Friday, January 29, 2010

Morning is Over

Just finished the morning of our last day of class. A week of classes in Spanish has been some what draining for me. Looking forward to the day when I can speak to people in this language and have communication.
The energy and excitment in the room is palpable. The first class of Animal Control Officers graduates tomorrow. One of the class leaders here has announced the formation of an association representing us. The first meeting will be in one week from our graduation. This should keep the positive momentum going.
I don't know where I'll fit into this picture, but if I am going to be involved these are the people who will be there in the trenches.
Saturday is the day I've been waiting for because the people who are active in dog rescue on the island are going to be on a panel discussing what we can do now to ameliorate the problem.
A number of people in the class are police and cruelty investigators, some are groomers, others are dog trainers and the rest are rescuers. We have a nice experience base.
All of this talk about dogs and not a dog to pet. On the break a young man said how much he missed his dogs. That is so true for me as well. I can't wait to get home to see the puppies. If Stormy is the father of any, I am going to have a dog again. If not one pup is spoken for already, the rest will get good homes here or back in Illinois.
So I guess I'd better have lunch we have a full program for this afternoon plus two more tests to take.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sunset in San Juan

Sunset in San Juan is spectacular. The lagoon is indego, just enough light hits the palm trees to make them a golden green. The yellow lights twinkle like stars. Several preppies glide by in long rowing boats, then indeginous guy comes across the lagoon. Like a Puerto Rican prince, he glides over the water standing on a board that doesn't look any larger than a surf board. His slim hips and broad shoulders cut a fine siloette in the twilight. Each evening I see his effortless strokes as he solos to shore.
Our quaint hotel has a small balconey with our room. Sitting with my laptop I plan to do home work, but the warm breeze seduces my thoughts, which flit like the fluffy white clouds that turn pink at dusk
The shadow cast by one building on to a larger looks like at set from West Side Story The outline of what looks like a fire escape is so vivid I visualize Maria and Tony dancing out. Yeah, I know that was New York.
The Condado area along the ocean is some high end real estate, but I am a country girl, missing my home on the hill. Also miss my canine friends.
Blondie had her puppies at my neighbor's house, which begs the question; are they my neighbor's puppies? Iam planning to have the puppies adopted, mommy and last litter daughter spayed.
After sitting in class all day, a walk along the ocean is theraputic. The full moon reflected on the water, white caps crashing into shore makes me think; I am so glad I'm not in Illinois right now. Smile

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hump Day

It takes a certain type of person to do animal control work. There are moments when I think I can do it, then there are other moments when doubt reigns supreme. I got out of nursing because I could not handle people suffering anymore.

My career in dogs has been great; I fix your dog's problem behavior, you smile and pay me, while thanking me very much because you love your dog. This is a far cry from what I will be doing in animal control. Well ,why worry until I have to make a decision.

The best thing about the course so far has been the people taking it. They are so caring, so committed! I don't always follow the Spanish conversations well, but someone once taught me to listen not to the words, but the music. Some classmates talk like a creshendo, all with passion. I understand enough to know that they have some wonderful skills. I really look forward to working with them and finding my place within the group. The finding a place within the group thing is an extreme rarity for me. You have no idea how rare.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Animal Control Course Puerto Rico

This morning at 4 am I was awake wondering why I signed up for this class in the first place. What was I thinking? Five days of classes from 8:30 am to 5 pm followed by a Saturday summit of people involved with rescueing dogs on the island.

Then I saw Adri, the course organizer, she was electric. As we filed into the class room, I could feel the energy. This is as commited a group of animal lovers as I have ever met. Not every one has the same beliefs, the discussions were quite spirited.

The first day of class went well and quickly. From the moment we started my doubts evaporated. These are my people, even if I don't speak Spanish. Yes, my lack of Spanish is problematic, but I could hear my classmates speaking from the heart and understood.

This is the first Animal Control Course for Puerto Rico. It's good to have a chance to get to know some caring people.

Guess I'd better set the alarm clock.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Life’s Ironies


Lake Guajataca is part of karst country. As nearly as I can figure a karst is geology's answer to a fallen soufflé. The result is we feel like we live in a big green tea cup. The lake at the bottom is the focus of where we look mostly, but the wall of green soothes my soul.

My husband talks about it being an oxygen factory in the middle of an oxygen warehouse, which would be the deep ocean. I just know that the healing that goes on in my body when I 'm here is mystical.

My beautiful home on the side of the teacup is not without its problems, which at the moment includes no water service for the whole neighborhood for the last several months. Water trucks come to fill up rooftop tanks; hopefully you are home when they're in the area. The new water line is just the other side of the hill, so maybe not too much longer we'll have water pressure. It's the little things that make a life normal.

The dogs are all passed out on their sides. Blondie has been carrying her pups right behind the diaphragm now we watch the wave like movement in her side as they line up under the exit sign. I already have a home for one of the pups. I doubt that she had enough nutrition to support too many embryos.

Stormy had a snit with Bonita tonight just after they finished eating; he ran over to her, bit her and growled. He tried to chase her off. This on the very first day I have ever seen her attempt to play with him. Wonder why he tried to drive her off after the meal? He had plenty to eat. Blondie is usually more apt to try to drive her off and that's always during feeding time.

Next week we'll be in San Juan for my Animal Control Class, which is the first ever on the island. This should be interesting. I've taken classes in breeding, raising, training, showing, health issues, conformation; but this is my first in animal control.

It is a major irony in my life that I came to Puerto Rico to get away from dogs. After my last surgery, my doctor told me I couldn't work for at least six months. I am a dog trainer from Illinois, so we went to our new home in Puerto Rico so I wouldn't be tempted to mess up my surgery by fooling with the dogs. Who knew this was an island full of dogs just waiting for me.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Counting My Blessings

In the last red embers of sunset a bat darts and weaves as it feeds. The thinnest slice of the new moon shines on the palm trees. The Coqui begins his nightly song. We sit in silence. The dishes are done, the dogs have been fed.
Of all the things that have happened today, I am most pleased that today little Bonita touched me twice as I dozed in my chair. When her cold moist nose touched my big toe, I opened one eye to see her pull away. Luckily my foot didn't move because next her nose brushed my ankle. Such a small gesture must have taken big courage.
She is feeling much better, so I no longer catch her napping in the corner. Her coat is getting a red highlight to it. The pink socks are turning white. Her ears are raw from insect bites, but overall her condition is greatly improved. She lays no more than six inches from our chairs, but scoots away when we offer a hand for petting.
Blondie, her mother is lactating so it won't be long before the puppies come. I hope we're here to help her, but next week we'll be in San Juan for my animal control class. People have been telling me to have her spayed and the puppies aborted. They are probably right, but I just can't do it.
I have a feeling that we'll be bringing puppies back to Illinois in March. Perhaps I shouldn't get that far ahead of myself. Let's see what she has first.
Stormy showed up in the neighborhood shortly after we closed on our house four years ago. The next time we came back he was a fixture in the neighborhood. The neighbors set out food for the dogs. They all seem to love him. If only that were enough.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bonita, untouched by human hands

  On New Year's Day we arrived home in Puerto Rico for the first time in six months. We never go right into the house. The view from our porch is so serene; it nurtures in ways that words fail to express.
  After inhaling the island air we turned to see the most pitiful puppy, her eyes had the dullness of one who has given up on life with a stomach sucked in so much her butt was tucked under making walking difficult. From a hiding spot behind a pot that once held palms, too dazed to know what to do, she looked like she wanted to run, but didn't have the energy. She was practically bald; her feet were inflamed bright pink socks.
Luckily we came with groceries. Feeding the pup along with her two adult companions proved difficult at first. Never underestimate how fast a dog can move or gulp food! I tossed her nourishment what I thought was a good enough distance when her pregnant again mother ran over, bit her sharply on the nose and growled. The puppy backed into the corner away from the food. She made no further moves toward the food no matter how far away I kept the others; finally, we got her to lap some milk.
  In a day the feeding routine was worked out. A couple of weeks later her tummy has grown enough that her top line is flattening out. Her hair is growing into a nice short brown coat. For a dog that looks like Wiley Coyote with flop ears, she's looking pretty, so we call her "Bonita".
  The first week she ran off the porch when the door opened, whenever we moved or stood up. She takes food from our hands, but was still terrified of us. By day ten we could walk around her without causing her to move.
  My goal was to get her to want to be pet. Stormy and Blondie love petting, so I thought she would get curious; she does just not enough to overcome her fear. Bonita lays behind the palm pot frequently while I stand near her bending at the waist like I can still touch my toes, my hands dangle almost to the floor. She no longer walks away. As much as I want her to initiate the contact, I can't resist; the back of my hand slides against her side. The puppy's eyes bug out of her head she is shot from guns propelled forward, then turned and glared at me!
  Patience is a lifelong learning for me, so I wonder if she has been set back in her socialization. She walks away when I come near.
  The next day my hands are dangling the same way just inches from her. This time I could see it in her face that she wanted me to touch her. Twice I stroked her with the back of my hand before she lurched forward about a foot, and then went into a big stretch. We both knew how big that was for her.