Pets

Tomás the Cat needs a home before the end of June!

This was posted on Facebook. See if we can’t help her out with this! 
32 mins · 

Hi, I am Tomás, and I need a new home by the end of June. I was supposed to go to a new home but there are too many cats there already and I wouldn’t like that. I am little, 6 pounds and I prefer to be the only cat but a dog is ok. If you can open your home to me, I can teach you what I like, meaning I will…., I like to snuggle at night and roam around in the daytime. I don’t know how to purr tho I try, maybe you can help me. Please? 6073 2757

Pura Vida!

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Dog Festival in Cartago Costa Rica

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Open letter to my Dogs!

Freckles, Leeloo, Dobby, Ginger, Pepper, Nina, Bubbles, Bella, Gizmo, and Pixy,

We love you and some of you we would have never meet and adopted if we hadn’t moved to Costa Rica. Here is the thing, you really need to let me sleep in a few days a week. I know you have to go to the bathroom and I know the Sun can be annoying, as it annoys me from time to time as well. All I ask of you is for 1 hour extra of sleep a few days a week. Its really not that much to ask so if you could help me out with that it would be great!

Now I know you are protecting the house and the property, but when the leaves rush across the ground from the wind this is not an intruder that must be barked at! So if you could limit your barking to those things that are important I would again greatly appreciate it. Yes a person comes to the door, or walks near the property or comes in unannounced feel free! I love that you let me know this, but when I call you come to me please. If you do you will get a great big cookie!!!!!!

_DSC5457Freckles, I love that you go swimming with me. Dude you really do need to get in and out yourself. I guess it is my fault that I have started to pick you up and put you out instead of making you use the steps. So going forward you are just going to have to get in and out yourself.

_DSC5460Leeloo, if you do not stop chewing on everything! You are older now and should have more control. We have a ton of toys around for you so please limit your chewing to those items and I will give you many more belly rubs!

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Dobby, you are actually the best behaved of all your brother and sisters. You come when I call, you go into the kennel when you want a treat, you only poop and pee outside. You do not chew on anything! Now you are  a little pushy, but that is only because you want so much love. I am happy to give you the love you want. Just don’t scratch me all up. 🙂

Pepper

Pepper

Pepper, you also are very well behaved. You are so needy! You need more attention than I think any human can give to any animal. I try as much as I can, but please the jumping up on me has got to stop. Especially the unexpected hug from behind the sofa as I sit watching TV or doing facebook! Its cute, but it sometimes is a shock!

Pepper

Pepper

Ginger, you also are very well behaved. Maybe if you can teach Ginger to be a little less needy and maybe if you would take some of her neediness for yourself, you two would be a perfect balance. Also while I have you here stop eating things that will make you sick. You keep eating bugs, and trying to drink out of the pool. The grass I understand why you are eating it, but don’t eat it and than come in the house and puke it up please. Stay in the grass when you do that.

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Nina, Nina, Nina! the 3 am and or 5 am wake up call is getting old. You are a good dog, but you need to learn that just because you hear a rooster or another dog bark out in the valley somewhere it is not a wake up call for you. If you could stay asleep or let me sleep until 6 am or 7 am that would be amazing. If you do I will give you an extra cookie!

Bubbles

Bubbles

Bubbles, you are one crazy ass dog! The way you jump and the heights you get to are amazing. I can’t believe how active you are. I will ask when you take a cookie from me please stop biting my fingers off! You always act like you are starving to death. I know you can’t be as you eat so much food! I don’t know where you are putting it. Just keep in mind as you get older you will start to gain weight and you will start to look like Freckles and won’t be able to do all that jumping you do!

Gizmo

Gizmo

Gizmo, how do you not get dizzy all the time. Your running in constant circles is insane! I know that your right leg is shorter than you left leg, but I don’t think that would cause you do always move in circles. I think that you might have a disorder, but I’m not sure. You do circles while waiting for a cookie, you do circles before you eat, you do circles before you settle down to sleep, and you do circles when you pee and poop? What is really funny is when you do circles while you are pooping. I always know which is yours as its in a nice circle of drops on the ground. I would love to give you more love, but you really have to come see me more. The food will still be in the pantry you don’t need to guard it all the time.

Pixy

Pixy

Pixy, my dirty little dog. I can bath you every day and sometimes 2x a day and you will still be black from the dirt. You are such a small dog, but act like Ginger, Pepper and Nina the Shepherds and Golden lab. You play with them like you are this huge dog. They just love to rub you in the dirt and the mud. So if you could may run faster and escape the big dogs when they put you in their mouth and rub you in the ground that would be great!

Bella

Bella

Bella, you are the princess as you were Mommy’s 1st pom. You act like the queen, but if you could just be a little nicer to the big dogs that would be great. They only want to lick your face and and your ears. They only want to show you the respect you want. You are the reason we have so many dogs. You were just a little love bug and you were so good and nice that mommy just wanted so many more of you, but that did not happen. So thanks for giving us false idea of what a pom really is. 🙂 You are cute and you are wonderful!

So, to all my dogs we love you and we will work with you to make our life together here in Costa Rica much better! Love and belly rubs!

Pura Vida!

 

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Top 5 things I have learned

Ok so a couple things I have learned to help me adjust to Costa Rica and hopefully they will help you also.

10431230-pura-vida-costa-rica1. Pura vida is taken very seriously by the locals and is really a way of life and a philosophy. Most expats don’t see it this way. They see it as a way to show up when you want, do what you want and just be lazy. This is not true. It is how they express the slow living. Yes it can be frustrating at times, but it is their way and we are not and should not try to change it. Even if you have residency or even have citizenship, but you were born somewhere else you are still a visitor to this country. Embrace their way of life and keep it simple. This one is what I think is the most important of all the tips I can give. It will help you in every aspect of living here in Costa Rica. Enjoy it and take it to heart and don’t let your life in your home country spoil the experience you will have here.

buy_it_now.jpg2. Going..Going…Gone If you see it, you like it, you better buy it! It won’t be there when you get back. This equates to many things and in different ways. 1st example furniture. If you go into a store like Ashley’s and see a sofa you like. Get it now! Don’t walk away from it! Some might buy it out from under you. They don’t have a stock room! What you see is what you get. 2nd example is food products. I buy a number of things and minced garlic is a necessity in my house! I buy it at Pricesmart. Now they usually have it and I buy maybe one jar. Well they were out of it for 3 months at one point. So when it came in I bought 5 jars and anytime I go I buy 1 jar and try to keep a min of 6 in my pantry. That will get me though any drought. 🙂 Than there is the times when it just won’t be sold anymore. My wife loves the pineapple jelly at Pricesmart. We would buy it every time we went there. One day we go and its gone. That was over 6 months ago. 😦 So I asked a couple people and what I was told was if an items sells really well they will stop selling it. Its more trouble to keep restocking it , so its better to not carry it. So keep this in mind when you are shopping. If you have space buy the bulk quantity or follow the buy it now policy! Good luck!

  1. Consistency? The lack of this can drive an expat insane here. As an example you can go into a restaurant and order the same food over and over again prepared by the same cook and get a different dish every time. Now this doesn’t happen everywhere and all the time, but it does happen a lot. 1st example is a restaurant where I get consume de pollo (Gringo speak chicken soup) sometimes they use real chicken broth and it is a wonderful soup with a poached egg and chicken meat. There are other times it is made with the powder stuff they have here which I really do not like. 2nd example is salads. This happens a lot. You order one and it comes with certain items lets take for instance a chef salad. You get your lettuce, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, and avocado  all standard in a salad. Now what makes it a chef is it is topped with meat like bacon, ham, cheese, and sometimes chicken or steak. You my order it one time and it has all these things. Next time it has none of the meat items except maybe bacon. The next time bacon, ham, chicken. You get the idea. Again all this is from the same place and the same cook who prepares it every day. I just look at it like every time I eat out it is an adventure and what I get I get and no matter what it is going to be tasty! Well most times. 🙂 Go with it people its an adventure!

hours of operation4. Posted hours of operation We learned very quickly that yes most places have their hours that they are open posted, but we have also learned that is subject to change and be altered without notice. Also keep in mind most are closed for lunch. Yes even a restaurant will close for lunch! Now that can range from 1 hour to 3 hours in the middle of the day. So we head out for dinner and  we know that we should not have our heart set on any one place to eat. We go to the 1st place that should be open and it isn’t so we drive until we find a place that is and we eat there.  There was one time when we drove to 4 places before we found one that was opened. Next day I asked around to see if there was some holiday or event I didn’t know about? Nope there wasn’t. Now why is this? See #1 above as one of the answers to this question. The next answer did shock me a little when I was told this by a couple owners. If they make enough money they will close and take the day off. Again see #1. There are also family emergencies that happen. You have to remember most of these places are family owned and run so if something happens they are closed. There is also the no show of the employees. Again this could be for many reasons but see #1. They don’t have a lot of employees that if one or two or Gods forbid all of them get sick that they can just call someone else to fill in for them. So they close. All of this is understandable. So you have to be a little relaxed and understanding and know that you may head to one place, but end up somewhere totally different!

4416_1155105753829_776392_n5. Ouch my ears! Costa Rica can be a noisy country. The locals love their music and they love it loud! Not all areas are this way, but most will have some sort of noise you may not be use to. Parties start at 9 pm or later and can go all night long. Can’t tell you how many times a neighbors house has had a party and they did loud Karaoke until 2 or 3 am. Now mind you I have had my party or two, but lets face it us old expats go to bed pretty early here so my party started at 5 pm and ended at 10 and the music and loud horrible Karaoke stooped at 9 pm. 🙂 They do love their fireworks here! You never know when you are going to hear the bangs and see the light show.  Than there is the wild life and depending on the areas you live in there could be Howler monkeys, you will mostly have birds, there can be roosters, cows, horses, pigs, and dogs! There are all manner of sounds. The animals of Costa Rica do not know what time it is. So i f you think you are only going to hear a rooster 1st thing in the morning you are so wrong. They make noise all hours of the day and night! Dog you can hear barking all the time. Most locals don’t keep their dogs in the house so they are outside all day and all night  or even roaming the streets. So be prepared for dogs barking! So you can either complain about all the noise or adjust your habits. I recommend a good set of headphones to sleep with at night. Me I can sleep though almost anything. My wife on the other hand puts in ear buds and listens to something I have no clue what she is listening to while she is sleeping. It is an adjustment no doubt. Again it may be noisy but the beauty that comes with it is well worth the noise. the birds and the monkey’s and the wild life is so great here.

Well those are my top 5 tips to help you visit and live in Costa Rica. I hope you find it informative and helpful and just remember we are here and this country is what it is and they have a way of life that is different from our own. We are not here to change them or make them more like us, if that is what you want to do while you are here you are going to be very, very unhappy. Embrace the difference. Live in the moment and enjoy the wonders that Costa Rica has to offer you while you are here.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Life Experience, Food, Pets, Rants, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dogs and Cats and Birds Oh my!

Freckles! Or as we like to call him "Fat Boy"

Freckles! Or as we like to call him “Fat Boy”

OH a dog, cat or bird OK. No wait someone asked to bring a pig? A pig is harder than a bird to get in if you even can. Traveling with you pets no matter if you are coming just for a visit or to live here can be a challenge. Is not only getting them here a bit  of trouble once here there are many things you will have to look out for. This blog is going to document our journey from the US to Costa Rica with our dogs. Here are some pictures of our current Fur Family.

This is what we see when we pull up into our car port and they are out in the back yard. Aren't they just so cute!

This is what we see when we pull up into our car port and they are out in the back yard. Aren’t they just so cute!

This was Shadow she recently passed from a heart condition that no one knew she had. she was my little fur baby girl.

This was Shadow she recently passed from a heart condition that no one knew she had. she was my little fur baby girl.

Ginger

Ginger

Bubbles

Bubbles

Freckles

Freckles

Gizmo

Gizmo

Leeloo

Leeloo

Pixy

Pixy

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Dobby one of our Local Rescue dogs we adopted.

Bella

Bella

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Nina another rescue dog we adopted.

Pepper

Pepper

So Pepper, Ginger, Dobby, Pixy and Nina we got here in Costa Rica one way or another and the rest we brought down from the United States back in March of 2012. So a total of 6 dogs we brought with us. So that is our current fur family! I know crazy right? It has its moments of joy, sorrow and “OH MY GOD!” We love them all. I can’t speak to bringing down cats, but I am told pretty much the same process as I am about to talk about. Now Birds I have been told are worse and hard and unless you love that bird with all your heart and soul and think of it as a son or daughter you may want to rethink about bringing it down. Again I can’t speak directly to what is involved, but we have a friend who brought his African Grey down and the long stories of what he had to do and the issues he has here as no vet in Atenas knows how to take care of an African Grey.  So lets get to it shall we.

What is needed to bring down your dogs and or cats? 

Now, before I even begin I need to tell you the rules are always changing so what I type here is what we had to do. Depending on when you do it the rules could be different. So be sure to check before you bring them! Once you have get it all done quickly before they change it again. You are going to need proof of vaccinations and you are going to need certification statements and everything is all about the timing of things. Dogs need to be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, Leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies and Cats just need rabies. Now the vaccinations have to me more than 30 days old, but not more than a year. We had an issue with 2 of our dogs as we had given them 3 year rabies vaccinations and they were in their 2nd year. So it had been longer than a year, so they would not accept that, even though it was a 3 year and they still had over a year left on their certificate. It really is all about the timing people so pay close attention to those details. You are also going to need a health certificate from a properly licensed veterinary. Not all vets can do this health certificate. Ours could not so we had to take them somewhere else. It has to say at minimum that your pet was examined and found to be healthy and free of any clinical signs of infectious disease. I know any vet should be able to do this one. Not sure why ours couldn’t. It is what it is. The health certificate also needs to be endorsed by the US Department of Agriculture as well. If I were you I would make sure I had at minimum 3 copies of everything just to be on the safe side. You will also need an international health certificate form 7001 from  Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This is a lot of stuff to do! Now I am going to tell you we looked into all of this and it scared the crap out of us. We were so afraid that we may screw up and not dot an i or cross a t and we would be stuck when we got here. So we went with a service to get this all done. We paid for door to door service. Since we had the vaccination issues of the whole 30 days thing our dogs could not travel with us. We left the states in Feb. and they followed 30 days later in March. So we were not there to bring them. The door to door service at Capital Pet Movers was a god send!  Yes it was a bit costly, but they took care of all of the above. Picked up our dogs at the the house in the States, put them on the plane, sent us tracking information all along the way so we knew where they were and had someone pick them up here and bring them right to us to our house in Atenas. It cost about $9K for 6 dogs. Now the crate is a bit of a challenge and things get a little more sticky if you have a larger animal. The crate has to be the size big enough for your pet to stand and turn around in. Larger dogs and larger crates create a problem on some airlines. I have heard some horror stories of pets dying while being transported and being left on hot tarmac’s and just all manner of stuff. Again which is why we went with a service to be sure they were taken care of properly. Another concern is how well your pet travels? If they have to be sedated to travel the airlines will not take them. They do not want the responsibility should something happen to your pet because of the medication. If you have one small pet and bring them on the plane with you in the cabin its a little easier from the shipping stand point. Larger or more dogs becomes more complex and more problematic. There are issues with time of year and heat and water and food and all kinds of stuff. So do your research with each airline as each one is different.

Bringing you pet back to the US

It is pretty much the same process. You will need a Certificate of Good Health from your veterinarian in Costa Rica and an authorization issued by the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture. There are some stamps you will need and there are fees that will need to be paid to the country. The vet you use should know all of this information and help guide you better than I can on this point. My suggestion is if you are not coming here to live with you pets don’t bring them. Now if you are going to be here for a month or two or 3 then maybe.

Things you should know that we did not know about having pets in Costa Rica This is a beautiful country and you pets are going to love it here as much as you do, but there are hazards here that we did not have in the states. We knew about some but not all of them. Not that if we knew would we have done anything different, but we may have planned our life here a little better for our animals.

Lets start with fleas and ticks. Oh my god the ticks were so bad here! Our poor dogs in a matter of a week were covered in them. We had them treated before they left the states, but it was horrible! We were grooming and picking anywhere from 5 to 15 a day off every dog. So we got a fumigator. Well no change we picked one who didn’t have  a clue what he was doing so our hunt for a new one began. We talked to people and looked online and searched and finally found one who was amazing! We also got our vet involved and we got shampoo and collars. I didn’t think collars did anything really, but they do! They were great! It did cause some issues which I will talk about later.

Cane Toad this one is a small one! They get much bigger!

Cane Toad this one is a small one! They get much bigger!

Toads! this is a big problem here in rainy season! Toads can kill your small pets and large. They are very dangerous! Dogs love to play with them and lick them and bit them. If they do they will die within 15 minutes if you do not get them treatment. Now I have heard that if you use milk or a honey, milk and egg combo or seltzer water or a number of other things you can save you pet. To many stories what our vet says is to wash out their mouths as quickly as you can with running water and do not let the dogs swallow the water. Use a tooth brush to clean their mouth out. Be sure to wash any area that may have gotten venom on it and get them treatment as quickly as possible. Which isn’t always easy as Atenas doesn’t have a 24/7 vet here. The closest is in Santa Ana about a 20 minute drive if you speed and the best is in Heredia about 30 minutes if you speed. So 15 minutes just won’t work out. So vigilance is the key! Night time I go out and check the yard and KILL yes I said KILL any toad I find and dispose of it before I let the dogs out. They are only out a short time to do what they need to and then brought back in. Walking 10 dogs on a leash is not an option. I will leave the details of how they meet their ends out of this post. Know I try to make it as painless as possible.

Bady fer-de-lance we found right on our deck outside our living room. Just glad the dogs were not running out the door at the time we opened the doors.

Bady fer-de-lance we found right on our deck outside our living room. Just glad the dogs were not running out the door at the time we opened the doors.

Snakes are pretty much in the same category as the Toads with the exception of there is an anti venom available to give to your pets. Depending on if it is an adult or baby determines how much time you may have to get them to the vet. Again see above about vets. You may want to check to see what you local area vet has to offer and where the closest 24/7 one is to you. You do not want to do that drive at night, in the rain, in a panic the 1st time.

Scorpions are less dangerous of the things here in Costa Rica that can harm you pet. I think it is the least out of all of them even the ticks are more dangerous and I will tell you why next. Ticks carry a disease call Ehrlichiosis. The following comes from the CDC website. Ehrlichiosis is the general name used to describe several bacterial diseases that affect animals and humans. Human ehrlichiosisis a disease caused by at least three different ehrlichial species in the United States: Ehrlichia chaffeensis,Ehrlichia ewingii, and a third Ehrlichiaspecies provisionally called Ehrlichia muris-like (EML). Ehrlichiae are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is the primary vector of both Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii in the United States. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite. Ehrlichios is diagnosed based on symptoms, clinical presentation, and later confirmed with specialized laboratory tests. The first line treatment for adults and children of all ages is doxycycline.  Ehrlichiosis and other tickborne diseases can be prevented. Now what they just said for humans can be applied for dogs. They get the same symptoms. They can not communicate to you that they have a majority of them, so what you look out for is fever, fatigue and limping. If you dog starts to manifest any of these and you have pulled a tick off of them get them to a vet asap. They can go down hill quickly. Since you don’t always see it in the dogs they could have had the symptoms for some time. We almost lost 3 dogs to this disease as we were uneducated on it and what to look for. We have a great vet Doctor Salono here in Atenas and we love, love, love him! We fumigate 2x a year our entire property inside and out. We do it just before rainy season starts and just before dry season starts. That has helped, but still doesn’t stop it all. Ticks and fleas are rampant here. Our wonderful fumigator is highly trained and knowledgeable. He showed us how to prune our plants and grass to help with keeping scorpions away and snakes. He has given us advise on all manner of things to do. Make sure you keep a dirt barrier of about 1 to 2 feet from any surface. The creepy crawlers like to hide in the grass and travel that way, and if they come to dirt they tend to turn around. All your shrubs should be trimmed a the bottom about a foot from the ground. Again removes the hiding places. All drains should be capped off with wire mesh so as to not allow entrance into your property. If you want to be very diligent you can build walls. Just make sure there are no trees that over hang the wall or snakes can get in that way. Now I have also been told to plant Garlic grass as it will keep the snakes and toads away they don’t like it. I have also been told to throw moth balls around the property where the dogs can not get them. So this rainy season I am going to try both and let you know what happens. Now we have used the collars and we have also used two controversial items to help keep the fleas and ticks off our dogs.  Our vet comes every 2 months and injects our dogs with Ivermectin and imizol. Look them up and educate yourself about them and use or not. I also use a little minced garlic in their water and that seems to help a good bit as well. We have been told to give them a bath once a week in dawn dish soap and we are going to start that as well. Our dogs health is one of the most important issues for us here in Costa Rica. Its a tricky thing here to keep these creatures out. So diligence is you best defense to keep you pets safe. So lets wrap this one up as well. Educate yourself, be diligent and take all precautions you can while traveling or living with you pets in Costa Rica. Know where you vets office is and where a 24/7 hospital is. Keep these things in mind and you could save your pets life! Lets end this with a nice video of out dogs playing in the yard shall we. Hope you enjoy it!

Pura Vida!

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