When I moved down to Anguilla, I was faced with the problem of figuring out how to give my 10-month old puppy enough exercise each day so that he wouldn’t destroy our house. In the U.S., he’d gone to doggy daycare to get his ya-yas out and would come home exhausted, barely pausing to eat before collapsing into a happy puddle. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as doggy daycare on Anguilla. I actually try to keep his daycare past a secret, since the few island folks I’ve told about his previous proclivities reacted with eye rolls and chuckles. Doggy daycare is just not done down here.
Taking matters into my own hands, I started a routine of walking Oliver to the beach near our house after work. There are about five or six friendly neighborhood dogs that live across from our place who like to go with us, and it makes me happy to let Oliver run and play with his own kind.
One afternoon, we picked our way through the bush to the beach with our two most frequent tag-alongs, a pit bull named Sanda and a shaggy red dog named Hallie. Hearing a faint clucking noise to our right, Sanda peeled off from our group to investigate, while Hallie, Oliver, and I continued on to the beach.
When our toes and paws hit the sand, I let Oliver off his leash to have a good run. A young tourist couple walked over and started up a friendly chat while the dogs played.
“Are those your dogs?” they asked.
“The little brindled one is, the other is a neighborhood dog. She just likes to come on our walks.” I replied.
“Oh my gosh, do you live here?!” they squealed.
“Yes, just up the road.” I said.
The lady looked at me with confusion. “But wait – you don’t have an accent.”
Yep, they were those kind of tourists.
Suddenly, in an explosion of sand and feathers, Sanda burst out of the bush right behind us, proudly carrying a dead chicken by the neck. The tourist couple paled slightly, but then recovered as we continued to chat, markedly not looking at Sanda parading around with his catch. After a few minutes of basking in glory, Sanda paused for a second to lay the chicken down in the sand.
In another explosion of sand and feathers, the previously dead chicken burst back to life and started running like hell towards the safety of the bush. Both tourists started screaming as Sanda followed in hot pursuit. Oliver, not wanting to be left out of the fun, kicked up his legs and took off toward the bush as well. After a number of “Ollie! No! Stop it! Do not chase that chicken! NO!!!!” commands, he sheepishly returned to my side. Shortly after, Sanda came out of the bush, once again carrying the chicken by the neck.
At this point, the lady tourist started to cry.
Now, I am an animal lover. Big time. I hate seeing any type of animal suffering. However, growing up around the farms in Wisconsin, I learned at a young age that chickens are just not that smart. Seeing that chicken get caught not once, but twice, kind of made me figure that perhaps that chicken’s gene pool was meant to end up as a special snack for our neighborhood pal Sanda.
Being a good ambassador for the island’s tourism industry, I tried to comfort the hysterically crying tourist by fabricating a sob story for Sanda (you know, the ole’ abused as a puppy, left for dead, nursed back to health by the other neighborhood dogs only to rise in their ranks and eventually become the pack leader…) I hoped that the tourist would see the mobile chicken dinner as divine retribution for this poor dog that couldn’t catch a break in life.
It seemed to work – she started to smile through her tears.
Unfortunately, the chicken chose that moment to spring to life again, miraculously leaping from Sanda’s jaws and making a beeline for the bush. The tourist’s tentative smile melted into a look of absolute horror, as a fresh round of screams welled in her belly.
At that point, I knew there was nothing more that I could do, either for the tourist, the Tourism Industry of Anguilla, or that tenacious little chicken. I quickly leashed up my dog, wished the frantic couple a happy vacation, and headed back up the hill to my house.