How Much is That Doggy in Ouagadougou?

It’s one of those quiz questions that stumps most but the keenest of quiz nerds: What’s the capital of Burkina Faso? Answer: Ouagadougou (pronounced Wag-a-Doo-Goo).

Oh why, oh why is called Ouagadougou, pray tell? Because it’s the home to the largest poodle population in the world.

Poodle Row is the main shopping thoroughfare in this landlocked West-African nation. It’s the one affluent part of town as can be seen by the preponderance of ladies walking their French Poodles in and out of pooch parlors.

What’s amazing for the visitor to the capital is the contrast between Poodle Row and the rest of the city, much of which does not have sidewalks, let alone street names. The differences between the poodle set and the rest is evident from first site of arrivals at Ouagadougou Airport (IATA: OUA, ICAO: DFFD). Two entry gates await you: one is the down-about-the-heels general arrivals, where the sweltering masses mill around, people bumping into one another in cramped conditions; the other has a large Puppy Palace sign above the sliding doors that invite you into carpeted, air-conditioned heaven replete with poodle-sized bath tubs, hairdressing salons and toys that would make a small child intensely jealous.

“We carved out this niche market after the 1998 coup that brought General Rambou to power,” laughs Canine Tourism Minister Colonel Andrew Sankara.

Poodle care accounts for some 24% of the country’s GDP, and continues to grow as a percentage of the economy.

Both Kempisski and Treble Tree have opened poodle-only hotels one at either end of Poodle Row. Humans must stay on floors 1-12 in both, while dogs have the run of the place on the more exclusive floors.

The pissness lounge offers a variety of urination options for four-legged guests, while bones can be hidden in the ice-machines by the elevators on every floor.

“Most of the poodles want to stay forever,” says Sankara. But when asked about the rights of the poor citizens of Burkina Faso, his persona changes. Smile vanishes. He’s all soldier now. “This interview is about poodles.”

And that’s what we stick to.

We really, really recommend Poodle Row!

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