Friday, August 01, 2014

The Potcakes

honest, it really is the nicest beach ever
I need to tell you what a Potcake is. I consider myself somewhat an expert, in the manner that mum's are experts in poop and vomit not because they want to be but rather because you get really good at waking immediately in the night if you have a puker anywhere in the house. Or after you wipe bums a thousand times and discuss poop qualities for hours both with said child (that was smooth poop, she says, I want to see it. Smooth poop? pardon, I say. It didn't hurt my bum), you become a poop expert. So in that vein I am a Potcake expert.

A Potcake puppy is a stray dog in the Caribbean, in Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, named because they used to be fed the scraps of the bottom of the pot, where the rice had formed into a cake. The dogs had been brought to the islands by the ships and now ran wild. In T&C there had been a government run spay and neuter program but when the '08 recession hit it was dismantled. So now there is a dedicated group who run Potcake Place, a little rescue organization with excellent marketing in the touristy area of Grace Bay on Provodenciales.

Picture this. You are on holiday, weak from so much gorgeous sun you spend the first few days literally just standing there, like an idiot, staring at the ocean and feeling the sand. Everyone does it, it's just so perfect. You are sick, coughing like a madwoman, but Making the Best of it, because this is a very expensive holiday and a celebration and the entire family needs to spend this time together and needs to relax. You start noticing, or rather, you wouldn't have noticed this if the people were on fire but your husband has a radar for dogs, and HE starts noticing tourists walking puppies on the beach. And of course, these tourists are simply thrilled to death to have this adorable little dog on a leash, and they are holiday drunk with the thought of it all (on holiday and look at me, I'm doing something so GOOD and KIND and I'm enjoying myself too, this is what I imagine they are saying to themselves, and of course I'm imagining because even cold hearted me isn't immune to a small, soft, gentle puppy).

So now every time someone walks by with one of these puppies, which seems to be every day now, kids and husband run to them and discuss, reporting back to me name of dog, country of origin of walkers. 

Husband eventually says, I think I want to take the kids to Potcake Place to get a puppy to walk. And my chest is tight and I feel panicky and he says no, just to walk, but I know better, and somehow I can see it all playing out but I think of course this can't possibly be so, we can't possibly be getting a dog. We've had a thousand (maybe more) conversations about how I don't want a dog, we already had one and while I loved that little old man dog to bits once he was gone I had no interest, no inclination, no motivation, no nothing that said to me, let's get a dog.

So I think, surface breathing, all right, take the kids. And then of course I think, how can I not go? Family holiday. I need to go. So I go, to this tiny rescue place, where the kids (of course) fall in love with every single dog there and husband spends thoughtful time, down on one knee, it seems as though he is sensing or using some kind of radar or intuition, deciding which dog to walk. He chooses a little golden coloured pup, her name is Marilyn Munroe. They get outfitted with all the gear. The leash, the little plastic water dish that ends up being useless on the sand. The pamphlet. Off they go, to walk this little dog on the beach and be those people, who get stopped and questioned and I feel it all happening, rushing towards me, thinking on one hand this is going to happen, I'm helpless to stop it, to of course it won't . This is not, cannot, will not, be happening. We will not go home on an airplane, with a dog.

I read the pamphlet and I see my out. It says that every member of the family will be interviewed to ensure that the family is fully on board with getting a puppy. Aha, it's obvious to me that this will not happen then. I will answer their questions, go through their screening process and will fail. There is no way I won't. Husband and I have date night at the only shitty restaurant there, where I say how is this going to work? What do you see? Who will care for this dog? And he, too, is holiday drunk. He says things will change. I won't work so much. I will care for this dog, it will be mine, I will train it and look after it. And I think this is a good thing. This husband of mine he works too much, far too much, and he needs joy and happiness and who am I to stand in the way of that? And of course he will work less, he will have to, he will have this creature, this animal, that will need to be walked and taught and fed and loved. Anything that gets him home more, gets him relaxing, gets him a more full and joyful life, well that can't be bad. It can't be.

And a part of me still thinks, but I will fail the test. So here I have a win/win. I have not said, not definitively, no dog. I have a hard time with that, being That person, the dream crusher. So I hang on to the idea that the screening process will screen us right out. Sorry, they will say, so sorry, but everyone has to be on board and we sense strong hesitation from this woman. Sorry, we can't give you this dog, we understand how important it is for everyone in the family to be 100 percent committed to making this work. We can see even from her body manner she isn't into it. Look at how she sits in the corner, wondering at all these people clamoring over dogs. We are experts, they say. We can tell when someone is just going through the motions.

Except somehow their expert must've been off that day. Their protocols didn't get followed, their checklist was abandoned. No one asked me a thing, they all worked on assumption, that if she's here, if she's with this family, if they are saying they want a dog, she must want one too. Don't get me wrong, it's a fair assumption. They are busy, incredibly busy, with these abandoned dogs and strays and swim-suited tourists from every place on the globe, coming by, maybe taking a little mouth to feed off their hands. So they just packed up all her stuff, phoned the airlines, made it easy-breezy like nobody's business, and we had a dog dropped off at our condo the morning we were leaving for home.

I went away for my 40th birthday with my amazing family and somehow I was coming home with a live animal.

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