People in Mexico pamper their pooches
People in Mexico pamper their pooches A chihuahua is hugged at a birthday party for Camila, a 1-year-old Dachshund
People in Mexico pamper their pooches
Lexile: 1220L

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Camila celebrated her first birthday in a blue-and-white striped dress with tulle appliques. She played with her guests in a room decorated with pink balloons, lilacs and Hello Kitty posters.

When the cake arrived she barked at the single flickering candle. This provoked a similar reaction from the Chihuahuas, French bulldogs and Pomeranians in the room.

"We've never had a female dog so we wanted to do something special with her," said Valery Palma, a single 35-year-old lawyer who owns Camila.

Over the last decade, the growth of Mexico's middle class has created a new market for dogs. Fancy goods and services include clothing and accessory boutiques, spas and restaurants with doggie snacks cooked by a pastry chef.

It's a startling cultural shift in a country where a dog's life has long meant days chained to the roof of the house. The 2000 film "Amores Perros" used the brutal treatment of dogs as a metaphor for the inhumanity of contemporary Mexican society.

Mexico has an estimated 20 million dogs or more. Many of the dogs roam the streets hunting for food in the trash or spending their days shut up in apartments by owners who use them as living burglar alarms.

Many of the estimated 40 million Mexicans considered to be middle class are having fewer children than their parents did and, therefore, also have more disposable income.

"People are no longer having children at a young age ... because they can have a different lifestyle with luxuries they know they will no longer be able to afford once they have children," said Zorayda Morales, an analyst with De La Riva Group, a market research agency.

Palma, who has two dogs, spent $300 on the birthday party for 11 canines and 16 people, complete with cake, presents and snacks, at a dog hotel featuring a gym and massage and aromatherapy services.

"Today people invest in their dog," said animal behaviorist Renan Medina.

"This goes beyond a trend," he said. "People see their dog as part of the family."

"We're seeing the growth of this idea in which a dog is an alternative to children," said Raul Valadez Azua, a paleozoologist at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City. "On the one hand, they are people who feel that the economic obligations of having a family are too high. On the other hand, they have the resources to give a lot of care to a pet."

Critical thinking challenge: Why are a market researcher, an animal behaviorist and a paleozoologist quoted for this story, along with a dog owner?

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Assigned 20 times

  • emmab12342624-
    4/17/2014 - 09:17 a.m.

    In Mexico, Camila celebrated her first Birthdayin a blue & white striped dress w/ tulle appliqus because they have never had a female dog; so they wanted to do some-thing special w/ her. They just wanted to wish her a happy B-DAY. But $300 on a party would?t be done for a dog because that's expensive.

  • amandad-
    4/17/2014 - 09:20 a.m.

    This article is about the middle class Mexicans who celebrate the dog's birthday party named Camila. It took place in Mexico today. The dog is wearing a dress to look nice and pretty. The dog had a dog cake.

  • orahf-
    4/17/2014 - 09:23 a.m.

    The story was about Mexican middle class people celebrating their dogs birthdays. I think that they spent a lot of money on the parties having cake and a lot of people come over. People in Mexico are spoiling their pets.

  • AlicesonBegaye-Lar
    4/17/2014 - 11:52 a.m.

    I think it is crazy to have a birthday for a dog and invest so much for an animal. However some dogs are like family so they are treated like family. I can understand it but I would never throw a party for my pets.

  • KailynPa
    4/17/2014 - 01:45 p.m.

    I love my dogs, and I would do anything for them, but I think having a huge party for your dog is kind of ridiculous. They don't even know it's their birthday, but if you want to do that for your dog, there is no stopping you.

  • Destinee P
    4/17/2014 - 01:48 p.m.

    My parents treat our dogs like they're their kids. They spoil them, a lot. I'm pretty sure that a lot of people do this. My neighbors also pamper their dogs.

  • KalynSi
    4/17/2014 - 01:53 p.m.

    People should obviously take good care of their pets because they depend on them to do so, but I don't think spending 300 dollars on a party for a dog is part of that deal. I love my dog and take care of her but I'm not going to spend more money on her than what I would if I had a child.

  • BrandonI
    4/17/2014 - 01:56 p.m.

    I really love dogs, but I don't think I would spend three hundred dollars on my dog. I do agree that dogs are apart of the family and cost less than kids, but I think that having a kid is the better way to go.

  • Alexbice7
    4/17/2014 - 01:57 p.m.

    I think it's kinda funny how they pamper their pets like that. On the other hand, I think it's good bonding with the animal and the owner.

  • NakoomaKewenvoyouma-Lar
    4/18/2014 - 11:46 a.m.

    Well this story is about how people pamper their dogs and people who have a high degree in animals should be the ones studying this article. It seems that having animals instead of children is easier because they love you and it seems to be less expensive. But for me I would not go that far to pampering any of my animals. These people who study animals should know a lot and it is great how these people really care for their animals instead of not caring at all.

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