Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Soul of an Animal Activist

“Hiiiiiiee!!” The welcoming call goes with outstretched arms and a big smile. A yard full of barking dogs echoes her excitement. She shuffles to the gate, takes a cha-cha step, opens the gate, does a twirl, her greeting completes with a rocking hug.
If you’re sensitive to the energy around you, you feel the love the dogs share with this woman. Dogs left in the street, starving and diseased wander her yard healthy with full bellies.
No matter how bad your day, and I’ve seen her on far too many personally bad days, you feel soothed by her hug. She loves in a way that’s more than mere words.She is love. You just want to take a deep breath, so you could breathe in love.
The Puerto Rican Island Dogs are her passion; rescuing them and improving their lives is the greatest work of her life. She wears her zeal like a coat of many colors giving her authority when dealing with government officials with whom she reasons to provide for a common good. Her efforts resulted in accredited education for Animal Control in Puerto Rico. In this effort she is not iron, but tempered steel.
The toll for this devotion comes constantly in the form of emails, text messages and phone calls. Coming home late night from a gig in another life’s passion, music, she has too often found a box of puppies in front of her gate. A penalty for people knowing of  her love for dogs she treats as a gift from God, but anger builds for people who don’t step up to do what’s right for the animals. People take advantage of her love and wash their hands like they've been responsible. That must seem at times impossible to bear.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blondie, Portrait of a Street Dog

We first met Blondie in 2007 when she was around a year old. She remained a street dog, until early 2012. She is my least trained dog. When Kirt was in the hospital I left her in the house overnight without having an accident. That’s due to her innate cleanlinesng.
Blondie's response when yelled at or threatened, varies if she knows the person but to do what I ask her is a concept that didn’t always compute with her. To this day I can ask her to sit for a treat and she may look at me like what??? The other three sit ws, not any trainiagging tails knowing something good is coming their way, but Blondie is my du-huh kid. She’s been known to have brain freezes.
One day I walked her across Delgado Community College Campus across from City Park. In the late afternoon the trees were tossing some shade across the campus. I was lost in thought. Blondie sniffed every tree and bush. We were walking fairly fast when suddenly she stopped with her nose under a bush along one of the buildings. Under the bush lay a big female Muscovy just as shocked to see her beak to nose. Blondie had a brain freeze that gave me enough time to get her away before went ballistic barking and lunging at the bird. She’s had brain freezes when confronted with new stimuli. If it’s in her repertoire, she’s got it covered.
During her young life on the country road where she was born, Blondie bullied her way into what she wanted. She wasn't always loyal to the resident street dog, who lived here before she came.   She bit hard for what she could get.
After weeks of watching her keep a young female away from food, I watched her invite the submissive female to eat. I thrilled me to see that exchange. In my early years on the island, I observed more and influenced less. After years of teaching dog behavior and obedience I've learned much more about dogs by hanging with the satos.
Blondie still chases new dogs away. If they don’t go, she bites harder. Earlier this year she fought an English Bull Terrier, that didn't want to go away. On the hill in the thick woods and grass I couldn't get to them. Chi and the boys came to me. I put them in the house, while I tried to get Blondie. The battle raged on until finally Blondie came to me bloody and tired.

She allows the boys, Lucky and Robert Redford, to go to the food bowl before her if it has the usual kibble, but when I pour leftovers over it, she’s the old Blondie first at the dish. Lately, she’s looking a bit past her prime. I've come to love and admire my big blonde girl for who she is.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Changing Patterns

     The dogs have settled into a comfortable pattern of early morning runs up the hill to investigate everything that set foot on the road during the night. Dogs dumped seek food and water after they calm down and start to get really hungry. They go for miles until they find a source of food and water. These days of no rain make it more difficult for the dogs than lack of food. There’s a break in the water main uphill from us, so I think more strays are making their way to our road.

     The dogs have been spending their nights in the house. They bark when dogs go down the road, but I’ve gotten tired of worrying about the fights they get into overnight, when dogs seem to travel around more.

     I’ve been practicing recalls with the boys. Robert Redford shows his golden personality by hauling butt up the hill as fast as he can. Lucky sometimes gets involved in barking and bouncing, so he doesn’t hear the first time. When he hears or sees Red running up, he comes running.

     Blondie gets so serious about protecting her turf that she’s the last to come. Chi-Ping often sees barking activity in the street as an opportunity to come in the house. She’s heading home when I come out to call. I wouldn’t be surprised if she started shit to get to come in.

     Over the years of watching dogs here things seem to have changed in that there once was a steady group of dogs living in the neighborhood. I saw the same dogs for a few years, and now, the dogs change frequently.

     I feed dogs I see on the road unless they look well fed. That happens dogs running the road are sometimes, not too often, well nourished. Some dogs I’ve seen in the same area for months or years. I have very few old friends anymore. I don’t know what that means.