Beach Dogs in the Dominican Republic
The Sirenis Hotel
My partner and I recently went to the Dominican Republic where we stayed at the Sirenis Hotel in Bavaro Uvero Alto. We were there for three weeks and really enjoyed our stay. The people were very friendly and the beach was one of the most beautiful beaches that we had ever visited. On our second day we went to the gift shop in the hotel but the prices were very expensive and so we didn't purchase anything. However, another tourist told us about a gift shop that was about fifteen minutes along the beach, the gift shop was called Tropical Treasure. We were told that the prices were very reasonable there, so we decided to pay it a visit the next day.
We got up early the next morning and headed straight to the beach to visit this gift shop that we had heard so much about. As we turned right on the beach it was only a matter of seconds before we saw something in the distance, something seemed to be laying on the sand. We couldn't make out what it was, but it was too small to be a person. As we got closer it stood up and started running towards us and it was then that we realized that it was a dog. Looking around, we didn't see its owner and as my partner and I have no experience with dogs, we were both a little nervous. When the dog finally approached us, we could see instantly that it meant us no harm. In fact, it turned out to be the sweetest dog that we had ever met and it seemed to be welcoming us to the beach that day. My partner began to stroke this dog and the dog immediately fell back on the ground and invited her to stroke its belly. When five minutes past, we were joined by another dog and then another and another. Within ten minutes we were surrounded on the beach by a good fifteen to twenty other dogs of all different sizes. All of the dogs were the colour of the sand, all of them friendly and all of them very placid. These wild dogs even seemed to follow simple orders that we gave them. If anybody had told me that I would be surrounded by so many wild dogs and not feel threatened, I wouldn't have believed them, but here we were surrounded and fear was the last thing on our minds.
We never made it to the gift shop that day because we ended up spending the day with these beautiful creatures, and the next day and the next. Every time the hotel filled our mini bar with water we would collect the bottles and then bring them to the dogs. We would fill the coconut shells on the beach with the water and sit back and watch the dogs quench their thirst. We would watch them play on the beach and run into the water. We even started giving the dogs names. One dog that had no calcium in his joints which made his paw’s very floppy, we decided to call "Floppy", not very original but it suited him.
After a few days of playing with the dogs, we finally made it to the gift shop, Tropical Treasure. About fifteen of the dogs led us there acting as our own private escort, with Floppy trailing behind us. When we arrived at the entrance to the gift shop we were greeted by even more dogs running towards us and we watched in awe, as all of the dogs began to greet each other. The dogs then followed us up the path to the shop and began to collapse on the grass outside the shop, one by one. It was as if they had known where they were going and they all seemed to be very relaxed, it was as if they were home.
As we reached the top of the path, there was a young man called Stanley who was sitting in his rocking chair enjoying the morning sun and Augustin an artist who was sitting on the lawn, painting his next masterpiece. Augustin was from Haiti and sold his paintings outside of the shop on the garden grounds. The dogs that had now all scattered out around the large lawn were being treated to bowls of water and dog biscuits by a lady who looked just as pleased to see them, as they were to see her.
The lady tending to the dogs was the owner of the gift shop, a very beautiful, well dressed and well spoken lady called Gundula. The tourist that had told us about the shop was right, it housed the most amazing treasures and we both felt like little children in a candy shop, we wanted to buy everything. I can’t remember the last time I had been so excited about shopping but we must have spent hours in there browsing the pieces of art on offer and getting to know about Gundula and finding out about her amazing work with the animals.
The gift shop had ornaments made from Coconuts, Mango trees and Mahogany and as we shopped, the dogs lay outside basking in the Caribbean heat. Gundula left us alone to browse and there was also a young girl there to help us with anything that we needed. The shop was classy, relaxed and we didn't want to leave. We spoke to Gundula about the dogs and asked her questions and she told us about the dogs and how she looked after them. She had raised money to have all of the dogs neutered, apart from one dog because she was too old, and she was raising money to be able to have the dogs sent to Canada to be adopted. It was easy to see that Gundula was in love with all of the dogs and it was also obvious to anybody that they all loved her too.
When we walked home that day about ten of the dogs escorted us home and when we were about five minutes away from our hotel the dogs all stopped and didn’t come any further, they didn’t seem to want to intrude on the hotel grounds and so we said our goodbyes. The following weeks we visited the dogs nearly every day and we visited the gift shop a few more times where we found that we could purchase large bags of biscuits for the dogs for only $3, the money going towards the funds to send them to Canada.
Every day we visited the dogs they made us laugh hysterically as we watched them chase crabs along the beach and roll around in the sand. They were the kindest animals that we had ever had the pleasure of meeting and really made our holiday special.
When we arrived home three weeks later it wasn’t long before we heard the devastating news.
Somebody had poisoned these angelic creatures killing forty five of them and only five dogs had survived.
Gundula had fought all of these years to have the dogs sent to Canada, she had neutered them and had looked after them and people around the world had fallen in love with them. Gundula and her hard work had been such an inspiration to so many people, to find out that somebody had murdered these dogs on the orders of a nearby hotel was not only devastating but also heart breaking.
It makes me angry whenever I think about the Dominican Republic and its laws. Myself and my partner have never returned and will never return to a country with such laws. I am however happy that I had a chance to make friends with the dogs and I am also grateful that I met Gundula.
There is no excuse for poisoning these poor animals. I understand that some countries are plagued by different kinds of wild animals that need to be kept under control, however,
1. If these murderers had done their research they would have found that these dogs were not a nuisance to anybody and in fact a credit to Bavaro Uvero Alto.
2. They were all being looked after by Gundula and had all been neutered.
3. They were soon to be on their way to Canada.
4. Most importantly, poisoning dogs is cruel, evil and monstrous.
I will always have fond memories of the wild beach dogs of Republica Dominicana and I will always be grateful for Gundula. Knowing that the world has people as caring and giving as her, will always fill me with hope that one day every country in the world will stop the cruelty to the animals that share their land.
This article is dedicated to Gundula Reinke and the beach dogs of Dominican Republic.
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