Home is Where we Hook-up

February 15, 2008

Adopting Dogs

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 9:25 am

Well, I’m sure to have my heart broken into a million pieces by the time we leave this country. There is very little that can be done to prevent it, either. I can not figure out why it is so difficult for a country to prevent stray dogs from procreating. Baffling. I understand the financial limitations, but the end result of watching these poor creatures, mangy, starving, and injured is surely enough to make it worthwhile to attempt at fixing the problem.

“You can judge a society by the way it treats its animals” – Mahatma Gandi

When we got to this marina, we had one dog. The same dog we’ve had for 13 years. She is walked on a leash when we are out, sleeps inside the camper during the night, gets regular baths and bug medication, and is just all around a pretty lucky dog. On our walks it used to be just her and I. Now, we walk with Zoe, Brownie, Little Mama, Smiley, and Big Mama (who doesn’t come near, really, she only watches us from far away)

The first dog we brought into our circle is Brownie. Brownie has been spayed, and is not starving, except for attention. She whines and cries to greet us, bounces herself around in circles at the sheer joy of having some company. The most submissive dog in the entire compound, Zoe was not threatened to allow her to tag along with us. How can you deny the joy a dog shares at simply being allowed to hang around with you?



Now, I never intended on feeding these dogs – but one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, one cup of food is being put out, then two, three and now I have a whole system set up for feeding time. Each dog now has to be fed a certain distance from the next, we are not here to create fighting. I don’t feed them everyday, they must still be able to find their own food and not entirely count on us.

Little Mama was next to break into the “zone”. Just a young, timid, starving, sweet, goopy eyed, tail wagging thing. She began to show that she was pregnant a few weeks back, only by the size of her teats, her belly would never give it away. I was guessing that she would have her pups in the next month or so. Last night she did not show for feeding, but I saw her over by the boats in dry dock. She yelped, so I went to her, and could see the first of four (or five, not entirely sure) pups hanging from her. She cleaned it off all good and proper, gently picked it up in her mouth and disappeared under a boat. Our friend Ali has named that first pup Valentine.

If any of these dogs were to make it on board this camper for the trip back home, it would be Smiley. Our introduction was not pleasant at all, he had appeared from who knows where, front paw injured, and charged Zoe and I on an early morning walk. His aggression was frightening, but mostly I was surprised by it. Zoe stuck up for herself, which is good for her, but is also what caused the biggest problem. Nothing came of it. Over time, he decided to befriend us. In doing so, he would wag the entire back half of his body, stretch his lips as far back to his ears, and kinda run his tongue over his teeth. Smiley dog. Smile at us, and if he thought we weren’t looken, he’d snarl at Zoe. Funny. They’ve made peace now, and somewhat even play together.

Yesterday he showed up in really bad shape, back leg held up, but the injury was more than that. He could barely walk. He spent the day under the bus, we gave him food and water, which he ate and drank. I saw him last night by one of the boats, his smile has completely disappeared, the look in his eyes desperate. He ate some more. Best sign I can hope for. I’m afraid his back-end is severely damaged, I hope I’m wrong.

Big Mama is a large dog by Belize standards, a dark brindle looking thing – starving and with another litter of pups on the way. I think she is Little Mama and Smiley’s mom. The guys around the marina are often trying to catch her, I hear it’s to sell her, or something like that. So far they have had no luck, and when she hides under our trailer I chase them away – other than that though, I have to stay out of it. I don’t want to befriend her at all, otherwise someday she just might let her guard down and get caught by these idiots around here. I do put food out when I see her, but try to stay far away from her.


Zoe is the last dog Keith and I will have, until we settle down from this traveling life. Its not hard to see that I will always have love to share with dogs no matter where we go. I will do the best I can by the dogs here – I know I can’t save all the dogs of the world. But if just one has a better day because I could give it some food, bug guard, or a pat on the head, then so be it.



  1. Paula,
    This is gut wrenching for both you & Keith, but all that you are doing for them presently is a saving grace & unfortunately that’s all you can do. I know, I’m the same way when it comes to all the pathetically homeless yet wonderful dogs in the world.

    We’d love to save every one because, I swear, they are just like little humans…full of all the same expressions & emotions. You just wanna have a genuine 4-legged group hug, join in barking a campsite version of KUMBAYA, grovel over some roasted marshmallows and then – as a pack – go rip a new one in all the mean locals who abuse the runaway dog population!!

    I’m subscribing to your RSS feed! Your stories are marvelous and always (what I refer to as) HEARTSTRING PULLERS or HEART LIFTERS. (It’s an actual literary category that Webster is considering, I think. But isn’t he dead? So my question: Who is putting out all those dictionaries?)

    Signed: Kathryn “Washington” Irving
    Virtual World: NY Times Blog Article Submissions Reviewer
    (Paycheck status: Still checking the mail…)

    p.s. [FOR ALL, please note concerning my website.
    I listed it here, but it is…]:
    Soon to debut – My view! Set your WAH rear end
    into an ergonomically correct chair (cha-ching)…Don your
    best Casual-Friday-WAH-pajama-pants-optional office attire…
    Set your phasers and stay BLOGTUNED
    (a phrase I just brilliantly coined, similar to LoggedIn)
    for Kathryn’s View (dot) com. Thanks for being patient!

    Comment by Kathryn — February 16, 2008 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  2. Loved the pics, don’t envy you this aspect of your travels.

    “I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people who are convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference after another.”
    Ellen Goodman

    Comment by Laura — February 19, 2008 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  3. Hi There Paula,
    Your story regarding the dogs puts ones mind back to Greece.
    I never forget when the Olympics were on – all the-stray dogs somehow disappeared.
    I must admit it was nice to see once it was all over they came back again. Goodness know’s where they put them.
    That is all you can do, is make some poor dogs life a bit better that day.
    Our own Zoey and Bubba are very spoilt, aren’t they.

    Comment by Pip Zuill — February 19, 2008 @ 11:31 pm | Reply

  4. My husband and I are on our way to ACA next week and that’s how I came across your blog; a Google search for ACA delivered you to my in-box.

    In any case, I know what you mean. We see strays everywhere and it is heartbreaking. I know we’ll see them in ACA and I just hope I can resist the urge to try to pack them and get them back to our comfy home. J/K — it is so sad though…


    Comment by stepher — April 4, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

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