Sunday, May 27, 2012

Katrina Cats

Cats! They’re everywhere herds of them, hiding in yards, laying beneath parked cars. You can see the “scared” in their eyes. They trust no one like Scully and Mulder.

The black cat is the keeper of the X-files, urban kitty lore of a time before the storm, when they were treated kindly on porches, or invited inside to ferret out tasty little rodents, that made women scream. Black cat said that “Our Kind was worshiped and adored before the storm,” something about a black plague.

Black cats are the eternal keepers of kitty knowledge. This explains the religious hating and fear through the ages.

Cats of other colors do what they must to make it through the day, avoiding dogs or moving car parts. The search for a meal takes so much energy. Fresh meat, a thing of the past in this neighborhood; when was the last time you saw a mouse?

Black cat said living was easy for a time after the storm. Rats and mice and tasty rodents he couldn’t name ran all over the city. The living was easy.

There isn’t a living cat on the street from that time of plenty. Progress took care of that. Descendants hear the tale in the cool of evening from the black cat, while they wait for the meals that don’t come.

Yes, I know this isn't about dogs. Hope you like it anyway. Tricia

Monday, May 21, 2012

Satos in The Big Easy

Blondie and Chi-ping, my independent street dogs are becoming house pets with proper indoor manners. Except for the time Blondie watched Smoki, the cat jump on the kitchen table and decided to follow him.

A swift verbal correction prevented the leap in time. With a glass table top we were lucky to be there. That’s been the biggest yikes, so far.

When Blondie first arrived in New Orleans, every dog we’d meet out walking, Blondie greeted with a long string of barks, not the threatening stay out of my territory barks given to interlopers in Puerto Rico, but sounded friendly.

She has learned to walk past most dogs, but still tries to communicate with a few, who seem to be her favorites. The big male Pit bull named, Gumbo, who lives down the block, is a particular favorite. They could frolic, if given a chance.

Blondie is now a sewer inspector, she knows that strange critters come out of them. The brave hunter and chicken killing bitch wants to tangle with the North American Raccoon, or so she thinks not having met one, yet.

Our biggest problem is that the neighborhood is infested with cats. Some late nights, when we go walking, there is a cat under every car and a couple in the middle of the street. One night she’ll walk pass all, like the good dog I want her to be, and the next night she bark and whine, jumping up and down having a temper tantrum. I wanna get the kitty!

One night with the help of her pal, Chi-ping, I thought they would knock me down. She can only be good for so long and then all hell breaks.

Blondie no longer puts her front paws on trees to run up after the squirrels. She has given up on that. She will sit at the base of the tree staring at the squirrel, trying to figure out a way to get it. They must be deemed as fairly impossible, since she no longer has the frustrated barking, jump up and down tantrums for squirrels; unless she gets very close.

A couple of weeks ago, she killed a chicken on my aunt’s farm, while dragging a twenty foot long line. I didn’t know chickens to be that slow. Anyway Blondie is banned from the farm.

On a brighter note, when the community college or the baseball field across the street have tons of people and children mingling around, both dogs walk through crowds like seasoned city dogs.

For all the dogs’ fervor to catch a kitty outside, Smoki rules with a quick paw in the house. This old fossil of a cat gets in Blondie’s face giving her a couple of good smacks, while hissing sounding so impatient. She puts her ears back and backs off. Kirt will holler at him to which Smoke will turn around to give Kirt a dirty look. I figure it’s a guy thing.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Street Dog's First Week in the City

Walking on leashes, no scavenging, squirrels and cats running in the street are a few of the things Blondie and Chi-ping have learned to deal with their first week in the city. Opossums and raccoons are treats yet in store for these two urban explorers, I can hardly wait.

The girls do not understand dogs not stopping to visit in the street. Blondie barks joyous greetings while giving play bows, only to be ignored by passing canines is obviously confusing to her.

The labyrinth of streets, so different from the country road she knew in Puerto Rico causes her to stop and stare each corner we come to taking it all in, at those moments the look on her face makes me think she is overwhelmed. Thumping her and telling her what a good girl she is gives her enough comfort to get her tail up and wagging, so I think she is handling the change fairly well.

Yesterday Kirt and I had errands to run which meant the girls were in the house for about eight hours. I had not planned on being gone that long, so with trepidation I opened the door, OMG, they did nothing wrong, how lucky can you get!

We settled in to watch some TV last night, when I paused on a Spanish speaking channel both of their heads flew around to the screen in unison.

I’ve known dogs to hide bones, rawhides, special toys or even dog bones for later, but Chi-ping shoveled up golf ball sized mouthfuls of ground beef and rice to hide in unlucky places like under my pillow, in my shoe and in the corner. When I first saw the moist mixture, I thought it was vomit, as I found more I realized she is a little hoarder, watching her steal from Blondie’s bowl, when her head was turned confirmed it.

I can understand an animal making a kill, not being able to finish it, but with all the dogs I’ve known over the years, I haven’t seen this degree of hoarding, if you have a story of food stashing, please, share it. This I find fascinating.

God bless, may dogs be with you, Tricia.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting Dogs to the Big Easy

Trust is everything in a relationship, so did shoving Blondie into a crate to be loaded on a plane bound for New Jersey then New Orleans violate that trust, I wondered as KIrt and I flew with complaining cat, Smoki and Chi-ping, who had enough to say on our flight to Orlando, that I gave her a third of a Benadryl to calm her down before she went through another soft crate.

The happy squeal Blondie let out when we picked her up at cargo told us all was forgiven. Both girls quickly urinated and we were on our way to our new home. After traveling all night we were ready to sleep for the rest of the day.

Tails were wagging as the girls sniffed through the neighborhood, good solid stools were a bonus, everything felt so good. Sometimes they would just stand and look around, taking in all the new sights and sounds. It’s quite different from the hill road we live on in Puerto Rico. It’s a busy in town neighborhood with dogs being walked on leash, which they handled so well, to say I was proud of them is an understatement. Chi-ping pulls on the leash, but Blondie walks by my side like she has done it all her life, I realize that I am her security, but it’s just nice the way she walks on lead.

The next day we had to pick up our car an hour north of the city, so we took Blondie to give Smoki and Chi-ping some bonding time. Since we’ve heard that she has gotten a cat we’re not taking any chances, so Blondie came on the road trip her first day. It seemed like the right thing to do, I didn’t want to lock Smoki in the bathroom, nor do I trust the girls alone in the house.

That night the diarrhea began, my poor Blondie had more than she could handle or maybe it was the sight of all the feral cats roaming the streets instead of dogs. She went from explosive to clear liquid during the night; giving her Pepto didn’t do much good, so I bought some Kaopectaid in the morning, all of which Blondie accepted without a fuss. She is a minimally handled street dog, taking foul medicine, all I can say is, “What a good dog!” Every couple of hours she whimpered to go out, standing by the door to leash up like an experienced city dog.

While we are dealing with Blondie’s bowels I noticed what appeared to be one of many old scratches on her legs, only this was recent. Under the scab was a festering bite, which seemed to blow up over night, her leg is huge, so I began shoving what antibiotics I had down her throat. She really doesn’t feel well, so I bought some penicillin, which is such a big shot, she cried when I gave it.

Here we are in the big easy with my poor baby, who is going through so much. The stress diarrhea is over, but if we had left her in Puerto Rico with this abscessed leg, I don’t think she would have made it.

As it is if the leg doesn’t improve by tomorrow, she’ll be seeing the vet, which we can ill afford right now, but we’ll figure it out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Street Dog Travel Preparation

Operation get dogs ready for travel and city life progresses with Blondie slowly learning to come in the house and get along with Smoki, the cat, who keeps taunting her with his growls and his poor little kitty sounds he makes when he is going to whop some dog butt.

After fifteen years of living in a dog kennel and day care, this cat knows dogs, pushing their buttons is his favorite game.

Smoki introduced himself to the girls one on one so he could establish his relationship. The “ki” needs to be respected, after all, it’s his house.

Chi-ping was having a lesson in being kenneled; Blondie was learning to stick her head in the crate to take small pieces of meat and a bone, when Smoke decided to give her a lesson in the “Ki” gets what the “Ki” wants.

Since Blondie was afraid to go into the crate to get the meat, Smoki showed her how to walk in and started chewing on her bone. Grrrah, the little kiki voice warned, Rrruff , my meat Blondie said plainly in her best I, me, mine voice. Flying feline fist of fury flew in the face of the big street dog, this cat is crazy.

 Oh, shit is probably what came out of my mouth as I ran into the front room where my cat is in the crate that the dog now desperately wants in, leave it to the cat to interfere with my training plans, so Smoki spent the night in the crate next to the complaining, Chi-ping, who gives full voice to her sorrow at being confined, while Blondie roamed the house without an accident.

In the morning after breakfast Chi-ping had another lesson in being kenneled, I don’t want to be the idiot on the plane with the dog that won’t fly quietly, she will have as many lessons as she needs to get this.

Blondie spent the day visit friends on the island, saying goodbye, with each stop we made she became more comfortable with getting in and out of the car. With ears flopping in the breeze, an open happy mouth Blondie likes the car ride stuff, the leash walking is progressing nicely as long as we do not get in a hurry.

We are just a crate away from being ready to go, the crate we have is an inch too tall, the airline says it won’t fit, so we are looking for a vari-kennel 400, which Pet Smart will get their shipment in today, we hope.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Getting Street Dogs Ready to Fly

Four year old Blondie has never been in a house, so she should want to run in the door and hurry from room to room sniffing everything, right!

Of course not, Blondie’s years of experience tell her not to go into the house, even high quality treats will only bring her so far in before she becomes apprehensive and heads back outside. Slow and steady will bring her in with minimum stress; can I do slow and steady in five days? Hmm, don’t know, may have to cheat, we’ll see.

On Tuesday Adri returns to remove some of the neighbor’s herd of little dogs, so operation in the house and in the crate gets serious in the morning.

Adri Galler Lastra of Amigos De Los Animales Pr recommended Continental Pet Safe program for shipping Blondie, who will now fly out of Aguadilla an hour before we do, perfect, thank you so much Adri.

Before Blondie’s vet visit, I gave her a Benadryl, which works like a charm; she seemed to enjoy the part of the ride she was able to sit up to look out the window.

It started out that Chi-ping was coming to be Blondie’s moral support, but by the time we arrived at the vet, she was coming with us and needed a health certificate and a crate and collar and leash and of course reservations.

Pet Smart in Hatillo was out of vari-kennel 400, the airline approved size Blondie needs the one we bought last week is an inch too tall, so they won’t accept it. Do cargo planes really have space portioned to the inch? Amazing!

Who could leave this?

My neighbor needs to sign a form relinquishing dogs that Adri emailed to me, but my printer hasn’t been used in months, so you know we’re put zing around with that, God was have a sense of humor, the way we get tested sometimes.

Oh, well it’s another day and off to the races. Have a good one!

May dogs be with you!! Tricia

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Street Dog to City Dog Travel Complications

As the first golden rays of sunshine hit the tips of our palm tree, Blondie and I were doing our good morning ritual with all the thumping and stroking she loves. Still full from yesterday, she snubbed a small bowl of food until Chi-ping stuck her nose in it.

Why is nothing ever as simple or straightforward as I think it should be? Where is the easy button when you need it? Am I talking about getting her in a crate or for a car ride or to walk on a leash; hell no!

Our reservations are for JetBlue and Southwest, they do not take pets larger than will fit under the seat, I had no idea, leaving at 4 am on Friday out of Aguadilla, on the west end of the island where we live. Blondie’s only way off the island is the evening before American airlines shipping in San Juan a 2 hour drive each way. What a long night and morning it will be for her, if I can’t figure out better!

Our flight arrives before noon on Friday, so we can pick her up as soon as we get in, but that’s such a long day for her, wow, an introduction to the rest of the world all alone, I hate it. What choice do we have?

Shipping Blondie is going to cost way more than my husband will want to know. This is where it takes courage to do what your heart says instead of what the brain tells you to do. I can be such a coward, so we’ll see how this turns out.

Meanwhile Blondie will be taking that car ride today, since we have an appointment with the PetVet in Isabela this afternoon. My car, when we bought this car, I swore to my husband no dogs in this car, shit I am such a liar, well, I really meant it at the time.

Please, say a prayer this ride goes without complications, so far Kirt (husband) is not giving me a killer hard time, which is subject to change with every new event.

Blondie laughing !

Oh, this morning my neighbors got the memo: Do NOT feed the pudgy blonde girl!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Street Dog to City Dog

With street dogs we’ve had few rules: no trying to go in the house or the car, no grabbing things off the table, no fighting or peeing on the porch, they don’t think about biting us, so it doesn’t have to be a rule. I squeak when feeding, so they look whenever I squeak; they then decide if they think good treats are worth giving up what they are doing, no recalls have been trained with any of the satos on the hill. We wanted to train minimally to learn more about how the dogs are with the people and each other. I didn’t want to control the relationship; other than my little rules.

Just imagine putting a collar and leash on someone you’ve known for three years, now don’t go thinking kinky, my big pushy girl laid down with a brain freeze too afraid to move.

Quickest way to get to where we want to go with her training is for her to fall in love with my treats, to bravely go where taste buds demand. Throughout the morning I popped a treat into her nested shipping crate; it didn’t matter if she went in after the treat or the little Chi-ping, we worked the process.

Since the boys are gone, Blondie’s mood is dark and mopey, so we play the piper game, just follow me here to get a treat, just follow me there for something better, Chi-ping is bouncing off the walls with excitement, Blondie follows with hardly a tail swish. Spaced repetition took up most of the morning, and then Kirt and I decided to take a break to feed the dogs around the lake.

It’s always good to give dogs a chance to rest and reflect on a session, so to sleep per chance to dream while we are away is a good thing, yeah.

Patience repaid by happy wagging tail during piper game when we returned, so smile with satisfaction and go in to have lunch. A few similar sessions after lunch and we’ll make good progress with the brain freeze business.

After lunch where’s Blondie, the unwanted sato to be removed from the neighborhood? The past six weeks she has been on my porch, but of course, if there is work to do somebody is always AWOL, ok, squeak, squeak; no response, that’s unusual. Where is Blondie? I call, I clap; nothing. Crap.

I get about halfway down my drive before I see her in my neighbor’s yard surrounded by people; my neighbor’s grandkids, neighbors with Blondie, the dog they want gone, I don’t get this. They’re feeding her, oh, are you kidding? Geri has the huge pan of rice mix he feeds the dogs; just what I want to train, an overstuffed dog; I feel a growl coming on.

Street Dog to City Dog the Process Begins

Born and bred in the streets of a small Puerto Rican farming community, four year old Blondie or La Loba as my neighbors call her is in for the change of her life.

Blondie, the only survivor of a litter born to a lab cross female who lived near the farm down the road had her own first litter before making her way to the hill where I live, where the brilliant sato Stormy taught her the ropes of being a street dog.

Blondie and Stormy killed rats and chased men walking the roads at night looking for things to steal, but she has never been in a house. Blondie eats rats and leftovers, but has never been given a treat on a potty walk. She visits each house, but would never stay in our neighbor’s yard.

Her only car ride  was to the PetVet in Isabela to be spayed, come to think of it we have to go back there for her travel papers.

Ok, let’s see, it’s crate training, introduce leash and walking, introduce the cat or as he likes to be known, the ruler of the universe, car ride,  introduce this is the house and you don’t get to eliminate in it or rip the shit out of my stuff. Check.

Blondie laughing

I thought she handled the collar quite well. Blondie learned sit after a rather lot of repetition, training wise, the expression box of rocks comes to mind, we’ll see.

Since the boys are gone she is quiet, low, Chi-ping tries to play with her, but Blondie has little interest. So let’s take her for a car ride, that will cheer her up. ;)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Street Dog Rescue

Tonight big brave Blondie’s voice has a little quiver and a growl undertone, she is unsure without her young male collie companion for support. Interesting how much she relies on her buds for moral support or confidence.

The collies are gone, picked up by my favorite mother earth on the island, Adri Galler Lastra of Amigos De Los Animales Pr. Org after a bit of drama because one of the neighbors wanted to keep them tied up someplace on their property after I told them that I wanted to get them out of the street and into a good home.

Bay has the bad feet, knees and hip which show effects of his confinement, so tied on a short leash was never an option for the sweet soul guy waiting at the top of my driveway when Adri arrived, her heart pumped in his paw, the great rescuer fell in love with the long collie nose always strategically placed for maximum petting.

The charming and always lovable Goofy, these folks decided to keep after all, taking him off in the van, until a relative called asking them to return with the dog, which they did just in time for Adri to be standing in the street in front of their patio, where she saw their little dogs tied out on leashes so short the poor critters are, pooped and peed in the same spot, in fact we were watching a matted up little fella with an open abrasion on his nose do just that, when the van pulled up, then pretty soon the yelling began, lord I hate yelling, so I cringed behind the van until the wife said that they had all those dogs, and there were a lot, because the last time I left Puerto Rico, I left all these dogs in the street with nothing to eat. Huh? What?

Anybody who knows me knows me better, so that just brought a new intensity to Adri explaining that they were in violation of Law 154 as she handed them a copy.

My friend came a long way to rescue two lovely collies, discarded, dumped in the street by humans who no longer wanted them; what she found was a bunch of small dogs in sad conditions. The peaceful visit sitting on my porch looking at the lake went to hell in a basket, before you know it we had Goofy and the little guy with the messed up face off to the vets with Bay.

The people admitted to having twenty-five dogs kept the same way, so Adri called Alma Febus to assist with an intervention. These are two of the best animal control officers on the island, so rest assured these little dogs will be going to good forever homes.

Tonight my blonde girl is a bit lonely. She has no idea that she now has forever people, who love her and will soon be taking her for her first trip to the states. Guess who!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dogs Part of Island Charm

When you’re down hearted, feeling low, at the end of your rope this is where you want to be, you CAN trust me on this one, I know.

Hammocks hanging from the Palm trees and sea grapes that frame my view of the Caribbean Sea, with surf sounds ranging from soothing to almost scary at times is a scene that makes anything better.

Friendly dogs,Lili and Paco, the cutest pair of brown doxi and heaven only knows, follow grounds keeper Willy as he primps and tidies, they chase under the hammocks and around the palms like the happiest k9 kids ever despite both having injured rears.

Pelicans looking like jets in formation patrol the shallow water, then soar to plummet height to dive into breakfast, now, this is morning's entertainment.

Honestly the little lizards doing pushups and inflating their throats is a good opening act for my first cup of coffee. If the well tanned young men are bobbing in the surf waiting for the right wave at the same time, my life is complete.

Last night we celebrated my hubby’s birthday at Musafa’s (Carr. #3 Maunabo) karaoke night party with people singing their hearts out was a ton of fun, especially when this thin man with very erect posture in khaki pants, a blue sleeveless tee shirt and a white hard hat strode into the room; with a flair he took off the hard hat, grabbed the micro phone, belted out a song, put his hard hat and with posture just as erect as ever strode back out the way he came in. Bravo birthday night success.

The dogs stand at enough of a distance for them to figure out, if you like dogs and if you are good for food or a tummy rub, which Lili is very fond of tummy rubs, flopping over at any sign that you will rub the tummy for even a second.

Any trash attracts rodents, so the staff toss any food stuffs to the dogs as they clean the rooms, this wise practice seems common on the island. The more contexts that I see the island dogs in, the more it seems that they have a unique ecological niche.

A large dose of the beauty of nature, friendly places and if I’m still hanging by a rope; I’ll deal with it on Monday.

May dogs be with you!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Needed: A Perfect Day in Paradise

Ever wonder what the end of your rope really looks like? What is the limit, if it doesn’t kill you?

Who wants to hear the endless chatter of what lead to the point? After my first cruelty raid or day of the dead, diseased and dying dogs, when I upchucked the medicine prescribed to prevent me from getting Leptospirosa, I kinda knew I was there.

To tell you the truth after my old friend, Stormy, the smartest Sato ever, died in the street, hit by a car; I wasn’t too sure I wanted to be here seeing him on my veranda or hearing his distinctive barks.

Because of Stormy, I fell in love with mutts, after a life time in pure bred dogs. I fell in love with the island and the people; this place has unique flavor.

As we wait for the closing on our property in Illinois, my mind is becoming focused on what I can do to help the island dogs of Puerto Rico. The raid was a pivot point in my thinking.

While all this manure is happening, my husband, Kirt, is having a big birthday, well, next year is the decade changer, those are always big birthdays, but this one deserves a trip to our favorite seaside resort in Patillas, where we’ve spent a few occasions, like my birthday a few years ago.

Yes, that’s what we need a perfect day in paradise to celebrate my honey’s big day and to give me a little rope back; I need some rope.

The internet netted a economy special of $88 per night with full breakfast in our favorite spot, no TV no air conditioner, but no matter, the scenery is spectacular, so who cares. Since we haven’t closed on the property we’re careful with money, so with the perfect economy special on the screen, I called the resort. No, that wasn’t a current price even if it was still on their web site, $108 per night is the price.

The room is still available, we coming in the morning, please, see what you can do about getting us the price advertised, I am not too proud to say we live on a budget. This will be our fifth time, we do love this place, but for $108- no TV, no radio and as it later turned out, no shampoo, no coffee maker, no cups of any kind.

We wanted to return to where we have good memories and to nourish our souls in the beauty of nature, so we did the new deal.

The lovely Frances checked us in with an introductory speech, before we walked to the room we were greeted by the two resident satos, the doxie hound mixes with perfect manners know how to smooze the guests, they knew I’d be good for leftover pizza later, they liked me!

If the sun or the soothing surf sounds don’t completely unwind you, the breeze finishes the job off every time. This was going to be the perfect day we needed to get some of that rope back.

And then I opened the bomb in my email, the news read the buyers were terminating the contract; it gave no reason that I could tell as my head exploded. We’ve been under contract with these people for six weeks, the day before my husband’s sixty-ninth birthday; where the hell is that rope?

Sorry this is personal, guys, but when ya gotta bitch, ya gotta bitch. Tomorrow’s another day. May dogs be with us!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Post Cruelty Raid Emotion

Since the raid on the man impersonating a veterinarian, my spirit hasn’t quite been able to return. Sitting on the veranda looking at the lake has brought some peace, but I am still very much not my normal self.

Without warning or provocation, I feel blue and want to cry; not being an easy crier, this passes. Not really hearing my husband speaking is new, this isn’t the I heard you, but prefer to stay with my own thoughts thing that I may or may not do; this is I didn’t hear jack of what the man said, now that is scaring me, when he looks into my face for an answer and I haven’t got a clue. My identity is Ms. Focused and on top of it; this woman is a stranger.

The other people at the raid, how are they doing? Are the vile scenes playing in a corner of their heads? How do they recharge without being consumed by the ugly side of life?

Spoiling those in my life is what I do, I am a spoiler, so when my happily spoiled husband of many years, says, “I want my wife back” I know what he means. It’s not as if I don’t want to please him, it’s more like I’m just not in attendance.

Is this normal after seeing the horrible things police, animal control and other see? It’s not about being a weak person; my true grit will match most, so that is not the issue.

Being in touch with our feelings keeps us whole and healthy, so I am looking for a way back to whole and healthy before I do this again and I will go on a raid again for love of my fellow creatures as will the other souls in our team.

There must be a debriefing or stress management counseling that we at F.O.I.C.C.A. can offer our officers, if anyone feels it would be of value or do we all just get over it on our own?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Day After My First Cruelty Case Raid

Tired and drained, so lethargic,  why staying in bed wasn’t an option, I don’t know; it was just time to get up.
“Hey, you’re up, good morning,” the big smile on my husband’s face slowed to an abrupt halt, replaced by concern as his eyes took in the sorry sight before him.

Being devastatingly ill for a long time leaves you feeling way deep inside yourself, like there’s a space between you and the outside; you have to come back to the world, your resources are gobbled up internally. Why did I feel that empty, so vacant? 

Only yesterday I felt good,up at three am to participate in a bust of a man accused of impersonating a veterinarian and mistreatment of animals. Since I am a certified animal control officer and cruelty inspector, ACO/CI of Puerto Rico, badge #10, my friend, Alma Febus, ACO/ACI, lead investigator on the case; invited me to be there for my first actual experience, my first bust. 

As we headed down the hill in the rain to the police station with dog food, leashes and treats, my husband and I talked about times gone by, about driving to dog shows in the wee hours of the morning, my thoughts were to stay focused on the dogs I would be helping, to watch and learn; how bad could it be?

Before dawn we were part of a procession lead by police cars with lights flashing heading up a hill, which being a novelty, I enjoyed the drama. Maybe I should have had a clue about how dramatic the day would become, but no, to my mind it was just another day at the office doing something with dogs.

Being called to go into the premises along with the police to get dogs shouldn’t have felt so shocking, since in the parking lot conference I was assigned to the dog handler crew to protect the police from guard dogs on the property, as well as containing any loose animals, but oh, boy did it.

Emaciated and scared pit bulls, Wiemeraners, a German Sheppard, a couple of rotts, plus a variety of larger mixed breed dogs stood or walked around barking, not knowing what to do, as we began rounding up these pathetic creatures in the glaring light of the TV cameras.

The concrete front of the property, where you had to be careful not to step in shit gave way to the dirt rear made a feces swill by the morning rain; reminded me that earlier I laughed to myself thinking that the bust should be called on account of rain, as I tried in vain to avoid getting my shoes and feet wet, while we trekked to sheds outback, taking care not to step on a spine or jaw bone strewn in the path. Dead dogs, dying dogs, diseased dogs were in every nook or cranny of an almost acre property, the living numbering about sixty dogs to be photographed, cataloged and veterinarian checked before being shipped to a better place.

Most of the emaciated creatures were easy to seduce with sweet words and tones; others with saucer big eyes stood their ground barking. Each time I passed those, I’d toss a treat to the big barker, so when it came time to take them in we were on a first name basis or as close to it as some frightened spirits got. This was no time to stop or think, must keep moving, no time for reflection, help needed, now.

The bust was of a guy impersonating a vet, so I pictured an office, a few crates; this was like John Wayne Gacy on acreage, only difference is almost sixty were alive and suffering, needing to be triaged from the muck.

With the dogs from sheds at the back of the pasture tethered along a concrete walk, we wanted a break, but the morning sun began heating things up, we shifted gears to getting the dogs in the shade on the carport.

Crates were assembled; we found and carried crates from all over the place, so the dogs wouldn’t overheat. Two dogs were in crates in the yard between the house and the pasture, when we picked up the wire crate of a Wiemeraner pup, perhaps seven months old, toasting in the sun, it’s legs dangled through the bottom, so we each carried an end of the crate with the pup on leash taking two steps before collapsing. Oh, how cold that grey baby was when I scooped him under my arm to carry to the carport, where he was diagnosed with Leptospirosa.

Hot, thirsty, hungry, tired as I can be; I’m told this dog has Lepto. I need to decontaminate immediately, so I go home thinking, why did no one leave a note on the kennel that this dog has a communicable disease. He had the blue collar they were using to indicate that he had been examined.

What am I going to do to prevent the dogs at our house from contact with my clothes, oh heavens I wouldn’t want to be responsible for them getting sick, so I rushed in the door to hop in the shower.

After a quick lunch, I returned. Dr. Luis Moran, MD gave me a single dose prophylactic prescription while telling to watch out for coughing, nausea, vomiting, jaundice and other symptoms. The concerned doctor tells me to have the doctor call him, if I need to go to the emergency room. Oh, what fun!

The dogs were well consolidated in the shade, so I made myself useful making the dogs as comfortable as possible, a cup of water, a handful of kibble,you must be careful not to give too much too fast to a starving dog; each time I made my rounds faces would look more hopeful, tails began to wag; being the dog lover I am, their hope comforted me. How naive!

A truck and a van were ready to be loaded, most if not all of the dogs leaving on the truck were to be euthanized to be put down because they had the bad luck to be at this guy’s place. My stomach lurched, as I took my place in line to load the scared little beagle mommy, who when I patted the top step looked me in the eye and jumped trustingly aboard.

The best I could hope for was to make their last, a bit better; that’s not much. That’s the thought which began to overwhelm me, when we had a lull in the work, the dogs were settled, everyone was waiting for the next set of instructions.

I made my escape with the radio turned up, no thinking on the ride home. Vile, ugly pictures and smells assaulted my senses, my soul cried, but I couldn’t, not yet. What would I tell my husband, who had opted to stay home in the afternoon? He worried about contaminating the dogs, what will he feel when I tell him of the MD’s concern for my health, which may mean I could contaminate him; just a few of the things I didn’t want to think about.

After a discussion which ended in, you have the prescription, be smart enough to use it. We picked up the med, which needed to be taken with a meal, on the way to have dinner someplace with a good view of the ocean. A good view goes a long way to healing the soul; it reminds us of the majesty of what God has created. By dinner’s end my nerves began to settle.

Too heavy a hand with canned garlic makes me sick. Stress has caused the same symptom upon occasion, so when I lost my meal and the pills on the way home, I could think of better reasons, than leptspirosa, really, I did. Who needs the head trip?

I have reasons to feel beat to shit today, better spirit will return; life is too good for it not.

Good people did a difficult job; whatever happened to these animals is better than the fate in store for them without intervention. I am so totally in awe of this group of people, who came together for the animals in a big way.

Everyone has their own story of the day, of the case. I hope to share theirs.

Tricia Carr

Monday, February 13, 2012

Daily Life With Satos

Blondie is off teaching Chi-ping and Goofy what she learned when she was new to the hill and Stormy would take her hunting. They come home charged up and all wet from underbrush in time for a breakfast of ¾ cup kibble with a splash of milk, which for the size of these dogs is not a whole lot of food, so their diet is subsidized at neighbors or elsewhere.

The dysplastic or injured Bay with deformed spayed feet acquired by living in confinement on concrete had waited for them at the bottom of the driveway.

Bay with his excellent manners and temperament is the dog most in need of a loving home because the loss of his safe confinement still causes his cheeks to huff and puff as he looks around even when no person or dog is near.

My sense of Bay is completely under socialized and exercised, with his soft sad eyes the apathy still there, except when he rushes down the hill barking all the way to protect against the loud motorcycle.

Training games should be good for us all tonight, since the only dog with a clue about what we are doing when we play sit games is the little dog in the center of the pack standing on her hind legs but sits with some coaxing.

Blondie acts as if she were thinking; sit, sit, where have I heard that before? I love to watch her think; it is difficult for her when her brow scrunches over her eyes, which are not really focused on me in spite we’re looking at each other, you can see. When she finally gives the sit, we are both so proud of her, some confidence with sit should come soon.

Mouths open Bay and Goofy stand without a clue that anything is expected of them; that will change soon enough, but for now is endearing watching the “What, you want me to do something!” look on both boys’ faces.

Goofy is the right name for this lanky teenage dog with sweet medium brown eyes and so much to learn who puts his nose into the middle of everything.

I’ll let you know how the games turn out. Tricia

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Requiem For A Sato

My heart aches for the little border x terrier we called Stormy. Hit by a car the week before Christmas valiant protector, road warrior and most incredible friend to all in the neighborhood, was I hope gently put to sleep at an animal hospital in Arecibo.

Friend and Animal Control Officer Alma Febus called me to tell me that one of our Spanish only neighbors called to tell her to call me that Stormy was in a bad way.

Exceptional friend Lany from North Carolina found Stormy in an ant colony on the side of the road, cleaned the ants off and drove him to the veterinarian’s office where he was relieved of his suffering.

This tells you of his death, but nothing of the six years as the sato on the hill, during which we came to know him.

Everything I do on the island for or about dogs is because of this one little dog whose friendship meant the world to me. The stories of Stormy can’t be told just now; the tears flow too fast.

He was the first dog I ever hung around with that I was not in charge of, if that makes any sense. Whichever neighbor would be out near the road Stormy stood sentinel. Content to stand a few feet away he watched over the children because he was the neighborhood dog and loved us all.

With Stormy my quest to learn to speak dog rose to new height, thanks to you I learned more about dogs than thirty years of training dogs. You were the true educator.

Perhaps this will help me to grieve; I need to make peace with his death and our loss, so my focus can be on the living who need me. Good lord, there are so many in need.

Thanks for reading and may dogs be with you! Tricia

Friday, February 10, 2012

They'll Eat , If They Are Hungry Enough

Those shifty eyed street dogs had me hoodwinked. The spoiled satos won’t touch this kibble and I thought it was crappy.

Let me tell you, the dogs at the beach were hungry enough, they ate it right down and wanted more, too.

I squeaked while opening the trunk with that, three new moms, tits flying in the breeze bounded across the parking lot stopping a few feet from my car. With tails wagging and mouths open in eager anticipation, they eyed me cautiously always at the ready to flee.

The more daring two took kibble from just three feet behind the car, my shy lady Wagged and wiggled until I brought it maybe fifteen feet behind the car before she felt safe enough to eat.

A meal for the girls, a couple of photos, the car is in drive and sitting all three in a row just outside the door with sweet smiling faces were moms ready to go home to feed the kids today.

And I thought I bought bad dog food, the satos in my neighborhood are going to hear about this. There are starving dogs on the beaches and you leave kibble in the dish for ants, hah.

Chi-ping said to tell you that we have a better class of street dogs in her neighborhood; she’s the little bitch with her tail straight in the air.

My dogs be with you and love in your heart.


Starving Street Dogs Spurn Kibble

The island dogs are fed mostly table scraps, so kibble can be a tad foreign to them, but I think the brand I purchased must be crap. Two weeks later and they only want the milk I use to drown the ants.

Melissa, I have done taste tests before, they have favorite kibbles, but this is not one of them. It’s just sad that kibble can be so bad a hungry street dog turns his nose up at it.

They are only getting the kibble in the morning because I can’t take a chance of it being left in the night for rodents. Two full size collie boys will not eat over a cup of this stuff a day. Blondie and Chi-ping only lap the milk. Blondie, who is notorious for protecting food, looks disinterested when Bay gets up enough nerve to check out her dish.

I don’t buy kibble with dyes, but with so many to feed, I can’t afford the better brands. These dogs will eat rats, little lizards, trash; so what does that say about this dog food?

Since I don’t remember what I was feeding before, more taste testing is on the schedule. I wish we had some sample sized packs so we could really establish a preference, as it is the first brand they eat with a little gusto wins.

On a happy note, the obviously hungry Bay was the first to eat today hopping on the porch to chow down.

Today we’ll bring some food for the dogs by the beach in Aguadilla; perhaps they won’t be as picky.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Discarded Dogs Emotionally Trashed

Bay, the darling old collie sleeps outside my bedroom window. Smoki the cat can’t see the below the level of the window, but is acutely aware of his presence, looking out the window and acting concerned.

Today is the first day the dog has had the confidence and trust to come on the porch with us with both of us being steady and consistent in our approach.

Discarded dogs look so emotionally trashed after being dumped, that I can almost tell how long they’ve been on the street by the look in their eyes.

The first week a dazed what just happened; where am I look says scared and confused. Can you imagine the terror of the first night all alone in the street?

It would not anthropomorphic to suggest that a being raised in the safety of a yard or better would be scared; would it?

Confused, alone you go up to the nearest human with a scared low tail beat. Head down you can’t say what just happened to you; perhaps the human will see how forlorn you are and take pity, but no he is yelling and throwing things at you that hurt’ run, run away!

Dogs think we are good until we prove them wrong. When this happens we can still see in their eyes that they want to believe us, but they’ve been dumped and hit and chased away.

So when I get the I want to believe you, but I’m not sure if you’re an asshole look I know it will take a little time for this animal to trust a human again.

I am content to let a dog just be in my presence; he just hits the smooze button and you just can’t help fall in love with the guy. Bay is laying by his chair now.

As much as we enjoy the collies, I think it best we plan to re-home them. This is Puerto Rico; these are discarded collies requiring maintenance. They are not the type of dogs to make it as street dogs.

Bay is about to begin a rehabilitation program and Goofy is going to get some training.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Street Dogs on the Hill

As we clean and unpack, the dogs (Satos) are settling in to life on the hill with the return of the neighbors from the states.

Blondie protects all of the houses in her immediate territory or spot, but spends her time here, except for field trips.

Chi-ping, who visits home frequently, no longer wears my neighbor’s collar or spends nights in her yard. Chi-ping, Blondie’s sidekick and friend, loves to play chase games with the now fully bloomed big blonde girl.

Goofy, I mean Lassie, has to get in on everything in that way teenage males get their mouths going. His audibly snapping teeth are setting mine on edge. When Blondie or Chi-ping comes to me for attention, Lassie will not be permitted to snap or grab them by the neck for attention.

Blondie will take as much as she can before she beats the crap out of him. Much more tolerant than she was a few years ago, the old girl has mellowed, yeah.

Today I only had to stand in a protective posture to get Lassie to stand away from the old collie, Bay while he ate. Easier to manage each day, I find myself falling in love with the big brown eyes watching for direction. Gee, that can go for both these collies.

Over the years I’ve had a few collies in class, but never lived with one. Bay is a sweet soul man and Goofy; well he had me at, “Duh?”

Bay, who still doesn’t come on the porch, sleeps under my bedroom window at the back of the house; which has the cat all pissed off, meowing in that irritated yowl of his.

Oh yes, Smoki, the fifteen year old retired kennel cat, who complains as much as a Siamese, can be heard by the dogs on the porch who pay attention to all the meow, meow, meows.

Chi-ping has thought to dart into the house, but was easy to redirect. Smoki, known to herd aussies into the corner in his younger days, was in the posture that says, READY. Just what I need is the cat with attitude; of course he is, always and forever.

The dogs are napping, so time to do laundry. Enjoy your dog, Tricia

Monday, February 6, 2012

Will Puppy Class Reduce Discards at Ten Months

It can’t be a coincidence that most of the abandoned dogs are around ten months old. What island people have told me is that Puerto Ricans love babies. Can it really be that simplistic? Okay, maybe some people are like that, but this is freaking me out that I see so many new young dogs on the street looking lost and scared. The newly discarded have the same what happened look, weeks later, if they make it, the look changes; how depends on their luck.

Our friend, a single man in his forties has just gotten an eight week old lab cross female, who is a needle toothed little manner less wild child with the run of the house. Will he begin to manager this pup better?? Or will the puppy wreck his house?

Our friend made me think that perhaps it’s a matter of education. Puppies will make you crazy by ten months if you don’t know what you’re doing or take them to school. If we could reduce the discard rate a couple of percent with puppy class, wahoo.

I’ll volunteer to do a puppy class for PetVet, I like Dr. Gwen Davis, this could be fun. Perhaps this will be the useful thing I can do for the dogs. Keep your yer fingers crossed for me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Who Dumps a Fine Animal in the Street?

The old collie with hope in his eyes walked up the driveway, while Blondie and I engaged in our morning greeting ritual in which I thump her all over as she squeals like a happy piglet. Lassie bounces around wildly certain it’s something great despite he hasn’t seen the ritual before.

Leave it to a teenager to screw up a good thing. Lassie jumped on me scratching my right thigh. I made the stop what you’re doing sound for Lassie, only Blondie cowered away like she’d been severly chastized.

Blondie, who hasn’t forgotten a thing from me is took this to heart. Lassie just looked goofy with eyes darting from me to Blondie. His face said that Lassie is taking in Blondie’s reaction to my correction; what he’s thinking about to be determined later.

If my neighborhood is a microcosm of the neighborhoods here, it appears to me that the Puerto Rican people are as good to the street dogs as they are able to be. Each family brings out meals for the dogs, feeding their favorite satos first.

The neighbors don’t seem interested in feeding the old collie. A couple have chased him away from the pan, while he is waiting to be the last to feed. My guess is they don’t really want him, he just refuses to go.

Our first few days here the old collie looked like he had given up, a few meals later this dog is starting to look good. In honor of my sister from New Orleans we named him “Bayou Bebe”; hear that Darlene, this one is for you.

Bay sounded the alarm with a deep bark during one of his episodes of showing us how protective a watch dog he can be. The rumor is that the breeder dumped him here before Christmas with the parting gift of a good sturdy blue collar.

This collie may not be that old, judging by his teeth. Kirt and I like him more each day; we’re thinking he is a really fine animal. Why would anybody dump him off in the street?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Today's Thoughts

Lassie, who looks more like Goofy with his big black nose, is rolling in the cut grass with Blondie.

While Blondie and Lassie chase around the house the old collie marks the perimeter, a couple of meals have made a difference. He doesn’t yet have the confidence to lay on the car port with us sitting out. Kirt pets the long face until the old guy smiles; it won’t be long.

I could watch dogs all day, just as I could when I was in my teens. For so many of us, the love affair with dogs only deepens over time. All dog lovers begin a journey in which want to learn more about dogs, can’t spend enough time in the company of dogs. Your head is nodding; we are kindred spirits.

Each breed brings subtle or not differences in temperament and behavior. I look forward to a collie experience.

The election year gives an opportunity to learn what the candidates plan to do about the dog situation, which will be my priority until November. I’ m getting my driver’s license and voting card next week, I hope.

Politics is right up there with root canal, but determined I’m going in. If I can find a grass roots organization in progress, they’ll have a new supporter.

May dogs be with you, Tricia

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Discarded Dogs Find Spot on the Street

The neighborhood can only support so many dogs per spot. Two of the satos, two of my favorite friends have died, both street smart boys were run over by cars. They have been replaced by two collies.

The older boy wearing the parting gift of a blue collar is in a sad state of hunger and apathy. “Lassie”, the younger, maybe ten month old lanky boy has few manners. Both have the long, sweet collie face.

I want to grieve and mourn for my lost satos, but life demands attention today.

We found the creature for which the kibble has an irresistible draw, ants. They found their way into my formerly invincible kibble box. In order to feed this morning, I had to rid the kibble of as many ants as possible, then to the canines’ complete delight I doused the kibble with milk to ensure rapid dining. It was a hit, so why am I bitching?

Lassie, named by my young neighbor, Manuel; didn’t want to let the older collie eat. Blondie was easy to persuade that I decide who eats, but the young male has no aversion to vinegar and water spray. His total focus was on taking the old guys food until I got it just right on his tongue. Oh, pooh, he didn’t like it then.

Collies have always seemed so soft temperament to me, without a loving family they seem to just give up and die. Later I’ll find out if my neighbors have a name for the old collie with the deep bark; let’s hope it’s not dead dog walking.

A little kibble and leche brought some life to his eyes. Today it’s good to focus on that because Bluto’s and my darling Stormy’s deaths bring pain to my heart, my jaw and my eyes. Only my faith guides me through.

My friends thank you for reading and commenting. I will get back with that thread.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kibble for Hungry Street Dogs


When street dogs won’t eat the kibble you offer, what are you supposed think?

When Kirt and I finally arrived in Puerto Rico, we picked up a large bag of dog food. There are always dogs to feed here.

Imagine how I felt when I scooped out the kibble for the new and old street dogs in the neighborhood and they walked away after sniffing it.

What is this? Why do hungry street dogs walk away from kibble? I was shocked and without an acceptable answer; not that it’s just really crappy dog food is an acceptable answer.

Someone suggested that they didn’t know it as food. Blondie certainly has had a variety of kibbles; some she likes, some not. She hardly protects this kibble, which is unusual for the princess of I, me, mine.

Chiping, who was thrown away on our road last spring grew up on kibble. The two new street dogs to the neighborhood are Collies, the older one being pure bred. These are the hungriest of the lot; they pick at the kibble.

If this food is so crappy that dogs with a choice walk away from, how sad is that family pets with no choice are forced to eat it.

Yes, this is my first post in months and I’m bitching about dog food. Still, it’s good to be back.