Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hola, Tolola, the Abandoned German Shepard Mother

One morning a few weeks back I glanced out the window to see a pick up truck stop at the bottom of my driveway. For a country road this one can get rather busy, so I thought nothing about it, until a few minutes later when I went outside to water plants; there stood a magnificent German Shepard bitch with large upright ears and noble expression. “Lola,” I gasped, seeing the gorgeous girl, who died two months after my husband.
She wagged her tail. I could feel my face light up; I ran to the top of the driveway, where she wagged her tail in the way that says, “Good to see you.”
Stroking her long nose, I cried, while I thought of my lost husband and dog. We had enjoyed our lives here for a short time. The new Lola raced down my drive in the long strides of her breed.
The Sato Hill Gang barked warning from in the house; thank God.  I called, “Lola.” She sniffed around in the road where she had been dumped with a frantic look on her face; her tits flopped to and fro with every step, the sagging tits puppies recently suckled.
The new Lola ran up the road; I waited in the driveway talking to her, hoping she would connect with me. Before long her ground covering trot carried her around my yard; here and there she stopped to sniff. The food I offered her, she gobbled before tiptoeing across the porch to the water bowl.
Since the dogs were settled in the house and I was on my way out, I hoped she’d be there when I returned; she wasn’t.
Days passed; each time down the road my eyes scoured the countryside for her. My route varied to increase chance of sighting her. This fine animal deserved a good life with a family; they are bred to passionately love somebody. I needed to find her.
In the afternoon I take the road home that goes over the hill, so I can see the lake; it’s always treat. As I rounded a curve near the horse pasture, a man leaned against a fence post watching a dog; it was new Lola.   
“Hola, como esta? Es su perro?”
“Bien, gracias.”
He shrugged his shoulders in answer to the question, is that your dog. We talked for a while; it turned out that he owned the house with my favorite view of the lake. We both admired a fine German Shepard and he would think about keeping her.
In a desperate attempt to assure her of a good home, I promised to have her spayed, if he would just give her a home.
Two days later, I drove past hoping to see her proudly protecting his yard. No one was home. Further up the road she chased a rooster, while a young boy threw rocks at her, and a woman yelled.

Oh, crap that will never do. I got out of the car.
“Por favor, no.” I said to the boy, who stopped immediately. The woman yelled some more in rapid fire Spanish. The rooster raced past us screaming for its life with Lola in hot pursuit and ready for breakfast. The woman screeched so loudly I wanted to get in the car and go; I opened the door and called, “Lola, come on pretty girl. I’ve got food for you on the porch. The other dogs are in, so you can enjoy the yard all to yourself, good girl.”
Hot damn, she sauntered to the door and hopped in like she knew what she was doing; that went well.
What in the hell am I going to do? Supporting five dogs costs plenty with food and monthly anti-pest topical treatments; not to mention vet bills when they get sick. Ugh, I can’t afford another dog. My property has no fence, so wildlife comes and goes. 
Where else can I take her, but home? I texted a couple of rescuer friends, who wanted a photo; that’s just great because the camera on my phone is dead, grrr.  
Lola number two ate on my porch. I hoped she’d feel more comfortable the second time. Her tits were shrinking nicely, she lost weight, but still fine. I had plans for the day; would she stay?
How could I get so freaking torn about something I should not do? The dog had better sense than I; she left when she finished the food.  
Did she migrate over the hill as before? The man with the vacation house overlooking the lake had been good to her, so maybe; I drove the hill road day and night.
Lola one died of a disease I exposed her to, when I brought her to a friend’s; I blamed myself. She loved me intensely, at a time I had lost most of the love in my life, then I ran out of money, she ran out of help; that sucked.
This Shepard has the black saddle, whereas, Lola one was a light sable. Tolola’s face is the color of a fawn with intelligent brown eyes.  One of my favorite things about German Shepards is you feel so smart because they know what you want with such little effort on your part; not all breeds train so effortlessly. I appreciate the attributes of this marvelous breed.
All I can say is that I pray I find her alive and doing well.     


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Spaying Street Bitches

Rounding up stray bitches for sterilization is more difficult than I thought it would be.
Far out of my comfort zone is talking in Spanish to strangers. I can see it in their faces; they don't trust me, when they finally understand me.
One family, I offered to take the six puppies to a shelter my friend runs, the woman's granddaughter told her in Spanish, right in front of me, "The gringa is going to make money off las perritas." The puppies vanished, I don't know how or where. A year later the pregnant shaggy terrier mom disappeared from the yard, only a handsome young son remains; and that’s my neighbor.
Since I’ve lived here, any dog moving in gets vaccinations and neutering on me. Little puppies wandering in the street break my heart. I don’t make money; I donate time, energy and money to improve life for dogs. Our relationship with dogs began in the caves, they’ve served us since then; don’t we owe them?
Free roaming carnivores maintain a balance in rodent population, if the dogs hunt is another topic.  Too many dogs is the problem; I think of it as finding an ecological balance and believe that the barbaric practice of collecting and killing them should be replaced with trap, neuter and return. 
Returning a post operative dog to a vacant area doesn’t set well, so going with people at least somewhat interested in it appeals, comes with other perils.

 I'm going further away from home talking to people. I need to enlist help from local people. Catching dogs the night before spay day, even dogs I feed when I see them, is hit or miss, so where I see dogs hanging around, I know that a person cares enough to feed at least occasionally. These are the people I need to support to end the huge reproduction cycle.
Understanding the street dog problem in Puerto Rico has taken a long time. Finding a boots on the ground part of the solution I can believe in; halleluiah, I’m blessed.
Each week I’ll be bringing up to three females/hembras to the vet to be spayed. In my valley, over the years I’ve learned where dogs are fed; the dogs hang on the outside of the fence. I believe these are the people I need to say hello to, but people get weird looks on their faces when I speak; you have no idea.
Well, wish me luck!        

Monday, July 27, 2015

Street Dogs in the Night

At one in the morning, without warning, all hell broke loose; the neighbor’s dogs barking sounded scared. The Sato Hill Gang awoke from a snooze on the porch, galloped down the drive to investigate. The two terriers from up the hill joined the uproar with their fiercest, we’ll rip your ankle off bark and growl combos.
Before I could get out of bed, dogs were circling my house.  The yip of one in pain sounded close; it was here, by my house. Was someone kicking a dog? Puerto Rico is a poor island, so once in a while men walk the roads at night in search of opportunity.
The pained yips came from my carport. Good heavens, my car, I looked around for a weapon; not seeing one in my currently stressed out state, I prayed turning the lights on would frighten away any mal-traitor.   
Barking continued in all out panic at my neighbor’s, but only Blondie barked on my porch. My boys weren’t barking. Lucky and Robert Redford, two year old adult males defend the house bravely, so I calmed somewhat and opened the front door.

Dominic, the baby border collie jumped on my leg wanting re-assurance or, better yet, to go in the house. Robert Redford sat near the open door; Lucky followed him into a sit. I opened the door; they quickly filed in.
Blondie barks from the carport sounded halfhearted, but clearly, she had something cornered under my car. I knew it had to be a female dog, a bitch. If it were a rat, I’d have to pry all the dogs away.
Not wanting my face too near whatever hid, I walked to the bottom of the ramp. From there I could see the outline of a fat, short coated, brown dog with little prick ears crouched by a front tire.
Blondie stood between the car and the kitchen door, her now occasional barks were followed by a whine, which told me she was losing motivation. Goody, I called Blondie in the house. She’s not a girl to give up her power; she looked long over her shoulder toward the car before heading through the open door.
Alone under the stars, I waited for chubby brown dog to stir. The light by the kitchen door allowed me to see her every move; the sweet face followed me, but she wouldn’t come out.
Lit by the Milky Way, my valley is a tropical paradise, so I walked around the yard, stared at the lake before peering in at the huddled creature under my car. Would she be here by morning?
The dogs already in their sleeping spots, only lifted heads, when I came in to go to bed. The neighbor’s dogs continued to bar another half hour.   


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Different Life Styles With Dogs

Hi Terry,
The Blue Cross in India running S/N & vax programs; is this the same as Blue Cross/ Blue Shield? I want to get more info on any possible funding source.
I love your description of the dogs co-existing rather than belonging to humans. The energy dynamic is different. When I first arrived in Puerto Rico, the independence of dogs living outside the gates amazed me. I had never seen dogs self-determine their lives before.
I have noticed that the dogs in the more agrarian areas are healthier than the beach dogs of more densely populated parts of PR. To me, lean, injured and mangy seems to correlate with overpopulation.
Beach dogs with lepto from eating rats, I’ve seen, but not where I live in the country. My colony goes ratting most mornings. They prefer fresh meat to kibble. A rat’s last defense is to urinate in the dog’s mouth before the dog delivers the death bite. Some inexperienced hunters release the rat early, when they shake their heads to expel the urine.
What you said about the koori people having little consideration for their dogs reminded me of the groups of young men 18-20 year olds strolling the roads in Cuba with a number of male dogs.  The dogs were completely ignored by the boys, but the dogs were hanging with them. It intrigued me enough that I followed them for some distance. When the boys would stop to visit with other people, the dogs would go sniff something or lie under a tree. Why did the dogs stay with the boys, when they paid no attention to them, no re-inforcement that I could see; I hope to return to solve this mystery.
Colonizing dogs already at a site means that the dogs are neutered, vaccinated, vet checked, and monitored during daily care visits. There is no way to confine this many dogs.
If I picture life on PR a hundred years ago, I envision the dog situation to be similar; don’t you

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What Dog Traits Benefit the Group

The Puerto Rican island dogs forage alone, and sometimes in packs. The sound of dogs rushing through the brush with rats leaping for their lives in front of mostly mixed breed, Satos, some with serious grimaces, others clearly enjoying the chase with play face, quickens the pulse.
A hound mix, I called Owl, shared my porch for a time. He hunted lizards the way I shop for chocolate. (Yeah, yeah!) To quote an old Cab Calloway song, everybody eats when they come to my house. Kibble is served twice daily. Owl still shopped lizards with enough zeal that the other satos tried little lizards; a couple tossed their heads and spit it out, but others picked up the habit.
I watched a yearling German Shepard bitch teach six month old pups, Lucy and Robert Redford, to roll coconuts down my driveway, so the coconuts would crack open when they hit the side of my neighbor’s garage; but Blondie taught them to hunt rats, the supreme delicacy.  
In general, dogs’ behavior varies with the availability of resources. Hungry dogs are volatile around food, but well fed colonies can be social as dogs in doggie day care, which I ran for a dozen years.  
After years of reading your thoughts in the dark; why am I posting?
My experiences are written in my blog, as they happened. I’m writing this to encourage you with the multiple degrees to come, visit my island before the dog catchers round up the alphas, the docile, the elders.
Could you picture a holiday hanging on the beach watching a colony of free ranging dogs rummage in the brush?
You may be interested in advising me as I develop the protocols for maintaining dog colonies.
Dog problem: 100,000 to 300,000 free roaming dogs on island size of Connecticut.
Current solution:
Round up to euthanize every free running dog you see until a numerical limit of what the municipality will pay is hit.
Rescuers pic up every dog they can fit in their bac yard. Some are adopted or shipped to the states.

Colony keepers Program:
 If trap, neuter, and return programs are to develop public support, a follow up control, support system should be in place.
As part of the protocols, I want to identify the dogs that are more valuable to the colony, so they will escape culls.
If people come to observe these fascinating animals, the government of this broke ass little island will co-operate in handling the dogs in a more humane way.
Watching a bunch of males (dogs) poking around on a walk is my idea of fun. My travel goals include other places to watch dogs. Moscow to ride the trains with the dogs tops my bucket list; I’m guessing I’m not alone.
Can you envision behaviorists visiting colony keepers to enjoy dogs behaving old school except for the hunger and rampant reproduction. Picture January on a tropical island, hmm; that’s how I got here. Is this a crazy goal?
The protocol should identify traits of benefit to the colony. Any suggestions? Questions? I hope I’ve explained it adequately. Thanks!
Oh, and Terry I’ve read a number of studies you’ve supplied links for; thanks!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pack Behavior Concept is a Lost Leader

Hi, somebody in group asked, so here's a share!
I was looking to this conversation more for answers, than to tell you guys all about my observations.
After almost thirty years as a professional trainer, meaning that’s how I earned my living, we decided to retire to Puerto Rico, where my education began started over.  
In 2005, the first Sato, Puerto Rican slang for mixed breed, usually dog of the street, perro de calle, I came to know we called Stormy, a border collie terrier mix. He appeared at the bottom of our driveway; the way many would follow.
The best thing that happened was that I had just had surgery and could barely move. Forced to sit on the porch, I watched him chase cars with the vengeance of a zealot. I couldn’t rush down there to save him. He handled life on his own; something no dog in my domain has ever had the opportunity to do.
Based on your comments in group, I’ll briefly, nah, not so much, hit the highlights of the observed since meeting the wonderful Stormy.
He lived in a specific “spot,” which included my house and two others on the opposite side of a narrow country road. He defended all three houses from anything that didn’t belong: cars, people, other critters of the island: dogs, cats, mongoose, and he was a marvelous ratter.
At night a pair of big feral male dogs that lived off the road in a field with streams would come to inspect Stormy’s spot.  They sniffed and pissed, while Stormy laid with his head to the railing, so they passed his rear, as they nosed around on my porch. They toured his spot like the big bullies they were.
Stormy didn’t budge while they peed on his water dish, my car, and the entrance posts of the porch. You can say I’m anthropomorphizing, but I could feel Stormy seething. He couldn’t confront these dogs and he knew it, hence the I’m going to ignore you posture. This inspection and claiming of superiority/territory repeated.
I began to notice that night barking was different, than back home in Illinois, where it seems to be mostly about intruder alert. It starts with a chorus from all over the valley, gradually, voices drop out; until it would be only Stormy and two or three of the older dogs of the valley.
Listening to these older dogs in the dark, I could hear that there was a pattern in their barks. To give you an example, one dog would bark, woof, woof, ruff. The second dog would bark the same thing back.
It’s funny because Puerto Ricans repeat my Spanish just to make sure they heard what I intended. (My Spanish sucks.) I bring this up because that’s what this repeat barking came to sound like to me.
Stormy had a bark I recognized as, I’ll be right there because when he barked it, he left with what seemed to me like purpose and intent. No bribing him changed his mind, but he did give me a dirty look. Ha-hah!
From the first nose to tail I ever witnessed, I knew it to be some sort of  important dog language communication. A mile and a half or more away Stormy stood on the side of the road parallel to an Airedale mix male who was just settling into the neighborhood. Ears neither forward or back, just draped to the sides, they stood there, facing opposite directions, looking like they were in a trance, but I believe it to be intense focus on each other.
I pulled to the side of the road to watch, and then, of course, I had to call Stormy. His ears momentarily twitched in my direction. The dog freakin’ told me to butt out, so I drove off to watch in my rear view mirror. It was years before this big strong male following a female interloped on Stormy’s spot.
Damn, this is awfully long, sorry. The deal with so called pack behavior concept is that it’s a lost leader, going now where. These aren’t families like the wild dogs in Africa. They are strangers thrust together to compete for limited resources. They form alliances, make enemies, but always they work for themselves.
I saw a blind mother lead around by her son fiercely keep other males away while he bred at bitch for days. Breeding behavior is always interesting, but that I’d never seen before. Mother and son were completely devoted. The bitch he was breeding snapped at momma; he dismounted and just chewed the shit out of her. Not too much later, he bred her again.

I haven’t thought about this stuff in years; thanks for asking. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pet Sitting Again

Pet sitting for the first time since 1999, when I sold my business. The route and details remain the same, except I’m not leaving cute little notes about what my charges are doing during my visit.
The friend whose dogs I’m pet sitting is into container gardening, which just happens to be labor intensive, so I play with the dogs between areas to be watered.
The big black female has a skin condition of some sort, perhaps Demodectic Mange, since her little Chihuahua buddy has no sign of the problem. She wags her tail so hard it bends her body in half, but I find it uncomfortable to pet her in case it’s something I could bring home to my dogs. We have enough problems.
Small yellow boy stands for as much petting as I’m willing proffer, after which, he’s quite content to go piss on my tires.
I find a piece of plastic about the size of a hair comb, that I start scratching the big girl with, so tries to press closer to me. Shortly we get it straightened out that she must stand away from me to get the scratching with the plastic. Her eyes roll back in her head. She is an itchy girl.

The house is locked. I have no access to the bathroom, or her router to re-enter the required security code, so it’s time to add some food to the fresh water in their hut and say goodbye for today. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Blondie, Beaten, But Unbowed

The swelling in Blondie’s face is going down. She’s drinking water and eating very little. Yesterday she had milk and raw eggs, which she lapped up like a champ.

Today her face hurt badly enough that she didn’t want scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese. She loves cheddar!

I’m guessing the guy who beat her is the new guy living up the hill. Despite all the discomfort Blondie barked and followed this man up the hill. I could hear in her barking that she was pissed off. Knowing her I think the only person she could sustain this much anger for is the man, who beat her. When continued barking outside his house, I knew she was pissed.
People, who beat dogs in the street create what they fear. They create enemies, where the dogs mostly bark, a somebody’s coming bark, they will bark that an enemy approaches.
In this neighborhood most early morning exercisers walk with sticks. One elderly couple, who walk in the morning, carries nothing. The dogs bark, the somebody’s coming bark, and then, as they get close the dogs whine and wag their tails because these people talk to them as they go by.
When will people learn, it’s not respect you get, when you wave a stick. Raise a stick to make an enemy. Bullies never get that.   

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Who Beats a Dog Like This?

In the middle of the night somebody beat the shit out of Blondie. The other dogs slept in their beds in the house. I didn’t hear a thing. Dogs bark during the night. I don’t recall the dogs in the house alerting, but that only proves I sleep soundly.

The two inch cut under her eye was minimally swollen, when I first saw it around quarter to four Saturday morning, as I prepared to leave for a meeting of animal advocates in Ponce. The tear on her rear leg didn’t look terrible; a day of sleeping in the house would do it some good.
When I returned home her check looked like a big softball. Her eye seemed pulled to the side with the swelling. She didn’t get up, when I came home.
Shaking, could not hold the camera still.
You can only imagine how shocked and vulnerable I feel. Some cruel sadist crawling the hillside hurt her. Night walkers, men roaming the roads at night looking for opportunity carry a variety of walking stick weapons to use against the dogs, or whatever.

The force of the blow to her face had to be massive to create this much injury. This wasn’t a warning strike; clearly, whoever hit her wanted to hurt her.

In Puerto Rico Law/Ley 154 correlates cruelty to animals with violence towards women and children.  Statistics honor this belief, so this isn’t a comfort.

Ok, here’s the QUESTION:
If someone is attacking or beating a dog on my property, legally, how far can I go in protecting or defending that dog?
Is it the same as if I found somebody beating another human being? Or is it less?


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Death to the Beach Dogs

Discarded dogs find a steady source of food and move in, if the locals allow. Hunting, scavenging, and begging for handouts keep street dogs alive. In some areas I’ve seen the same dogs for a couple of years.

For example, when I go to the beach where my friend rescued her dog, Hattie, I expect to see some of Hatti’s relatives. Dogs come and go from this little family group, otherwise it was a stable unit.
The dogs scour the beach for scraps of food carelessly tossed aside; and death to any rat foolish enough to step out by moonlight.  It’s not much of a living, but these dogs have been managing for the two years I've been visiting.
The scruffy cadre cautiously shadow my dogs, when they romp on the beach. These dogs have always looked clean, by that I mean, no mange or tick infestations. To my dogs’ chagrin, dog food is shared with the locals.
Lucky made friends with two of the males, who approach him in a familiar way.
Today I walked the beach; there wasn't a single dog anywhere. The sweet, shy little creatures, who followed us at respectful distance or came close with bowed head and low wagging tail, were gone.
Where have all dogs gone? There’s always one or two lurking about. They’re part of the Eco system; sometimes it seems a few too many, but they’re seldom all together.

Summer’s coming, the beach has been cleansed of dogs before the people arrive. In case it’s unclear, cleansed means to collect and kill.
Is this who we've become? It’s our beach and we’re not sharing it.

This was a family of dogs, a nice family; that they were picked up and killed makes me sad. Should a being’s only sin, for which the sentence is death, be that it’s inconvenient?


Little lad in black and white, never far from my sight

You bounced in front of near garage
One week ago today, to my delight

Some asshole threw you out, like garbage

You bounced into my arms, like you belong there

Welcome to my life, little lad in black and white

I think, I’ll call you Dominic, Dominic Perignon

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Changing Face of Animal Advocacy in Puerto Rico

Just returning a dog to the street doesn't sit right; does it?
It beats not letting the animal have any chance at life, or puppies littering the road.
Because rescuers don’t want animals out on the streets suffering; right?

There is a wonderful man in San Juan, who everyday rain or shine, walks his round, feeding street cats. This guy has the cats neutered with an ear notched so you can tell. He’s really much more than a feeder; he’s a freakin saint, as well as, an excellent example of a Colony Keeper.

Are there other Colony Keepers on the island? These are people who not only feed, but neuter, vaccinate, and maintain a healthy group of dogs. I’d like to watch a colony keeper in action.                                                             
Who in Puerto Rico is actively doing Trap, Neuter, and Return? Please, let me know when and where, so I can help.
T-N-R works best when the people in the community assist the project by being on site caretakers.
Animal Activists are a large, vocal part of the Puerto Rican population. We have good people doing wonderful things; maybe, this will work out for the animals. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Strategies in Street Dog Population Control

Mangy dogs standing on street corners aren’t good for tourism.

When tourism is an island’s top industry, it becomes an issue. Let’s not recite the laundry list of reasons why we can’t have sick dogs living in the street.

What’s the answer?

Just kill them is the old school answer. Methods vary with the times: shoot them, poison them, or euthanize them; it’s all the same.

People get puppies; they grow up to breed, so before you know it, dogs are back on the street.

Loving rescuers collect dogs from the street and keep them in shelters. Their priority is to keep the dog safe, healthy, and well fed. These dedicated people have my utmost respect.    
The goal of every good rescuer is to re-home the dog. Most dogs are adopted right here on the island, and many get a one way ticket to North America, where dogs by the score are being euthanized, old school answer number one.
Everybody along this chain works diligently for the welfare of the animals, but it isn't enough.

Trap, neuter and return is new school. Animal Welfare Experts tell us that colony size is regulated by available resources. The dogs have a shot at a reasonable life, and as all will agree; there isn't enough shelter space on the island for all these dogs.

The dogs were there anyway; why not just return them, wishing them the best?

Why can’t they just be returned to the streets?                 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Profile of a Cuban Animal Advocate

The face of a dog lover registers concern for the street dog with his syphilitic prick waving in the air while he rolls, scratching his back, her eyes narrow, and her breath comes out in a sigh. He is on her mental list of animals needing help, but the list is long.

Moments later this dog lover questions two teenagers about neutering the pitbulls they each have on leashes. The boys are resistant, but the grandmother speaks to them so kindly that they lower their heads before her.

A word of encouragement or instruction to all they see with animals is the hallmark of the dedicated animal advocate.

Maylin Carretero, the most spiritual woman, who was my host and guide to some of the animals of Cuba, leads with her heart for all things animal.

Off to ANIPLANT we would go taking public transportation all the way. ANIPLANT is the Association for the Protection of Plants and Animals, in Cuba this is it for animal advocacy.

ANIPLANT President Nora Garcia and Vice President Maylin Careterro work hard for the animals of Cuba. I visited the busy clinic at ANIPLANT headquarters, during which a young couple brought in a sweet yellow dog they had found in a bag, legs tied and mouth bound.

After a long day at ANIPLANT Headquarters on the walk home from the bus stop. Maylin said to me when she saw the manager of the local store, “I have been trying for weeks to talk to him about treating the dogs that live by the store for mange. I need his help and there he is!”

Around eleven o’clock one night someone dumped a four week old puppy in her yard. You can imagine the ruckus that set off with her dogs. Let me tell you that woman is fast. As I got to the door she shined the light under bush to find the crying puppy, while verbally keeping her dogs out of the way, most impressive.

While still clutching the puppy to her breast, the true heart of a dog lover goes searching for a box to line with bedding for the tiny life.

If more Cuban American animal lovers knew about the good work these volunteers do, I’m certain they would see more support.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Malecon Pup Saved from Rocks at ANIPLANT, Headquarters in Havana, Cuba

The lovers walked the streets of Havana with the spaniel until they came to 128 Calle Principe, home of ANIPLANT.

“Hello, we have this little dog in need of rescue,” they called out.
“You can’t just bring your dog here to drop it off. We have no facilities for keeping your dog. You must take it home,” replied the unhappy woman, who came to the door. Her heart winced as she looked at the lovely dog the people were trying to dispose of; how could they do that?

The young woman explained, “This is not our dog. Not an hour ago we found her in a bag on the rocks at the shore with her feet and mouth bound. We untied her. She is a sweet, sweet girl; we couldn’t just leave her on the Malecon with all the traffic of Havana speeding past. My mother told us to bring her to ANIPLANT, where animal advocates would keep her safe.
“You found her tied up in a bag,” the woman at the door gasped.
“Yes, when the tide came in, she would have drowned. We couldn’t just leave her to such a fate,” the young man with big brown eyes looked pleadingly at the woman in the doorway, who opened the door and took the little yellow dog in her arms.

“Who could do that to a beautiful baby like this? Dios mio,” she cried out.
The waiting room of ANIPLANT was filled with people who had brought their dogs to be seen by the veterinarian. Many were there with dogs to be neutered. There was no room for the couple with the little cruelty survivor, so they waited on the curb, while the animal loving advocates came out to see the beautiful dog and the young heroes, who saved her life. Tears filled the eyes of the women, who came out to see the sweet faced dog, as she wagged her tail for all.

Nora Garcia, President of ANIPLANT, looped a long piece of mesh through the dog’s collar to use as a leash. “This is not a shelter; we have no place to keep her. Can you keep her?’ She looked at the young man, who appeared to be quite taken with the dog.
“No, I live in the home of my mother-in-law to be. She has dogs and cats already.” His eyes moist, as he peered at the helpless creature, who kissed his face.

The veterinarian stepped into the lobby, “Who is next?” He called out to no one in particular. The advocates were snapped back into the action of the day, hustling the next patient into the surgical suite, and making return appointments for others. 

“What’s to be done about you, little one?” Maylin Carretero murmured as she set down a pan of water for the dog, who was probably not quite a year old judging by her teeth.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Behavior Problem Jumping

Surprise, a behavioral post today because my charming boy, Robert Redford is jumping a kangaroo on his back legs, while I distribute food.

In my house the first sit gets the kibble. Forcing your way to the bowl will get you last; I don’t care how big you are in a pack of street dogs. This is my house.

When it was just Blondie, Chi-Ping, and Smoki, of course, I fed the cat first. He drives me nuts following me around, complaining. He learned that in the kennel. He trained my staff better than I did.
The girls had to wait. Blondie just always came to the first bowl. The little girl said nothing for years, and then one sat for bowl number one. Blondie stood there, shocked as the little bitch ate for her bowl. That hasn't
 happened but a few times.

Lucky and Robert Redford arrived, as puppies, in my drive a few days apart, so they started my sit for food program. When I come through the door with your food give me the first sit by where the bowl goes and it’s yours.
This is a simple system, but my street dog girls don’t get it. Chi sits for the third bowl, but Blondie, my big brawny girl goes last and mostly she just stands there waiting for me to put the bowl down, which I usually do; so who’s smarter?

Some days Lucky looks so smart and motivated; he sits with his chest out, wagging away; until I give him the dish. Other days Robert Redford looks like a brilliant Golden Retriever starring in his show, waiting for reward. The second dog know where to go; there’s usually no fuss to this. It’s just go sit at your mark; I am coming.
This jumping up shit started when I got home from Cuba. The first time he jumped so close to me like he was trying to knock it out of my hands. WTF, I can’t have a big dog jumping around like that. I’m at the age where one must be careful.
It’s diminished between bowl #1 and bowl #2. That’s a work in progress by virtue of the routine.
Today the happy red boy began bouncing as I opened the door with all four bowls in my arm.

Behavior frequently escalates before the animal abandons it.
Keep your fingers crossed for me. Smile.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dog Rescue on the Malecon in Havana, Cuba

Bound and placed in a bag, squirming frantically to free herself, she lay exhausted on the shore of the Malecon in Havana with the sun beating down, hours before the tide would come in.

Two young lovers strolled hand in hand, discussing their class work and dreams for the future. They paused for a kiss, and then they saw a bag on the rocks. It moved! No, it was just a bag of garbage someone had carelessly tossed out; it couldn't be moving, but there it moved again.

With the daring of youth the young man leaped the concrete rail and negotiated the rocks towards the bag, which moved spasmodically as he approached. He ripped the bag open to discover a small yellow spaniel. Her legs and muzzle were tied. He carried the bundle to the railing where he and his sweetheart freed the dog, who wagged her tail in gratitude.

“Who could do such a thing to such a sweet little animal?” The lovers looked at each other in wonder, as they sat petting her.
“What are we going to do with her?”
Since they lived with her mother, who already had three dogs and two cats, they knew they shouldn't ask to keep the dog, but once you save a being from death you can’t just abandon her, so they called.
“Mom, we found the prettiest little dog. She was tied up in a bag and thrown on the rocks. We were walking along the Malecon and saw the bag move. You won’t believe how sweet she is; can she stay with us until we find a home for her? No, mom, I understand. It’s just that we saved her life and don’t know what to do with her. Mom, what should we do?”

Association National for the Protection of Animals and Plants is on Calle Principe number 128. 
Take her there; these are the people who help animals in Cuba. You can trust them to do the best for your little rescue. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dogs in Cuba

Friends, who read this blog on a regular basis are wondering:
what in the hell happened to her?
The short answer is Cuba!

Yeah, no kidding; I really went to Cuba to visit a sister of my heart, who just happens to be the vice president of ANIPLANT, the association in Cuba, which advocates for animals and plants.

On Saturdays, in a park west of Habana, any number of people bring their dogs to train, and visit with other “dog” people.
After about thirty years of earning my living as a professional dog trainer, I consider myself a connoisseur of dog training styles, so watching competitors preparing for the Pan American Dog Show was a lot of fun.

The heady days of Cuba’s capitalist past peek out through once grand town homes divided into apartments. People, dogs and cats hang out in the streets.
For old car fanatics, Cuba is the best. My husband, Kirt, would have been toe tapping excited to the sherbet array of colors an old Chevy can come in here.

Coming from the USA, aka the land of billboards in your face, I missed all the roadside sales pitches. Fidelism’s grace Cuban roadside billboards.

I have many stories to share with you. It’s good to be home with Smoki, Blondie, Chi-Ping, Robert Redford, and Lucky. We’re expecting company next week, so I’m going to make every effort to get organized. Smile.