Dog walkers inhabit the streets of Condesa and Roma in Mexico City but if you want to see Dog Enthusiasts in action wander over to the Dog Park in Bosque de Chapultepec on any weekend. Like our children's playgrounds the dogs have their own toys and playdates. It is also where you can adopt a dog. I'm not saying this is the story for all dogs in Mexico but these dogs are very much loved.
The relationship between humans and dogs in Mexico is believed to span the last 8000 years. There were at least five races of dogs in pre-Columbian times, including a wolf/dog hybrid bred by the Teotihuacanos to serve in the military. One race that has survived to present day is the Xoloitzcuintlli (pronounced cho-lo-it-squeen-tlee), also known as the Mexican hairless dog, although the odd one might be born with hair. They were buried alongside the deceased to accompany them on their journey to ‘Mitlan’, the underworld. Despite being held sacred, Xoloitzcuintllis were also an important source of protein. When the Spanish arrived they unsuccessfully attempted to eradicate the race as it was of no use to them on hunts and was linked to local religion and beliefs. Following the Mexican Revolution, artists such as Frida Kahlo began using the Xoloitzcuintlli in their art, propelling it to it’s former revered status.
Nowadays, you’re most likely to see Xoloitzcuintllis on the streets of Condesa or Roma – the perfect symbol of a proud pre-Columbian Mexico combined with a hint of elitism, their high price tags making them unattainable to most.
Despite the Xoloitzcuintlli’s long history, the chihuahua has risen to become the international canine ambassador of Mexico, representing Mexico in films such as ‘Beverley Hills Chihuahua’ and Disney’s ‘Oliver and Co’. Some might say the Xoloitzcuintlli had a lucky escape.
The relationship between human and dog is evident to this day – an estimated 45% of homes in Mexico have a dog. Despite this, getting around with your dog in Mexico City isn’t made easy. They are forbidden from boarding the metro, metrobus, regular buses and microbuses which rules out taking them on any public transport (unless the dog is small enough to hide). Taxis often pass you by if they spot you have a dog with you. Your last resort if you don’t have a car are special ‘pet taxis’ such as UberPET. However, the city is geared up towards taking the upmost care of your pets, with numerous English-speaking vets, training, boarding and walking providers.
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