Guarding Paradise

I returned from a vacation off island to a brand new generation of iguanas. Yes, the green iguanas that lurk around our pool had become parents; over and over and over again! Now we have large green iguanas, a new generation of juvenile iguanas, and another hatch of babies. They are making it very difficult for me to relax on the deck.

The green iguanas are a nuisance and they are pests. I don’t like them and they carry Salmonella, so I work very hard to keep them from pooping in the pool. Other than that, at least they aren’t dangerous. They may have a dangerous predator now, though.

There is a pack of dogs that has been running around on the island. They seem to hang out in this neighbourhood, although I haven’t seen them for a few days. There was a stretch of time where I saw three or four dogs every day. They left me alone, even to the point of heading in a different direction if they saw me near the pool. One day I was closely studied by one passing by, but he went on his way, satisfied the the goggle-wearing creature was indeed human. I am now intrigued by feral dogs and pack behaviour, so I started doing a little research. They will hunt smaller animals, but if they hear a high pitched sound in the heat of the hunt, they will often attack the source. That could be a human trying to come to the rescue of a pet, or it could be a small child. The dog pack will also pursue animals or children that are running away, confusing them with prey. Otherwise it’s not normal for dogs to attack people.

My curiosity about the dog pack was piqued recently when something happened to one of the pack members right near our home. We aren’t sure if the dog was hit by a car, or hurt in a dog fight. There was an injured dog near our building and just a few feet away was another dog, growling at anyone coming near. Was it the protector dog? A little later another dog came and sat even farther away, but still near the two dogs. About an hour later, the rest of the pack came along and the injured dog got up and limped away with them.

These packs  of dogs are scaring people, especially those who walk their own dogs every day. They threaten the dogs and if the owner intervenes they threaten the owner. The governor was attacked when she tried to rescue her cat from a pack of dogs. I am concerned about the young children living nearby.

I haven’t been for many walks lately. I used to walk in Canada where there are lots of walking paths and sidewalks, and the weather is a little more bearable. Here I find it a little hot and humid this time of year. The beach is a good place to walk, but in our neighbourhood we have to walk along the side of the road. These days I would have to worry not only about the drivers who go too fast, but also about the feral dogs who might be less predictable than domestic dogs. If I feel the need for a walk when the weather cools off, I have a sturdy walking stick to take with me.

These dogs seem to hunt iguanas. If the dogs run past the pool, any iguanas that have ventured out of the bushes and escaped my notice will scurry right back into the thick mangroves. Most of the dogs are quite large, but sometimes they’ll have a smaller terrier in the pack and they can go into the bushes and flush out the iguana. I don’t know if they eat them, but they shake them and kill them.

I’ve been to other places where feral dogs are an issue. Twenty five years ago, in Bali, Indonesia, the dogs all had the same look, as if their characteristics had been accidentally bred into them for several generations. They were very unattractive, squat, white mutts that ate the food left out as “sacrifices” to the evil gods. The dogs in places like Cayman and the Turks and Caicos seem to be a more recent phenomenon, so that as cross breeds, they are still distinct from one another. In Rarotonga the feral dogs appear to belong to everyone. They roam freely, but they are liked by everyone and fed by the locals.

The dog pack that I often see here includes large dogs, mostly brown, but otherwise not alike. There is a German Shepard cross, a labrador like dog, a very dark chocolate brown dog that I can’t identify, and a few other distinct looking dogs. The stray that wanders on it’s own is a black and white dog that looks like part pit bull. Ironically, it’s a sweet old dog that hangs around on its own.

Where do these dogs come from and why are they wandering around freely? I’m not sure, but they could be the offspring of locally owned dogs that are not spayed and neutered, and are not confined. They could be dogs that aren’t confined or restrained by their owners and began to meet up with other dogs. Are dogs like teenagers in that if you don’t give them boundaries and structure they end up seeking it elsewhere? Is the dog pack the same as a gang, providing a social order and leadership, albeit of a sketchy nature?

Whatever the cause, this is a problem that needs an immediate solution. The potential is there for someone to get hurt. The governor has already been attacked. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another unfortunate incident to spur stronger action.

The sad conclusion to the story of the injured dog is that it hasn’t concluded. The authorities were called by two different residents, but it took almost an hour for someone to show up. When he arrived he was ill-equipped to deal with the dogs, especially after the rest of the pack showed up. For whatever reason, no action was taken. We waited over a week for humane traps to be placed and so far there is one trap and still no dog.

I am curious about what will happen if they do trap a dog from the pack. What will the other dogs do? I hate to say it, but I’m not holding my breath for a successful catch.



3 thoughts on “Guarding Paradise”

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