The Five Puppies at Hole 15
Updated: Jul 2
"What was behind this change in behaviour? Where was the fifth puppy?..."
This week is all about puppies. And don’t worry, there are plenty of pictures to illustrate and a video full of them too.
As we’ve mentioned before, we often spend our evenings strolling over the golf course. The golf course is huge and has beautiful views, but our favourite route takes us up a peak from where we can continue down to the other side to Santa Barbara Beach. This is a white sand beach with shady trees and an enclosed area that’s great for swimming and snorkelling. Or, we turn right and head up a dusty path to the top of a peak that overlooks the marina. We showed you footage of this last week - it’s replete with giant cacti, swirling warawaras and an interesting cave with a little peephole from which we can spy our boat from up high.
To get to either of these places, we have to pass by a particular patch of golf course. The first time we passed by, we were walking over the green when two extremely aggressive seeming dogs raced towards us, barking frighteningly. They covered the ground at pace and we bid a hasty retreat. As I turned, I thought I saw some tiny puppies moving into the bushes. We bypassed the golf course and took a longer route around on a path separated from the green by bushes. We assumed the dogs were being extremely protective of their puppies. We came back in the dark and again took the route around, but heard the dogs barking fiercely very close to us.
Another time we passed by and the same thing happened. We didn’t see any puppies that time, but assumed they were hiding. The parents barked ferociously and we steered well clear. A third time, we were taking a friend from the marina to show him the path up to the peak. We didn’t hear the dogs barking this time, but we saw them at the top. They hadn’t seen us. Knowing how rapidly they could cover the length of the golf course, we bypassed the green and again on the way back.
A few days later, we were heading back from snorkelling at Santa Barbara Beach and decided to walk over the golf course as we couldn’t see the parents. We were greeted by five adorable puppies that chased after us. We couldn’t see the parents and were worried that something may have happened to them and that the puppies might not have a means of getting food and water. So the next day we returned with some cat food and water.
When we arrived, the five puppies were playing with each other, rolling over on the grass, then they saw us coming and were curious. We laid out the food and water for them and then stepped back to let them feast in peace. After a while, we heard a loud barking. The father had arrived. With one cocked ear, he kept his distance and eventually lay down not too far away as the puppies continued to eat and drink eagerly.
A couple of days later, we returned. We saw the puppies rolling around under the tree, trying a lick a plastic container. We thought someone else must be feeding them too. The father appeared, but lay down far away from us, warily. We walked up the hill and the puppies followed. But only four of them appeared. Two ran into the bushes and the father followed. The other two puppies came to eat and drink. What was behind this change in behaviour? Where was the fifth puppy?
We walked along the line of the bushes and soon came to see a large wire cage with a trapdoor. Inside was the remnants of dog food and a dog poo. It seemed like one of the puppies had been captured. And maybe the mother had also been captured previously. But by who?
I made some enquiries at the marina office and learned that the dogs were being captured. Apparently there were reports of the dogs ‘attacking’ golfers. I was given the name of the organisation that was capturing them to look up online.
The next evening we returned. The cage was gone. There were still four puppies, but the father was nowhere to be seen. Had he been captured? Were the puppies on their own? They were only weeks old.
The romantic in me finds it sad that the family couldn’t continue to live together on the golf course, but the reality is that this was never going to be allowed to continue. Even though the parents were behaving less aggressively now that the puppies were older. Apparently golfers pay $200 per day to play, so it is unsurprising that they are demanding.
I looked up the organisation that is capturing them online and it seems to do good work, neutering stray dogs, providing paddling pools for the fostered dogs in their care and getting stray dogs adopted. They also go into local schools to give lessons on animal care. It’s a harsh life for stray dogs in Curação. The father and puppies looked in quite good condition, but we have seen some that are incredibly skinny on the streets. It’s very hot and arid, so finding clean fresh water and adequate food is not that easy. They also lack veterinary care if they are not treated by local charities.
We’ve since been back and the father and four puppies are still there. We went a bit earlier this time and were being fed by a couple of golfers who have also been checking in on them regularly. They could be being fed twenty times a day for all we know! Still, we will keep going back as the puppies are too young to fend for themselves and the father does have his ribs slightly showing, so we’re not sure he could feed four puppies and himself without the mother’s help.
This week's Vlog.
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