Living in Honduras and Guatemala is sometimes hard, mostly fun but never boring. Here some of my musings on life in this colourful part of the world where you can always expect the unexpected. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pet Paradise

Dog (owner) meeting place in the Vondel Park, Amsterdam
Last week I wrote about how children born in Honduras are (in some ways) less privileged than those from Holland, but that’s absolutely NOTHING compared to the way pets are treated like royal family in my home country. The contrast between how animals are cared for here and there couldn’t be bigger. If you ever consider reincarnating as an animal, making sure you don’t do it in Honduras!

Pets in Holland are considered part of the family, if not completely taking over the place of (non-existing) children. I thought my dog and three cats back home in Honduras are well off with plenty of food, daily walks along the river and a place on the couch (and yes, I admit, the bed too), but I’m glad my dog isn’t here to see everything she’s missing out on. First, my Luca doesn’t have a designer outfit for every occasion. Neither do my pets have a whole closet or crate full of toys. (Actually, a friend brought a toy mouse for my cats the other day. They were not interested. And why would they, there’re plenty of real ones outside!). I also like to think of my apartment as my apartment, so it isn’t littered with an array of different cat baskets, dog mattresses or pet beds. No toys either, except for the occasional dead lizard, bat or rat. And I thought I was feeding them exceptionally well with their daily doses of dry food and leftovers, compared to the tortillas their fellow Honduran pets usually survive on. But apparently dry food is really bad and you should give them canned food at least once a day (Sheba, for example, with a tuff of parsley on top), and of course special food for older cats or dogs, puppies and kittens, middle-aged pets, pets with liver problems, pets without liver problems, pets that are too skinny and pets that are overweight. Of course there are food supplements in the form of cat candy or artificial bones. A bowl with water is not enough; a real fountain with continuously running is the thing. For cats that lack exercise there’s a special, ball you can put dry food in that falls out if being played with, so the cat actually has to work for its food. Not to mention the enormous amount of money my friends spend at the vets and the entire warehouses that sell everything from tiny stairways to help your dog getting on the bed (I’m considering buying one to get my dog off the bed) to diamond studded leashes.
In Holland we have a political party for the animals and instead of Children’s Day we celebrate Animals’ Day. If a person gets assaulted in the park, well, bad luck. But if you hit your dog in public, you likely end up in jail.

Now, Honduras. A whole different story and definitely not a better one. There’s this habit in the town I live in to kick just any animal that walks past. Why? I have no idea. I guess just because you can. Pets are generally not well taken care of, being fed with occasional leftovers and they are hardly ever trained, let alone vaccinated or neutered. That last one is a sensitive issue in Honduras, a country where nobody cares if you let your dog starve, beat it to dead or let it roam the streets. But in Macholandia you cannot touch his balls! So what if your dog stalks a bitch in the heat and comes back home with all kinds of venereal diseases, if he hasn’t been run over in the mean time?
 Being a cat or dog in Honduras is not a lot of fun for most, I guess. But then again, I think that cats named after philosophers that have their own personalized diet, caretaker and classical music to listen to, is the other extreme.

I think my cats and dog could consider themselves lucky. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind more treats and more fluffy blankets, but they’re doing fine just without it. And I’m lucky too, because at least in Honduras I don’t have to walk after my dog with plastic poop bags to pick up whatever she drops.

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