For 2 years I lived on the island-country of Grenada, a place where stray dogs were rarely treated with compassion, and adoption was what they really needed.
Though I fed the dogs, volunteered for and donated to the island’s shelter and helped raise awareness about the homeless pets, the one thing I couldn’t do for the dogs was take them home.
Fortunately, others could, and I was lucky enough to know a few of them.
The Lucky Beach Bum
Mallory Coffman first met Penny on the beach, where stray dogs hang out and beg for food from tourists. But Penny wasn’t like the other stray dogs. She was being cared for by a foster mom.
In an effort to curb the island’s pet overpopulation, supporters of the Grenada SPCA were sponsoring Penny. They were covering basic needs:
- Medical treatment
- Spay surgery
When Penny was all taken care of, they were going to find her a home. Little did they know, Penny had just secured a home that day on the beach.
Weeks after their chance encounter, Coffman was volunteering at the SPCA when she saw a familiar face on a poster. Penny was looking for her forever home. That evening, Coffman adopted Penny, and the sweet little beach dog became part of the family.
The Bow-Legged Puppy
The SPCA and veterinary clinics are on the southern end of Grenada. At the northern tip of the island, dogs and their caregivers have less access to veterinary care, so sick and injured dogs have fewer chances of survival.
This was the case during a tour I took on the northern end of the island. There were dogs all over the estate — nursing mothers with their chubby litters, adolescent males scavenging for food or playing in the yard — but this was the first sick dog we noticed.
She was young and skinny, with bat-like ears and sad eyes. She didn’t walk, but we could see that her front legs were bowed from malnutrition. When we spoke to the manager of the estate, he told us the puppy would die.
There were more than a dozen of us on that trip, and we hadn’t decided who would keep the puppy, but we couldn’t leave her to die. We wrapped her in a towel, tucked her in a box and took her with us on the bus when we left.
The puppy found a loving home with Jessica Smith. After medical treatments, physical therapy and a healthy diet, she found her strength, energy and playfulness.
Fast-forward 3 years and Vera, the hobbled puppy, is happy and healthy with her new family, living a cushy life in the United States.
The Timid Stray
Courtney and Brian Nelson had 2 dogs and zero intentions of getting more. Yet one day, a black-and-white stray began following them.
When the Nelsons got in their car to drive home in Grenada, they thought they’d seen the last of the stray. As they started down the road, the little dog followed them like a shadow, running to keep up.
The pup’s determination landed her in trouble a few miles down the road when a pack of stray dogs came out of nowhere and attacked her. Courtney got out of the car, chased away the aggressive strays and tried to lure the dog into the backseat, but she was too timid.
Still, the dog wanted to follow the Nelsons and, not wanting to risk their 4-legged shadow getting attacked again, Courtney walked all the way to their house, leading the little stray to her new forever home.
From the streets of Grenada, Penny, as she is now known, is living in the United States, where she plays with her canine siblings and even goes boating on vacations with her humans.
Still Helping After Adoption
These 3 adoptions are just a few of the many dogs who have been rescued as strays or adopted through the Grenada SPCA. Individuals like the one who sponsored Penny’s vet care have created programs and groups to continue providing for the needy pets on the island. And Grenada’s veterinary school offers support and services to the country’s strays.
Even Vera and both Pennys have been helping out. All of them participated in a fundraiser for the Grenada SPCA, which will raise money to help other pets find their forever homes as well.