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

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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 18 times

  • jesseh-Koc
    4/21/2014 - 01:38 a.m.

    I think that it's cool if people treat their dog like humans. I actually think it's pretty cute. Animals should be treated just like humans so I don't see a problem.

  • megankmawd
    4/21/2014 - 02:10 p.m.

    I think they got all of these people and the dog owner to comment on this because it shows different opinions and points if view and it's important to have those different points to compare them.

  • EthanH-5
    4/22/2014 - 07:44 p.m.

    The economy of Mexico has changed so that there is a larger middle class. Many in the middle class are choosing to have smaller families, so they have a bit more disposable income. They are spending the extra money on their dogs and treating them like members of the family. Historically dogs in Mexico have often been treated quite cruelly.

    Dog dresses and parties are pretty silly, but I'm very glad that the people of Mexico are starting to treat their pets better. This is an interesting article because you don't often hear how other cultures treat their pets.

  • alexar-Koc
    4/23/2014 - 02:32 a.m.

    Everyone should treat their animals the same way. That is, good, the animals should be treated good, gentle, with care. Animals just want love, they want to play with you, give you love, be with you. I don't know how anyone can harm animals, that's cruel. In no way should a animal be harmed.

  • RMansaray123
    4/25/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    This is bazaar, yet meaningful. I see the message they're trying to send across with throwing pet parties and everything, and i understand how this relates that even pets are part of the family. What i don't get is why spend tons of dollars on one pet. Its a party i understand but is it necessary? Will the dogs likely remember this party? How does this benefit you.

  • marisolo-Koc
    4/25/2014 - 07:22 p.m.

    This seems like something that hae been happening a lot in the society we live in today. Pet owners treating their animals like people. It isn't uncommon and even though it may seem over the top at times it's better than the animals being neglected.

  • EmilyKne
    4/30/2014 - 01:50 p.m.

    I think it is good to "pamper your pooches" but I think some people go extremely over board. I think some people in this article go over extreme.

  • dylanh408
    5/02/2014 - 01:30 p.m.

    That is really sweet to do something for there dog like that. I'm actually Hispanic, but we have never done anything like that for our chihuahuas. I think that is so sweet to give there dog that much love.

  • odalizr-Koc
    10/19/2014 - 11:55 p.m.

    20 million dogs and more roam the streets or are in a loving home in Mexico. some families give their dogs a special treatment and actually celebrate their birthdays with other neighborhood dogs.

  • atayal-Orv
    1/29/2015 - 04:21 p.m.

    I'm glad that there dogs get token care of and healthy because there are a Lot of dogs not being token care of and pampered

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