Earlier this year the animals of St. Maarten lost a great friend…Elisabeth Reitz who had been caring for so many dogs on the side of the road, on the garbage dump and all over the island, passed away after a brief illness.Her old plantation home in the middle of the island had been a refuge to some 80 plus dogs…she cared, medicated and fed them so her passing left a huge void….she had created a foundation called Elisabeths Caribbean Dump Dogs..http://www.elisabethscaribbeandumpdogs.com which continues on today caring for the 30 – 40 Plus remaining dogs in the lovely gardens of her old home.
During the months of April/ May this year we talked to representatives from the Niagara and Toronto Humane societies in Ontario, Canada and also to one in Quebec, with big help from Westjet airlines, we managed to ship out over 48 of these dogs to Canada… we have followed their progress and all now have been adopted…the last one found a home in mid August. It was a momentous feat, shipping them out 4 kennels at a time.with sometimes 3 dogs in a kennel…Vicki Maxwell from Westjet asked her friend Dave White to fly down for each trip to escort the dogs back to Canada, Lisa Maroney and Marge Ruddy met them at the other end..transporting them to foster homes or kennels already secured, checking their health and temperaments, helping to socialize a few of them, so they could be adopted into loving families. operating on the big old Rottweileer we named Alfie, who was later adopted by his foster Mom Marge Ruddy !!
We so appreciate all that everyone did to help organize these shipments… on this end all at Animal Care Center worked above and beyond , with Maureen and Dr. Eva helping me get the dogs ready to ship, Angie Sollinger and her daughter Sam driving crates full of dogs in her pick up to the airport, KC West coming during her med school breaks to help, Mary Meijer and Rob Wiens walking dogs and transporting pups to Toronto, Ellen and Mark Feldman who spent hours in the kennels here with 2 very fearful dogs, Leo & Lionel and then helped me catch and tame 2 large black pit bulls that went to Montreal, escorts Arna Berg, Jennifer Ball Conquergood and Brenda Garvey a big thank you to you all..you earned a special place in the hearts of all the dogs that were lucky enough to fly out.
Cavan Hills Veterinary services in Peterborough Ontario sent a special request…and that was to take in 4 of the older dogs from Elisabeths who would normally be difficult to find home for, amongst these 4 dogs was a deformed little girl called Diva…for her there was no future UNTIL Dr. Richard Matser and his Wife Laura from Cavan Hills offered her a place in Canada…we have received videos of her running through the green grass in Ontario looking so happy…she holds a special place in everyones hearts thank you Richard and Laura.
A few months ago, the moving story of Elizabeth Reitz’s Caribbean Dump dogs was posted on Happy Tails. Our Leo was one of “2 very fearful” dogs with whom Ellen and Mark Feldman spent many hours in the kennel and who was eventually brought to Canada by Brenda Dobranksi, founder of Rescue Dogs Match of Cambridge, Ontario. Dahlia Ayoub, a professional dog trainer and owner of Mighty Mutts, a dog training school, as well as an avid volunteer and supporter of charitable dog rescues, played a key role in arranging Leo’s adoption.
We first met Leo on July 27, 2014 at his foster home in Hamilton, about an hour outside of Toronto. Leo was totally untrained (he didn’t even know his own name) but he had impeccable manners. His foster family did an amazing job helping this 20-month old pup adapt to his new surroundings. He was cautious around strangers, which we were at the time, but had an air of calm and gentleness to him that strongly appealed to us. The next day, Dahlia drove Leo from his foster home in Hamilton to our home in Toronto and what was supposed to be the start of a one-week probationary stay turned out to be the beginning of one of the most fun and gratifying experiences of our lives.
Leo has had to deal with a lot of new things – from getting used to a new home and family to walking the busy streets of downtown Toronto. With his strong desire to figure things out so that he can fit in and be accepted, all he needed was love, a little patience and gentle guidance. Over the past few months we have watched him blossom into the best dog we have ever had. Leo continues to gain confidence and has become more trusting of people, without losing any of his gentleness and good manners. His boundless joy during walks and play sessions and his Zen-like serenity during rest times are contagious. To our surprise and delight, he even seems to prefer our cooler climes and loves playing in the snow. We are eternally grateful to all of the people who worked so hard to bring him into our lives.
We recently touched base with Dahlia to give her an update on Leo and learned that Duke, the second of the “2 very fearful dogs” who also happens to be Leo’s brother, has not yet been adopted. Dahlia posted a very touching video about Duke on Facebook and we were in tears by the time we finished watching it. Not only do Duke and Leo look alike, but they have many similar mannerisms and have evolved in almost exactly the same way. The link to Dahlia’s video has since been posted on several of our friends’ Facebook accounts and, given our amazing good fortune with Leo, we know that whoever adopts Duke is in for a very special and rewarding experience.
Lloyd & Ronit Florence