Most people would find it a tad unusual to be a foster family to rescued puppies on an island in the middle of the Caribbean. Such was our enormous luck for a week in July.
I hope this post, filled with the happiness of puppies, helps you forget about my blogging absence. And who doesn’t love puppies, right? Thanks for waiting so patiently.
My sister-in-law Laurie loves puppies. In fact, she’s pretty crazy about most four-legged creatures. And where there’s injustice, she’s a champion for the underdog (or underpuppy) as you’ll see below.
A few years back, she and her husband Pat built a vacation home on the small island of Vieques (Puerto Rico). Despite the immense natural beauty across the island, there’s a significant number of dogs roaming the streets. And, as a result, an unfortunate abundance of abandoned puppies.
Spaying and neutering doesn’t appear to be a priority. The result: litter upon litter of puppies that end up as street dogs (commonly referred to in Puerto Rico as “satos”) living on garbage and contracting nasty parasites. Some might make it to age three; death comes by way of illness or the wheels of a car. Grim no matter how you look at it.
A quick nanosecond after Laurie saw the Vieques satos she began working with the local humane society to help raise money for their efforts. In the months to follow, she created Our Big Fat Caribbean Rescue (OBFCR) where she dedicates most of her waking hours to getting the puppies off the island and into “forever homes.” She is also raising money to fund a no-cost/low-cost spay and neuter program on Vieques to stem the tide of unwanted puppies in the first place.
She’s mighty creative, too. Email her a photo of your pet and for a small fee, all of which goes to fund the spay and neuter program, she’ll paint an oil portrait of Fido or Fluffy. Check out the OBFCR site for more details on her sato rescue efforts and spay and neuter program, including examples of the many pet portraits she has completed.
Go! Check it out now! I’ll be right here when you get back from placing an order for a pet portrait (and in doing so, saving the life of a puppy or two). Yay you!!
Fast forward to our Vieques trip in July. It was our third time to the island. We met Laurie and Pat at the airport in Toronto. I remember Laurie giving us an update on how things were going with OBFCR. Up until that point, they had flown back to Canada more than 80 puppies – some older dogs, too.
It was on our flight to Puerto Rico where Laurie leaned in really close and casually mentioned that her friend on the island might drop off a few puppies after we arrive – puppies that needed some TLC before they embark on a flight to a forever home. “There might be three or four,” she said. “Six max,” she stressed.
It took us no time to drop our bags in our room. Doff our travel duds and get into our swimsuits. Laurie loves to keep the pool warm. We joke that’s it’s amniotic. Ahhh, life is good. Calm and peaceful.
As the four of us were floating belly up, releasing the stress that comes with early flights and tight connections we heard a car pull up outside the wall that surrounds the house. As soon as the driver killed the engine and opened the driver’s door we could hear excited puppies. Many yaps and yelps. I’ve never found fit to use the word cacophony before – until now. There was a cacophony of puppies heading our way.
Laurie’s friend hauled in a very large dog crate. She unlatched the door and tilted the crate up from its back-end. Out slid eight very timid, yapping puppies. Also in tow and in need of foster care was the mama dog of four of the pups – oh yeah – and another rescue that Laurie and Pat were going to add to their own growing number of rescue pups at home.
Laurie avoided looking at us. The three, maybe four, max six, now 10 had made her a little sheepish. But in true Laurie fashion, she give us a sideways look, combined with a smirk and a shrug. She scooped up two, tiny fur bodies from the wriggling mass in front of us and handed us each a puppy: Jack and Jill.
Our hearts melted….
Prepare for a heavy dose of cuteness:
For the next seven days we were totally captivated with our charges, some might even say smitten. Okay deeply smitten! We gladly accepted the roles as foster parents to this pack. Feeding, watering, medication, cuddles. It was truly a spectacular week!
The outdoor space at the house was quickly converted into a puppy nursery of sorts. Cozy beds scattered about, pans of food here and there, chew toys, and pee pads. Each pup even had little colour-coded collars with their names on them so we could keep track of them.
We were fully entertained each day. Some of the pups were timid, likely due to some ugly experiences on the street in their very short lives. As the days played out, they all adjusted quickly to a new life with a comfy bed, a full belly and endless love.
When they weren’t in the comfort of our laps, they were racing around the yard, nipping at tails and, for a brave few, learning to swim. Some of the pups wanted to be with us so much they would wade into the pool. We would take some of them into the deeper water and they would puppy paddle back to the stairs. A great way to tire them out. And have I mentioned it was so damn cute.
It was mighty difficult to resist the urge to take one home for ourselves. We had to keep reminding ourselves that with our vagabond lifestyle of travel, a dog, even a cute puppy, just doesn’t fit.
Before we knew it the week was over. The pups seemed to have doubled in size. We had a great visit with Laurie and Pat. And we got our dog fix in for another year.
We hope to repeat the experience again next summer. Who’s in?
Vieques is a great warm weather getaway: endless, white sand beaches, surfing, stand-up-paddleboarding, snorkeling and SCUBA diving. And it also boasts one of the world’s most prolific bioluminescent bays. It goes without saying, but I will anyway, that a vacation to Vieques isn’t the same unless you stay at the fully equipped Vieques Garden House: a four-bedroom, three-bath oasis. If you want it to come with puppies, I’m sure that can be arranged.