When one goes on holiday one hopes to escape, relax and unwind. The beautiful landscape of sunset beaches, sloping palm trees, and tropical terrain paint a perfect picture of paradise. Beauty and happiness are all the travel bloggers and travel brochures advertise not preparing its guests for the heartbreak that follows you. As the storms regularly occur and the rain pours, so does my heart for the island dogs.
Already on our way from the airport to accommodation we saw loose dogs and on the other hand short-rope tied ones with little or no space to move, no shelter from thunderstorms or the blistering heat. On a positive note, our holiday house on Mahé Island has a ‘house dog’ named ‘Slinky’ who was found with her sibling amongst the rubble by builders. Only one made it. A happy story and a happy dog. Slinky made me aware of how smart and affectionate island dogs are.
It was my full intention to ignore stray/island dogs until I found one with a slit throat from a snapped shoe string collar and leash. The staff at Sea Monkey called SSPCA and we expected them the following morning. From the smell of the raw wound and lack of immediate assistance I: cut away as much hair as possible, boiled salt and water to clean and scrub infected flesh with coarse salt. She did not growl or bite but wagged her tail. The morning after it rained for some time and because of her cries, I realized that dog was not collected by SSPCA. Sopping wet, dog was upgraded from staff quarters to en-suite bedroom and did not stop pacing up and down the room, barking unless I was sitting on the floor next to her. As with Slinky, one would think we have been friends for many years. Bad news: ” SSPCA is closed today” (on a Friday). I took matters into my own hands with the help of, Sea Monkey Chef Alfred, who served as navigator to the local government veterinarian and communicator to new owners.
From our visit to one out of two veterinarians on the island I realized that animal welfare services are limited and that they are trying to do the best with the little that they have. It was also noticed that no matter what people have and their circumstances people are capable of loving animals and taking care of them just as anyone else. By the grace of God whilst dog was dozing off from her anesthetic a family bringing their recently adopted pup (as a result of bringing another one of their dogs to the vet) decided to adopt our dog. They took her without knowing her personality but out of compassion for our story and distress. We found out that dog is, in fact, a puppy as she is not even a year old. I am truly grateful that the SSPCA did not intervene and that puppy went straight into the hands of her new family to live in a compound with many dogs and other animals.
“You can’t save every dog” I have been told now a couple times from my first to second dog debacle. True, but maybe I can try my best with one, two or even three. To read my second island dog story continue to read!
On arrival at Praslin Island and beachfront of Dekenia Villa, I was confronted with two sister dogs. One was shyer than the other and hid away until she sussed out that I would not harm her from my interaction with her sister. Obviously, I have never come across sibling strays and assumed that they were not, also from their good condition, playfulness, and affection. I did not realize I was creating a bond of trust and reliance. As a result, the pair would be sticking around, finding refuge in the villa’s furniture during thunderstorms, hungry and jumping for hugs and kisses. Of course, the staff was not impressed with its guests feeding the dogs but unfortunately, we cannot change who are and neither could the previous guests.
I must admit that it was a miserable few days that I spent worrying about the pair, especially when it rained as the confident sister hid under a towel draped on a deck chair and I worried of the whereabouts of the other. Assuming that when I caught both of them, call the numbers I acquired, that someone or animal welfare would collect them. But there is only one animal welfare institution on the main island Mahé and are over capacity. My biggest concern was that I would leave the island the next day and from the stir, I created with the staff and animal welfare (as many guests did before and possibly after) at some point someone was going to attempt to catch the dogs and the shy and dependent one would be hiding and left behind. Apart from the needs for food and shelter from the turbulent weather, their desire to be loved and in the company of people was infectious and affected the other guests that intervened on my behalf. By the grace of God (again) the caretaker of Dekena Villa decided to take them home with a family of three other dogs. They are now called Porsche and Tikka. From the photos and updates I have received, of both dogs and new owner, it looks like a match made in heaven. (Thank you Therese! I am so grateful).
After one happy story, followed after one with no conclusion, I left the island shattered. I wish I had spent my time at Praslin island knowing the fate of Porsche and Tikka because I would have enjoyed being in paradise. Either the moral of the story is to not feed or interact with island dogs or there’s no harm in trying. From reading the honest trip advisor reviews and debates of Seychelles strays I was in conflict whether or not to knock it down. Seychelles is a positive place, with positive people and at the end of the day, it was the Islanders with big hearts that saved the dogs. Everywhere has its problems. You can either deal with it or look the other way. Seychelles deserves more support as the people on the island and the welfare services that exist are doing the best they can with the little they have. Surely the more fortunate visitors and high-end hotels should contribute – tourism makes up 80% of the GDP after all.