One of many feral cats in the settlement of New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. The cat’s tipped ear indicates that it has been spayed or neutered as part of the effort to control the cay’s stray cat population.
There will be a spay and neuter clinic for dogs and cats this weekend – Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24 – at the cottage beside Caroline and Brian Sawyer’s home on Green Turtle Cay. Both dogs and cats are welcome.
If you’re in Abaco and headed to No Name Cay to visit the pigs of Piggyville, please bring water.
Unfortunately, there’s no source of fresh water on the island (a fact evidently overlooked by those who released the pigs on No Name to fend for themselves.)
And while Green Turtle Cay’s Pig Whisperer, Craig Russell, visits twice weekly and brings as much water as his boat will hold, it just isn’t enough for the growing piggy population – especially with summer approaching.
Thanks to Craig’s dedication, and the generosity of all who contribute food or bring it directly to No Name Cay, the pigs seem to be getting enough food. But they’re desperate for water.
Craig says that he and other visitors to No Name often meet the pigs’ water containers completely dry.
Sometimes, he says, the pigs even refuse to eat until their water supply has been replenished and they’ve had a good, long drink.
If every vessel that visited No Name brought a gallon or two of fresh water, it would make a huge difference to the pigs’ water supply. Please help if you can.
On behalf of Craig, the residents of Piggyville and all who love them, thank you!
Did you know you can help rescue, feed and care for stray Bahamian dogs and cats just by shopping online at Amazon?
Through the AmazonSmile program, you’ll get exactly the same Amazon prices, selection and shopping experience as always. But Amazon will donate 0.5% of your total purchase price to the AmazonSmile charity of your choice – in this case, Royal Potcake Rescue USA.
For example, if you buy something that costs $100, Amazon will donate 50¢ to Royal Potcake Rescue. If you’re an Amazon regular, like Tom and me, your donations can really add up.
To participate in the AmazonSmile program, click here. (If you’re not already logged on to Amazon, you may need to do so, using your normal Amazon log-in information.)
Royal Potcake Rescue USA helps to rescue, feed, spay/neuter, transport and find foster and permanent homes for stray dogs (and cats) in Abaco, Bahamas. During 2015, RPR helped to care for and rehome more than 200 animals, including 39 Bahamian potcakes. They also sponsored the spaying/neutering of more than 400 dogs and cats in Abaco.
Here are just a few of the Bahamian potcakes who recently found new forever homes, thanks to Royal Potcake Rescue.
Please share this post with all the Amazon shoppers in your life. And here are some other ways you can support Royal Potcake Rescue and help the potcakes and potcats of Abaco.
All photos courtesy of Royal Potcake Rescue USA.
As you may have surmised, we’ve had very few bad days on Green Turtle Cay. But May 19, 2011 (our fourth wedding anniversary, by the way) was easily the worst.
Stray cat on the porch of the Albert Lowe Museum, Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Ok, so technically, National Dog Day was yesterday. But it’s always the right time to celebrate our furry friends. I’ve posted this before, but it’s my absolute favourite video of our dog, Wrigley, enjoying the beach at Gillam Bay on Green Turtle Cay.
Wrigley was found wandering alone in Pasadena’s Memorial Park in early April 2010. He had no ID or collar. On his back was a quarter-sized scar of unknown origin. He was about five months old. Three weeks later, Tom and I adopted him from the Pasadena SPCA/Humane Society.
Truthfully, we hadn’t planned to adopt a pet. I had some old, worn towels kicking around and I thought the Humane Society could use them.
Tom begged me not to make him come along. “I can’t look at all those faces,” he said. “We’ll end up bringing home a dog.”
“Don’t be silly,” I told him. “We won’t.”
Never have I been more glad to be wrong. Over the past five years, this 14-pound bundle of mischief and mirth has brought immeasurable happiness into our lives. He’s smart, funny and terrific company for me while Tom’s on the road. And he’s a rock star traveler, always eager to hop into his carrier and tag along on an adventure.
Here in Pasadena, we’re fortunate to have a terrific Animal Control service, a sparkling new SPCA/Humane Society shelter and no shortage of staff or volunteers to care for stray or homeless animals.
Dogs in Abaco aren’t nearly as lucky. Many live in the bush where they’re forced to forage for food scraps and a few drops of water. Even some who aren’t technically homeless spend their days neglected, hungry and chained up in the heat or the rain. And I don’t think I’ve ever made the drive from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour and back without spotting at least one severely malnourished or injured (or worse) dog alongside the road.
- Abaco Shelter
- Royal Potcake Rescue
- North Abaco Potcake Rescue
- Canadian Royal Potcake Rescue
- Potcake Rescue Bahamas & Dominican Republic
- Dr. Derrick Bailey and Chamara Parotti at the Island Veterinary Clinic, Marsh Harbour
To all the above groups and individuals — and to everyone who has adopted a rescue or contributed time or resources toward improving the lives of helpless animals — thank you from Wrigley, Tom and me.
You won’t find it on any map, but Piggyville is fast becoming a favourite day-trip destination for Abaco visitors. Named for the feral pigs set loose there in recent years, Piggyville is located on tiny No Name Cay, just south of Green Turtle Cay.
Though wild hogs certainly exist on the Abaco mainland, they’re far less common on the cays. So how did these pigs get to No Name Cay? I’ve heard several theories around Green Turtle, but nobody knows (or will admit to knowing) for sure.
A couple of years ago, Green Turtle Cay resident and long-time animal lover Craig Russell began hearing stories about pigs on No Name Cay. About a year ago, he went to see them for himself. Recognizing that the animals had limited access to food and fresh water, Craig (often accompanied by his wife, Jan) began making twice-weekly trips to No Name to care for them.
Earlier this month, Craig and Jan invited me to come along on one of their trips. Watching Craig interact with the pigs, its easy to understand why some Green Turtle Cay locals refer to him as the Pig Whisperer. He has organized the beach where the pigs congregate, creating separate areas (and providing containers for) for food and fresh water, and posting signs for visitors.
As soon as we arrived at the beach, Craig sought out each of the six pigs — a sow and five piglets — to ensure all were healthy and accounted for. Several times during our visit, I watched him seek out the runt to be sure she got her share of food and water, and to treat her to an extra apple or corn cob.
Perhaps due to the popularity of their swimming cousins in Exuma, the pigs on No Name Cay have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. In the hour or so we were there, at least seven different boatloads of visitors pulled up to visit with, feed and photograph the pigs!
Though looking after the pigs costs Craig in terms of fuel and boat maintenance — not to mention his time — he says the only help he really needs is contributions of food and water.
Here’s how you can help care for the pigs of No Name Cay:
- Bring food and fresh water directly to Piggyville. According to a Berryman Institute report I found online, feral pigs are “opportunistic omnivores.” They’ll eat virtually anything – vegetation, meat, eggs, insects, etc. Craig says the No Name Cay pigs don’t eat onions or meat with bones (boneless is fine), and they’re not terribly fond of citrus fruit. However, they love bananas, apples, grapes, corn and carrots. (For obvious reasons, be sure all food is relatively fresh and water is clean.)
- Plan your Piggyville visit during off-peak times. At this time of year, fewer people visit No Name Cay mid-week than on weekends, and hardly anyone visits during the fall and winter. These are the times when Craig and the pigs could most use a little help.
- While we were on No Name Cay, I noticed that though most people who came to see the pigs brought food, few if any brought fresh water. Please consider bringing along a gallon or two when you visit. Containers for fresh water are located perhaps 30 feet or so left (south) of the food area.
- Food, water or cash donations can be dropped off at Craig’s home on Green Turtle Cay (second house north of Abaco Yacht Services, the same side of the street as the boat yard, with a white picket fence.)
- If you own or work for a restaurant or food store on the Abaco mainland or the cays, please consider donating over-ripe produce, leftover meat, baked goods or other food scraps to the pigs.
- Forward a link to this story to anyone you think might be able to help, and encourage them to lend a hand.
To assist in other ways (corporate support, anyone…?), or to learn more about the No Name Cay pigs, drop me an email and I’ll forward Craig’s contact info to you.
One final but important note. Similar to the sharks, rays and barracudas we encounter in Abaco, the No Name pigs are wild creatures. Though unlikely to bite or attack without provocation, they’re certainly capable of doing so. As such, they should be approached with caution and common sense.
One of Green Turtle Cay’s many stray cats.
One of the things I like about WordPress.com (the site through which this blog is hosted) is the web statistics they provide. I can see how many people visit Little House by the Ferry each day, what countries they’re from and how many daily views each story receives. I also have access to the search terms that bring people to the blog.
As you might expect, many site visitors arrive here via fairly predictable search terms: “Little House by the Ferry,” “Abaco” and “Green Turtle Cay,” for example.
What’s been surprising, though, is the number of search terms related to pet travel — and the number of queries we receive about our dog, Wrigley. For those who’ve asked, here’s some info about traveling with Wrigley and a few tips based on our experiences to date.
What kind of dog is Wrigley?
We don’t know for sure, since he was a rescue from Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA. The Humane Society vet indicated he was a Chihuahua mix. Before long, however, we realized just what that Chihuahua was mixed with.
Given his energy level, intelligence, attitude and amazing jumping abilities, we’re pretty sure there’s Jack Russell in Wrigley’s ancestry. (Plus, if you do an Internet search, you’ll find Chihuahua-Jack Russell mix dogs who look just like him.)
How old is Wrigley?
He was roughly six months old when we adopted him in April 2010, which would make him six this November.
How big is he?
Upon meeting Wrigley, many people comment that he’s smaller than they expected from his photos. Though his personality is undeniably huge, he actually weighs 15 pounds — about the same as a house cat.Is Wrigley a good traveler?
Definitely! Knowing we’d want to travel with him, we started preparing soon after we adopted him. We purchased a travel carrier (we chose the Sturdibag Large, because it’s roomy and flexible, yet won’t collapse in) and began leaving it open around the house with toys and treats inside. Once Wrigley was comfortable inside the carrier, we began zipping him in, first at home and then on car rides.
By his first airplane trip, he was an old pro. These days, whenever we bring out the carrier, he hops right in and settles down. I suspect he doesn’t much care where we’re going, as long as he gets to come along with the rest of his “pack.”
Does Wrigley fly in-cabin or as checked baggage?
He always travels in-cabin, beneath the seat in front of me. To be honest, I’d have to think long and hard about sending him as checked baggage. Fortunately, because of his size, this isn’t a decision we have to make. He’s within my sight and control throughout the entire trip.
Though traveling with Wrigley requires a bit more planning, he does make the journey more pleasant. He charms surly ticket agents and TSA security folks, and — much to his delight — fellow travelers gush over him. Plus, we don’t have wait in line to go through those fancy new x-ray machines. I just walk through the old-fashioned metal detector with him in my arms.
Do you sedate Wrigley for travel?
No. I do bring along a bit of Benadryl just in case, but usually he just curls up and goes to sleep. (We give him lots of extra exercise on travel days to wear him out.)
Do you have to pay extra to bring a dog with you?
Unfortunately, yes. Though Wrigley replaces a piece of carry-on (for which there is no charge), and though he creates next to no work for any airline employee, we have to pay a “pet fee.” Fees vary per air carrier, but on American Airlines for example, it’s $125 each way. Still, it’s less expensive than boarding him. Besides, Wrigley’s part of our family — we couldn’t imagine leaving him behind.
Where does Wrigley “go” during travel?
To date, most of our flights have been relatively short (i.e., 6 hours or less), so they haven’t really tested the limits of his bladder.
If we’re making a connection, I schedule at least two hours (and ideally, three or four) between flights to give me enough time to leave the secure area, take him outside for a potty break and some exercise, and go back through security.
Most of the airports we’ve visited have designated pet relief areas — some, like the one outside Miami International’s Terminal E, are actually quite nice. And almost every airport seems to have a grassy patch outside the departures area. A handful of airports – bless them! – have introduced pet relief stations within the secure areas. Fingers crossed that this trend catches on, because it would make traveling with a dog so much easier.
What sort of paperwork do you need to travel with a dog?
Each country’s requirements are different, but to bring a dog into the Bahamas, you need a pet import permit, which your vet signs and you present upon arrival. (I also get an international health certificate from our vet before we leave, because some ticket agents ask for them.) Coming back into the U.S. or Canada with a dog is surprisingly simple. All U.S. and Canadian customs folks ever ask for is proof he’s been vaccinated against rabies.
Where can I learn more about traveling with my own dog?
Around the time we adopted Wrigley, I discovered a blog called DogJaunt, which has been a terrific source of information, as has Bone Voyage, a book written by DogJaunt author Mary-Alice Pomputius.
Another fabulous resource is Montecristo Travels, a blog documenting the adventures of an adorable Chihuahua who has traveled all around the world. (Montecristo’s mom, Sonja Lishchynski, recently published a wonderful children’s book about their trip to Pisa, Italy.)
Experience is also a great teacher — here are a few things we’ve learned from four years of travels with Wrigley.
- I’ve said it before but it bears repeating — do not expect airline staff to know their company’s pet travel policies. After several frustrating encounters with uninformed ticket agents, I now print out all relevant policies from the airline’s website and bring them with me.
- Following a particularly unpleasant flight where we sat on a stifling hot plane so long that I feared Wrigley would suffer heat stroke, I bought a small (but surprisingly powerful) portable fan, which now lives in my carry-on bag.
- After reading that the scent of his owner is soothing to a dog, I began putting one of my worn (unlaundered) t-shirts in Wrigley’s carrier during travel. In addition to relaxing him, it helps keep him warm in overly air-conditioned airports and planes.
- Though mosquitoes aren’t terribly common back home in L.A., they can be a real nuisance in the tropics. Before our first trip, our vet recommended switching to a flea treatment that also protects against mosquitoes (not all of them do.) We’ve had great success with K-9 Advantix.
Do you travel with your own small dog? Have tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Drop me a note!
Want to help animals and have fun in the Bahamas? Volunteers are needed for an Abaco Spay/Neuter Clinic being held in Marsh Harbour April 24 to 26 (Friday to Sunday).
Sponsored by Royal Potcake Rescue USA, BAARK, the Abaco Shelter, Hope Town Humane Society and the Island Veterinary Clinic, the 3-day event will provide free sterilization for local dogs and cats to help control and reduce the stray populations.
Volunteers must arrive in Marsh Harbour (MHH) on or before Thursday, April 23 and stay through to Monday, April 27. Accommodations will be provided for out-of-towners, though you’ll be responsible for your own travel costs (which I understand may be tax-deductible.)
You’ll also be responsible for your housing, transportation and other expenses before or after the clinic weekend, if you choose to come earlier or stay longer. (If I were you, I’d stick around a week and come to Green Turtle Cay for the Island Roots Heritage Festival May 1-3…)
Interested? You’ll need to complete a Volunteer Application before April 1. For more information, contact Royal Potcake Rescue USA through their website or Facebook page. And for a preview of what to expect, here’s my report from last year’s event.
Wrigley’s living the good life in Green Turtle Cay.
If you’ve spent time in Abaco, you’ve no doubt encountered stray dogs, known locally as potcakes. In the past, many of these creatures were left, emaciated, injured and/or diseased, to fend for themselves.
Today, however, non-profit organizations such as the Abaco Shelter (aka Pop’s Shelter) and Royal Potcake Rescue rescue Abaco’s strays, giving them food, shelter, medical care and love, and finding them forever homes.
To help control the local potcake (and potcat) population, Abaco’s animal rescue groups are co-sponsoring a series of spay and neuter clinics over the next few months.
Clinics are scheduled as follows:
- Marsh Harbour — October 24-26 at the Island Veterinary Clinic
- Sandy Point — November 8-9
- Foxtown — December 6-7
- Green Turtle Cay — December 13-14 (cats only)
Approximately 200 animals were sterilized at a similar clinic this past April, and organizers are hoping for comparable results at the upcoming events.
However, the success of clinics like these depends in large part on contributions from folks like you and me.
To donate online, visit the Abaco Shelter website or Royal Potcake Rescue Donations Page. (Royal Potcake Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue organization, meaning U.S. donations to this organization are tax-deductible.)
Donations can also be made in person at the Abaco Shelter (please make checks to Pop’s Shelter.)
In addition to financial support, clinic organizers are seeking donations of the following items:
- # 10 scalpel blades
- 3×3 or 4×4 cotton gauze pads
- Bottled water
- Canned dog food
- Coloured duct tape
- Cotton balls
- Disposable gloves
- Flea and tick spray
- Gallon-sized Ziploc bags
- Garbage bags
- IV catheters – cats 24g x 3/4″, dogs 29g x 1 1/4″
- Kennels – all sizes
- Paper towels
- Scrub brushes
- Sheets and towels
- Slip leashes
- Surgical drapes (disposable or cloth)
- Syringes & needles – 1cc majority, 3cc, & 20 or 10cc
- Vet wrap
If you can contribute any of these items or if you’d like more information about the clinics, contact the Abaco Shelter at (242) 367-0737 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or the Island Veterinary Clinic at (242) 577-0397, Monday through Friday.
Free Vaccine Clinic
In conjunction with the Marsh Harbour spay/neuter event this weekend, Island Veterinary Clinic is offering a FREE Vaccine Clinic on October 25, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Two hundred units of vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Dogs must be older than six weeks and should NOT have been vaccinated this year. All dogs must have a (free) check-up before vaccination.
For more details, contact the Island Veterinary Clinic Monday through Friday at (242) 577-0397.
Some of Green Turtle Cay’s many stray cats.
If you plan to bring your dog to the Bahamas in the near future, you may want to bypass Nassau altogether.
If you must bring your pet to Nassau, or if you’re currently there, be sure your dog is properly vaccinated, and adhere to the following guidelines:
- Do not transport dogs of any age from Nassau to other Bahamian islands, as it appears that the latter remain distemper-free.
- Keep dogs on your property or vessel. Limit walks and avoid contact with other dogs for at least the next three weeks.
- Use a mix of 30 parts water to 1 part bleach to disinfect surfaces, shoes, feet, etc.
The good news is that, in warm climates and sunlight, the distemper virus is killed off within a few hours. During that time, however, it’s highly contagious.
More than half of all distemper cases are fatal and there is no known cure. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), distemper is passed from dog to dog through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva. Dogs can also contract distemper by sharing food and water bowls, or by being nearby coughing and sneezing dogs. Early signs of distemper include sneezing, coughing, running eyes or nose, fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite.
The Veterinary Medical Association of the Bahamas says the disease is NOT a risk to humans or cats.
For more information, or if you suspect your dog may be infected, contact a local vet or the Bahamas Humane Society. Authorities ask that, to avoid infecting other animals, you do not bring the animal into veterinary waiting rooms without advance arrangements.