Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Everybody Needs A Spot

Does Blondie stake claim to your neighbor? Is that her "family"? Or is she protective of just her puppies? You had written before that the dogs had fended off would be thieves from your house. I find it very interesting that the dogs are so protective of their territory with humans. When people visit you do the dogs allow them to come and go?

Dogs travel miles to find a spot. A spot is a place unoccupied by another dog, where the dog does not get chased off. Spots where the dogs get fed leftovers are prime. At night the sounds of intruder alerts are frequently dogs coming into the area looking for a spot. Resident street dogs and pets in the yards will raise a ruckus, no one wants to share. Eventually the dog finds a spot.
Humans control if the dog gets to stay, so when a dog is permitted to stay it becomes loyal to the humans in their spot. Their territory seems to be larger and overlaps other dog's territory. Blondie and Stormy live in a four house spot.
Yesterday as we drove to pick up my husband's birthday cake, I saw Stormy two miles away standing on the side of the road having a standoff with a bull terrier mix. I think that's how far his territory goes. He seems to tend it regularly. He also goes hunting at night frequently.
As you drive along you can see where the dogs have taken a spot. They are laying in front of the gate on the street side. The pets are on the inside of the gates. When I first came to Puerto Rico I thought people let their dogs out during the day and the dogs were waiting for the people to get home to let them back in the yard. Most of these dogs are lucky to get leftovers.
All four of the families in Stormy & Blondie's spot feed them. When the neighbor lady locks her gate at night, the dogs are in her yard. She would like a dog of her own, but her property is steep and would be very expensive to fence so these guys couldn't get out. I don't see things changing at her house.
Mike is our closest neighbor; his house is on the opposite side of the road at the bottom of our driveway, next to his house is his mother-in-law, then the neighbor lady. These are the Stormy & Blondie families. Mike has a number of small dogs, his wife loves Pomeranians. When they return from work late at night, they always have a snack for Stormy and Blondie.
The mother-in-law is a cat lady. Her gate is always closed. The cats walk through the gate. Stormy likes to chase them, she fusses with him. He doesn't seem to take a word from her seriously, she's a cat lady. Each evening when she has leftovers, she or another occupant of the house will come across the road with the garbage and the grub. The dogs always know when food is coming.
The neighbor lady, whose house is next to the mother-in-law, buys dog food. She really likes the dogs. They are most faithful to her. She is steady, always there. The one thing she will not do is touch them. This drives Blondie wild. When I went over there to see the puppies, Blondie wiggled and wagged her tail. She submissively approached the lady, who whacked at her with something each time she came for affection.
The dogs are itching and scratching due to a vine, called pica-pica. It's all over the hill. The burn and itch is said to be intense. We don't know what to do about it other than kill what's on our property. This seems to be the culprit of the dog's poor skin/coat condition. We have never seen them in as bad a shape as they are in this trip. The dogs go through the bushes or roll where the seed pods have dropped. We brush them, and then pet them. So far I haven't gotten the itch from them.
Ours is the fourth house in their spot. When we are home, as we say in New Orleans, "Let the good times roll." We feed twice a day. I've studied nutrition for years, so a balanced raw diet like I fed my champions back home is what these dogs learn to love. Diet is another interesting subject we'll discuss later. We brush and touch these dogs; that seems to be what they love the most. Kirt brushes them and powders them with Gold Bond Powder every morning. Blondie squeals with glee. She gives the best happy dog signals. I do soft tissue therapy, straighten spines. If street dogs had money, I would be rich. Therapists know how much dysfunction our pets compensate for; I've always wondered about their "wild" cousins. All I can say for them now is ouch
Our property is not fenced. We are higher on the hill than the other houses, so the dogs have an excellent vantage point from here. It's when we are not here that I think the house becomes more open territory. The other houses are in a row. Ours is on the other side of the road comparatively it's isolated. It becomes one of the vacant houses where the ghost dogs congregate. A couple of times when we first arrived there have been up to a dozen dogs on my porch, when I turned on the light they scattered.
The dogs are loyal to all humans living in their spot. How they protect us is a discussion in itself.
Last night our company came for Kirt's birthday party, the dogs barked as everybody got out of their cars. When we greeted our guests, the dogs wagged their tails like pets and greeted them too. Whenever there is a party on this hill, these dogs are in the thick of it. They have learned how to hang back enough that they don't get shooed away. These street dogs have great party manners.
Personally, I believe that we are all more than our biology, that dogs are more than a collection of drives. I believe in the magic that God created. Last night was a beautiful example of that magic. Bonita and Blondie were here for our party Storm has been taking off at night returning in the morning. Blondie laid in the center of everything as usual. Bonita hung just in the shadows, until birthday cake. My friend's eighty-eight year old mother wanted to give her cake and ice cream to Bonita. I took Blondie off for an adventure. After my octogenarian friend fed Bonita, she stroked her on the head. A second later Bonita realized she had been touched and backed away, but for a couple of seconds Bonita allowed a human to touch her in the middle of a party. How encouraging is that!!

1 comment:

  1. The dynamics are amazing. Dogs obviously are not the simple creatures they are made out to be. How exciting about Bonita!!! I wonder if an antihistamine would sooth the itching. It seems crazy to me that your neighbor lady is so devoted to the dogs yet does not want to touch them.

    Happy birthday to Kirt!!!!!