Market day lazy dogs in San Pedro
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Thursday September 6, 2018

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Tony Rath
Editorial, assignment & stock photography from Belize. Pictures, images and photos of nature, people, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker & San Igacio, Cayo. Tony Rath is a professional photographer based along the shore of the Caribbean Sea in the picturesque town of Dangriga, Belize. He is a trained marine biologist and has worked as a diver and underwater photographer for the Smithsonian Institution; diving on oil rigs off California; and captaining a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean and through the Mediterranean and North Seas. He founded, along with his wife Therese, Naturalight Productions, Belize's premiere Internet marketing company. He now leads the special projects division of the company. The company created and manages numerous award winning websites.
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Market day lazy dogs in San Pedro

The Dog Days of Summer, 1989

by Jayson Forman

Digby! (Pronounced “Digbee”)
Salty Dog Simon!

Those were some of the popular dogs’ names that I grew up hearing in the streets….. mainly from their owners asking if I’d seen them around.

It was common to see Jill Greif driving all over town in her Isuzu Tracker asking if anyone’s seen Simon, her Newfoundland Sheep Dog. He was the face of her gift shop, “The Salty Dog”.

Front street was his “backyard”. His main thing was to go to any pier that had kids jumping in the sea and he’d join them then bask on the pier to dry out. His favorite hang out was the dock at Paradise Resort.

Digby was this little hotdog who would run out of Polo’s Gift Shop anytime he could and bark his way to your ankles until you yelled at him. That would startle him and he’d come to a sliding stop and run back inside yelping as if he just gotten spanked.

Gunner was Patojo’s black Labrador who would jump head first off the pier to go fetch whatever was thrown in the sea. Anything from a tennis ball to a glass coke bottle sinking to the bottom.

Motley was my neighbor’s 80 lb young full breed pitbull. Incredibly intimidating but never harmed anyone. I still didn’t trust him. His “thing” was to CLIMB A COCONUT TREE, clamp down on a coconut, climb down with it in its mouth and TEAR THE HUSKS AWAY until just the bare coconut was left. That was frightening and impressive at the same time. I could only imagine what it could do to a human head….

Drawing by Jayson Forman

Then there was this young full breed Dobermann Pinscher that had been adopted for 2 weeks and Martin Leslie still hadn’t named him yet. Finally he was pressured to name him so he whistled at the dog, he stood up at attention from being down on the sand and we could clearly see a distinct line of white sand under his nose…….

… so naturally his name was “Cocaine”.

These cast of characters freely roamed the streets and everyone who recognized them would give them a pat on the head or give them a treat. (Except for Motley. He was not allowed to be out except when he was being taken for a walk by his owner on a very tight leash).

I grew up with conflicted feelings about dog ownership. Most locals viewed dogs as “assets” to guard the property or alert the homeowner if someone is near. On the other extreme, mostly American dog owners, clearly had a different relationship with their dogs and treated them like family members. Sometimes what locals would consider to be “too much affection” with the kissing on the cheeks or allowing the dogs in the house or on the bed.

It was sometimes a bone of contention for me because I started to feel strongly that these animals actually have feelings and emotions so if you’re going to adopt it in your home then it should be IN your home. It would still alert you if anyone’s approaching without having to be out in the unforgiving elements like rain, mosquitoes etc.

Today, if I see a dog in a locked car with the windows up, I don’t care if it’s hot outside or not. I’m calling the cops and if they don’t come fast enough, I’m using my glass breaker that I keep in my car. When I had my Pomeranian with me, there’s not a business in the world that would stop me from entering with her. I ignore “no pets allowed” signs. She goes with me or my money goes elsewhere!

I think the island’s culture has changed a little when it comes to pet companions and I think that advocates like Kathy Marin has a lot to do with it.

I also assume that there are no popular dogs roaming the streets anymore given the unjustifiable amount of traffic today..?

Dog days are over.

Marty Casado: I remember Island Dog (Mike Gvara) had a dog named "Dog," pronounced "dee-oh-gee." I still call out to dogs using that name.

Flor Montejo: I remember "cocaine" woould follow Ms Martita Leslie to school everyday and wait for her till classes were over. That is one of my fond memories I have of Teacher Martita

Caribe Forman: You’re so right. I forgot about that until you just mentioned it. He would sit outside her classroom all day. Wow. That’s an awesome memory. Thank you for that!!!

Kriss Holtz: Best pup ever.. Ester, pulled from the reef by Larry Parker. Mary Hawthorne brought her to me, so tiny & sweet. She moved to Roatan & then to California with me, Ester was indeed the, BEST Potlicker Ever.

Yadi Paz: Gunner was very clever. My brother in law’s pet.

Photograph by Tony Rath

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