella groomed and the bill was $38. Both of these services in U.S. would have cost $100 or more. We work hard to keep our furry kids safe and healthy. The number one cause of death for dogs here is tick fever. We double up with a tick collar and medication for the dogs. We also learned there are poisonous frogs, more prevalent in the rainy season and at night. If ingested, the toxic venom of these frogs can be deadly for a dog, so it is very important we keep the dogs leashed at night and carry a flashlight. Two things we didn’t worry about back home.
Stella and Pugsy enjoy the same benefits we enjoy with our new lifestyle. We all get more exercise, more relaxation and a lot more family time! The dogs love having us home during the day. They manage to beat the heat with a lot of naps on the cool tile floor.
If you doubt that Costa Rica is a dog-loving country, check out Territorio de Zaguates, or “Land of the Strays”, a privately funded, volunteer-run organization in Costa Rica. It is a no-kill free range dog shelter and home to more than 900 dogs. Each dog is given a name and is available for adoption, but there is no pressure for the visitors. Anyone is welcome to come for a hike and day of play with the dogs. It’s probably best I keep my kids away from here or we will have more dogs than people living in our house!