In Belize, the kriol word for mangy street mutt is "potlicka." And boy are they ever-present! Potlickas in the streets, chasing people on bikes, coming out from the jungle--everywhere! But boy it is a sad state for these poor dogs. As my colleague put it, "potlickas are the only dogs that can survive the streets of Belize." Which is sad, because they are barely surviving. If there's one thing I hope I to never integrate with the Belizean culture on, I hope it's the complete disregard and lack of emotion towards animal pain and suffering! This may sound very animal lover-ish and over the top, which I don't tend to be, but it really is sad. The dogs are filthy and bare-boned, usually either limping or punctured by some attack --probably with one another for a measly scrap of food. It hurts my heart because every sad dog face I see I want to take in and rescue, but then I walk 5 yards further and see another. It's impossible to help them all, yet it is so painful to see... In fact, I can honestly say that most dogs in Belize actually look sad. That sounds silly, but you don't pass the potlickas on the road and say "oh how cute!" or "what a beautiful dog!" like you would in the States. You just look away and try not to hit them with your bike or car. They are scrawny and sickly. Their eyes just look to you with pain. I feel like it should make any decent human an instant animal lover.
Just 2 nights ago, one of my host family's potlickas had puppies. This dog was so scrawny, I had no idea she was pregnant! She had them amidst a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. I woke up to learn of the pregnancy and the puppies all at once, and that one of the five born had already died. I was devastated because I knew that it wasn't just by chance the one pup didn't make it. So I took it upon myself to make sure I feed the mom and try to help her as much as possible with the remaining four. Just over a week ago, a fellow volunteer had a similar situation where his host family's dog had puppies. Slowly he reported to me that the puppies were dying because their mother was so malnourished she couldn't provide milk for them. After a few days, every single one was dead. It was devastating to hear about. And yet, even if these pups survive the initial time with their mother, they still have to weather the horrible conditions of the world of potlickas in Belize. So I was sad the first puppy died, but I don't know whether it's really a good or bad thing for him.
Nonetheless, I am going to try to help these puppies at my house as much as I can. I don't know much about puppies and I don't really have means to take care of them all, (which my host mom has already asked me to take them when I move out), but I'm going to try what I can. This is a sad little blog entry, but I needed to express my feelings towards these poor potlickas!!!