5 Compelling reasons to adopt a furry friend in cuenca, ecuador

5 Compelling reasons to adopt a furry friend in cuenca, ecuador

One morning last year, on my way home from the pharmacy, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to surprise my husband Ken with a visit to his workshop in our new adopted home of Cuenca. When I arrived, I saw black fur in the overgrown grass in front of his store, and with a soft cry, the adorable little puppy jumped up to greet me, and immediately rolled to my feet to pet his belly. With cries of joy (from the dog and me) the surprise element of my visit was abandoned when I picked up the small piece of lint and carried it inside. Within about two minutes I had already named her Sally, from the Spanish " Hotdog " (meaning "sausage"), her absurdly long body and short legs suggesting some kind of dachshund.

Little Sally was in a pretty sad state that day. Covered in fleas and clearly malnourished, I rushed to the nearest vet and got all the medication she needed to get rid of the parasites and bugs. I also bought her a food bowl, a tiny harness and leash, and a big bag of dog food. She was very young, barely weaned from her mother and kept falling asleep in my arms. I asked around the neighborhood if anyone knew where she might have come from, but was repeatedly told that she was just a " bitch thrown away" – an abandoned dog.

By the time I returned to Ken's store, I knew we were going to keep her, although he muttered something along the lines of "no way are we taking this dog home". I dug deep into my reserves of duplicity and fooled my husband into believing that we would only be fostering her for a few days while we tried to find her a nice family, but I knew that pretty quickly he would get the idea of keeping her permanently! A quick call to our apartment landlord secured the necessary approvals and that's how young Sally came into our lives. She is now a healthy, happy puppy of almost two years and has been a constant source of joy for both of us.

5 Compelling reasons to adopt a furry friend in cuenca, ecuador

So here are my top five reasons why someone living in basins should consider adopting a street or rescue dog. I promise you that it is absolutely the best thing you can ever do:

1. The need

Ecuador has more street dogs than anywhere else I've been in Latin America. The reasons for this are complex and varied, ranging from economic to cultural, but the reality is that they are everywhere. And while many make it through just fine and forge a life on the streets, a large number end up malnourished, sick or often maimed by traffic, poisoned or worse. Many end up in shelters run by dedicated volunteers who have trouble keeping up with the huge amount of dogs that come through their doors. So there is a great need to find safe, loving homes for these furry creatures who have often had a hard time in life. Aside from the shelters, many street dogs will just follow you home or show up on your doorstep one day – in other words, they will adopt you if you let them! They also always seem to be the most grateful pets and never forget that you saved them from an otherwise harsh existence. We'll never know how Sally ended up where we found her, but she most likely wouldn't have survived very long on her own.

2. Affordable veterinary care

In stark contrast to the U.S., veterinary care in Ecuador is very affordable. The clinic we use, which has several competent veterinarians, charges only $8 for a consultation. We never have to book an appointment in advance and Sally has always been superbly looked after. We had her spayed last summer and it cost $90, which included the "deluxe" service of a gas anesthetic (considered safer than the intravenous method) and a special skin suit to prevent her from scratching at the stitches (rather than more commonly used plastic cones of shame!). This fee also included medication and a follow-up visit to remove the stitches. Many veterinary practices offer spaying and neutering for as little as $30 for a small dog, and that's probably fine, but we wanted to make sure Sally received the best care possible. Vaccinations are also much cheaper than in the U.S.: Sally recently had her annual vaccinations for a total of $16! And if you're worried about what to do while traveling with Fido, boarding costs are also very low – starting at just $10 per day. Alternatively, you could use a trusted housesitting network such as z Trusted House Sitters . Cuenca is a very attractive destination for overseas travelers looking to secure free lodging in exchange for pet care duties. Many people understandably choose not to have a pet due to the costs involved, and while owning a dog here in Ecuador will certainly increase your monthly expenses a bit, it's much cheaper than you would expect back home.

3. The benefits

It is no exaggeration to say that 90% of the friends we have today in Cuenca came about because of Sally! Over the last year a large group of cuencanos and out-of-towners has formed and meet daily at a local park to let their pups run around and play together. This is always a fun social outlet for the dogs and their owners. Whenever we take Sally for a walk by the river, which happens about three times a day (lucky guy!), we inevitably get to talk to other dog owners. This has led to us developing many acquaintances and some real friendships. It's always an icebreaker when your dog runs into someone else's dog in the park, and we've had numerous conversations with locals that probably wouldn't have happened otherwise if we had been " no dog " (without a dog). If you are new to Cuenca and especially if you have moved alone, adopting a furry companion could really be a great way to make friends and get around your new neighborhood.

4. Cuenca is dog friendly!

In Cuenca, and I suspect in many other cities throughout Ecuador, business owners don't bat an eye if you bring your furry friend with you. It's quite common for street dogs to wander into restaurants looking for scraps of food, or just hang out in the doorways of restaurants. We almost always take Sally to restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating, and restaurant owners often bring her a bowl of water without us having to ask for it. One of our favorite restaurants in Cuenca even offers a special hamburger dish just for your furry companion! Cab drivers have never had a problem with Sally hopping on our laps in the back seat when we go into town. My hairdresser said it was fine to take her to my appointments if I had to; Even our immigration attorney has a sign on the door saying "Well behaved pets are welcome!". While Sally is a relatively small dog (approx. 20 pounds), but we have friends with large dogs who have had similar positive experiences taking Fido around the city. So having a dog in Cuenca doesn't have to limit your social life – quite the opposite, in fact!

5. Cuenca's abundance of parks and river trails

Everyone knows that having a dog forces you to get out and exercise, and basins are one of the most enjoyable places to take long walks with your new furry companion. There are miles of riverfront walking trails throughout the city and dozens of beautiful parks where you can let your pup run around. Cuenca's year-round, spring-like climate also helps ensure that you can go out almost every day of the year – no hot summers or freezing winters to worry about. We usually take Sally out three times a day and it is great for us and her! There are some wonderful hiking opportunities in the countryside around Cuenca, and as long as you don't cross the boundaries of Cuenca Boxen National Park , you can take a dog on pretty much any trail.

5 Compelling reasons to adopt a furry friend in cuenca, ecuador

So what are you waiting for? Check out an animal shelter, z Muttley Animal Rescue or Ark Foundation , and start looking for your new best friend. Or maybe he or she will find you on the way home one day and persuade you to take them with you. And although this article focuses on dogs, there are of course many cats available for adoption that will also make excellent companions. It's a win-win situation for pets and people if you ask me!

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