Sunday, August 25, 2013

An open letter to Cesar Millan or Why I only have one dog:

One of the few things which upset tourists visitng Puerto Rico is the problem of stray dogs on the island. Now a days there are numerous organizations which are trying to deal with the problem and I will post links for them. Juan Agustín Márquez's documentary: "100,000" has demonstrated the dire situation of dogs in Puerto Rico and many celebrities have  finally rallied to the cause with donations and public service announcements on television. Here's a picture of a cutie dumped on the hill. I don't know what ever happened to him.

This blog is a personal essay, perhaps a lame excuse, or maybe a cry for help to Cesar to why I only have one dog (and two cats).

I live in a doggie Garden of Eden. We have 42 acres of farm/jungle in the mountains of Puerto Rico. We're fenced in...originally for our goats...and now.. for us, I guess. We've always had dogs and although never properly trained, they became "good" dogs as they aged. With plenty of space, they never were "bad" dogs...unless rolling in the mud, jumping in the pool, sitting on the couch, jumping up to greet you with muddy paws...or stealing food off a tv tray is considered "bad". I've always considered dogs "family", and so keeping them outside never seemed particularly fair. Kathy, New Years, BC, Corazon, Mota, and Puppy will always have a special place in my heart.

Now we have Camila...or rather I have Camila. She showed up about three years ago when our kids were off to college, and she became mine. She was extremely shy, scared and eternally grateful (my interpretation) to find a loving home. I didn't hear her bark for weeks; she didn't dare come into the finally had a trained dog. We have a guesthouse/B&B and Camila would follow me and sit quietly in the corner of the restaurant. Poco a poco (little by little) all that changed. Guests loved her..."oh I miss our dog at home"..."we don't mind..she's ok"....and so now she's part of the business. Sometimes she jumps on people, but not usually. She doesn't beg for food, but if you pet her, she'll stay next to you begging for "carino" (affection). If she gets annoying, I can easily give her a treat and tie her in the corner.

Although I know it is possible to train a dog (or many dogs) to stay in certain areas, I don't think I can do it. I don't want more dogs in the restaurant or to follow me around, and I don't think I'm capable of letting one do something and not the others.

Today my daughter is paying to spay a dog dumped in the neighborhood. Catalina (the dog) will be staying here while she recuperates and then be put back on the street at a place where she has a bit of shelter and food from neighbors. I too will dump some dog food in her dish as I pass by. The #1 spay and release in the neighborhood...not a solution, but hopefully a step in curbing the problem. Here's Catalina, post operation...ready for a loving home or else back to the street.

And so Cesar Millan...if you can train be able to keep more doggies out of my open-air, no door restaurant...and to keep them away from guests who may not like dogs...and still let them be part of my "family"...I would gladly take two or three more dogs, but for now...I'll have to take care of the animals I have...1 doggie, 2 cats, chickens and ducks, fish and turtles...and of course our Puerto Rican coquises.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jungle Living

 Maintenance is the name of the game here in the jungle. Plant a tree and come back in two months and see if you can find it. We bought a couple of weeping willows once...imagining a future pond with weeping willows along the shore, but weeds and vines strangled them until they were no longer to be found.

Live at the beach in the tropics and everything rusts from the salt. Live in the mountains and it's the dampness. Buckles disappear... and  old videotapes develop cotton balls long before they were outdated with DVDs.I finally got a dryer when our guesthouse needed dry towels and I couldn't depend on the sun (or me removing dry items on time).

Just look at our "camping area". No longer camping, but our beautiful bowl down the hill...perfect for meditation, bird watching, or simply hanging's a jungle adventure when we haven't cut the grass and a landscaped coconut grove when we have. You can almost watch the grass grow after the rain. Rain, sun, rain, sun....and there it grows..inch by inch.

Our ceiba tree is reaching for the sky. Planted as a sapling with a thorny trunk, it now has lost its thorns and has its massive roots beginning to cross the jungle floor. Sure to outlive us, the ceiba tree has found its home at the base of the hill. This jungle suits it well.

Sometimes it's just a coat of paint that makes things right.

 But usually it's water power that's needed. The pressure machine is our best friend. When the green stuff appears on the sidewalk, it's time to pull out the machine. I wish I could get my hands on one of those New York street cleaners that used to annoy me with alternate side of the street parking. Sitting atop one of those massive machines with the brushes rolling....I could be Queen of the Jungle. Who ever thought you'd have to clean your roofs with so much rain... but what a difference the cleaning can make.

So come and visit us here in the jungle. Watch the grass grow...listen to the sounds of the forest....grab a machete....or if you prefer....stay out of the jungle and just RELAX!