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Friday, April 3, 2015

Living in Ecuador - From a Dogs' Perspective

Gracie has been nagging me for who knows how long, to let her write in my blog.  If you've been one of my long-term readers, or you've read back far enough, you know she used to stick her nose in my blog all the time.  

I've finally relinquished.   I'm handing over the keyboard to her.  Who knows what is forthcoming.  Of course, it's not that easy.  She made me agree I wouldn't change any content.  I am allowed to only make corrections and even then, nothing can be deleted.  So, as you read along, where you see something inserted in italic/red, that's my correction.

Say hello Gracie (rolling my eyes)........

Hi, my name is Gracie!!!   I am named after Grandma's mother whose name was Grace.   That's Dad's mom, Donna, her mother, Grace.

HI GRANDMA!!!!!  I miss you!!!   

And, Happy Belated Birthday!!  You are 84 now!!!

I am 6 years old.  I have lived here in Cuenca, Ecuador, South America for 4 years now.  I moved here from Seattle, Washington, USA when I was 2.   I flew on an airplane.

I moved here with my two kitty kat brothers, Bozo and Chip.  They came on a separate flight.   I almost died.   I was put in the underneath of an airplane in Chicago while Dad was in the nicer part of the plane.   Luckily, he asked the stewardess (flight attendant) to verify I was boarded before they took off.  My name was not on the live-animal list that the pilot was looking at.  The pilot was concerned because the heater was not working.  They did not know where I was because I was not on the list.   But, they discovered I was really on board but some idiot made a mistake and coded me as baggage, not live-animal which is why I didn't show up on the list.   Anyway, if Dad had not said something, I would have frozen to death if they took off, which they were minutes away from doing.  YIKES!!!!  Dad and I had to get off the airplane and get on another one.   I had to go potty.

I have lived in 3 places since I moved here, so I know Cuenca pretty good.   I have a nice house just outside the city with a nice big (for Cuenca) yard.  This is my yard.

This is my doggie house when I am outside.  When I'm laying in the sun, I get annoyed at bee's and snap at them til I get 'em and eat them.  Hate bee's.  The kitty kats will eat grass and chase birds.  Sometimes I stay here in my doggie house when it's cold and/or rainy, but otherwise I like to lay on the front porch and wait for Dad to come home.  When I hear his car come up the road, I run over to the driveway gate to greet him.

My yard is completely enclosed which is very important here for pets like me and the kitty kats.  You see, soon after we moved to the house where I live now, Bozo was found dead in the empty lot next door.  We don't know why.  The yard was not completely enclosed then, even though the landlords had promised to do it.  It can be dangerous for us pets living here in Cuenca because:
  • If pets misbehave and neighbors don't like them, they can be poisoned.
  • Sometimes robbers will poison a dog so they don't attack them or bark and let others know they are there.  A neighbors dog was poisoned just 2 weeks ago.  Would-be robbers gave the dog a banana.  My Dad is worried.  I wouldn't eat a banana anyway.  BLECH.
  • Pets can be hit by cars and trucks
  • Pets can be stolen and sold for money (if they are pretty like me)
  • Pets can get into stuff that isn't good for them
  • They can be attacked by other animals
This is (was) Bozo.  He and Gracie were buddies.

Now my yard is completely enclosed and safe for me, Chip, and Marcelo.

Oh, I guess I should introduce them.

This is Chip.  He is 9.  He's an uptight kitty.

This is Marcelo.  He's Ecuadorian.  He is 2.  He was given to Dad after Bozo died.  He was named after a friend of Dad's whose name is Marcelo.  He's pretty cool but he can be weird at times...running all over the house for no reason at all.  He likes to sit in Dad's lap when he's typing on the pooter (computer).  He also goes nuts when Dad is printing something.  The stupid shit (GRACIE!!!)  tries to grab the paper as it goes inside the printer!!

The dirt road we live on can be scary.  Our house is at the bottom of a hill and many crazy people drive very fast down the hill.  Dad has to be very careful to keep the driveway gate shut.

We have lots of dog neighbors.  They run around free all the time.  No leash.  No human.  And, they make babies allllllll the time.   Here in Ecuador, people don't have their pets 'fixed' so they can't have or make babies.  I see pregnant dogs alllllll the time.  Or, I see dogs that have had babies and they have big ol' titties swinging all over the place underneath them.  Then, people sell the babies in the indigenous markets.  Many times they are not healthy.

Dogs bark a lot here.  A LOT.  Ecuadorians don't care if their dogs bark and bark and bark and bark and bark and bark.  You'd think they get hoarse, wouldn't you?  My Dad trained me not to bark.  I will bark if there is something I am concerned with, but when he tells me to stop, I stop.   Or, I get whacked on my nose.

A lot of dogs get killed here.  They are hit by cars and trucks because they are out running around and not paying attention.  Dad says he sees at least 1 or 2 dead dogs every couple days.  And, there is what is refered to as '3-legged dogs'.   Those are the ones who have been hit but survived but one leg doesn't work anymore.   

There is a little mutt who lives at the end of our dirt road.  He/she doesn't seem to have any family.  He lays in the grass on the shoulder of the road and sleeps.  He/she is afraid of people.  Whenever someone approaches him/her, he/she escapes in to the drainage culvert under the road and hides until the coast is clear.  He likes it there because on the other side of the road is where neighbors leave their garbage to be picked up and that means he can find food there.  Dogs get into garbage all the time.  They rip open the plastic bags and drag out whatever they find and make a big mess.   Sometimes Dad sees dogs pick a knotted up bag and trot home with the bag in their mouth like little hobos.  Many places have steel shelves mounted high on the walls around their houses so people can put their garbage there and dogs can't get to it.  But, others simply put it on the ground.  On our road is a steel box on a pedestal but the mesh is wide enough the dogs can still pick on the plastic and pull things out.  One day, Dad saw a Labrador jump up into the box and help himself while other dogs gathered below.   He was probably like "who wants a piece of tunafish sandwich?  I think it's tunafish.  GULP.  Yep, tunafish. Sorry, I ate it already".  "Anyone for a chicken bone?"

Anyway, the mutt.   So, he's kinda cute in an ugly way.  Dad thought about adopting him so I would have a playmate.  But, it's challenging here to find a babysitter whenever Dad likes to take off on a trip, so it would be twice as harder.   The mutt disappeared for a few weeks and Dad assumed he/she must've died.  But, one day, there he/she was again.  But, skinny and ragged and only 3 legs were working.  He/she had been hit, but survived.  Dad feels sorry for him/her so he takes food to him/her every few days.   He's been thinking of names. I heard him call him/her 'Peanut', but also sometimes 'little booger', and even has comtemplated the name 'Jonesie' (don't know why).

The mutt...before mishap.
Many people who moved here from other countries have been trying to change things for Ecuadorian dogs.  There are no government-sponsored shelters here.  There are no rules to prevent babies or walk dogs on leashes or keep dogs in yards, etc.   But, there are now volunteer agencies who are coordinating efforts between doctors (vets) and neighborhoods to get dogs and cats 'fixed'.  When I ride in my Dad's car, I see many more people walking their dogs on leashes.  Many forners (foreigners) will see a dog that is ill and/or starving and/or homeless, and/or injured and take them to a doctor to get healthy and then take care of them in their homes until someone will adopt them.

What do I eat?  I eat normal dry dog food and so do Chip and Marcelo.  Wet, canned food is very rare here.  But, my Dad buys broccolli, cauliflower, peas, eggs, carrots, and potatoes at the indigenous markets and grinds them up in a very noisy blender and mixes it together with either hamburger or fish and then mixes that into our dry food once a day.  But, Marcelo won't eat his peas.  He picks them out and leaves them in his bowl.  Sometimes, when noone is looking, I will finish it off.   But, Dad gets mad at me and yells at me "DON'T EAT THE KITTY KAT FOOD!!!".   Sometimes I get spanked.

When we eat, we each have our own bowls.  All 3 of us know which is which and know we are not supposed to eat out of anyone else's bowl.  If we try to sneak and do it, Dad will say "that's not your bowl" and the guilty one will run back to his bowl cuz we know better.  

That's me in the middle.  Marcelo on the left, and Chip on the right.
I can drink the water here, no problemo.   I don't need no stupid bottled water.   When I'm outside, I just drink from Dad's water feature.

I know some Spanish.  I can be told to sit or come in English and Spanish. Of course, 'No' is 'No' in any language, right?  Most of the dogs here in Cuenca know Spanish.  But, most dogs here are not trained.   I amaze Ecudorians when my Dad tells me to 'Sit' or 'Lie down' and I do it.   They think it's a miracle.   They don't know how to train their pets.  I think they think our brains are not capable of such things.

I have doggie friends (I call them 'cousins') but I don't socialize all that much.   I prefer humans.  Sometimes I go stay with Uncle Rex and Aunt Cheryl (I think she has two names because Dad also calls her Miss Picky).   I like going there because they take me and their two dogs (Mia and Bella) on walks in the park along the river.  They are all from Colorado.  Dad does not walk me.  He just sends me outside into the yard to run around.  He also doesn't pick up my doggie poop.  He just mows over it.

That's Mia on the left, me in the middle, and Bella on the right.  We are in jail.  hehehehehe
I also have a new cousin 'Maisie', a GoldenDoodle, or LabraDoodle, or some sort of big poodle thing.  She is very fun.  She, along with her cat-brothers Rudy and River, and her moms Stacey and Joanna, moved here from Asheville, North Carolina, USA.

Maisie and me (Maisie and I?)   I'm on the right.
And, there is Yuma (a big-ass German Shepherd), and Mesa (a handsome Golden Retriever), and Simone (pronounced See Moan) who is one of those prissy little things who gets primped in salons and has her nails done.   EEESHH  My Dad cuts my nails.  He calls them 'tires'.  When he clips my front paws, he says "ok, let's get the back tires done!!".   I don't like it.  Anyway, all 3 of them were adopted here in Ecuador and now have a (big fancy) home with Aunt Betty and Uncle Chris.

Thats the prissy thing Simone on the left (duhhh), then Yuma, then Mesa.
One of these days, my Aunts and Uncles plan on having a dog-day-afternoon where we all get together at someone's house and play (and fight) and poop in someone else's yard.

Speaking of salons, it seems only the little prissy dogs get baths and haircuts here in Ecuador.   All the other dogs look like they have never had a bath in their life.   Poodles are the worst.  Their coats are usually matted and the color of gray when they would probably be white if they were washed!!!!

And, oh my gawd, those prissy dogs seem to have crazy people for parents!!!   I can't tell you how many times I see those little yappers being carried around in backpacks or in their human's arms as if they can't POSSIBLY ever touch the earth!!   In restaurants, on busses, at parties, in their humans laps in cars.   GET OUTA HERE!!!   Noooo....they can't be left at home, or ride in the back of the car (they MUST be in their humans lap), or get their wittle paws dirty by walking on the ground.  I'm embarrassed to be of the same species as them!!!  And, they wear clothing.....CLOTHING!!!!!

They have lousy toys here in Ecuador.  They come from China.  Nuf said.   My favorite toys are my 'Squeakers'.  Dad brought them from the US of A because they last a long time.   I go to bed with my squeakers and I grab one when I get up in the morning.  They are not allowed outside because they will get wet and dirty, so I drop them at the door when I go outside.

My frist Squeaker.  It is 4 years old.  Some moronic little weiner dogs I used to be friends with pulled all the green fuzzy covering off.    GRRRRRR

My other Squeaker

My other other Squeaker (I don't know why I'm sideways)
Speaking of bed, I sleep inside the house.   Many Ecuadorians do not allow their dogs inside the house.  Many Ecuadorians have dogs soley for security, so they leave them outside all the time, don't bathe them, and don't train them.  They are there just to bark.  Anyway, I used to have my own bedroom with a human bed (a bed for humans). But, when Dad's best friends came to visit a few months ago, I had to move out.  Dad put some old comforters on the floor in his office and that is where I sleep now.   When it's time to go to bed, I pick a Squeaker and head for my bed and lie down.  Dad tells me "nite, nite", turns off the light, and closes the door (so I don't run around the house at night and get into mischief).  The kitty kats get to go anywhere they want to.

Most homes in Ecuador don't have built-in heating systems because of the mild weather.  But, sometimes it gets chilly, so Dad has a portable heater in the living room.  I like to lay in front of it.  Dad thinks one of these days my hair is going to go up in flames.   hehehhhehehe

I guess I should talk about the cats, too (boring).   Cats are not very common here in Ecuador.  Yes, they exist, but not anywhere near the population like in America.   When Chip and Bozo arrived at the airport in Ecuador, many people were taking photos of them.  Sheesh, you'd think they have seen stupid cats before!!!  There are many cats in the indigenous markets, probably to keep mice and rats under control.

Ok...nuf said about cats.

There are lots of doctors for dogs and cats here.  And, they are very good and usually very inexpensive.   Me, Chip, and Marcelo all go to Doctor Cordova.  He speaks English and is very jovial.  One time Dr Cordova stuck a needle in me and the medicine burrrrrrnnnned!!  It hurt real bad and I let out a scream.   Dr Cordova felt really bad and apologized and gave me a treat to make me feel better.  I am still nervous every time I go there.  I haven't forgotten.  I don't want that needle again.

So, I like it here in Ecuador.  It's not really THAT different than back in the USA.  But, I do miss seeing my Uncle David, Grandma, and a bunch of other people.   I wish I could go with my Dad when he visits back home but it's expensive and the brocolli (bureaucracy) of paperwork and process to get me there and back again is probably not worth it for just a few weeks.  So, I guess I'll just have to 'see' them via Skype.

Hope you enjoyed my blog!!!!  (It's MY blog Gracie...you were just a one-time contributor)



  1. Thank you Gracie for the blog. I loved it very much. It was better then the ones your daddy writes. ;-)
    When I come there to move next year I hope to rent from your daddy again so I will get a chance to meet you, and those cats....
    I will bring some toys from the US of A for you, and your kitty Kat family. It would be a honor to meet you.
    Until we meet, be safe over there.
    From a dog lover

  2. Thank you Gracie for the blog. I loved it very much. It was better then the ones your daddy writes. ;-)
    When I come there to move next year I hope to rent from your daddy again so I will get a chance to meet you, and those cats....
    I will bring some toys from the US of A for you, and your kitty Kat family. It would be a honor to meet you.
    Until we meet, be safe over there.
    From a dog lover

  3. What a great idea! So fun to read! See you in a few months! Chris

  4. Loved hearing from you Gracie!!!

  5. Gracie is always a great guest. Mia and Bella welcome her, as do we

  6. Great one Gracie. Can you tell me more about how your parents got the kitty kats to Ecuador? You see I want to move with my two kitty kats but am unsure how to do it. Thanks

    1. Hi Mark. I'm gonna let my Dad answer your question as I don't know what he did to drag (get) me here.

      Go to the EC Consulate website. There, they should have posted the steps to take to bring a pet into EC. Hopefully, they keep it updated. Quite frankly, questions should be addressed to the Wash DC Consulate as others have different methods and procedures (even though representing the same country!!!) and can be quite obstinate (ie; San Francisco is notorious). It boils down to, withing a certain timeframe of arrival in EC, you must have your pet vaccinated, your Vet (who's approved by the Dept of Agric) fills out a form, you take/send the form to your states' Dept of Agric who rubber stamps it and collects a fee, you send the same thing to the consulate and they rubber stamp and pay a fee. All this withing a 10 day window. Then, you have the airlines to deal with and their requirements. The most challenging is the travel city and the temps. They will not take a dog if the temp in any of the landing cities is expected to be XX degrees on the tarmac. Crate requirements, food, etc. Lastly, any time you board a plane, ask the flight attendant to VERIFY you pet is aboard and advise you before takeoff. This ensure you know they are traveling with you, and that they know a live animal is aboard, regardless of what the manifest says.



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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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