Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fur Family

If it weren’t for the dogs, I could just close the house and go for as long as I like, but there are five depending on me. I planned to be dog less so I could travel, but these dogs bark at strangers in the night. Many days I talk and they listen; these days they’re the only ones who do. We’re friends, so I provide for them when I travel.

About ten years ago, when Kirt and I bought the house in PuertoRico, we fed dogs that came and went; only Stormie, the border collie stayed. A couple of years later we returned to be greeted by Blondie, who was then a young adult of at least a year, probably a year and a half.

Every trip to Puerto Rico for a few years we were welcomed home by Blondie and Stormie, and then someone in a big SUV dumped Chi in front of the neighbor’s house. Every year other dogs migrated past our door. Kirt never didn’t have a problem with feeding the strays, but had philosophical discussions about what was our problem and what is the island’s problem; and he was as kind hearted a man as I’ve ever meet.
We left the world of pure bred champion dogs behind in Illinois, said farewell to cold weather and life with dogs as the epicenter, but now, we had two Puerto Rican street dogs going with us to New Orleans. Blondie and Chi loved the Big Easy; raccoons under a house were way better than squeaky toys, but for a new invention, the leash, they’d have a raccoon for doggie games.
In the last months of Kirt’s life Lucky and Robert Redford appeared in the same week. Kirt and I agreed we needed a couple of boys to balance the girl-boy ratio.  Along came Lola with marks of physical abuse still visible, her feet swollen giving her a sadly endearing gait.  Before he died, we had a family of five fur kids.

Here I am almost three years later with my family of five.    

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cowboy the Pit Puppy Finds a Home

Puppy Update

The red and white puppy found his way to my door all the way from Counselor’s Ridge, which is about a mile or so away. He stood at the bottom of my driveway with a couple of people who were gathering coconuts. I came out because my dogs were barking at the people.

The boney boy stood in the road with ears and tail down, so as to not attract attention. He watched the Sato Hill Crewe come down the driveway in full protection mode, as the man stood on the roof of my neighbor’s garage and his wife gathered the coconuts dropping in my driveway.  The dogs’ focused on the people; until the puppy recognized me. His eyes widened, head came up, ears went forward, and his tail burst into a full speed wag.
Lucky, Robert Redford, Blondie, and Chi-Ping turned as one from the people they had focused on, to the little guy doing the happy dance. They went into stalk position, which scared me, since they were already halfway down the drive. 
The woman in my driveway saw the dogs’ predatory posture, freaked out yelling, “Hay dios mio,” and ran around her car, while her husband tried waving the long rod he used on the coconuts at the dogs.
“NO,” I boomed at the man. “TRANQUILA, tranquila,” I soothed the woman.
“No,” I said again in my serious dog voice; the dogs actually looked at me, big sigh of relief. “GOOD GUYS!! COMEON, LET’S GO TO THE HOUSE!!”
Lucky and Robert Redford flew up the hill; what good babies! Blondie and Chi weren’t convinced to leave the people or the little competitor with the wagging tail, but minus the boys’ support the girls regrouped halfway up the driveway.
Boys in the house, Blondie and Chi, my old friends, came along.  I haven’t had them in the house much lately, so the hounds were happy, allowing me to find the puppy, who had headed up the hill in fright.

This is a pit bull puppy; he only retreated to the other side of my neighbor’s garage, where he greeted me with joy. About a week ago, the only time we met, I fed him on the way to feed the litter in the lane. A good ten dogs I’ve seen for quite some time have disappeared from that lane, which gives me more surprise to see him.

Down the lane where the big cows graze my little Cowboy came. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Good Night for Dogs in Puerto Rico

God bless the municipality of Manatee for sponsoring the first ever, if I heard right, really big dog training event in Puerto Rico. I had a blast.

Before the speeches began, as people assembled I meandered through the crowd saying hello to everybody. Siberian Huskies, a Great Dane, a Basenji, a Bulldog with a ton of personality were good to meet along with friendly people, who laughed goodheartedly at my Spanish. (It’s appropriate.) It seemed to me that there were quite a few young puppies. It’s not a good idea to teach adults and puppies in the same class for many reasons, so I suggested the division to Alma, who agreed. When I made that suggestion, I had counted twelve for the puppy class I would teach. No sweat, I thought even though I haven’t taught a class in five years. 

A crowd of more than sixty dogs and their people listened to opening speeches and introductions. We stood on the steps of a coliseum; the rules of the event were clearly stated by the ranking police officer. The organizing dog trainer, Alma Febus, announced where the puppies should gather. The training planned for outside had to suddenly, be moved inside do to rain that began no sooner than she announced the separation of classes, so Carlos Cardona, the officer in charge told us where the puppies would be meeting, a long narrow area where people wait to get inside the coliseum, but we were under a roof.
Have you ever looked at a situation and felt confident? Twelve puppies, a piece of chocolate! I entered the vestibule where the puppies awaited. Wall to wall people and pups greeted me. Holy! Holy!! “Just puppies, here,” I yelled in Spanish, “Solomente peritos, por favor!”
Nobody moved; this massive tangle just looked. Oh, my, what the!! I quickly grabbed a couple of cones, “People with puppies line up between the cones. People without dogs, please stand along the opposite wall.”    
As everybody shuffled into place, I counted puppy dogs. I stopped counting at forty puppies.  The place was crowded so I took a couple of cones further down and divided the class. 
Yes, forty in a class is overwhelming; who knew the pent up demand for dog training was so great?
Teniente Carlos Cardona and his staff should be congratulated for offering to the citizens of Manatee a program that they so obviously want.
Thanks to the efforts of my volunteer assistants: Joselito Moye, Officer Tanya Roman, Genesis Rodriguez, and a beautiful lady whose name I never got, but impressed me with her capability and calm demeanor. These people rock!!
Joselito is the bomb; he gave the class to a darn big group. Occasionally I’d run over to observe, and I have to tell you; the man did a fine job! He saved the day because I could not have done justice to forty in one group.

One of my goals in life is to improve our relationship with dogs. When I’m doing that, I’m having fun. After all these years, I’m still a dog lover.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Puppy at my Door

The puppies are gone, the pit bull mommy is gone, the white boxer boy is gone, so are the Counselor’s Ridge dogs except for the new arrival red bitch.

Surprise! Today the five month old puppy from up the lane showed up at my house. I couldn’t NOT feed him; I brought the other dogs in the house, while he gobbled down a big bowl of food. By the time I let the dogs out one at a time, they understood he was staying.

Blondie, Lucky, and Robert Redford ignored him. Chi-Ping tried to terrorize him, which is standard small terrier behavior. He’s this tough little Cowboy, so that’s what I’m calling him. He’s a happy boy. 
See those horrible feet!

I need my head examined, but what am I supposed to do, when a puppy shows up at my door?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Where Have the Puppies Gone

Monday morning fed the dogs, made a nice breakfast for myself, and then took off in a gentle rain to feed the puppies on the way to the gym.

No puppies, how odd, I called and no reply. Could someone have rescued the adorable rascals? I hoped with the dog food and scrambled eggs still on the front seat. Plenty of other dogs would enjoy this meal, so I watch for the Counselor Ridge Crewe, but only see a red spaniel I haven’t noticed before. She’s very scared, but runs up to the bowl as soon as I leave.
At the gym I wonder if the other person feeding the pups managed to collect them. A safe home, regular meals, what could be better? I didn’t spend much time with the puppies; maybe the other person sat on the ground with them stroking their ears. Perhaps they just moved to a dry location.
On the way home that afternoon I drove down the lane. The puppies weren’t there, but someone had left a pan of kibble; apparently, the other person feeding the pups hadn’t gotten them.  At four o’clock I saw none of the dogs that usually lounge in the road; how odd, but not unheard of. I went home to get ready for a training session I was giving that evening for volunteers assisting in a beginner dog training class to be held in Manatee.

Sadly I didn’t have time to drive the lane on the way out, but about quarter to ten, when very few are out in the country, I drove slowly up the lane, stopping in all the familiar haunts. Not a single dog could I find; I went home pondering that.   

Monday, March 7, 2016

Feeding Starving Dogs and Abandoned Puppies

On a country road so narrow two cars must slow almost to a stop to pass the three puppies hide among the bushes where they were dumped days ago.
Sunday morning my dogs, the Sato Hill Crewe, and I have scrambled eggs, mine with toast, theirs’ with kibble. Shortly after I head up the road to feed the pups I named Curly, Moselle, and Larita.
It’s Sunday morning on back country roads, so I’m not dressed to meet people. I’m just feeding the puppies and going home, so I don’t bother to put a bra on; these pups are less than a mile from my home. Can you sense the mistake? 
Where the country lane intersects with my road, I see a wild eyed spaniel in the field with dairy cattle. I stop the car and call the spaniel and she comes running to me. I pour a bit of food on the ground, but just before she arrives a jeep whips into the intersection between us. She bolts in panic. She’s gone, no point fooling here any longer, so I head up the lane.

About a hundred feet into the lane I see a very pregnant black pit bull bitch; she’s been here a while, the poor thing. Someone feeds her in a cast iron pot, but there’s no food, so I oblige the sweet girl, while a car with three men stop to watch. They say nothing; I’m uncomfortable, so I hop in my car and head around the bend where two men are loading a pickup that’s partially blocking the lane.
A red pit bull pup about five months old is with the men. As one of the men waves me past the truck, I ask him if the puppy is his; he says, “No.”   This dog can use a meal and some water, so against my better judgment, I got out of the car to feed the starving, wormy looking youngster. The men were polite; don’t get me wrong, but hate it when a man stares at your tits when he’s talking to you. This fella had so much to say and didn’t bother to disguise where he was looking, which made me feel self conscious. I became annoyed enough that finally I just thought the hell with it, fed the pup and wondered if the three babes would still be in the woods.
The shy little buggers came within inches of me, so that’s progress.
Someone fed them in an aluminum pan; they have people who care. It makes me feel good to know that, even on a lonely country road, helpless critters have a community of advocates doing what they can for them. That helps to offset the heartlessness others suffer from, but it’s no answer; is it?


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Feeding Puppies Living Down the Lane

Saturday is my day to do nothing or clean house, whatever comes first. My dogs and I enjoyed chicken livers for lunch. We had our feet up on the porch doing nothing, when I thought about the puppies.

With all the wonderful animal advocates on the island these babies may have been rescued already; I wondered, but mixed a tray of kibble with a coating of liver, yum, just in case.   
They ran around my car barking, clearly excited to see the food I bring, and then scurried into the hole in the fence for safety.
I’m guessing that the only time they’ve been handled is when the culprit snatched them from their mom for a car ride to the country.
Lovely Larita
If anyone will catch them again, they need some pleasant time with a human, so I toss liver soaked kibble at their feet. They still act as if they don’t know what kibble is and they hesitate to eat, but soon they gobble what I toss a safe distance. Tossing and talking. Tossing and talking; gradually they calm in my presence, but are far from trusting to the point where I realized they are in a fear period of development. Since I know a thing or two about puppy development, I spent more time tossing and talking before putting the food trays down.
Moselle watching.
Curly leaning into the dish.

Frightened little puppies leaned into the food dish as if something would grab them. I left so they could finish their meal in peace.
In the rear view mirror I saw a couple of the Counselor Ridge Crewe crouching towards the food. These are dogs so betrayed by man that I can’t get near.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Abandoned Puppies in Puerto Rico

New born always feel so magical to me; they are hope for the future, fresh life with no past only what’s ahead. Somehow deep in my soul I wish them well; I want them to thrive.

So when I see puppies abandoned on the side of the road, I can’t help but feel how bankrupt a society is that would toss them out without a care. In truth this is a bankrupt little island.

If it weren’t for the wonderful animal advocates feeding and rescuing, I would believe this place to be morally bankrupt as well, but in the three days I’ve been feeding the three little rascals left in the bend of a country road I noticed evidence that someone else is feeding them.

Three scared babies have hope to live thanks to someone who cares. When its so easy to feel overwhelmed by badness, it gives hope to see evidence that loving spirits care if the least among us have a chance to live because life is magic.    

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What to do about Dogs

Thirty years of training dogs and teaching people to have a better relationship with their dogs came and went; I retired. For the last five years I’ve done no training, no teaching. I can’t tell you that I’ve missed it; I simply haven’t thought about it.

Living with four dogs who come and go when they want has been interesting, but I haven’t trained them. I don’t have fun with it the way I once did. Once in a blue moon I’ll do a few sits and downs with Lucky and Robert Redford; the old trainer in me still has a pulse albeit a weak one.
The dog situation in Puerto Rico is deplorable despite the efforts of many wonderful animal advocates. Yesterday I fed the counselor crewe and gave them a big bowl of water; these dogs live in the woods on the ridge overlooking the lake. The members of this little crewe change rather frequently; at the moment a small red spaniel seems to lead the fearful hounds living near an enclave of houses where a couple of lawyers live on counselor ridge. I didn’t feel well, so I tossed down the food and water and left.
No more than a hundred feet away in the bend of the road huddled a litter of three puppies maybe ten weeks old. I gave them all of the food I had left and a bowl of water. This pisses me off because someone dumped these babies there. The clean healthy pups will change in days to bedraggled, gaunt creatures within days without help. Their best hope is for the counselor crewe to adopt them. This is where I am lately on the subject of dogs.
So I’ve been asked to teach a beginner dog training class on Monday nights in Manatee. I met with the class volunteers, who are wonderful dog lovers. We played with a few of my friend Alma’s dogs and worked on name recognition. Yes, me remembering the people’s  and the dogs learning theirs’ when said by anyone other than Alma.

My journey continues; wish me well.