Friday, July 2, 2010

The Origin of the P.U.P.P.Y. Project

The P.U.P.P.Y. Project Day 1
Any animal lover spending a little time in the Dominican Republic realizes rather quickly that there is a great problem with homeless and abused dogs in the country.  Efforts have been made to address the problem in different ways, but the sheer numbers overwhelm most of those who try.  On the North Coast of the Dominican Republic the AAAHS (Humane Society of Sosua) has many programs to address this problem, including veterninarians coming in to hold free spay/neuter clinics.  However, the numbers and logistics prevent them from having an adoption facility. 

A chance occurrence brought us in contact with the AAAS and started our efforts to develop a new program to find homes for needy dogs.  My wife Debbie, on a trip to town, ran across a mother dog with 5 puppies trying to cross the road in a remote area.  The mother was clearly malnourished and the puppies were close to being run over and Debbie just felt that she couldn't leave them there.  So she piled the mom and the puppies into our truck and brought them to our home. So my first contact with the "puppies" was as she carried all five of the puppies into our house.  The puppies were all girls and were all completely different in color from white, to red, to black.  The mom was very lethargic and was basically falling asleep standing up as the puppies nursed.  The first night we did our best to make all comfortable and well fed.  We already had 2 adopted Dominican Dogs and so we knew we really couldn't keep all these dogs and we went to sleep wondering what we could do with 6 extra dogs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The P.U.P.P.Y. Project Day 2

It was certainly fun to wake this morning to 5 puppies romping in the yard along with our 4 dogs and the puppy's mother who we decided to name Ginger.  It was amazing that each puppy was completely different; with one being all white with brown ears, one tan with a black nose, one black, one grey, and one brown.  Although, a lot of fun to see them romp, we knew we couldn't continue with 10 dogs!

In the past we had boarded our dogs at Judy's Pet Lodge in Sosua, DR and knew that she also did considerable work with homeless animals.  Judy Liggio, who runs the pet lodge, is a retired vet tech who also has buildings near the pet lodge to work with needy  animals on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic.  Her program, Friends of the Animals of Sosua (Asociacion de Amigos por los Animales de Sosua AAAS) , was started in 1998 to provide free or low cost spay/neuter programs to animals in the DR as well as medication and emergency housing for sick and injured dogs.  Volunteer vets and other volunteers operate many spay/neuter clinics throughout the year to try to control the vast number of animals living in the villages of the area.

So my first stop was to talk to Judy and Jeanette at the AAAS to see if they could adopt out these dogs for us.  Unfortunately after talking with them we learned that because of the sheer numbers of homeless dogs and the limited visitors to the country, who stayed long enough to be able to adopt a dog, they really couldn't run an adoption type facility.  If someone really wanted to adopt a dog they could easily find one on their own on the street and so there was little need for an adoption facility.  So we were stuck.                                                                   However, Judy mentioned that they were hoping to start a new program to find homes for animals with Dominican families in dominican villages.  If enough adoptions were going to happen, to take care of the great numbers of dogs, it would probably require dominican families to start the process.  The problem was that many dominicans consider dogs a nuisance and it is not uncommon for them to throw things at or hit strange dogs.  Many children also have been taught to be afraid of dogs. With many families subsisting on little or nothing a dog, as well as its medical care, were out of the picture.
The thought was that if we could integrate puppies into local families and teach them how to take care of a dog that it would be a great benefit for both families and the animal.  The hope was that children could be taught how to properly take care of a dog, how to be responsible, and the many benefits of having a dog as a friend.  We figured we had few options but to try this program or end up with 10 dogs in our house!  It also made a lot of sense to us from what we had seen, in regards to the treatment of dogs in the small village we live in of Boca de Yasica.  We were excited to give it a try as a test program to hopefully be used on a wider scale in the future.

Judy and Jeanette provided me with worming medication for the puppies and Ginger as well as flea and tick medication.  They also provided us with bowls for all, leashes for all, and collars for all.  The hope was also to be able to provide dog carriers for each puppy.  They also included a number of booklets "Doggy Speak" in Spanish for the children to learn about taking care of a puppy.  It was filled with different activities including stickers so that each child could learn how to properly care for their pet.  Loaded with all this ammunition I headed home to get started, but knew we would have at least one more night with the puppies!To Contribute to the AAAS go to their website and click on donations.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Days 3 of the P.U.P.P.Y. Project


One more night with the 5 puppies and Ginger (the Mom).  They spent the night outside on a blanket and were actually pretty quiet through the night.  Our two Dominican dogs Roo and Jimmie Dean are a bit confused with invaders in their territory, but so far they seem to be fine with it.  The puppies play with Jimmie Dean and Roo as well as our American Dogs Cooper and Calie because Ginger is just too tired and sick to do much more then nurse.  Debbie and I are really worried about her as she is all skin and bones, yet does not seem very excited about eating.

We spent the morning giving the puppies there wormer and tick and flea medications.  Baths for all including Ginger were a necessity.
The puppies were clean, seemed healthy, and they now had their initial wormer and meds and so time to find them homes.  Luckily our gardener, Cabo, was a real dog lover himself and had a couple of dogs of his own.  So Cabo went out among those in our village of Boca de Yasica and asked for families to volunteer to be foster families for the puppies.  We had him especially look for families with children that could learn about how to take care of a puppy and learn about responsibility and learn how to treat animals in general. The goal was to find Foster Homes and then hopefully the families would want to keep the puppies permanently.

This was our first foray into finding homes for the puppies.  We weren't sure what to expect.  However, 5 families quickly stepped forward to help out even though we live in a very poor rural village where sometimes it is hard to earn enough money to support one's family.  There generosity and excitement was greatly appreciated as we had no idea what we would do with them if no one stepped forward.  So 5 families were found and a special going away party for the puppies was planned for that afternoon.  The AAAS had donated bowls, and leashes, and collars and we volunteered to provide the families with dog food for 3 months as well as dog houses for each of the puppies.                                             

 So the afternoon began with individual families stopping by our house to pick up their Puppy Chow, collars, leases, bowls and most importantly instructional booklets in Spanish for the children and families that would be taking over this responsibility.  It was truly a lot of fun to see the little children get to meet and play with their puppies for the first time.  A bond seemed to be quickly made and the families were asked to come back in a week with the puppies for further medications.  We would miss the puppies, but knew they would be given much more attention then we could.

Ginger did not seem to miss her puppies and slept almost the entire day, nibbling a few items of food.  We figured she needed some medical attention so it would be a trip off to see our dogs veterninarian Dr. Bob in Sosua Cabarete the next day.






Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 4 of the P.U.P.P.Y. Project

Certainly a more quiet night without the puppies, but we spent a lot of the night wondering how the pups were getting along with their new families.  Ginger, the mom spent a good part of the time sleeping and didn't seem very interested in eating.  So we took her to Doctor Bob in Sosua to see what we could do.  He provided us with a few meds including an appetite enhancer that is given to children who are not eating.  Debbie plans to be a gourmet cook for the next week or so and try to fatten Ginger up.  She is very lethargic and we aren't sure she is going to make it.

Today turned out to be construction day.  We had promised the families that adopted the puppies that we would provide them with kennels for the dogs.  Unfortunately, Judy at the Humane Society of Sosua AAAS had all of hers being used and so we didn't having anything to give to the families.  Debbie likes to build things and so we decided we would just build our own little dog houses.  In the U.S. Debbie has done a few rehab projects on foreclosed homes, fixing them up to sell so she thought this would be a breeze.

We figured out that we could build one house out of one 4X8 piece of plywood and so after a quick trip to the hardware store the construction process began.  Our caretaker Cabo joined in and soon the saw dust was flying.
It took about an hour per house, but it was a labor of love.
Now it was time to introduce the puppies to their new homes!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 5 of the P.U.P.P.Y. PROJECT

We got a fairly good nights sleep without yelping puppies making noises through the night so we woke hoping to get the mom, Ginger, motivated to eat and to check on how the puppies were doing in their new homes.  We made a short visit to each puppies home and learned the new names of our 5 little girls.  Some names were inventive others not so much. 

The White Puppy went to a Dominican Family consisting of a mother and her small child.  The young girl seemed enamored with her new puppy which they had named Blanca.

Each puppy had a distincly different color and the tan puppy with the short stubby legs went to a local family who decided to name her Maluna. Maluna with her dog house shown below.

The blackish/brown puppy went to a local family from our village of Boca de Yasica and was being kept in a compound between a number of the family's house and they named this puppy Poota.  I'm not sure if they thought it funny or practical, but the name actually means "whore" in Dominican.

Another family that had a compound of houses (shacks) took the brown puppy.  We think their intention is to have the puppy as their security and friend for all the related families that live there.  To you show you the strength of the 60's T.V. show and the effect of American Culture down here they named her Lassie.

Finally, the black puppy with the little white crest on its chest went to a Dominican family that lives immediately next door to us.  It is a young couple with a couple of children always around that they care for.  After several attempts to figure out what they named the puppy, the best we could understand was Cheezpita.  So Debbie and I ended up giving that puppy the nickname "Cheese Pizza".  Cheese Pizza and her dog house are pictured below.

All families and puppies seemed to be adjusting to each other.  Although I think our neighbors were having a hard time working through Cheese Pizza's yelping when she wasn't getting atention.

So back home and 4 times a day feeding Ginger chicken broth, rice, hard boiled eggs, and whatever we could to get her to eat.  She does seem slightly more active today after being able to get some sleep and not having 5 puppies hanging on her.  Medicines supplied by Dr. Bob continue to be introduced to her system and hopefully they will start to take hold.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 6 and 7 of the P.U.P.P.Y Project

The next two days were filled with feeding Ginger, the mom, as much as we could.  Her appetite doesn't seem to be improving much, but she does eat a little bit several times a day.  We are hoping some new wormer medicine will help.  She is starting to acclimate with our other dogs (2 U.S. dogs and 2 Dominican Rescued Dogs).  However, she as the only other female to our West Highland Terrier (or terrorer as we call her) tends rub our Westie named Calie the wrong way.  Calie who is about half her size has her cowering in the corner on occasion.  Our hope is with time they will become friends.  Part of our daily routine is to walk our dogs on the beach in front of our house and so in an effort to get all the dogs to bond we have been taking Ginger on short walks with the others.  She seems to enjoy the walks and hopefully they will bring up her energy level.

We decided a week after finding the puppies to have a little bit of a reunion so that they could get to see each other once again.  It was interesting at this point, Ginger the mom had absolutely no interest in her puppies. 

So one week after finding the puppies, all had medicine, all had new homes, and all hopefully had loving families that would learn how to take care of them.  We new the next few weeks would be fun as we watched the puppies grow.  Now to get Ginger happy and find her a home!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weeks 2 to 5 of the P.U.P.P.Y. Project

The following weeks of the P.U.P.P.Y. Project involved occasional visits to the puppies.  There were also occasional visits from the puppies to us if their owners were having some type of medical issue with their dog.  We were able to take care of most of these issues by providing the puppies with wormer or giving them some ivermectin which is a great medicine that takes care of fleas and ticks.  On just a couple of occasions we took a puppy in to see Dr. Bob at his vet clinic in Sosua for some different wormer or some medicine for Gastritis.  Ivermectin was then given monthly to each puppy to keep the fleas and ticks away.

All the puppies seemed to eventually get very healthy with no skin issues, except for Blanca.  Blanca being all white except for her brown ears is susceptible to sun burn and we continue to work with her to try to get her skin healthy.

And what about the mom, Ginger?  Slowly but surely she came around with some help every once in a while from Dr. Bob.  She gained weight and now is a very healthy dog.  She is a real sweet heart and thinks she is an inside dog.  She will open our screen door when we aren't looking and sneak in quietly and lay down by the side of the couch out of sight.  She thinks she is pulling one over on us. 

She does truly have a fantastic temperment and seems to just be appreciative to have food and a home.  She is very friendly and a very relaxed dog.  We are still trying to find a home for her so if anyone has an interest let me know.

Click on the link above if you would like to see a video of Ginger walking with the rest of our dogs on the beach.  She does well with other dogs and people.  Ginger is the dog on the left then  is surrounded by our dogs and some other local dogs when it is treat time. MAKE SURE TO CLICK OLDER POSTS BELOW TO FINISH OUT THE STORY OF THE PUPPIES INCLUDING THEIR SURGERY DAY.