By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – When making travel plans or moving to a new city it is natural that dog owners will want to bring their four-legged friends along for the adventure. In general Brazil is very accepting of dogs, allowing them to travel domestically on almost all public transport providing the dog is properly secured or, in the case of certain airlines and taxi services, confined within a suitable crate.
Unfortunately bringing a dog into Brazil for a vacation is not as simple, and many owners have reported stressful bureaucracy and hefty import charges that can somewhat dampen the experience.
Nevertheless, the basic requirements are a health certificate issued within four days of travel endorsed by the Brazilian consulate in the owner’s country of residence. Plus, dogs must have had all of their vaccinations plus a rabies jab which will be tested thirty days before travel.
As a city, Rio has endeavored to create a dog-friendly environment, providing suitable walkways, parks and pet centers. For the majority living in Zona Sul (South Zone), one of the most popular and overall enjoyable places to walk ones dogs is the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.
Stretching 7.5 kilometers (4.66 miles), its paths are designed to accommodate pedestrians, dog walkers and cyclists whilst venders’ selling drinks and snacks offer seating areas and a welcome bowl of water for your canine companion.
Even better, however, is that the Lagoa also contains two fenced dog parks where owners can exercise their dogs off the leash. The more visited of the two is Parcão da Lagoa which is ideally situated in between Ipanema and Copacabana’s Cantagalo metro station.
The park has three areas, each dedicated to dogs of particular size, and on weekends, a dog athletics course takes place providing fun activities for both dogs and owners alike. Dog owner and expatriate living in Rio, Christa Pickering, is a firm advocate of the dog park since it allows the freedom of which dogs are otherwise limited in the city.
“The dog park in Lagoa is fantastic! Our dogs love to run & mingle so it’s the perfect environment for them. Plus the other dog owners there are more friendly and not so over protective of their dogs, allowing dogs to co-mingle freely,” Pickering explains.
When a trip to the dog park is not possible, the only other option available to owners is walking the streets. Dog owner Patricia Prinsen lives in Ipanema and was happy to report that the residents there are most accepting of dogs.
She reveals “Having traveled a lot around Europe and Asia, arriving in Brazil we found people in the Ipanema area extremely friendly. Lots of people would stop and talk to us and were not afraid to caress [our dog]. This was very much the opposite in Shanghai, where a lot of people were still scared of dogs.”
With most public parks offering some type of dog play-pen, Rio is, overall, a good example proving that dogs can live happily in a busy city provided that they get the exercise they need and that their owners are considerate to both fellow civilians and the environment.