Moving to Costa Rica With 7 Dogs…and a Pet Business Plan

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on March 6, 2020 in Make Money

Linda Lyon and her husband, Dinesh Badouraly, relocated from Dillon, Montana to Costa Rica’s Gold Coast on July 17, 2018, which Linda now refers to as “Landing Day.” Since making the move, she has established a business based on a lifelong passion: dog training and massage. But before she could launch this dream venture in her adopted tropical homeland, she had to find a way to transport her own seven pooches and a cat…

Airlines limit passengers to two dogs per flight, making it impossible for Linda and Dinesh to transport all of their pets on a single commercial plane. “We looked at every airline and cargo flight. Eventually we managed to charter a tiny two-engine plane to take all of us from Miami to Liberia, a city in Costa Rica,” says Linda.

To get their large fur family from Montana to Miami, the couple had to rent a van and drive it and their own car on a six-day road trip across the U.S. On arriving in Florida, they put their car in a container to be shipped to Costa Rica and flew with their dogs to their new home.

“It was a circus,” admits Linda. Still, leaving the dogs behind was never an option for the animal lover, who has been working part-time with dogs and rescue groups for most of her life.

An academic by profession, Linda was a professor of environment and natural resource sciences in Pennsylvania for five years and then in Montana for 11 years. Throughout her teaching career, she studied dog training in her free time and even started a training business as a side gig. “I started agility courses in Pennsylvania with a dog club and then founded Happy Hounds in Montana, providing dog training part-time. I have a certification from the Council of Professional Dog Trainers—which is fairly uncommon. Kind of like a Ph.D. in the dog world. I also have a canine massage and a canine nutrition certification,” she says.

Moving to Costa Rica was a long-held ambition for Linda. “I actually came to Costa Rica as a college student and wanted to come here with the Peace Corps. But I spoke French, so they sent me to Madagascar,” she says. “Dinesh is originally from Madagascar. We met there when I was in the Peace Corps from 1994 to 1998.”

Today, the couple rent a home with a large yard in the town of Villareal in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province. An IT specialist, Dinesh works remotely for a hospital in Montana.

Linda’s new business is called Puro Perro, which means “pure dog.” In addition to offering group and private dog training classes and massages, she also carries out free workshops to help people understand their dogs and canine nutrition better, and to teach children how to respect animals.

“I would say 80% of my clients are expat families from all over the world. I love learning eat-sit commands in different languages,” she says.

Linda sometimes travels to clients’ homes to work with their pets. She also has an agility course set up in her yard. She and Dinesh brought all the equipment with them when they moved, so the startup costs were minimal.

“I don’t charge what I did in the States,” says Linda. “I never want to price things so people can’t afford it. My goal is not to get rich. I do it because I want people to have a better relationship with their dogs.”

Written by Kathleen Evans