Pura Vida: Ruffwear in Costa Rica
We say it a lot, and it's because it's at the core of why we do what we do: Every dog is an explorer. And our mission to equip those dogs (and their humans) for adventure reaches far beyond our home base here in Bend, Oregon. In fact, with the help of partners around the globe, Ruffwear gear is able to join canine explorers on outdoor pursuits in over 45 countries.
Today, we introduce you to Sebastian and Esteban – two brothers that live in Costa Rica with their dogs Gala, Ras, Chaco, Duna, and Tony. And Ruffwear has had the joy of partnering with them as our distributor in their region since 2016.
Costa Rica is known for its tropical beaches, rainforests, volcanoes, and Pura Vida – or “pure life", both a saying and lifestyle that reflect the laid back, worry-free nature of the culture.
Sounds like a natural fit for canine explorers, so we turned to Sebastian and Esteban to learn more about life, dogs, and adventure in Costa Rica.
[Surf fetch sesh with Ninja at Playa Piñuelas. Photo credit Adrián Peña/@phninja]
What's it like living in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a great place to live, adventure, and even vacation. We are multi-ethnic and pluricultural. Some cool facts:
- We have more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity (the variety of life in the world).
- Over 25% of Costa Rica's land is dedicated to national parks.
- There is no standing army.
- We're based in the metropolitan area that is a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains and near some active volcanoes.
- The city has lots of hikes and bike trails close to home.
- We have the Pacific and the Caribbean Oceans with white and black sand beaches that can be enjoyed for all kinds of sports and activities.
[Adrián and Ninja taking in a classic Costa Rica waterfall. Photo credit Adrián Peña/@phninja]
How do you and your dogs get out and explore together?
We both like to do hikes with our dogs. We hike at least once a week, and we also frequent the farm or the beach with them. Rivers are a favorite for our dogs, as are the neighborhood walks where they catch up with their four-legged friends.
How did you learn about Ruffwear and decide to become a Ruffwear distributor?
Around 5 years ago, we were looking for products as consumers for our dogs. We always had problems with the traditional brands that did not fit our lifestyle and needs. We searched the Internet for the best brands of high-performance dog gear, and we ended up finding Ruffwear products that we totally loved at first-try.
At that time in Costa Rica, there was no offering of quality products, so we decided to send Ruffwear an email to start talking about distribution for Costa Rica. Then, the adventure started.
[Esteban and his pack, Tony, Chako, and Duna]
How is it running a business as brothers? What are your different roles?
We fit really well together. Esteban is in charge of marketing, social media, sales, and orders, and Sebastian is in charge of logistics, warehouse, accounting, and finance.
These are roles that we actually like – both of us have a degree and working experience in these roles before becoming partners, so this was easy for us and we found a perfect match between doing the things we love and making a life of it.
We know business is business, so we try to keep the brotherhood apart and make decisions that always benefit the company, trying to grow ourselves and the company at the same time.
Let's talk gear. What is your/your dogs' favorite Ruffwear gear?
The first products that we both totally loved were the Kibble Kaddie™ and the Bivy Bowl™. We always travel a lot with our dogs, and this was just perfect for all of our rides.
Ras – Whippet – Loves the Powder Hound™ Jacket. We don’t have snow here, but she has really little fur and tends to be cold, so she always likes to wear the Powder Hound when we take her to the farm. Ras is also a great runner, and we love the Grip Trex Boots to do trails.
Gala – Rhodesian Ridgeback – She actually picked the Chain Reaction™ Collar in the Sunset color with her nose. She looks beautiful! She has good taste as it is a great seller. Her favorite toy is the Gnawt-a-Rock.
We also use the Grip Trex™ Boots with Gala as she has sensitive paws and tends to avoid the hot parts in the sand while at the beach.
Chako – Black Lab – He first got a Headwater Collar in 2016. We used to always struggle with damaged collars after a few beach camping sessions, and Chako had big allergy problems and skin rashes from keeping wet collars on his neck while being at the beach. The Headwater Collar was the perfect solution for that problem and actually, he still has that collar in perfect conditions.
Chako is the senior of the company. He has some big hip problems, so now our favorite for him is the Flagline™ Harness. This is a great product for senior dogs with dysplasia. He weighs 42 kilos (92 pounds), so to lift him in the car or over the stairs is a real challenge without the Flagline Harness. Plus, the material is super light for wearing the harness all day.
Duna – She's a zaguate (Costa Rican word for “mutt”) – She is a true player – always playing, all day! She enjoys playing with all of Ruffwear’s toys, specifically the Huck-a-Cone™ when you put some snacks in it. Duna wears the Front Range® Harness for daily walks, and we switch between Hoopie™ Collar and Chain Reaction™ Collar depending on the activity. She also has a Headwater Collar since 2016 that is perfect for beach rides or river adventures.
Tony – Corgi – He is a Front Range® guy! He loves to do the neighborhood walks twice a day, he thinks he is really big and rude, haha. The Front Range Harness gives me the support I need to keep him under control!
[Tony, Chako, and Duna living the good (dog) life in Costa Rica]
How long have you been surfing? Do you surf with your dogs?
We have been surfing since we were 16 years old. Our father was a surfer, and we grew up seeing that and spending lots of time at the beach. We also love to skateboard, especially bowls and ramps, so we can say one of our biggest connections is the love for extreme sports for over 15-20 years.
We never tried surfing with our dogs, we should! Tony (the corgi) is 10 months old, and I am planning to start surfing with him soon.
We have a really cool story: Maybe 10 years ago, we were surfing in Cabo Matapalo, la Endija an outdoor reef point break. We scored really good waves and Chako was waiting for us at the beach. Suddenly, we realized he was next to us – he swam all the way to us because he wanted to score some waves himself!
We had to take him to shore for his safety, and when we went back to the water to surf, he got again to the point break. We had to end the surf session as we would not stop swimming to us. Chako is a great swimmer and we probably should have taught him how to surf back them!
Can you tell us more about the rescue you work with, Territorio de Zaguates? What drew you to that organization?
We had the chance to personally meet Lya Battle, one of the founders of Territorio de Zaguates, in a Pet expo we participated in a few years ago. At that time, we found out that they use a lot of the products we distribute for their dogs. Right away, we made a donation for them and decided to make a visit to the place.
Lya kindly took the time to show us all around and shared their history and evolution. We admired their organization, as they don’t receive any help from the government, and all dogs looked super happy and calm.
Since then, we’ve made a donation once in a while and share their stories through social media to support them as they work to find a home for all the dogs they rescue.
There are many ways to help Territorio de Zaguates. If want to know more about them, here are some links (website | Facebook | Instagram). There’s even a Netflix movie.
How does Ruffwear gear change the way you explore with your dog?
Having the right gear to do all the activities with your dog really improves every experience you have with them. For us, as we mentioned before, the damage caused to all of our dog gear by the salty water of the ocean was a big deal.
For people who love to go in the ocean or salty water with their dogs, it’s a big plus to make one good investment in gear instead of buying several collars or harnesses per year. Having all types of gear that we didn’t even know existed completely changed our lives.
[With plenty of sticks to fetch and water to swim in, Ninja agrees – life in Costa Rica truly is Pura Vida. Photo credit Adrián Peña/@phninja]
If you're looking to add a little Pura Vida to your social feed, check out @ruffwearcostarica on Instagram.