The life of Stray Dogs and Cats in Chiang Mai

The appeal of toy dogs for Thai's is obvious, they are small, cute, cuddly and can be 'babied'. For many Thai's this is a perfect combination. They get to dress these gorgeous, patient little dogs in cute and funny little outfits. They definitely have the 'Ahh..' factor. Prices for top quality toy dogs range from $1,000 to $2,000 USD, making them available only for the Hi-so's, (the term used for Thailand's wealthy elite). In the fashionable shopping area of Nimmanhaemin you can see women out shopping with their Chihuahua's or Shih Tzu's tucked into 'Gucci' doggie purses. Thai's love cute things! There are few places dogs aren't allowed in Chiang Mai so you often see toy dogs being cuddled in restaurants and coffee houses. Doggie Salons are springing up everywhere and the Shih Tzu's in particular are kept beautifully groomed.

Fluffy dog in arms

But for Thai's with less money to spend, toy dogs are still available. Sadly, most likely coming from the puppy farms and suffering from any number of health problems. But this doesn't mean they will be loved less. Thai's seem very committed to their little dogs.

One very popular toy breed is the Pomeranian. These cute dogs are loyal and intelligent and are known to form strong loving bonds with their owners, a very desirable trait! They are also long lived, (average 12-16 years), and have few health problems, making a perfect combination. Next I would say is the Shitzu, or Lion Dog. These beautiful, intelligent dogs are calm, and self-possessed, with lots of character. Shih Tsu's are the ultimate, affectionate, companion dog, happy to stay home with you and warm your lap, or joyfully ride in a scooter basket. Their long hair is groomed and cultivated for 'dressing up' with ribbons and bows, making them just perfect! Chihuahua's, pugs and toy poodles are also very popular here.

Toy dogs are very practical. In the cities, where accommodation is often small and functional, a toy dog takes up just the right amount of space. Thai's don't seem walk anywhere if they can go by motor transport, and toy dogs fit perfectly into the front basket on motor scooters. Or they sit pillion using only gravity to keep them in place, (I guess!), or on the riders lap, paws on the handle bars, head held high, thoroughly enjoying the ride.

Fluffy dog in arms

The weather here isn't really conducive to 'walking the dog', it's either too hot, or raining, and I often hear that "small dogs don't need to be walked". Well, I know they do really, but I've yet to see it happen..! Fortunately many toy breeds are very smart and can easily be trained to use a litter tray. Maybe the trade off for the dog is that it gets to live a lovely 'spoiled' life being treated as a very special member of the family.

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