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When Mariah posted about her three rescue dogs in a Facebook group, including her two Bahamian “Potcakes” (which will be explained below), I knew I had to feature her pack in a Street Tails post. I once worked as a prospect researcher for a conservation non-profit in New York, (essentially, I was a professional stalker) and researched donors to determine their donation potential, and some stick out in my mind all these years later. I already knew what a Potcake was due this job, as I had been assigned to research Frances Hayward. Frances Hayward is an animal welfare advocate and she and her husband, Sir Jack Hayward have shared their home with as many as 16 rescued stray Potcakes at once time. The most famous of her Potcakes was Amigo, whom she found in a terrible state. Shelaunched many campaigns using Amigo as the face of educating against animal cruelty the Humane Society of the United States’ BEKiND Campaign.
In addition to a love of potcakes and animal rescue, Mariah and I connected immediately over having grown up in the same area in the Pacific Northwest—we even attended rival Catholic primary schools, separated by only two years. We share similar friends, are both writers, and have a passion for travel, especially with our pups.
Now, let’s meet Mariah and her rescue pack!
What is your name, your dogs names, and their breeds?
My name is Mariah Moyle. I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest but relocated to The Bahamas in 2011 and I have three rescue dogs:
Barley is 12 years old and is a 25lb mixed breed
Jackson we think is around 3-3 ½ and is a 75lb Labrador/Potcake* mix
Finley is 1 year old and is a 45lb Bahamian Potcake
*The Royal Bahamian Potcake is the mixed breed island dogs of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos. They got their name because they were typically fed the crusty bottom of a pot of rice, called pot cake. They are descendants from the feral dogs of the original Arawak natives, a mix of terriers that hunted rats on sailing ships during the Loyalist period, as well as of course, an introduction to today’s breeds. They have gotten larger overtime due to an influence of Lab, Shepherd, Pitbull and Doberman which are common breeds in the islands for protection and guard dogs. Potcakes are very loyal, have a mellow demeanor, and are protective of their family.
Where and when did you adopt your dogs?
I adopted Barley in September 2005 from the SPCA in Western New York when she was about 6 weeks old. She had been transported up from Virginia where she was found alone on the side of the road.
Jackson had been tied up in someone’s back yard in Harbour Island, Bahamas. He was taken by the Briland Animal Rescue in October 2015 because he was severely mistreated. He was emaciated, covered in ticks and his neck was raw from where he was tied up. He ended up with a foster family and needed a home so we decided to adopt him. We think he was about 1 ½ years old when we adopted him.
We were away on holiday and had dog sitters staying with Barley and Jackson in Aug 2016. They were walking them on the beach when a puppy approached them who was about 6-8 weeks old. He was all alone and was mangy and malnourished. The puppy followed them home and we arrived back 2 days later. Circumstances at the time didn’t allow for us to have a puppy, so we brought him to the Humane Society. He wasn’t adopted and when our circumstances changed, we took him home and named him Finley.
You can read the beautiful story of the Rescue Who Rescued on Mariah’s website.
Tell us how you first met your dogs and how you knew you had to take them home with you?
With Barley I knew instantly. I went to the SPCA just to “look” and I saw her. We had an instant connection. She was a bit shy and tentative, but I could tell that she was adventurous. I adopted her that day and we have been inseparable ever since.
With Jackson, my husband had mentioned casually that we should think about getting another dog. A week later, I remember telling my husband ”There’s this boy, and he’s big and he’s yellow, and he needs a home….” My husband’s Potcake, Brock was also big and yellow, but we had lost him the summer before and were missing having a big boy dog in our lives. Jackson was with his foster family, so we took our time to introduce him to Barley and figure out if he was a good fit for the family. It turns out they got along just fine and so we made arrangements to take him home.
Originally we couldn’t take Finley with us because we were headed out to a remote island job with our other two dogs already. We couldn’t take a puppy with us so I dropped Finley off at the Humane Society in hopes that he would get adopted. I actually hadn’t named him at that point because I didn’t want to get attached, but I kept checking in with my friend who worked there to see if he had gotten adopted yet. I knew that once we came back from that island that if he wasn’t adopted, he was meant to be with us.
In what condition were your pups when you first met? What sort of medical treatments did you have to undergo in order to get them back to health?
Barley was healthy and seemed reasonably well fed.
Jackson was in bad condition. He was skin and bones and covered in ticks. He had to eat small meals numerous times per day and it took him a few months to really fill out into a healthy weight. He had to be treated for hookworms twice and battled with skin issues for the first year. The vet said it was normal for the immune system of a dog who had been malnourished to struggle, but since we’ve been on a healthy diet, he hasn’t had a health issue in the past year.
Finley was a little under nourished and his skin and fur looked pretty bad, but after a few medicated baths and a balanced diet, he was healthy in no time.
How have your dogs adapted to life as a pet?
As Potcakes, it doesn’t take much adapting to become a member of the family. It’s like they are just thankful to be in a loving environment, and with their mellow temperaments in general, they are easy companions.
Jackson was initially meant to be an outside dog, since he spent his whole first year outdoors. He had never been indoors before and wouldn’t cross the threshold for a long time. I was worried about him tearing up the house, so we started with just letting him in one small area and he would curl up by the door at night. Eventually he worked his way further inside and after a few potty incidences and an explosive couch cushion, he has turned into a well-mannered indoor dog.
How many countries have your pups visited with you?
Barley has been everywhere with me in the past 12 years. I adopted her in Western New York, then we moved to Lake Tahoe California and eventually to Charleston South Carolina where we moved onto a 32’ sailboat. From there we sailed to The Bahamas, which was our initial introduction to the place. We spent one winter cruising the islands and then sailed back to the US and moved to Washington State for about 6 months. Once we had our fair share of gray skies, we moved to Southwest Florida. In 2011 Barley and I moved to The Bahamas, but we have visited the US several times since then. In The Bahamas, she’s lived on several remote islands in The Exumas, in Harbour Island and now we live in Nassau.
You can read about Barley, the Pirate Dog’s adventures as a stowaway to a forbidden island.
Jackson and Finley are island boys and have never been outside of The Bahamas.
Jackson was from Harbour Island and moved with us to a remove island in The Exumas and now lives in Nassau.
The furthest Finley has traveled has been about 5 miles from where we found him on the beach near our house in Nassau. His mom is a street dog and lives down the road with a new litter of street puppies.
Have you had any unexpected challenges?
Barley and Finley are the easiest dogs in the world. Finley of course, being a puppy, has had his moments of puppyhood with destructive behavior, but those instances are getting few and far between as he gets older and mellows out. They tend to get along fine with other dogs and people and stay near me if I let them off leash in public places.
Jackson on the other hand, has been quite a handful. He came with a decent amount of emotional baggage, and he’s big, so he’s harder to handle than say, a Pomeranian. He is unpredictable and goes crazy if he sees another dog (fear aggression). I guess I was spoiled with the “easy” dogs in my life. But I’m glad that Jackson threw some challenges at me, because it’s taught me a lot about dog psychology and training. You can read about our rollercoaster here.
What about unexpected benefits?
Finely and Jackson are the best guard dogs ever. I don’t know how they hear someone walking by outside, but they will go bolting out the doggie door and alert us of someone’s presence outside the gate. In a country where the crime rate is fairly high, the number one deterrent for potential criminals is a couple of big, barking dogs, so they make us feel safe at home.
Why should someone else consider adopting a street dog?
There are so many amazing dogs out there that need good homes. My favorite dogs (the ones with the most character) are the ones that aren’t necessarily programmed to be something in particular (hunting dog, herding dog, working dog, etc). I find that street dogs tend to be savvy, personable, intelligent and have good social skills. Jackson wasn’t technically a street dog since he was contained to someone’s backyard and wasn’t properly socialized as a puppy. But Finley learned from a young age that he needed to be personable to get somewhere in life (and it worked). He gets along great with other dogs and is comfortable in most situations I throw at him. You almost get a sense of gratefulness from the rescue dogs, and I feel as though the bond is much stronger if they came from a difficult background.