One thing I’ve learned about going on vacation, is that I don’t like to relax.
How can I, when there’s so much to do and so little time! I want to see ALL THE THINGS!
And most of the time I vacation with my husband he responds with a blank stare and a “why would you want to do all of that?” So this time around we went to Turks and Caicos, a small island chain in the Bahamas whose island upon which we landed is only 38 square miles, so I think he assumed he would have me boxed in by water and I’d have no choice but to chill out.
He was wrong, of course. Shortly after arriving, I spotted the telltale signs of what I knew to be an island without an animal control program: stray dogs darting across the street, hiding from the midday heat and humidity in whatever shade they could find. In the Bahamas, these distinctive stray dogs are called potcakes, after the congealed rice and pea mixture scraped up from the bottom of the pot that was traditionally fed to the dogs. Scrappers from the start, these sturdy little guys.
With no official animal control and a population subject to the elements, starvation, parvo, and heartworm, one of the ways to deal with them was through poisoning (a very common and unfortunate way to cope when there is no program in place to help the animals.) Potcake Place is a rescue located on the island, 100% volunteer run and donation based, that exists to help bridge that gap and give these dogs a chance. Visitors are welcome to come in and meet the pups, so of course within 24 hours I mapped the place out and planned a trip.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to find, but I sure wasn’t expecting this:
What they have managed to make out of so little is truly heroic. Enjoy the pictures of these healthy little pups. I guarantee you, before these rescue volunteers took them in they were not this happy and healthy.
The facility is cheery, tidy, and full of happy. It makes people WANT to go in, as evidenced by the steady flow of tourists into the building to play, learn, and offer to courier the dogs back to the States. As the bulletin board shows, they’ve been successful in that as well.
(aside- one in Hawaii?? That’s hardcore.)
Best souvenir ever, right? These people all seem to think so.
Knowing this was ABSOLUTELY NO NO NO out of the question that we would be able to take a dog home, I settled for the next best thing: Potcake Place allows you to be a ‘foster for a day’, taking a dog out and about to give them socialization, exercise, and an opportunity to show off for more tourists on the street.
Who’s available? I asked.
They said, Bran, Rickon, and Arya. Was this meant to be or what? So we borrowed, of course, Arya.
Come on. This is totally relaxing.
So anyway, we spirited Arya back to our little stretch of beach and told her all about the world. How people are pretty cool, if you trust them. How she should enjoy this water while she could because rumor had it she was on her way to Boston on Saturday. She took it all in stride.
Did I mention Arya is extremely photogenic? I hope she goes to someone with a blog. Almost as much as I hope she goes to a Game of Thrones fan.
And she’s great with kids. Seriously, she was awesome.
So awesome, in fact, that when I saw her in the airport departure lounge on her way to a no kill shelter in Boston I seriously considered changing her out with my neck pillow- they’d never know until it was too late. Cooler heads prevailed, of course, and I decided I would instead focus my efforts on trying to convince them to put in an application for a World Vets team to come and help with a large scale spay/neuter effort.
I know just the right vet to help out.
To learn more about Potcake Place, visit their website or Facebook page. They adopt to people all over the United States, even those who have never been to the island; you put in an application, and once you are approved you wait until someone from your area goes there on vacation and volunteers to courier the pup back to you. Isn’t that a great system?
When you think of a champion show dog, the kind who eventually makes his way to the upper echelons of Westminster, a certain life arc comes to mind. A pampered pooch, born with much pomp and circumstance, raised lovingly by a person ready to groom them from day one for a life in the spotlight. A dog who knows little of pain and neglect, attended to like a celebrity from the get-go. And for the most part, you’d be right.
Then again, Maverick isn’t like most dogs.
Sure, he started life with all the right underpinnings: born to a breeder of champion Weimaraners, he began his journey with a man on the West Coast who planned to show him. But his owner lost his house, and that’s when Maverick’s life took a sad detour.
Rather than contact the breeder, who had been trying to track them down with no success, Maverick’s owner sold him on Craigslist to a family on the East Coast who was unprepared for life with a large dog. The man who bought Maverick liked Weimaraners, but spent a lot of time away from home. His wife, busy with the children, had little time or patience for a young dog. So Maverick spent the next year and a half in a crate in an apartment, chewing himself raw with boredom and stress. No walks, no training, a body deprived of both physical and emotional nourishment. (more…)
We tend to take for granted all the medicine we have at our fingertips for our pets- ultrasounds, MRIs, surgeons with insane specialties. It’s easy to forget sometimes the conditions most of the rest of the world functions in. It’s one of the reasons I am in such awe of organizations like World Vets, which sends vets all over the world to not only help animals, but help the vets in other countries learn cutting edge skills.
Running a multi-national nonprofit like this presents challenges you never would think about until you actually get into it: you can’t just show up in a place, do a few fancy surgeries, and take off without taking into account the people that are already there who might resent your intrusion if not done properly. In the case of World Vets, training is a core part of the program: not only for the veterinary students who volunteer in order to acquire more skill, but for the local veterinarians who take an active role in the projects, get trained themselves, and can use those skills year-round to improve the life of the animals who live there. From their January press release:
This year, World Vets officially opened its first year-round International Training Center. Located in Granada, Nicaragua, the Latin America Veterinary Training Center will train over 500 Latin American veterinarians in 2012. In addition to Latin American veterinarians, the training center will also see 160 U.S. veterinary students this summer as part of the International Veterinary Medicine program offered by World Vets.
But what does this mean, really? It means when a pet is injured in a manner a veterinarian is uncomfortable treating, they have a good relationship with a mentor vet they can call for help, and everyone benefits. Take, for example, Princessa. (more…)
It’s a week of being thankful, and in that vein I’m reaching back into something I used to do regularly and make a Sunday post highlighting something great from around the web. Today, two large scale projects meant to bring more shelter pets into their forever homes:
Home for the Holidays
Iams’ Home for the Holidays program has just surpassed the 6 million mark for number of pets who have been adopted since the program’s inception in 1999. Way to go! They’re still working on their goal of 5 million bowls of food donated, as well.
2011 Results to date:
Since October 1st, we have helped find new loving homes for:
- Total adoptions so far: 413,903
- Total meals donated so far: 1,525,920
The Shelter Pet Project
Speaking of adoption, the Shelter Pet Project has just released a new set of Public Service Announcements in a joint project with the Ad Council, HSUS and Maddie’s Fund.
The PSA message is “A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet.” Truer words were never spoken!