Now I am sure that most people have not come across this particular rare breed. It is not to be found in any Book of Dogs and it certainly is not recognised by the Kennel Club. To the best of my knowledge it only exists on the island of St Lucia in the West Indies and is only spotted during the tourist season.
I was living on the island in the early 80s and therefore have a unique insight into the origins of this rather special creature.
When I was there I was regularly asked by tourists, mostly American, “What sort of dog is that”? The answer I had was as follows.
“As you can see a number of the palm trees don’t grow straight up, they lean, this is where the coconut hound comes into his element. They run up the trunk of the tree, reach the coconut, headbut the coconut, the coconut falls to the ground and the little boy catches them. This particular dog is an excellent specimen. In fact one of the best I have seen and if you want give me your camera I can take a photograph of you and the coconut hound, and you can show the folks back home.”
Yes, you’ve guessed it, I had a mischievous streak in me in my younger years and I was amazed at the number of times that the story was believed.
At that time there were hardly any pedigree dogs on the island other than those brought in by expatriates.
It has occurred to me that there must be a number of homes in the United States that have photographs of coconut hounds in their albums.
I hearby publicly apologise for the misdemeaners from my youth and if you are ever on the island of St Lucia and you are introduced to a coconut hound, you will say…….well I’ll leave that for you!I
The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog.
At the shelter we have a group of around 10 dogs, that we affectionally refer to as the ‘wild dogs’.
These are all dogs that we have rescued over the years, that unfortunately due to one reason or another are not able to be re-homed.
This lovely lady is a good example….. Before she was brought to us we do not know what sort of life she lived, we know it can not have been a very nice one, as she is soo distrustful of humans…… she runs and hides whenever we come near her….
She was found beside the main road, where she had been hit by a car and left for dead.
Now she lives in our open area with the other 10, where hey have houses, trees and bushes where they can hide and feel safe.
All these dogs would be just wondering the roads, if they did not live with us, they have a huge area where they can roam free, but safely…. with no worry of humans causing them harm.
We never give up hope that they will become more friendly, and possibly one day might find a home….. never say never! We work daily with each of them, sometimes just sitting there quietly with them, letting them know that we mean them no harm.
If you would like to sponsor one of these angels, and help towards their feeding and veterinary costs, it would mean a great deal to us and them.
Name: Malamo Sex: Female Date of birth : 06/08/2014 Neutered: yes
Good with cats and other dogs: cats not known, but good with other dogs.
Tests for Leishmania: yes… negative Vaccinations : all up to date
More about Malamo:
This slightly older lady, is a very shy girl. She is not keen on meeting new people, this being said, if you were to bring her breakfast she will love you forever….
With the people she knows, and trusts, she will come and greet them straight away ask for a back rub.
Though she is shy, she gets on great with the other younger dogs, who kind of look at her as a mama figure. She is more happy to lie in the sunshine, than run around playing with the others, but this would definitely change if she had a home of her own, where she felt safe and loved.
She has no problem being with other dogs, of any size or age. And has no problem sharing her food, in fact she is a bit of a bowl hopper herself…. she likes to test out what everyone is eating before selecting which bowl to eat from.
Have you ever been going for a walk with your dog and suddenly without warning your dog turns a full circle and is off chasing a rabbit? You ask yourself, how did he know the rabbit was there?
For a start, stand still, focus on a point directly ahead then then stretch your arms forward palms together then slowly open your arms keeping your focus on the point ahead. At the point when your palms start to disappear from view that is your “field of vision”at very best this will be approximately 180 degrees (a straight line), but in reality for practical use it is probably more like 60-70 degrees. A dog with its eyes on the front of its head will have a slightly wider field of vision, however dogs like greyhounds, salukis or any of the sight hounds who have their eyes on the side of their heads have a field of vision of around 250 degrees hence they can see backwards!!
Other factors to note when understanding what your dog sees are:
Your dog is much lower to the ground so to try and replicate what he sees you need to go down on your hands and knees and for very little dogs lay flat!!
Contrary to popular belief dogs see in colour albeit the colours are restricted and compared to a humans sight the dogs vision is not so clear. To compensate for any deficiencies in sight the other senses are far greater than ours
Dogs see better in the dark than us but we see better in daylight
It has been observed that a working sheepdog can see a shepherd’s hand signal up to a kilometre away.
A rather strange but little known fact is that in certain parts of the world a dog can see what is on the tv screen and in other parts of the world the dog will only see fast moving dots all depending on the transmission frequency.
The technical stuff is way above my pay grade but inquires lead me to believe that in Europe your dog can see the television !!
I am indebted to Dr Bruce Fogle M.B.E. D.V.M. M.R.C.V.S.for the technical information contained in this article
Dogs are not our whole lives but they make our lives whole.
I am sure that most dog shelters will tell you that puppies will find homes much quicker than the older dogs. This is understandable but I am convinced that many people miss out on the chance to adopt a wonderful pet that will give just as much pleasure as a puppy and with probably a lot less hassle.
People are naturally concerned as to why dogs are in a shelter. Well quite simply in countries where strays are a common sight these strays can end up in shelters but in places like Crete many people both Greeks and expatriates have found them to be delightful pets.
As somebody who puts great emphasis on good temperament, I have had 3 Cretan rescue dogs and all have been terrific companions plus several that I have fostered prior to them going to new homes. In northern Europe dogs can be in shelters for no fault of their own. Owners who have died, a change in financial circumstances, family break ups etc. These dogs can make loyal, committed pets.
There can be many advantages to having an older dog, particularly if like me if you are not in first flush of youth. For example many of them are already toilet trained, they are calmer, quiet, sleep more, don’t need as much exercise, travel well in the car, in fact in my experience they are delighted to find a home and behave accordingly.
As I am writing this, close by is Chloe, my current companion, rescued a couple of years ago who, not only is she almost deaf but when I inquired about her age I was informed that she was so old that the veterinary surgeon was unwilling to hazard a guess!!
So who wants to adopt a deaf geriatric dog. The answer is very few and obviously we won’t have her for 10 or 12 years but the overwhelming pleasure even for a short time more than makes up for the limited time together. We get a delightful, loyal dog full of character and she gets to spend her final days in comfort.
While I am not suggesting that everybody goes rushing out to adopt an older dog, at least give the matter some serious thought.
t’s not surprising that dogs are are sometimes not happy travelling in a car, in fact some become very distressed. If you think about it the first time that a dog is in a car is the day that he is taken away from his mum the second time is probably to visit the veterinary surgeon, a total stranger who sticks a thermometer up puppies bottom, shoves a worm tablet down his throat and pushes a needle into his neck. The third time is a repeat performance of the second so it shouldn’t come as a shock that puppy doesn’t have the car very high on his list of jolly things to do.
So what do we do about it?
Like everything when it comes to animals if we make the experience as stress free as possible and as pleasurable as we can then we get a favourable result so whether you are getting your pet used to the car or if your dog is unhappy with the car then give this a try.
First week: sit with dog in the car, few minutes at a time several times a day don’t turn the engine on, just sit, cuddles and treats are in order as long as dog shows no signs of distress
Second week: same as the first week but with the engine running but not going anywhere.
Third week: try driving a few metres every day slowly increasing the distance each time.
Fourth week: By now dog is beginning to realise that going out in the car is a pleasurable experience and you should be able to increase the distance accordingly.
There is nothing in which birds differ from man than the way in which they build and yet leave the landscape as It was before.
This time I am going to recount a true story that occurred 30 years ago. Nowadays, we now have a greater understanding of the dogs mind, but even so, whilst we can come up with all sorts of explanations we still have no definitive proof that dogs possess extra sensory perception. I will return to this fascinating subject at a later date.
The lady and her dog arrived in my office for a hastily booked appointment. The dog was a golden retriever. In those days the retriever was the most popular family dog and this one was a classic specimen He had a rich golden colour coat almost mahogany, broad handsome head, a benign look and a tail that never stopped swishing from side to side.
This was the sort of dog that everybody who has children prays for, that wonderful dog who helps the toddlers take their first steps, accepts being pulled around, sat on and puts up with the indignity of being dressed up, in fact totally bombproof, that dog that you would trust never to hurt the children, who in 10years had never growled.
The story went something like this:
The lady and her dog are on a regular walk and a man approaches from the opposite direction. He is smartly dressed and does not carry a walking stick, umbrella or brief case, neither does he wear glasses or wear a hat. all the things that can set the alarm bells ringing for a dog, The man is at least 50 metres away and suddenly “bombproof” freezes, he doesn’t growl or raise his hackles but what his owner described as an continuous roll of thunder comes from his chest. The man passed by showing no sign of hostility and “bombproof” returns to normal as if nothing has happened. The lady is very distressed, such is the reliable nature of this dog and his behaviour so out of character, can he still be trusted with the children?
Well I found nothing wrong with the dogs temperament and while I could accept the dogs reaction from a very short distance reacting to someone at that far away who was not behaving in any sort of threatening manner was puzzling, but just to be safe I referred her to a veterinary surgeon for a complete check up and he found nothing wrong as well. We all conferred and agreed that while we couldn’t explain the dogs behaviour there was no risk to the family and “bombproof” carried on being his usual self.
The explanation came some two years later. The lady phoned me and told me that in the newspaper that day was a story of a man who had just been convicted of a series of crimes of attacking women, the photo was conclusive, it was the man, “bombproof” knew!!
Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.
I don’t claim to have any specialist knowledge of cats but they are fascinating creatures, and since I have been here I have made it my business to learn as much as I can.
Having come to live here 18 years ago and having bought a house that had been empty for a number of years that also backed on to an olive grove, the inevitable consequence was vermin.
The local cat population, was largely made up of a rather thin, apathetic, nervous bunch who all appeared to be totally disinterested.
Now there has been a lot of research over the years into cat behaviour and the age old question regarding feral cats.
1) do we not feed them at all, then they will kill vermin because they are hungry
2) do we give them a little food so they will stay close and kill the vermin close to our house
3) feed them as much as they want
Well an experiment was carried out many years ago; 3 farms were chosen and a colony of cat was introduced into each one. The first colony were not fed at all, the cats became weak, listless and unhealthy and quickly moved on to find food.
The second colony were fed some food and whilst some cats went to find pastures new most stayed and the remaining cats were fairly efficient at reducing the vermin.
Much to the researchers surprise the third colony were by far the most effective, this proving what some naturalists have been saying for years that cats hunt and kill for pleasure and the better fed they are the healthier they are and therefore the more efficient they become.
In the early days, much to the horror of my neighbours, large bowls of food were made available for the local feline populace, this, and an energetic neutering programme made for a very efficient and effective cat patrol and vermin have been virtually eradicated from my road.
A secondary consequence of this is that the cats are welcome on almost everybody’s terrace in my road as my neighbours have come to understand the benefits of a healthy cat population. In fact I have had to suffer the indignity of seeing some of the cats that I rescued, fed and had neutered abandon my terrace to spend more time on my neighbours terrace. The bowl of dry food at my house cannot compete with the tasty morsels available when their BBQs are going!!
Let deal first with the myth surrounding cages. Is it cruel? Absolutely not!! Will it stunt puppies growth? Absolutely not!! Will puppy be psychologically damaged? Absolutely not!!
Used correctly and I stress correctly the cage is an invaluable training aid and as we will see it benefits puppy and humans.
In this article, for ease of description I refer to puppies but the same applies to older dogs that have been rescued. The cage should be big enough for the puppy to stand upright, turn round with ease and be able to stretch out fully. Please be aware that puppies grow and when purchasing a cage leave plenty of room for growth. You will also need a cover for the cage to make it dark at sleeping times
Introducing puppy to the cage.
First put puppies bed in the cage, and his toys, making sure that you have remembered to put a non tip water bowl in as well. Very important, nothing worse than a soggy puppy!!
I suggest that you do not put newspaper or puppy pads in the bottom of the cage during the day as this only encourages puppy to do his toilet in the box. ( for more information on toilet training see the blog on this subject )
Start with feeding puppy in the cage and always leave the door open. In the vast majority of cases the puppy soon works out the cage is a source of food, sanctuary and comfort. As soon as puppy starts to go in voluntarily and settles down you can start to shut the door just for a minute or two, slowly increasing the time span and frequency. In the beginning don’t leave the room until you are sure that puppy is totally relaxed in the box.
Having a cage trained dog also means you can put the cage in the car thus assisting good behaviour and safety. If your dog needs surgery the veterinary surgeon will almost certainly suggest restricted movement. It can also assist in cases of separation anxiety, plus in instances of having visitors, and puppy needs a break, particularly from children!!
It must be stressed that excessive confinement is not desirable, the cage is a training aid and once the dog is happy to go in, eat, sleep and play then the cage just becomes a luxury bed. with other uses if necessary.
Please also be aware that the cage must never be used as a punishment area.
Women and cats will do as they please and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea!!
It really is amazing the number of times that people who have had many dogs over a number of years end up with the same problem with each and every dog. Now there are usually three reasons for this happening.So the first one is in the dim and distant past the first dog in the household had a behavioural issue, he transferred the problem to the next one who taught the one who arrived after that and so on down the line.
The second reason is the result of human behaviour because if there is no continuity between the dogs then the problem is induced by the owner. It means that the owner is making the same mistake with every dog.
The third reason is a combination of one and two.
The most obvious and common example of this is antisocial behaviour. These owners usually already has one or more badly behaved dogs who can’t even travel in the car and lack of social skills make them an embarrassment and in attempt to make sure that the newest addition is better behaved tries to socialise the dog but fails to realise how to achieve this aim.
Socialising your dog is a fairly simple task, but it’s often approached the wrong way. Please don’t assume that taking the dog for a walk on the same road every day and going to the same venue is socialising. Socialising starts with making sure that your dog can walk properly on the lead without pulling. Then to go in as many places as possible and be exposed to traffic, people, noise, both daylight and darkness, stairs, other dogs and as many differing situations as you can find; obviously don’t try to do too much in one go but more the dog experiences lifes challenges the more social he will become, both owner and dog start to enjoy being out together and going out becomes a pleasure.
We keep a pet for pleasure, if there is no pleasure, don’t get rid of the pet, get rid of the problem!
Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character and It may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.