Wally and Hazel Mountz thought they had their retirement all figured out. They were building a lakefront home in Georgia when the real estate crash of 2008 shattered their plans. Unwilling to continue working and unable to afford their new mortgage, they started looking abroad. Italy was their first choice, but what they could purchase there would leave them in a rural village without expat companions.
Instead they took up residence on Ecuador’s Pacific coast for nine months—with thoughts of building a beachfront property—but then expanded their travels to the highlands.
When they discovered the city of Cuenca they immediately knew they had found the perfect location. They purchased a lovely home right outside of town, complete with a separate casita (small house).
“We could get by on my pension, but were looking at ways to earn a little extra money,” says Wally. “When we lived in Fort Lauderdale we toyed with the idea of opening a dog kennel, but all the codes and laws were daunting and competition was stiff.”
Wally and Hazel love dogs. They have a German Shepherd and an Irish Terrier. “The German Shepherd is called Velky,” says Wally. “It roughly translates to Great Bear in Slovak, since that is where he was born before being imported to Florida where I got him. The Irish Terrier has a good Irish name: Seamus.”
Setting up a dog kennel in Ecuador proved to be far easier than in the U.S. “Here in Cuenca regulations are minimal and there is virtually no competition,” says Hazel. “So Hostal de los Perros [Dog Hostel] was born!”
And so far business is booming. “We’re almost always booked to capacity and often have to turn away last-minute callers,” says Wally. “Yet our business cost us a tiny amount to set up, and there’s none of the bureaucratic hassles we would get back in the U.S. Plus, it’s a huge bonus we get to do something we enjoy!”
“We were so impressed with the loving care Hazel and Wally gave to our dog Mocha while we were on vacation for eight days,” says one expat. “We even received updates with photos while we were away and videos too. It was like having Mocha with us, except he was enjoying his own vacation away from Mom and Dad!”
The Mountz’s market is almost entirely expats. Wally says, “We’ve learned that dog ownership here is not the same as in North America. Most Ecuadorian dogs do not live in the houses with their owners and are not trained or socialized extensively.”
Wally’s and Hazel’s love of dogs has now turned into a steady flow of extra cash. Hazel says, “Our little hobby now provides around 15% of our monthly income!”
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