Domestic Animals

Fluffy Guard by Sergio Dominguez

There are so many dogs in the streets of Xela (as in many parts of the world), sometimes it is a bit of a surprise to see them as domestic pets. It is not uncommon for people to have dogs or cats as pets in their house, although the care might seem different than in North America. I know of many people who have dogs in their homes, but the pets are more used for guarding the house and often do not get walked or are confined to the roofs (terrazas) of the houses, which has lead to a (generally tourist spoken) coined phrase “Guatemalan roof-dog”.

Cats often have homes of their own, but the upside for them is that they also utilize an intricate transport system, which runs all along the tops of the houses and allows them to be much more mobile than the house dogs. There is a definite “class system” within the domestic animals here, the dogs stick to the terrazas and the streets, while the cats are “above” it all, swiftly playing and dodging between rooftops.

Of course, there are many people who also have pets in their homes and love them like their children, walking and washing them and taking posed Facebook pictures of them, just like anywhere else in the world. The little fellow in the picture above is one of those lucky doggies who has a doggie companero in the house and the two of them can often be seen wearing puppy sweatshirts on cool mornings.

Photo by guest contributor Sergio Dominguez, text by Luna McCarthy.

© 2012, Luna McCarthy. All rights reserved.

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  • Eric

    Ha-ha, “roof dogs”; this phrase brings back memories. On my last visit I saw a Golden Retriever confined to the roof.  Poor thing; only because they are such curious, friendly dogs. He was watching people pass by, waiting for the right moment, barking, then sniffing the air, desperately trying to get a whif of what was being carried…or eaten.

  • Michele Pineda

    I’ve seen many roof dogs on my 2 trips to Guate, and too many street dogs to mention 🙁  My sister in laws cat is extremely curious-the door will be open and he will sit on the step and watch people go by, but when they try to shove him outside on the street he runs back in immediately.  However at night, he prowls along the rooftop and goes to my other sister in laws house and manages to find a tasty meal in her kitchen… she often wakes up the next morning to find that breakfast has already been devoured!  I still can’t get over dogs and cats eating tortillas though… but I’ve seen my in laws throw them tortillas and they will scarf it right up.  

    • Anonymous

      It’s true Michele, the cats can be problematic when they sneak into your house, from the roof of course, and steal your breakfast!  My room mate and I used to have that problem in our old house, we rented the top half of a home and it was very safe to have the kitchen door open all the time…and often we would come home to find that if we had left a little food on the stove or table…it was certainly GONE! 🙂

    • Anonymous

      It’s true Michele, the cats can be problematic when they sneak into your house, from the roof of course, and steal your breakfast!  My room mate and I used to have that problem in our old house, we rented the top half of a home and it was very safe to have the kitchen door open all the time…and often we would come home to find that if we had left a little food on the stove or table…it was certainly GONE! 🙂