(N.Morgan) Traveling without a doubt is one of the best ways to explore the world, learn about different cultures, see historic landmarks and walk the paths the ancients walked.
There are some destinations, however, that are so uniquely different, that you will never have the experiences you enjoy there anywhere else on Earth.
There is an island in Turks and Caicos that may be one of the most extraordinary destinations of all, and when you see why, it may be your next vacation destination.
As incredible as this will sound, this island is actually home to a plethora of adorable puppies!
A charity called Potcake Place actually rescues the abandoned pups found in this beautiful location and makes sure they have the opportunity to catch the eye of someone who will offer them a forever home. They even get taken for walks along the island’s gorgeous beaches, and get to play in the crystal clear water.
The precious pups are called “potcake dogs” after the type of rice and pea mixture that natives often feed them.
People from all over the world are welcome to visit and spend as much time as they want playing with the dogs. Sounds too good to be true, right?
At any given time, there are between 50 and 70 puppies ready to have fun with some human companions.
The history of Potcake Place from the Turks and Caicos reservation site:
As a volunteer dog rescuer, Jane Parker-Rauw has had some bad days. Her worst day came in 2000.
It was a few years before Potcake Place would open as a dog rescue charity on Providenciales, but Jane was already the go-to person on island when it came to homeless potcakes – the mixed-breed dogs found throughout the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, named for the congealed peas and rice mixture they were often fed from the bottom of cooking pots. She was in the front yard of a house in Kew Town, a residential area near the airport, where kids had tied rubber bands on the tails of a group of dogs – a brutal practice known as tail docking.
The dogs’ tails had begun to rot off; four of the animals had to be euthanized. Jane explained to the boys that they couldn’t do such a thing because dogs feel pain – something the boys had never been taught. You have to give the dogs water, Jane told the boys, and you have to give them names.
Jane’s best day came a few years later when the boys showed up at Potcake Place with a backpack full of potcake puppies. They wanted to have the dogs vaccinated. “We remember you and what you told us,” they told Jane. “And we named the dogs.” Jane asked the boys how they had gotten to Potcake Place from their home nearly 10 miles away. They had walked.
“And they walked all the way from Kew Town with puppies in a backpack to get them vaccinated and tell me they had a name,” Jane, 40, recalls now. Her efforts to educate had not gone unnoticed. That was her best day yet.
The goal of Potcake Place is to reduce the number of homeless potcakes on Provo, and the only way to do that, Jane says, is to educate. Although hundreds of potcakes continue to roam the island, still hundreds more have been rescued and adopted by people not only locally, but throughout North America. A map hangs on a wall at the nonprofit with pins marking all the cities where potcakes now live with families of their own – from Dallas to Boston, Los Angeles to Toronto. Each year, about 600 potcakes are adopted from the dog-rescue charity.
“People want these dogs, and who can blame them?” Jane said. “They’re wonderful.”
The dog rescue charity invites all who visit the islands to stop in and take a potcake dog for a walk. They will supply the doggie gear, you just have to supply your time, your love and your laughter. No strings attached, unless you lose your heart to a bundle of energy and affection, and want to take a puppy home.
There is a mixed-breed dog type found on several Caribbean islands which share a common ancestry. For the residents of Turks and Caicos, they and their dogs were arrivals from nearby islands.
The original sources for these island dogs are thought to be from three contributing events. In the Bahamas, the Arawak may brought their dogs with them when they arrived from South America. There were working terriers who traveled on the ships which arrived in locations like Eleuthera, New Providence and the Abaco Islands, their job to protect supplies from rodents on the vessels. Then there were the dogs from the North Carolina area who arrived with the fleeing Loyalists seeking new homes in British territory during the American Revolutionary War period. Add in the possibility of the dogs which might have been brought by the early Spanish settlers, and these island dogs would have carried quite a genetic cocktail.
With the addition of many modern breeds imported during the twentieth century, DNA studies since have shown no residue of all that early dog DNA still in the island dogs seen today, lost in the mix of DNA from new arrivals.
These island dogs carry a unique name, potcake. This name is derived from the term of ‘potcake’ which is given to the congealed mass of the rice and pea mixture left stuck in the bottom of the family cooking pot. This cake-shaped mass is scraped out of the pan and tossed out for the dogs to feed on. In the Bahamas, they have elevated the name of their island dogs from potcake to Royal Bahamian Potcake, which since 2011, has been listed as a separate breed type by the Bahamas Kennel Club.
Although their appearance varies from island to island, potcake dogs generally have smooth coats without an undercoat, cocked ears giving them an alert look and long faces. Only rarely does a potcake dog have a ‘shaggy’ or rough coat. Some of the breed characteristics seen include Labrador, mastiff, hound, spaniel, terrier or retriever. As a result of their mixed heritage, the coloration of potcake dogs varies greatly, with many being brown, tan, white or black, and far more with mixed color coats.
The average adult potcake dog stands approximately 24 inches (61 cm) at the withers, with the healthy, well fed specimens weighing between 45 to 50 pounds (20 to 23 kg). Sadly, many of the strays weigh far less as they have to scavenge for food, only 25 pounds (11 kg).
The video below shows all this dog rescue charity has accomplished– and because they work with the North Shore Animal League in New York, sending them puppies, a trip to the islands might not be required to get a potcake puppy — a call to this US rescue organization might find a potcake puppy already here waiting for you.
For a Royal Bahamian Potcake puppy here in the United States, check with Royal Potcake Rescue USA (“RPR”), Atlanta, Georgia. They offer an option besides full adoption, where individuals living near or in Atlanta, can foster a potcake while RPR finds the dog a forever home. The medical care is all on them, while you supply the home, attention and love. And for those in Florida, an individual can pick-up a Royal Bahamian Potcake puppy at the airport and foster the dog for a short period of time until RPR can arrange to get the dog back to Atlanta.
Of course, better be careful or that potcake puppy will steal your heart, and you may become the forever home. For more information, visit RPR’s How You Can Help page.
According to Jane Parker-Rauw, founder of Potcake Place dog rescue charity on the Turks and Caicos Islands, these island dogs are very intelligent, loyal and resilient. Unlike many dog breeds, potcake dogs have hardy stomachs, and are able to eat many foods that would be upsetting to most other dogs. Also, they have a sense of independence, and tend to wander if not properly confined or supervised.
To find out more about Potcake Place go HERE