You're invited to the Spring Fling on April 20th. Bring the whole family. Everyone will have fun:

Paradise for Tourists, Not for Pups

written by

Carole Soule

posted on

March 25, 2024

Hammer, a rescue from St. Croix in the U.S Virgin Islands, has a moment with Miles Smith Farm Scottish Highland steer, Owen. Hammer, a 40-pound bundle of joy, is available for adoption. Contact Carole Soule at


Nothing is impossible

The word says it all: "I'm Possible"

Hammer and his sibling, Socket, were found in a box at a dump on St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The box had been taped shut. Katie Nelson, founder of Ruff Start, saved these puppies and eventually sent them to Miles Smith Farm, where I could care for them and prepare them for adoption.

St. Croix may be a paradise for vacationers, but it's also a breeding ground for stray and abandoned dogs. In the tropics, dogs don't need to seek shelter from the cold, which increases their social opportunities. This results in unwanted puppies, many of which roam the island sick and half-starved.

Unwanted puppies born to household pets are sometimes brought to the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center. That's where I found my dogs, Joy and Flora. Two years ago, Flora traveled in a carrier that fit under the airplane seat, and last year, Joy came home with me on another flight.

Pack Leader

Unfortunately, at one year old, both Socket and Hammer were over 30 pounds and too big to carry on, so instead, each was put into a crate, loaded in a pressurized cargo hold, and flown to Florida. There, generous volunteers drove them to foster homes in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and finally, New Hampshire, where I met the transport volunteers and brought Socket and Hammer home.

Socket was a timid sweetheart who needed structure. At her St. Croix foster home, she was allowed to run wild with access to the entire house. Dogs don't need access to a whole house; they should stay in a single room until they learn the house rules and respect the owner's boundaries. All dogs need structure to know who the pack leader is (you) and lots of exercise. Hammer was more confident but also needed structure.

Dog Training

Following the advice of famous dog trainer Cesar Milan, when Socket and Hammer arrived, I took them each on a walking tour of the farm. That's what a pack leader would do: show the new pack member around before they came in the house.

After the orientation walk, they only got to visit one room, and each went into a crate where they could safely watch the interaction of humans (husband Bruce and me) and dogs (Joy and Flora). A crate is a safe place, and both Socket and Hammer learned to hang out in their crates when they were confused or afraid. It was their "safe space."
At first, Socket and Hammer pulled on the leash, but they quickly learned to calmly walk behind me, looking to me for direction as we walked around the farm.

Dogs need jobs, even if they're neither demanding nor helpful. Socket's "job" was to supervise the feeding of the cattle. The calves were curious about this new canine but eventually ignored her. Soon, she was comfortable, watching from a safe distance while I fed the calves and the bigger, scary-for-a-little-dog steers. After neighbor Marianne adopted Socket, Hammer took over her supervisory duty.

Dogs need:

  1. Exercise (long walks with you, not running loose in a fenced backyard).
  2. Rules and boundaries (even people need these).
  3. Affection (essential but always No. 3 on the list).

Do those three things in that order and you'll get the joy of a wagging tail, floppy ears, eager eyes, and willing obedience. It's heaven for me. Since we already have two dogs, Flora and Joy, I promised my husband no more, so Hammer is now ready for adoption. 

Adopt Hammer

If you are interested in this loving little boy, email me at There is an adoption fee, but you'll get a loving puppy and two hours of training with me before you take Hammer home. What a deal!
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Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, where she raises and sells beef, pork, eggs, and other local products. She can be reached at Carole also coaches humans, helping them achieve the impossible a little at a time.

    St. Croix rescue dog

    Dog training

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