Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday In The Hood

Yesterday Stormy and Blondie went on a visit to the neighborhood dog hang out.  Scent marking is involved and I’d love to know what else.

I do know one other thing the little rascals did. They let Owl hobble along on his three good legs. The trio barked at a man walking up the hill. They sniffed and scent marked. It seemed like a casual outing. When they got to the end of their territory, they turned on Owl barking, and biting him.

Just out of territory Owl cut into the woods, up the side of the steep hill and down the other. Clever Owl was lying on the new dog pillow on our porch, when Stormy returned.

This is a guy-guy thing. Blondie chooses to back Stormy for now. Owl’s right rear leg is healing slowly. All bite wounds are closed, no abscesses forming. Every once in a while I see him putting the leg down to push with it.

The dogs know my no fighting rule. They no longer snarf and grumble with each other in our presence. At night when I hear low growls, doggie swear words, I only have to come near the window to silence them.

Stormy has always managed to run off other males wanting his spot. The method he employs is your basic nag constantly. He knows just how far he can push it before a larger male kicks his scrappy little butt.

Neighborhood dogs visit occasionally doing what I call spot checks because its more about checking out the other dog’s digs than visiting. At least that’s my impression when the guys visit Stormy. There’s an evening’s entertainment, if you like watching body language.

Blondie took off by herself this afternoon. She returned shortly before dinner. The new dog pillow now has her name on it.

We’re just hanging around the house for the weekend. I sprained my ankle. Have a good one.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good Day

Bedraggled and scruffy as ever, Toby the Airedale came trotting down the road. The big old lover boy is alive. About a year ago he bounced through the neighborhood, until he found a spot. He was only a block away from home when we saw him this afternoon.

We had lunch on the beach in Isabela. A cute foxy faced female with full mammaries swinging in the breeze trotted up to us. We counted her ribs, as she paused to look at us. Oh, poor little mommy, of course I’ll find something for you to eat. Holly, our ride is another dog lover who feeds the satos. We spring into action. Within moments Holly has water and kibble placed before the street waif. We stand there looking pleased with ourselves. Mommy dog picks through the kibble eating only the light colored pieces, leaving the rest. This lactating street dog snubbed the kibble.

We watch mommy dog work the outdoor diners. She sits about a foot away from the people; that erect good dog sit. The head cocks as she looks at each person. She’s working her magic. How long will it take until one of them gives her something? The lady hands her a French fry; she spits it out. The man gives her a bigger fry; she goes into a down while turning her head away. Both fries on the ground don’t get a sniff.

This little bag of bones with babies has the taste buds of royalty; a piece of hamburger and she is gone.

Stormy did the dog chatter tonight. His woo, woo calls answered by only two dogs in the valley, Toby’s deep bark the three woo reply. I could hardly hear the other dog.

Dogs, Study, Vacation

For someone into dogs, Puerto Rico has the possibility to become the coolest vacation place in the world.

Imagine dog behavior not based on your presence, your control. In this place dogs don’t live with you as much as they live alongside you.

These dogs don’t do tricks for treats. Their behavior is shaped minimally by man; not really minimally, but nowhere near as much as pets.

A Puerto Rican dog learns to fear man, fear cars. They learn to watch humans closely or avoid them and yet, they are habituated to us in ways other predators will never be.

After twelve years of doggie day care I thought I knew so much about dog behavior. What I could not have guessed was how little our naïve pets know.

Around San Juan there is too much congestion, too many dogs on beaches, suffering. This is not a pleasant sight.

In the country where we live, man and dog can live in harmony. With population control we can have a peek at how our ancestors lived with dogs. The knowledge each species had for the other is all but lost. The number of behavior problems trainers deal with each day should tell us that. The level of organization found in the colony here on the hill is amazing. It’s like a prairie dog society, so is their sentence structure.

This is an interesting opportunity to study dogs. I’m thinking about doing a bed and breakfast for serious students of dogs. Anybody interested?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Appreciate A Sato Day

Ha-ha-ha, now I’ve seen everything. Since our return to Puerto Rico, the satos, we know as Stormy and Blondie, have taken to sleeping on our porch at night. Last night the two ladies who live next door to each other came out with a special meal for them.

This little production number begins with each lady holding a good size pot of food. They call sweetly, “Lola! Pinto!” Dog ears pick up, they look at each other. Still holding the pots, they call, “Pinto, Lola!”

The dogs stand looking through the railing. “Pinto, Lola AQUI!” That one was a little short. They see the dogs looking through my railings. The ladies put the pots down and begin waving to the street dogs, “Aqui.”

Clearly, the dogs don’t know what to make of this turn of events. They look at each other, and then head down my driveway. The ladies hail them with “Bueno, bueno, Lola, Pinto!”

The ladies are waving them on telling them about what they have for them. Usually when these women set out leftovers in small containers, left without fanfare. The dogs hesitate to put their heads in the pots, while the ladies stand there. Now, the ladies have an audience of family members watching; they coo, “Bueno, hay que bueno.”

The dogs chow down with gusto; the people sound happy, talking with animation. OMG, this is serious; the meal is followed by petting. They are petting street dogs; you don’t see that too often around here.
Wonder what that's about; don't you?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Life and Death

“It’s mine; I don’t care, if I don’t like it.” Stormy woofed down the commercial dog treat. You may know the one I’m talking about; it’s just so artificial. Naturally fed dogs like Stormy don’t want them, until another dog is interested. Once in the mouth flavor enhancers do their work, dogs must have more.

Stormy submits to Kirt chopping the burrs out of his matted fur. The occasional dose of flavor gets Storm’s full co-operation. I put some Neosporin over his right eye and on his ear wounds.

When a dog colony is stable, there is not a lot of severe fighting. Certain situations may require a fight, but within the colony they know each other. A bunch of new dogs in the neighborhood means fighting for spots. Once a dog has a rep as a hard biter, his adversary slows his readiness to “mix it up.” Last night dog fights punctuated the melody of the coqui frog for the first time since our return.

Given the rodent situation on the island; perhaps the poison was not intended for the dogs.

I have to believe that; Bonita’s death mustn’t sour my heart. My pain isn’t just for Bonita. Lance was a macho male by species standard, big shaggy wonderful Toby, Zorro a lady’s man into old age; I have to stop. This hurts.

Today is my day to mourn for the rat hunting party, the dogs who lived in the grass and the sentries in front of the gates.

I saw each one as special. They had a spot. They protected their neighborhood. They only asked for what scraps you could spare. They loved it if you pet them. And a little fresh water is a gift.

Good bye, my friends.

Veterinarios de Puerto Rico

Why would the veterinarians of Puerto Rico want to have a meeting with the rescuers of the island dogs? Emotions run high on the subject of the satos.

In the states there is animal control, which generally has a veterinarian administrator. Maybe the vets here don’t want to take time from their private practice for such a post?

There is no time to build shelters for 100,000 animals. We must begin to control the population through sterilization.
Doctors, we need your input.

Of course, you will be paid for your services. Yes, some people think you should donate time to this cause. They are wrong. This is your business.

Your business is treating animals. Why don’t we help you figure out a way to access a larger share of the market place?

This is an opportunity; it doesn’t have to be painful for you. It can be profitable.

Puerto Rico has a model animal cruelty law, ley 154. Puerto Rico can lead the way in animal control.

Doctors, it is up to you.

Please, contact me through my blog email, if I may be of service.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Animal Control for the Island

Free ranging dogs are a part of our history. Before automobiles, it didn’t matter so much if a dog was in the road. Videos of indigenous tribes show dogs just hanging around the village. The first dogs to be confined by humans were probably sentry dogs. Pampered little dogs had to be a close second.

Animal control as an organized effort didn’t begin until after the automobile. It seems like before the automobile everybody had a hand gun, so rabid dogs were shot on the spot. Population control was probably, shoot or run off.

Sixty years ago very few dogs lived in the house. Dogs were fed table scraps. Canned dog food was a new item in the stores. We changed the way we live with dogs. Today’s dog doesn’t leave home without health insurance. Dog training is better than ever; dog sports, day care, clothes.

Dog lovers happily take each step with their furry buddies. Most of us don’t live on farms anymore, so a dog or a cat is our connection to nature. We divorced nature a long time ago to head to the city.

One thing about dog people is that we all have strong opinions. Mine arrived in Puerto Rico with the luggage. Round up the strays; take them to the shelter. What could be simpler? I was the huffy tourist who couldn’t understand the way the island people live with dogs.

My good friend, Gloria said, “Before you condemn, understand that this IS a different culture. Be open to another’s way of doing things.” Thank you, my friend. It took me a long time to see more than the danger the dogs faced and the suffering.

After a few years of watching the dogs, I’ve learned that we have a symbiotic relationship with the island dogs. We can’t get rid of them. We need them. They eat rats. They eat our leftovers, better them than the rats. Rats carry more disease, left unchecked they will decimate the food crops.

The satos are a benefit to the island. Its just time we step up to take care of them. Trap and release, vaccinate, health check and spay the girls. Put a government collar on all healthy vaccinated animals. Animal control set up to meet the needs of the island.

Animal control in the continental US does not cover shelters for the rodent predators. Nobody worries if a coyote had enough to eat or a fox.

Does this make sense to anybody?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dog Lovers, A Breed Apart

Dog lovers understand how special each of their companion animals is. Dog lovers working at veterinarian offices or boarding facilities like mine recognize the personality of each animal in their care. People get excited when you tell them what their dog likes or how it behaves because they know you see that dog as an individual.

It is the ability to see the individual dog and not just a dog that makes us true dog lovers. When we cry over the loss of a pet, there is always the person who tells us to just get another one. The non dog lover cannot see that there is no other one.

And yet the truth is having another one to care for causes us to go on when your heart is pumping puddles on the floor.

Owl’s wounds are mending. The peroxide soaks are bringing the infection down.

My concern is that flies have laid eggs in the wound. I’ve seen that once before; it’s not pretty. Any advice on what to do here is appreciated. One puncture has two “chambers” The top one is damn near squeaky clean, in the bottom there is a brown something. I think it’s a clot. There is infection behind it or worse fly larva. Previously, I saw a wound at the maggot stage, when they were coming out. It was easy to figure out how to speed that process.

Stormy’s ears are all chewed to shit. His muzzle and the back of his right front leg have wounds that need tending.

Blondie has taken to buddy bumping me. I pick her up with my arms around her chest. She loves it when I shake her. There is no sign of the mange I treated her for last year.

Another neighbor stopped up last night. He told us all the gory details of how Bonita died. We didn’t understand a word, but we knew what he said. I don’t know why people feel required to be sure that you are wallowing in all the pain with them. He left out nothing. Just when I thought he would leave, it started raining. He doesn’t speak a word of English to us. Neither one of us speaks that much Spanish, so I showed him pictures of the neighborhood dogs. Muerte or no muerte was the best I could do. I could tell by his body posture which ones were dead. After a few his head just hung low, we could see his sense of loss.

Just when the sadness was too painful to bear, he spotted a picture of Snow White; she’s alive!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Home Coming Nightmare

Free ranging feral dogs are like flies at a picnic. Bitches breeding every heat produce pathetic and adorable puppies. People toss out young pets once they have out grown the puppy charm. Back in Puerto Rico, I’m learning to accept what I cannot control.

Welcome home. There’s a new dog on my porch hobbling on three legs. Stormy shoots out of Mike’s garage, waiting when we pull into the carport. Stormy, the first sato or street dog that Kirt and I ever met is still a fixture in the neighborhood. Stormy’s ears and muzzle bear evidence to an altercation. Before long we see Blondie in our neighbor’s yard, escape is imminent. Blondie greetings are without reserve, we are now properly welcomed home.

As a parting gift this throw away dog received a complimentary flea collar. Perhaps the injuries to his rear legs are road rash. We’ve seen dogs ejected from moving vehicles before. His right hock joint is badly infected. Sweet boy with ears folded back, licking his lips and lowly tail beating comes to us seeking petting. Markings around his eyes look like glasses giving him the appearance of a wise little owl. Owl allows us to soak his infected joint in peroxide.

Lucky Owl landed on our road after the purge. Our neighbor, Mike told us that Owl fought Stormy to stay on the hill. The space Stormy gave up was our then vacant house. We came home a few days later. For a street dog this is like winning the lottery.

When the population of street dogs becomes too dense, there’s a concerned citizen who steps up to “solve” the problem. This barbaric remedy still used world over rid our neighborhood of some wonderful animals including the beautiful Bonita.

The packs of dogs hunting in the fields are gone. Absent are the canine sentries in front of the gates. Leftovers are in the garbage cans in this neighborhood. The valley is strangely silent.

No I take that back; there is a lot of weed whacking and trimming going on, more so than usual. Our neighbor is trimming an area we’ve not seen them cleanup before, so I ask what they are planning to do with the land. The answer is “Nothing, we’re having a rat epidemic. They’re in the tall grass.”

Go figure.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Psycho Bitch Begins The Road to Recovery

My wild Rottweiler girl came with baggage we figured out quickly. The out of control lack of direction was simple to diagnose. The submissive flattening she did if a voice was raised indicated that when she was corrected; it was overdone.

Her scars spoke of dog fights. Her eyes told me she didn’t trust or respect human authority. When a dog intends to follow your leadership, the dog looks at you. Mikki didn’t look directly at us. It was a big indicator of her level of dysfunction.

The first pictures we took of the dogs with a flash created pandemonium. You guessed it. Somebody played with her and a flash light or laser light. The bitch went out of her mind. She ran into things, jumped on furniture.

This explained her interest in the ceiling fans. It also shed light on her occasional “hand shyness”. She was reacting to the reflection from my watch.

Mikki would be in the yard alone flipping around acting like she lost her mind. After the photo incident I watched this behavior more closely. The sun reflected off the chrome ring on her collar. The minute ray of light went unnoticed until the flash picture.

It was her crazy behavior in the yard that earned her the psycho bitch moniker.

My training is simple. I want my dogs to know what I like. Everything she did that I liked; I praised. At first Mikki seemed to totally ignore my positive words.

Shaker, the golden was raised on positive strokes so he gobbled up the praise. That he liked the praise is what first got her notice. Mikki watched Shaker as he basked in praise.

Soon the words “Good dog” had meaning to her. That’s the first step.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Isla Encanto Not This Time

Visiting Puerto Rico should make memories not activists. Sounds like some lucky vet in Ponce is going to get a new best client, this letter is from a lady who visited over the holidays.

Is this how we want Puerto Rico to be perceived or can we say Spay is the Way Puerto Rico?

My name is ------- and I just signed up and joined the foundation on facebook. I recently came to Puerto Rico for Christmas 2010 and was devestated at the over population problem there on the Island. I spent my vacation feeding the animals in Ponce Puerto Rico as well as the beaches there. THey were everywhere. I cried so much I puked. I am still devestated and have nightmares. Im horrified and THANK GOD FOR PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS LIKE YOURS. I want to be part and help in any way possible. I live in Florida..right out of Tampa..about 20 mins. I will be spending ALOT of time in Puerto Rico because I want to help the animals. I want to make a difference. It takes a special person to stop her vacation and take her own money and buy dog food and feed the animals. Ponce is loaded just like San Juan. Dead Dog Beach...I fed dogs there also on my vacation. Parguerra...Ponce area..fed there. The dry forest..fed there too. I have receipts...I spent 700 dollars feeding animals. My boyfriend never said a word. He loves me and knows how I am. We have issues here in FLorida and the states but NOTHING compares to what I saw there in PR. Please let me know what I can do to help in addition to traveling the animals back to Florida. We fly American Airlines so it wont be a problem at all. We are flying into San Juan in June and staying till July 28th. I will be happy to assist if there is a need at that time and any other time I make it in between. We are going to also be in PR December 2011 for 3 weeks..i will keep you posted and will also travel with the pets then too. This summer I will be there, we are planning to buy a place in Ponce while there so we can spend 6 months there and 6 months here in Florida. While there in the summer if you need volunteers to feed the animals, I am more than willing to do so. I will buying some food myself and feed as I take my kids to PR for the first time. I hate for them to see this but awareness needs to be made to what the PR govt is allowing to happen on the Island. I want to help make a change on the Island for these animals. My mom runs a animal sanctuary in Florida, I have seen what happens. I will let my voice be heard. I have letters to the Gov. and anyone else i can get ahold of. I am going to make a fuss here in the states also.

Please let me know how I can be part of your organization and help out when Im in PR weather its feeding the animals, giving medicines to animals..i want to help. Please send me any information on the organization as I can make regualar donations but need to make sure its all legit. You can understand that cant I have so many ideas. Oh yea...this is my goal...I want to get involved with organizations to help take care of the homeless animals and bring about spay and neuter programs. My boyfriend and I will be buying a place in the Ponce area..more torwards the beach he has family there. We want a little land because I am going to start my own PR animal Sanctuary. I will be flying my dad over to build cat houses and dog runs and houses. I want the experience of volunteering so I can learn alot and start my own animal rescue. This is what my vacation did to me and my boyfriend. Most people wouldnt dare come back after what I saw. that is why tourism is down. Its really sad. PR has the potential to be a PREMIER VACATION SPOT. People are afraid to go there while the PR govt sits back with fat wallets. My voice will not go unheard...the govt ruined my dream vacation and now I cant sit back and do nothing..i have to do something. We are fortunate in our lives and want to share. Please let me know how to help and how to be involved. You want me to write letters every week to the PR Govt, YOU GOT

Sunday, January 2, 2011


100,000 feral dogs roaming beaches, city streets, verdant country valley or palm tree orchard. Dogs fornicating; puppy corpses rotting in the road; is this the image of Puerto Rico?

How about rounding up the strays by the truck load and needling them; is this the image for Puerto Rico? Sad eyes rolling down the highway to death camp is not what dog loving tourists want to see; nor do we, very strongly we do not!

As if this problem were not bad enough; what would happen to the rat population if the dogs were gone? Would they bring in fox or coyote? Or would they poison?

When your poisoned pets die, people of Puerto Rico will you cry? Or will you demand of your leaders another way?

Will it take the death of a beloved family pet of a vacationing rich man? So if you can’t poison the rats, what are you going to do when rats ruin the food crops of the island?

Spay, trap & release anyone?