As we drove through Corozal, I saw town through my kids’ eyes for the first time. Everything looked third world: stray, anorexic dogs, barefooted kids chasing cars along the dusty road and shacks under construction, or maybe destruction. The frame of a rusty abandoned car rested on the dust-powdered road, tire-less and window-less. The car door had been replaced with a torn sheet and next to the entrance, sat a green bucket with rags resting on its rim. This was someone’s home and one day, we saw the owner. The man looked like one of the stray dogs, a broken hip, limping, caked hair with bare patches and diseased. The filth on his skin and clothing made the homeless in Los Angeles look glamorous.
Only two weeks ago, I had stepped inside a “Dog Bakery,” in Newport Beach, California. Curious to see what patisseries dog owners were buying, I found a selection of freshly baked designer treats in a refrigerated display case. Individually hand decorated dog treats, each with colorful flowers and frosting reminded me of mini-wedding cakes. My mouth watered and I asked the sales person if humans could eat them. She gave me a strange look and said, “They’re made with flavors that dogs enjoy.”
There was only one vet in Corozal and her office sat opposite Frank’s, the butcher. The vet’s front door, just like Frank’s, stood wide open to the street. I peeked inside and saw a large, dark-skinned Belizean woman sitting behind a metal desk. There were no customers or dogs waiting. I couldn’t imagine anyone but expats bringing their dogs to her.
I felt awkward, almost embarrassed to ask this woman if she had enzyme chew sticks to clean my dog’s teeth. Most Belizean kids didn’t own a toothbrush and here I was concerned about reducing plaque on my rat terrier’s teeth.
“No, I’m sorry,” she said.
Upon returning to the U.S., I took Cookie to a new vet where the waiting room had granite counter tops, flat screen TVs and comfy armchairs. I felt like I was at a luxury spa for humans. Their prices reflected this, and I told them they were too expensive and left before they had time to check my dog. I found a reasonable vet twenty miles away. It didn’t make sense that a check-up for my dog cost more than a Doctor’s visit for my kids.
For those of you living the expat life, does this sound familiar?
Have you encountered a dog bakery or vet like the one I found?
Do you find vets outrageously expensive where you live?
Any comments or discussions you’d like to start, please mention, and on BELIZE BUZZ, Wednesday, I shall post them together with a link to your blog.