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Flora, the Rescue Pup from St. Croix

March 20, 2021

For the last few months, I've watched "The Dog Whisperer" on the National Geographic channel and read all of Cesar Milan's dog-training books – twice! His technique is about communication with canines but works with other animals too. For instance, if you are timid, a canine or bovine will sense hesitation and pull you along on a walk rather than staying at your side. If you project confidence, the dog or cow will respect you as his leader.

 The series made me realize something is missing in my life – a dog.

 About a month ago, I started my search for a pooch. I checked the local rescue organizations and found an adult dog named Wilson. During the call-back interview, I was told this dog was aggressive with new people and new dogs. His electronic fence didn't work because if a new dog crossed the "invisible line," he attacked. If I wanted Wilson, I'd need a securely fenced area. I passed on Wilson.

 The next rescue organization I contacted was flooded with adoption applications and not taking any more. They had more adopters than dogs. The pandemic seems to have mopped up the pool of adoptable animals in New England. Good for the dogs, not me. Time for Plan B.

 Years ago, husband Bruce and I had lived on St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unlike New England, where cold winter weather drives dogs inside, the 22-mile-long island has hundreds of stray dogs and cats living off the streets. The local Animal Welfare Center does its best to collect, spay, and neuter and find homes for them, but the task is daunting. The Center often ships dogs for adoption Stateside. In the 2000s, I transported over 25 dogs from St. Croix to adoption centers in Massachusetts. Most were puppies that I carried onto the plane in soft carriers and slipped under the seat in front of mine. During the five-hour flight, I fell in love with each puppy but never kept one for myself.

 Ready to adopt, I knew that St. Croix had a dog for me. Sure enough, I found the perfect candidate. Fleur, an 8-pound, golden-colored, three-month-old puppy, was born on the streets of St. Croix. The shelter people had spayed her and started her vaccinations. She was perfect. Now how to get her home?

 When we lived on St. Croix, Bruce and I had befriended Duncan Coles and his parents, long-time St. Croix residents. Duncan has since become a New Englander, although he still visits his parents on the island. He was about to return from one of those visits on March 15. He agreed to transport Fleur but was too busy to handle any of the details. 

 Fortunately, Bruce's Aunt Bettye was willing to get Fleur her health certificate and drop her at Duncan's house, where his family would mind her for three days until the Monday flight.

 After making me wait four anxious hours, Delta called me back and confirmed a $200 ticket for Fleur. It was done! She had her ticket, the health certificate, and temporary lodgings. She'd be on her way to me soon.

 Meanwhile, I did all those things new puppy owners do – set up crates in the house, one upstairs in our bedroom, and the other in the common area. I thawed ground beef and cooked rice (no commercial dog food for this pup). I created a feeding, walking, and training schedule for her.

 Duncan's mom tells me Fleur is an easy puppy. We'll see. Right now I can't wait to meet my new housemate. By the time you read this, someone new will be sharing my house and my heart.

***

Duncan's mom was right! Except for the occasional "puppy accidents," Flora (her New Hampshire name) is adjusting well to life on the farm.


Watch Flora and her "sliding bush." She's the first dog to live on the farm in a long-long time and is a joyous new member of the farmily.



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