When one of our Product Developers, Debbie, set out for a week-long vacation in Turks & Caicos with her husband Russ, they did not intend on returning with a rescued puppy. But, as you can probably already guess, they did.
Turks & Caicos are islands that are around six hundred miles southeast of Florida. They are geographically a part of the Bahamas but are politically separate as they are a British territory. Combined, the population of these two islands is about 31,500 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turks_and_Caicos_Islands) and they see roughly 265,000 tourists a year.
One of the projects that Debbie manages is Ruffwear’s product testing process, which includes a network of over 50 product testers across the US. These testers run prototypes of our products through the ringer, season after season, providing crucial feedback to how our products actually work in outdoor settings. This process allows our product design team to make any necessary alterations or refinements needed before we release a product to the market. Having heard that Debbie was heading to Turks & Caicos, one of our testers made Debbie aware of a dog rescue organization there called Potcake Place that rescues “Potcakes” (primarily puppies) from around the islands, houses them in volunteer foster homes, provides the necessary vaccinations, then works to socialize them as early as possible and lastly, finding good homes for them between both locals and tourists. This tester happens to provide foster care for one of the Potcakes.
So, what is a Potcake? In a way, they are a breed, but not entirely. They are the puppies that the Potcake Place rescues from the “bush” of the islands. The term “Potcake” was the cultural name that the dogs of the Bahamas were given. The name comes from the food that dogs were fed – the caked remains of food from their cooking pots. Over time, these dogs have evolved into a breed of dogs that range from 35 to 75 pounds, with most averaging about 45 pounds.
In an attempt to increase socialization and exercise opportunities, Potcake Place has a program where you can visit in the morning and volunteer to take a dog for part of the day for walks around town or to the beach to explore. Having learned about this, Debbie decided that they would spend a day of their vacation volunteering to take a dog from the shelter to the beach to play. Upon arriving at the Potcake Place in downtown Providenciales, Debbie was handed a twelve-week-old black, and very cute, puppy named Reef.
Reef was one of a litter of eight known as the “never say never litter.” When a volunteer found the litter of eight puppies, she expressed that they just did not have room for the litter. The Director of Potcake Place responded, “never say never.”
Debbie and Russ took Reef to the beach and she was immediately impressed by Reef’s sense of manners on a leash and wisdom beyond his months! Within thirty minutes, Russ turned to Debbie and said, “if you want to bring him home, I am OK with it.” While they were walking with Reef on the beach, a number of other tourists stopped to visit with Reef and explained that they had also adopted Potcake dogs and sang their praises for the new addition to their family.
They took Reef back to Potcake Place after a day of play in the sand and mentioned that they were thinking about adopting him but wanted to sleep on it. “We’ll just mark him as reserved,” said the volunteer working at the time. “That way if you decide to come back tomorrow and adopt him, he will be here.“ So, they slept on it. In the morning, the decision was made; they would adopt Reef and bring home a little brother for their five-year-old lab-mix, Max.
The obvious next question was, how do we get Reef back home from Turks & Caicos to Bend, Oregon? It turns out, the process is very simple – once approved as an adopting family, the folks at Potcake Place take care of most of the paperwork. The only obligation Debbie and Russ had was to make sure that there were still remaining seats on the plane for dogs (the current limit is seven dogs in a cabin) and to cover any pet flight fees. As Debbie and Russ arrived at the airport at six in the morning for their flight home, a Potcake Place volunteer met them at the airport with Reef, the necessary paperwork and a crate sized to fit on a plane, ready for his big adventure. Nervous and emotional, Debbie said she “felt like I was adopting a child, I was so excited.”
Though they had three flights to get back to Oregon, Reef handled them like a seasoned traveler. He has also handled his transition from beach life to snowy mountain town life like a champ. As for his new life with a big brother named Max, they have attached to each other like brothers should, with no aggression, and even sharing chew toys.
“I’m excited to introduce Reef to my stand up paddleboard at an early age so he gets comfortable and relaxed on it and we can explore the lakes and rivers here in Central Oregon together,” Debbie excitedly reports, as the snow finally begins to melt. “Once he is old enough, I think he will make a great running partner, too.”
For more information on the Potcake Place, visit www.potcakeplace.com