Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Language of Woof

Listening to the "Satos" on the hill gives me the opportunity to learn the dogs' verbal language in a stable canine community. Blondie and Bonita sound so much more like Stormy when they make the woo-woo sound than they did last January.
Dogs in the kennel have a variety of barks. The complainer bark is basically an I am not happy about whatever. I take a complaining bark seriously; it's about being sad and lonely. Helping a dog settle in the kennel often takes no more than calling the dog by name as I talk to them when I walk past. Spending a couple of minutes in the kennel just sitting with them brings around the rest usually; it's the ones that have been reinforced for the screamer bark that set your teeth on edge. Dogs figure out what gets results and some scared little dogs use the screamer bark often enough that it becomes their bark. This bark would not exist in nature because in a pack of charged dogs it over sitmulates the dogs which makes them more of a threat to screaming dog. This is one of those things that is all about us.
After nights of hearing this screaming sound from dogs getting injured to hearing it from a dog who barks like that all the time, hmmm do I think our dog's are challenged in the communications department? Maybe.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Lesson From The Golden

Shaker reminds me that what I adore the absolute most about dogs is how well they love us. This dog is so ecstatic that we’re home.

Our Golden boy races circles around us, looking at us watch him. The balanced symmetry of effortless, joyous strides causes us to admire the Shaker, but soon we settle into some long overdue petting.

Sometimes I think I treat love like a finite thing, as if people only had so much love to go around, my Golden teaches me to love with abandon; imagine that.

For another month I’ve been wrapped up in all things Puerto Rican and canine. So many wonderful dogs I know as individuals will face death if we don’t get a sterilization plan in place pronto.

In my opinion the canine street society of dogs mirrors our history without tools and the advantages of the larger prefrontal cortex. Their verbal language becomes more apparent and possibly a little better understood each time I live with these dogs. My heart, soul and imagination are with them.

Shaker cares not a sniff about this; we’re home.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Satos On The Hill

Folding the wash, preparing to close the house is keeping me from crying. I love people; I am not one of those who love dogs hate people.

Leaving our friends on the island is sad, but leaving the “Satos” we spend time observing and feeding. We visit and feed a good number of dogs here.

My daily smile is with the “Satos” on the hill. The greeting ritual with these dogs is a highlight any day. Blondie and Bonita really get into it. Blondie squeals as I stroke her sides. Bonita loves to grab my finger with her front teeth; her delicate touch with her front teeth shows no ill will. That I let her do it, I believe shows my good will. It feels like we are bridging a gap in the relationship.

One thing I have to say right now is that the Puerto Rican Government needs to take care of this problem. These are dogs breeding in the streets. Because people take compassion and feed an animal that does not make it their animal. These dogs are fed all over the neighborhood.

When Puerto Rico quits feeding the dogs, she’ll be feeding the rats. The government needs to step up, adopt a program that will pay dividends in tourism.

Puerto Rico has an infrastructure to carry out an island wide spay program. FOICCA is the Federation of Animal Control Officers in Puerto Rico.

They can work with whatever department will fund the operation. The results will improve the world image of Puerto Rico.

FOICCA can work with tourism by showing visitors the best places to find healthy adoptable Satos. Tourists may need help in finding a veterinarian to vaccinate and prepare the animal for the trip home.

Maybe one day, I won’t have to leave. Miss you my loves. SPAY IS THE WAY.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Snow White excels at the subtle art of submission. She knows just how far away she needs to stay. Snow stops short of aggravating Blondie with every advance. Her humble demeanor has brought out the best in Blondie, who actually invited Snow to eat in a friendly puppy like voice.

Blondie stands like a boss looking over her shoulder, a not subtle reminder that she is eating by her good graces which could end at any time. Snow averts her eyes half closing them, her lopsided ears twist and move in the most pathetically appealing fashion.

Lance is off to other pursuits, good thing for Stormy. Sad to say Snow White has no magic musk that keeps a male coming around; looks more like self interest.

Toby is here to share anything that might come her way. He gave Snow a couple of front end bounces and a bark to get her to give up some of her kibble pile. Bonita took offense at that; she ran over and did basically the same thing to him! He backed off. Toby is getting Bonita’s number, but that first confrontation with her last March must have been memorable.

Bonita’s experience with chasing off Toby may cause her to side with Stormy if the two males end up fighting for the spot. Toby has a spot about a half a mile away from here. Last week when he got tired of following Snow White, he would go home for dinner. His bowl is by the house. It could be that another male is moving in there; I don’t know.

What I do know is if the dog population is allowed to grow; it will get serious for these dogs whose lives are difficult enough. They are interesting, lovely animals. They deserve to live. Spay is the way, Puerto Rico.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Finding A Spot Is Not Easy

Blondie emits a high pitched, “rraurgh!” It sounded more like something that come out of Bonita. The tonal quality was so puppy like. Snow White comes out of her spot in the grass to eat. Blondie has invited Snow to have breakfast with her; how exciting.
Bonita’s eyes are fixed on her mom; she’s waiting for clues as to what to do next. She looks shocked that Snow White is invited to share the resources. Her body language says she is ready to pounce on Snow, if only Blondie will give the signal.

As harsh as Blondie has been with Bonita around food, this has to be strange for Bonita to see her mother invite an outsider to eat. Snow White trots over to the food like someone said, “Come and get it.”

Blondie stands next to Snow while she eats one of the piles of food placed at the end of the carport ramp. When she finishes the pile, Snow stretches her neck towards another kibble, Blondie mounts her. Snow is a pretty cool chick, she stands still for Blondie’s domination while grabbing every kibble she can reach.

It looks like acceptance when the old Airedale, Toby arrives. Bonita knows she has shagged his rear off before; she gives a fierce growl, Blondie and Stormy back her play. Snow hides in the tall grass as the home team kicks Toby butt out of here.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Canine Act of Kindness

The stunned Bluto looks to see which way his girl went as Stormy barks in his face.

The consort of fair Snow White has a steady stream of suitors to contend with for what reason; I will love to know!

This is a puzzle to me. It’s been a good two and a half weeks since I saw Snow beleaguered by boys mounting her weary bones. Her snappish behavior told me how over her heat cycle was then; the mounting is no longer about sex.

Well, it’s not about copulating now; I think she must be emitting a scent or a musk that keeps these guys coming.

Even old Toby is here looking all spry; he is ready for the love train, until Bonita remembers she kicked his butt out of here in March when he was down and out looking for a spot. Confidence is all it takes some days. The big old terrier tumbles down the hillside with the little red waif in hot pursuit.

If Toby were human we wouldn’t see him again until his ego recovered, being the dog he is, he is back hiding in the grass within minutes.

Snow seems to have convinced her man of the moment that no means no. It very much looks like the canine version of,”I’m here for ya, baby, any time you want it.”
 Blondie is alpha bitch of her spot on the hill. Bonita will tell you that it is best to do what her mommy tells you. Blondie has driven Snow away for days, but there’s nowhere for her to go. None of the humans on the hill want her, so they chase her off, which is why she is hiding in the grass by my house.

So Snow White tells her sisters on the hill that she is here she has nowhere else to go, your painful nips can’t make me go. I am more afraid of the human yelling and waiving things at me. Bite all you want, I’ll just go into the weeds.

The kibble is scattered on the ramp to our carport, so Blondie can’t protect it all without being a crazed bitch, which sometimes she does so well. Blondie is so I, me, mine that she runs from food pile to pile.

The moments that I love Blondie the most are when she allows Snow on the ramp to eat. My Blon honey is ready to enforce her right to eat the food first of the girls, but she lets Snow eat her fill before she pins her with teeth to the ear. It’s like she whispers, “Who’s the boss?”

But she let her eat. Blondie is always preoccupied with protecting her resources. She knows what it is to do without. When we first met, she was living on rats and beans. This is a moment of kindness. This is an act of generosity! She shared her food with strangers.

The girls and Stormy were doing a fine job of chasing them away. Eventually they would have continued up the hill, where dogs must live on what they catch in the field. The shadow dogs here live like the coyotes do in Illinois.

The choices for Puerto Rico are:

Auswitch Island for dogs or murder the mutts.

LaLaLaLa! Let’s wait to build a shelter or nada damn thing.

Zero population growth or spay is the way.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Humble Life of Puerto Rican Street Dogs

The home team is sitting vigilantly in the road wearing happy faces. They have thrown out the interloping Snow White and somebody has beat Bluto’s ear bloody. He went home to get it fixed.
 Stormy is strutting around on testosterone overload; I mean somebody get him some camouflage and an eye patch. The girls are ready to rest and he is going in after Bluto, who just wants to rest his head.

That was a couple of days ago. Today my little Storm is a pooped pup. Lance’s behavior simply says if she’s here, so am I. The Storm tactics have been to dog, harass and annoy. He seems to know better than to add nip to that equation, which I’ve seen him do repeatedly to Bluto.

If the girls accept Snow White Stormy may be forced to accept Lance’s rule, this guy is a he-man.

Today Blondie stepped in the direction of tolerating the new girl. Covering her, daring her to move is way more tolerant than, if you come into my spot; I’ll bite you until you scream.
Dog wars are not a good thing. Rounding them up and mass murdering them is very bad, please, don’t tell these humble animals that their lives are not worth living; I think they would disagree.

Zero population growth; SPAY IS THE WAY! Puerto Rico!!

Bonita, The Adolescent

Good morning! That's the game or ritual that became the means for me to get Bonita to let me touch her.

Who would have thought that the pink pawed miserable little creature we met in January could blossom into a lovely yearling/adolescent. Isn’t she pretty! I gave her the name with the hope she would grow into it, that was my wish for her.

Competition for resources caused her mother to be so harsh with her that when we started feeding her she would not touch food that was next to her mouth for fear of her mother’s wrath. She was dying.

The suffering pup in this photo has been fed for two weeks.

Blondie still is not good about sharing, but she has improved. They get a kibble now, so perhaps it’s not worth a fight like they would for the raw food diet they were getting.

Bonita and her mom, Blondie have become the home team; they work well together. Bonita often takes the lead in defending the turf. I can hear the excitement in her bark when she leads the charge successfully after which she struts around like a jock that scored the winning touchdown.

Last March when Bonita was going back to life, she decided to sample our ottoman, which Storm and sometimes Blondie sleep on at night. This was a big bold move for her. She fell asleep on an ottoman.

Now you know what happened; she fell off! I hear thud followed by a scared to death, yipe, yipe, yipe, then a tough but scared little dog, ruff, ruff, ruff for almost an hour. Really and truly I had to laugh, but I felt so sorry for her on her first venture into boldness. God, there’s a metaphor for life.

Yesterday Bonita had a real teenage/adolescent moment with Lance. She went all girly on him. She forgot all about home team, sat up on the porch and watched like a little sweetie.

Lance ever the hero, let’s Snow White get dominated by big bad Blondie, while he wizes ceremoniously staring at the lovely Bonita. Our girl is all grown up, Pa, git your shot gun!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This Girl Needs A Home

Snow White is hiding in the grass bouncing from one spot to the next getting her butt beat by the resident females.

Bluto played the role of her hero until he got his ear chewed off by probably Lance, the handsome Am. Staff or Bull Terrier, Snow White’s current leading man.

In the photo above notice how smitten Lance is with Bonita. The next picture shows how she is under his spell.

Snow White is submissive with Stormy, and then Blondie takes a turn showing

off her rank. White must lie perfectly still for as long as Blondie chooses to remain on top of her, which was long enough that I made the food is coming noise to end it. Had White moved first Blondie would have inflicted a lesson in pain.

Blondie is getting ready to accept S. W. and Lance. Forcing White to submit is a big improvement over ust beating her up.
Bonita is gaga for Lance. Stormy is not having it, but he has to pick his battles. Old Toby the large scruffy Terrier from down the hill is here to vie for Snow White. They were breeding her three weeks ago, she’s out of season. Don’t know why they are still behaving like suitors; residual musk or a bladder infection gives as similar odor, I am told.
Snow White makes the rounds of the local spots, wherever the resistance decreases is where she will end up. Her man of the moment will only defend her from other males should they become too amorous. Other than that this sister is on her own.
Each breeding cycle this is allowed to continue will make it that much more difficult for an animal to find a spot to live. Spay is the Way Puerto Rico!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dog Language & Behavior

I have started comparing Blondie’s vocalizations with Storm’s. Her barks to him reflect back what he has barked to her and then there is the modifier, which is frequently the third or fourth word/syllable i.e., woo-woo-woo-ruff. There is a pre bark that may be another modifier or qualifier, then the three bark major content, which may or may not be followed by a modifier.

The dogs here have better developed canine language skills because they actually get to bark. Back in Illinois the cops would have broken up the dog fight last night. Disturbing the peace citations would have been issued.

In the last few years here on the hill, we had a street dog to every four to six houses, some neighborhoods maybe less dogs.

Dogs gather for group activity other than to gang bang a lovely lady. We watched them hunt just last week. Sometimes a group of dogs will go check out other dogs’ spots. They come for an unwelcome, but tolerated spot check. The dogs doing the inspection have spots; it’s like going to check out the neighbors.

Stormy and the girls get pouty and stiff in the legs during spot check, but they say nothing. Sometimes Stormy will have a difficult time holding his ire. He shows the visitors that he is barely in control, but avoids confrontation.

In our rural part of the island it is more than interloping; this has become an invasion. Right now in the rain there are three interlopers hoping to get this spot. The home team is on red alert. Bonita is ever so bravely letting these dogs know she is not sharing her crummy kibble with any strays.

Last year there was a study on dogs in a shelter situation in which the dogs’ basic needs were met. The author talked in glowing terms about how egalitarian dog society really is.

In the last four years on the hill when we weren’t inundated with strays; it was rather amazing here. My friends who love dogs and dog behavior as much as I do would love the experience. It is without a doubt one of the best behavior labs ever.

I do not wish to study the dynamics of scarcity; let’s get these girls spayed! SPAY IS THE WAY!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Puerto Rico cannot become Auswitch Island for dogs! As long as the population is controlled these people can continue to live with their dogs as they have historically! This is not new; this is how people have lived with dogs since they've been roaming the island.
Living in 2010 we get to make a choice. Do we want to kill them off? Do we want to spay them?
I say, "Spay is the way!"
There are not enough shelters in Puerto Rico! These bitches are breeding every heat cycle; we can't wait for that.
If you want to learn something you didn't know about dogs come to Puerto Rico. Dogs have a barking language, a society that when its not compromised by over population is stable and fascinating.  This is the best behavior lab you will ever see!
For those of us interested in dog behavior, this is a gold mine. I am starting to see more of the effects of scarcity of resources as the dog population in my neighborhood grows.
If any of you, who read this blog, are interested in helping, I need advice. I need help in figuring out how to help these dogs. I am not asking for money! What I want is your input on what steps to take next.
Here is what I have so far:
1) Hook up with van MASH units. Who are they, where are they?
2)Central Supply- What equipment to we need to treat sick dogs,
   spay, euthanize as necessary? How much will it cost per spay?
3) Medication- Antibiotics? Anesthesia, Vaccinations
4) Funding- Where do we go? I am getting that pilot projects will be necessary
    to prove ourselves.
5) Donations of vaccine, equipment.
6) Volunteers-
7) Collars- color coded for the year the animal was picked and vaccinated.
8) Vets to do the deed. 
This is the beginner list, please, give me your thoughts. If any of this happens it will be because a bunch of caring humans got together.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dogs In The Grass

After almost an hour of laying in the grass or when Stormy toddled off; Bluto is back on my porch tasting kibble left in the dish.

Blondie and Storm have taught Bonita to stay away from the food bowl until they no longer have an interest, since she was a baby. She still obeys that rule.
Bonita sees Bluto eating the kibble that seems to change the rules. As soon as he vacates the bowl, she is chowing down with abandon. Bonita usually chews quietly so she doesn’t raise her mother’s ire.
The relaxed way the girls are lounging around soaking up the sun, indicates a lack of interest in the macho war.

The white female from last week’s hunting party is hiding in the grass. Last week she was just out of season, only the virgin boys were still interested in her then, so the boys are not fighting about sex. I didn’t know she was here until she came out of the grass.

The hunting group was raucous. We could hear them coming, they scared game in their path. The island dogs can be as stealthy as a coyote. A couple of steps into the brush and I would not know them were there.
Bluto must not have liked my kibble; he’s home now. Stormy is snoozing contentedly on his porch. Snow White is in the forest probably with Sleepy, Dopey and Doc incubating inside her.
I can’t afford to spay every bitch that wanders into the neighborhood. There has to be another way.

Underground Turf Wars, A Dog Fight

Turf wars fought nightly have left our residents wounded and bleeding. Blondie's right front pastern is swollen with a deep puncture. She let me clean it with peroxide yesterday. As I stood straddle of her with my head inches above hers, my thoughts were with people I've seen at shows who have their necks and faces bit for less.
Blondie tolerated the scrubbing of her war wound, but I sensed she was ready to enforce her limit should I cross it. She's putting very little weight on it, needs cleaning again today.

Stormy's right ear is all chewed up. The hair on his neck is matted with blood. He’s at the bottom of our driveway and our neighbor's dog, Bluto is up here strutting around like the boll weevil, who found a home.

Closed gates and complete fencing are not the rule here, so the line gets blurred as to neighbor's dog verses street dog. Bluto has always stayed in his yard or right in front of his house; he's a home boy. Why would he leave home to hang with a couple of spayed bitches and be pissing all over my house? His actions tell me he is saying, "Mine, mine, and mine!"

During the night I saw Bluto curled up in a ball sleeping on our porch. He has a small healing tear in his sheath, which leaves his wanker exposed a bit. I need to talk to my neighbor to find out why his dog left home. This should be good.

Meanwhile, here comes Stormy up the hill. His slow, deliberate steps tell me how much he objects to Bluto's trespass. Stormy's path to the larger dog is not direct; he stops to cover Bluto's scent markings.

Bluto stands at the top of my car port ramp, growling a low controlled grumble. Stormy circles his way ever closer; it's like Popeye's little doot-ta-doot; it's coming.

Stormy's strides look well rehearsed like stylized samurai. When he arrives, it is by Bluto’s right side facing the same direction. Their butts are four inches apart, so close. Their heads are forty-five degrees apart, Stormy is barking, “Ruff, ruff, ruff.” He doesn’t look at Bluto, who is growling. Bluto’s eyes are on the exit into the tall grass, where he heads in that stiff legged way of walking; that says, “Watch-it stiff legs here!” And he’s gone into the grass.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Puerto Rican Lemonaide

Every day we go places on this beautiful island; we see dogs joined the ranks of the many Puerto Rican people feeding the Satos, the feral or island dogs. It’s a national past time; these people do love their dogs. This is a good society to be so broke. To me that says huge wonderful things about the people, la Corazon!

For a serious dog lover this is the opportunity of a life time. I get to meet some of the wisest dogs I have ever met in my life, yes, I said wisest.

How else can you say street smart without giving it a negative connotation?

In the states we are dysfunctional with our dogs at the opposite end of the spectrum from here.
We worship and adore these critters to the point we’re telling them they can get on our laps, if they’d only get up and give us space on the couch; then we take them to school to learn who the boss is. Smirk.
Thank heaven; we also have some pretty great trainers in the states! You’ve got to see how schizophrenic puppies must get when raised in the trip from worship & adore to you had better do what I say, now. And we didn’t see it coming when spoiled critters go from worshipped to what the f—are you doing to “King”, I have teeth; SEE!
In my behavior practice I have worked with the Kings, Princesses about to be dethroned. I won’t get into the psychology of a nation of loving people looking for a safe vessel for their love. We have found that in dogs; that is until we start looking for a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t.
Some of us create our own little monsters; that’s no surprise.
Adopting a Puerto Rican street dog is the answer for the respect starved mush mellow dog lovers. These “Satos” are respectful and submissive; so many skinny dogs follow me as I walk away from the food to give them space to eat without a stranger hovering.

The hardest thing for me about meeting, greeting and feeding island dogs is that I fall in love over and over again. I want them all.

Even an old salt like John Saccenti, Pres. of C.D.I., New Jersey who told me he encountered only nice, friendly dogs when touring the island with Tim Vazquez. John said that based on his experience the Puerto Rican Island dogs were a pleasant surprise. This was a lovely compliment coming from a man who trains animal control officers.

I want to that John and his organization for the lovely badge; it looks good on me.

Congratulations for another fine course in Puerto Rico, bravo!

HELLO PUERTO RICO, tourism opportunity here; it will be so much fun!! 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dog Drama in Lares Mountain Side

In the mountain town of Lares a lady started feeding stray dogs. More dogs came, she started keeping them in her house. The house was full of dogs, she would no longer let family in to visit. She became ill and then add insult to injury; she was evicted.
Suddenly all of these dogs are back on the street waiting for this woman to take care of them. Animal Control Officer, Alma Febus to the rescue; she, alerted authorities, organized the capture of perhaps forty-five dogs and assisted the neighbors in an effort to feed the remaining dogs. 
One of the neighbors wrote on my face book news page that about twenty of these dogs were taken to Villa Michelle, which is a good shelter in Mayaguez where the dogs have a shot at being adopted before a lethal injection. The other twenty-five were picked up by the municipality. In some municipalities, that may mean they don't get past go and no two hundred dollars. For dogs that are sick or suffering, it's a blessing. What about the ones that aren't sick or suffering? A meager existence is still an existence.
Auswitch Island for dogs is my nightmare, but that does not negate the good many people are doing here or the love of the well intending. 


This past week Animal Control Officers Natalia Vega, Alma and I hiked up the mountain to see the make shift shelter the retiree tried to put together, so she could keep her beloved dogs. We tried to assess how many dogs are still in the area. In my opinion a credible current count is almost impossible as the dogs have scattered. 
What I do know is that the large number of dogs defecating on the roads in front of homes is a health hazard.
An island wide organized spay week twice a year will go a long ways towards getting control of the animals in a compassionate way befitting an island with the enormous heart of Puerto Rico.
The island's reputation and tourism would benefit by some good public relations. If we invite young veterinarian students about to graduate to the island to help, they'll feel happy about the good they are doing. 
After graduating these people with well paying careers will return to Puerto Rico where they have friends and warm feelings. 
Tourism opportunity here, HELLO, PUERTO RICO.
Taking care of our dog problem doesn't have to mean murder. We don't have the shelters; let's use what we have. Every neighborhood has dog lovers, who will get involved. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Island Dog Hunting Party

This morning Stormy, Blondie and Bonita, the resident street dogs were full of burrs; it's a sign that they've been hunting. This visit we've only been feeding kibble of which they are not that fond. The neighbors' leftovers are meager. I've long thought that at least Stormy supplemented his diet with game. He is a picky eater, so I've been sure his trips through the brush were for hunting.
The dogs hang out in the street. They don't go running through the brush without a reason; it's not like they don't want to be seen by humans, say like coyotes. 
This evening just at dusk we hear a rustling in the woods. It's not the heavy sound of our neighbor's horses coming for a visit, but a pack of about six dogs, that I could see.
In the photo above that's Blondie greeting the hunters. All you can see is the white dog's head popping up. The dogs were scurrying around in the grass clearly in hunting mode, they barely noticed me.

The little Rottie mix came out of the brush just long enough for me to catch this shot. Peanut was in the hunting party. The rest were just a blur and off up the very steep hill they went.
Dusk is when the rats come out, so this was perfect time for hunting. The only other creature in the forest are mongoose, but they are out in the day. They are also a tough adversary, so it makes sense to me that the Puerto Rican island dogs supplement their diet by hunting rats or mice.
Stormy and the girls did not join the party. They took a walk with me. I searched to see if these guys were just taking a short cut somewhere. All I can say is straight up the side of the hill is no shortcut anywhere.
This just reinforces my suspicions that these island dogs hunt for a living when necessary or.... maybe, it's just a party.