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Luxury pet business booms in Mexico with strong growth of middle class, smaller families

  • Mexico A Dogs Life-1.jpg

    In this Sunday, April 6, 2014 photo, Valery Palma prepares to blow out the candle on a birthday cake for her one-year-old dachshund Camila, at Camila's birthday party in Mexico City. Palma, who has two dogs, spent $300 on the birthday party for 11 canines and 16 people, complete with cake, presents and snacks, at a dog hotel featuring a gym and massage and aromatherapy services. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (The Associated Press)

  • Mexico A Dogs Life-2.jpg

    In this Sunday, April 6, 2014 photo, Valery Palma blows out the candle on a bone-shaped dog friendly cake for her one-year-old dachshund Camila, in Mexico City, Mexico. Palma, who has two dogs, spent $300 on the birthday party for 11 canines and 16 people, complete with cake, presents and snacks, at a dog hotel featuring a gym and massage and aromatherapy services. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (The Associated Press)

  • eb7b4d27cc93700e510f6a706700138d.jpg

    In this Sunday, April 6, 2014 photo, 12-year-old Honey, left, and other guests eat dog friendly birthday cake at a party for one-year-old dachshund Camila in Mexico City, Mexico. Camila celebrated her first birthday in a blue and white striped dress with tulle appliques, playing with her guests in a room decorated with pink balloons, lilacs, and hello kitty posters.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (The Associated Press)

  • Mexico A Dogs Life-4.jpg

    In this Sunday, April 6, 2014 photo, guests attend a Hello Kitty themed birthday party for Camila, a one-year-old Dachshund, at Pet Central spa in Mexico City, Mexico. Human guests outnumbered canine ones, but party activities and treats were squarely centered around the birthday girl and her friends. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (The Associated Press)

  • a42cceafcc9a700e510f6a706700f7b7.jpg

    In this Sunday, April 6, 2014 photo, a guest embraces a chihuahua during a birthday party for Camila, a one-year-old Dachshund, at Pet Central spa in Mexico City, Mexico. A growing market for luxury dog services is part of a cultural shift in a country where a dog's life has long meant days chained to the roof of the house. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (The Associated Press)

The growth of Mexico's middle class is creating a new market for fancy goods and services for dogs. Those include clothing and accessory boutiques, spas and restaurants with doggie snacks cooked by a pastry chef.

It's a startling cultural shift in a country where a dog's life has long meant days chained to the roof of the house.

Mexico has an estimated 20 million dogs or more, many of them roaming the streets hunting for food in the trash or spending their days shut up in apartments by owners who see them simply as living burglar alarms.

But many of the estimated 40 million middle-class Mexicans are having fewer children than their parents did and, also have more disposable income.