A couple of months ago, it was a warm day in the middle of winter and my husband and I decided to go visit the São Paulo Zoo. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon but what we didn’t expect is that everyone else would have the same idea as we did. While we were driving down the street to the entrance of the zoo the traffic was so bad that it took us 20 minutes to get to the entrance and as we were driving we passed by the Botanical garden or Jardim Botânico de São Paulo. When finally did get to the entrance of the zoo, my husband took one look at the line forming around the block and said, “Let’s go to the Jardim Botânico instead.”
São Paulo’s Jardim Botânico is a green treasure away from the city. It is the perfect place for a family to go for a picnic or just to take a nice long walk in the afternoon. We saw several people taking professional photographs because the back drop of the gardens makes for a beautiful picture. The entrance fees are very cheap and they have a small cafe with a nice terrace. Overall the Jardim Botânico is a nice afternoon of rest and relaxation while enjoying beautiful scenery. And if you miss the animals from the zoo, you won’t be disappointed because there are plenty of monkeys hanging out at the Jardim Botânico.
One of the interesting things about Brazilians is that some of them really LOVE their dogs. In America there is a culture of pet owners that has sprung up and dressing up dogs in sweaters and costumes is the norm and carrying around your tiny dog in a purse is fashionable. Well, can I just say that some Brazilians are even more extreme than that! When we adopted Nina, she had on a butterfly Bindi in the center of her forehead, earrings, and a bright pink bow with a bunny on it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I saw a little Chihuahua in the park with a pink tutu dress on. Brazilians love to dress up their dogs; one of the biggest isles at the pet shop is the dogging wear isle. And let me tell you these things don’t come cheap average costume was about R$50.00.
Because Brazilians like to dress up their dogs and groom them fanatically; there are about four Pet Shops within walking distance to our apartment but ironically no parks. This is the problem with São Paulo there are no neighborhood parks to walk your dog; so you have to walk your dog on the busy street and hope she pees. I just blogged about how wonderful Villa Lobos Park is and Ibirapuera park is just as wonderful but if you don’t live near these two parks then you are out of luck.
So people are forced to walk their dogs on the street, and because of this the streets are full of crap! Brazilians don’t pick up their dogs crap. In America (as in São Paulo) you can get a fine for not picking up your dog’s poop but I don’t think that’s why America’s do it. I think America’s do it because there is a societal pressure to keep the streets and sidewalks clean. As a developing country Brazil has not gotten to this point yet, although I think things are changing. A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were walking to the store and a woman was walking her dog, the dog pooped on the sidewalk and she kept walking. Amazingly my husband didn’t say a word, but a cab driver waiting for a fare said to the woman, “You need to pick that up.”
Our building provides bags to pick up dog poop which is awesome because in America these things are expensive. There are also several trash bins specially designated for dog poop around the neighborhood, what could be easier than that?
So is São Paulo a dog friendly city? In some ways yes, there is easy access to Pet shops as well as veterinarians which in Brazil are reasonably priced. But in other ways, São Paulo needs to grow and realize that people need neighborhood parks not only to walk their dogs but for their kids to play and families to enjoy. Also Brazilians need to start picking up their dog’s poop, it’s a dirty job but don’t get a dog if you are not going to take responsibility for what comes out of it.
Yesterday it was a holiday in Brazil, Dia do Trabalho (Labor Day), and so my husband and I decided to take our new little pup to the dog park at Villa Lobos Park. It was a nice Fall day, cool but not too cold yet, and so we invited our friend from Argentina to come along.
Villa Lobos Park is a beautiful, green treasure inside the concrete jungle that is São Paulo. It is one of the best parks I have been to, including ones in America. There are so many options at Villa Lobos Park, whichever outdoor recreation you like they likely have it. The park is approximately 750 square meters (8073 square feet) and has plenty of green lawns, bike paths, running paths, soccer courts, basketball courts, tennis courts, climbing walls, and playgrounds. They have picnic areas and benches, shaded areas and wide open fields of grass and of course a small dog park as well as a large dog park. Little Nina loved it!
During the week the park is not as crowded but it is estimated that 3 to 5 thousand people go there. On weekends and apparently holidays, the park is crowded and has approximately 20 to 30 thousand people. Amazingly even with all of those people, the park was still very enjoyable and it was a great afternoon for all!
I really love running and biking so I will definitely be going back to Villa Lobos Park in the near future. You can check out their website and get a park map at http://www.ambiente.sp.gov.br/parquevillalobos/, however, everything is in Portuguese.