Who Knew: A 'Royal Bahamian Potcake' is a Dog, Not a Baked Good
GUEST POST ALERT: Today's guest post comes from our friend Jennifer Quasha, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life, and Don't Pet Pooch While He's Pooping: Etiquette for Dogs and Their People.
"A Few Too Many Potcakes"
NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- While American students on Spring Break are partying hard in Paradise Island, across town the second graders at St. John's are still in school.
But who can complain when the day's lesson includes a visit from a Potcake? What's a Potcake? It’s an indigenous dog from the Bahamas, named after scraps of burnt peas n’ rice caked on the bottom of a pot that was often fed to stray dogs that were hanging around.
The stray dogs became an official breed, the Royal Bahamian Potcake, in the Bahamas the late 1970s, but a fancy name hasn’t done anything to keep them off the streets. And Nassau is full of them. In fact, Fiona Moodie, adoption coordinator at the Bahamian Humane Society, has heard of estimates of between 5,000-8,000s Potcakes roaming wild.
"For a small island that is a ridiculous amount," says Moodie, who has lived in the Bahamas for twenty-four years. "People have the mentality that spaying and neutering makes a dog lazy and not a good watch dog," says Moodie.
A lack of leash laws in the Bahamas doesn't help. Even owned dogs wander the streets. To educate kids, Moodie, her Potcake partner Sheba, and Percy Grant, Bahamas Humane’s shelter manager, hit the schools. For the last two years they have had almost thirty school visits, both on New Providence and other islands. While the kids oogle at the calm and resting Sheba, Grant talks about the importance of empathy for the stray animals, the need for vaccinations to keep them healthy, and lastly about the importance of spaying and neutering.
"We have so many dogs and not enough people to take care of them," Grant explains. Then it's Moodie and Sheba's turn. Sheba is a typical--if slightly better-fed—mostly black Potcake that, for the last three years, has lived with Moodie and traveled the Bahamas teaching kids about responsible dog ownership.
Moodie explains to the kids that she found Sheba wandering around on a dirt street with five brothers and sisters when the pups were about four months old. “Her mommy hadn’t been spayed and she was an unwanted puppy. People threw her into the street like trash,” said Moodie. Sheba had no hair, was covered in mange, and starved. Moody brought all the pups to Bahamas Humane. Her siblings were quickly adopted but Sheba was in such rough shape that she needed to be fostered for a little longer. Soon Sheba's sweet disposition appeared. She found herself in a loving home and with a job for which she was well-suited. At the end of the talk the kids swarmed Sheba, but a rush of arms and faces didn’t faze this Potcake. Typical of the mellow breed, Sheba remained very relaxed.
Maybe one day the thousands of other Potcakes around town will fair as well. As we all know, sometimes the bit at the bottom of the pot is the best part.
For more information check out the Bahamas Humane Society at bahamashumanesociety.org