In honor of my awesome friends, Paul and Lindsay, adopting an adorable shelter dog this weekend, I thought I’d share more about our own little furball.
Most of you know Lina by now but I’m not sure you all know her full story. As I mentioned, when the Irish-Colombian and I were on our very first date, a friend of his who worked for the Roatan Humane Society mentioned a dog he’d found but couldn’t take into his own home. He had her spayed and dewormed, but all he could do was swing by her patch of pavement whenever he had the time to bring some food and some love. And then we showed up.
My handsome date had been somewhat passively looking for a dog in the weeks leading up to this fateful evening, so the discussion wrapped up with a meeting scheduled with all of us and the dog a few days later (we didn’t receive actual confirmation for this meeting from the dog, but we figured she could be persuaded to join in with something to eat…much like I occasionally have to do with the Irish-Colombian).
On Monday, off we went on an adventure to the ends of the Earth (AKA French Harbour) to the gas station there, called PetroSun. That’s where we had been told she was living, occasionally getting scraps from the guys who worked there and sneaking lots of fried chicken remnants from the trash at Bojangles across the street. Clever little one for identifying a steady food supply.
When we walked toward the gas station, we spotted a little blonde doggie curled up like Mozilla Firefox on the pavement. As we got within about 20 feet of her, I crouched down and called to her to come over, which she promptly did. She came prancing over to us and sat right down in front of me and let me pet her. She was shaking and incredibly skinny – I could feel every bone under her surprisingly soft and clean fur.
We were only with her for a minute or two before our friend drove up and exclaimed, “Wow! How did you know that was her?”
I just knew. And I think she did, too.
We stayed patting her for several minutes before the Irish-Colombian decided he wanted to take her home. Keep in mind, at this point we knew each other for precisely one week and one day.
So I made it perfectly clear to him that this was his dog and his decision to bring her home because if all hell broke loose and we weren’t going to stay together, the last thing I needed was to figure out how to travel around with a recently adopted and still struggling street dog! Of course, as you can tell, it all worked out for the three of us.
The guys at the gas station just called her Chica, but we knew she needed a better name. We went back and forth on a few, until a friend cleverly suggested that we name her Lina from the Spanish word gasolina. Paying homage to her former home seemed like a perfect idea.
Lina adapted unbelievably well when we took her home. She always asked to go outside when she had to go (excluding the first night when she slept so soundly and peacefully that she wet the bed – but, hey – who can blame her).
Her biggest challenge was learning that we would feed her every morning and every evening and that she didn’t have to fight us for food nor beg for our scraps. She had to learn to eat slowly instead of inhaling everything in a few bites and then getting sick. She had to learn that we were not a threat to her food – and that our trash bin was not a treasure chest for her to uncover.
Over time, she stopped drooling and convulsing at the smell and sight of food; she stopped going anywhere near the trash bin; she stopped growling at us with her fur standing up on end and tail tucked whenever we came within five feet of her eating. She started leaving some food in her bowl, knowing it would still be there when she wanted it later; she started asking for love more than food, knowing that we would regularly fill the bowl without having to be begged.
She is now chubby, lazy, and smiley. She spends her days lounging in the sun on our beach, spending hours cooking in the sand just like most typical girls. She is independent but loving, acting more like a cat than a dog most days as she wanders off to the beach by herself and comes back to us when she wants some attention.
I hope that she has completely forgotten her life at PetroSun, and that instead her earliest memories are of us rocking her in a hammock, playing tug-of-war in the sand, and riding in our boat with her ears flapping in the breeze and her eyes blissfully closed.
I hope all adopted dogs who become part of a family know only happiness and love, because far too many of them suffered tragic and terrifying early days. There are far too many strays here on the island – much like the rest of the Caribbean and Central/South America.
I know many expats who have adopted island dogs, but I also know of expats who took dogs in while they were here and then left them when they left the island. It’s so horrible to see, but the good people certainly outnumber the bad ones. And the more dogs who can find loving homes, the better the overall environment will be here.
Paul and Lindsay, you are Leela’s new heroes. I hope Lina and Leela get to meet someday…I think they’d be great friends!