I have known for many years that I wanted a Bahamian Potcake for my next dog. These bright eyed, slender dogs, common throughout the Bahamas, have been a consistent staple in my life. Every year, over the last ten years, I leave the islands saying: “next year I will be bringing one home,” and this year was that year. Here is the story of A Potcakes Journey to Utah: A Dog Story.
A little background…
I have been fishing at the Andros South Bonefish Lodge with the Fishwest crew for many years now. The staff and guides there have become great friends and the island of South Andros is a place that I can find peace and refuge. One of my favorite, often underappreciated aspects of the lodge are the stalwart cast of potcake companions that call the grounds of the Andros South Lodge home.
The name potcake comes from the traditional dish served on many of the islands in the Caribbean of peas and rice. This dish leaves a burned puck in the bottom of the pot, called the “potcake”. This was more often fed to the dogs and was usually their only meal, if you can call it that.
The Potcake, has only recently been recognized as a breed. This super-mutt is made up of generations of breeding the original dogs brought to the Caribbean during the time of the colonies. They are wicked smart, hardy and, once bonded to a human, fiercely loyal.
Although these dogs enjoy the adoration of anglers from around the world, they are not exactly domesticated. They are known to chase the occasional car, fight for scraps, and chase off any intruders of K-9 variety off of the lodge property.
The people that made this possible…
Liz Fincher and Max Pushak set foot on the island of South Andros 3 years ago as operations managers of the Andros South Lodge and they do a hell of a job. Liz, in her own right is a saint and the Andros South Potcakes squad hit the lottery when they meet Liz and Max. The dogs went from the edge of starvation to three solid meals a day. Needless to say, they are a lot healthier and happier these days. Aside from looking out for the lodge dogs, Liz spends a lot of her down time and finances taking care of dogs all around the island. In fact, the Andros South rod truck is known by many of the dogs on the island as a spot to get a good meal.
On top of providing meals and love to many potcakes dogs around the island, Liz, Max, and other great volunteers have recently gone to great lengths to set up a seasonal vet clinic weekend on the island. This clinic happened to be during our most recent Fishwest trips to the Island. It allows for the local community to bring their potcake companions for checkups, flea and tick medicines, and spay and neutering procedures.
This act of extreme generosity and kindness and easy access to a vet led me to say “this is the year” and finally make my dream a reality and bring a potcake to the mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah. With three days left in our trip, Liz brought us a visitor to the Deep Creek dock after fishing. A beautiful black and white puppy with a calm disposition and an adorable white fur heart on the top of her head. I knew it was meant to be. I gave Liz two thumbs up and a full green light.
Liz immediately jumped into action and worked her saint-like magic. She coordinated vaccinations, health certificate paperwork, an awesome ventilated pet carrier, and even sacrificed a few nights of good sleep so I could go fishing well rested and puppy free.
Busting Charlie Out..
The last day of the trip came and with that usually comes sadness. Leaving your friends and a bonefish laden paradise is usually pretty difficult. However, this time was different. The sense of adventure with my new potcake friend was a very surreal feeling. The doggo and I boarded the Andros South Lodge bus and our goal was Salt Lake City or BUST!
I was nervous for our return trip through customs in Fort Lauderdale. I expected the worst, but the agent only glanced over at my potcake declaration and said “great, have a wonderful day.” We opened the doors of US Customs and Border Patrol in Fort Lauderdale and my little potcake was a US citizen. The whole process was so easy it felt surreal.
Throughout the whole process, she was super calm, cool, and collected. Like the greatest bonefishing anglers who visit her island. I expected chaos when I got to Salt Lake and opened the gifted pet carrier. What I got was anything but, my little potcake emerged chill as ever. No pun intended.
My wife and I named her Charlie as in Crazy Charlie after the tried and true bonefish fly pattern. She also takes her name from Charlie Sweeting, who guides at the Andros South lodge. Their demeanor’s are very similar and I am sure that Mr. Sweeting would get quite a laugh out of that.
Charlie has only been with us for a week now and she is coming out of her shell. She is a great cuddler, house training is coming along quick, and as far as puppies go she is extremely mellow. I cannot wait to get her out on our local waters and exploring the mountains around her new home. She has brought a tremendous amount of joy into our house for my wife and I alike and who would have thought, she absolutely LOVES romping in the snow.
I will forever be a giant advocate for the potcakes of the Bahamas. If you are looking to make an addition to your family, consider adding a potcake. There are plenty of potcake rescues and advocate groups throughout the country that can help you find a island dog of your own. Or you can bring home one of your own as the ultimate souvenir of your next saltwater fishing adventure! If you can’t bring a puppy home but would still like to help the dogs of the Bahamas you can donate to Baark! Baark! is a non-profit organization with no government funding. ALL of your money donated goes directly towards helping the animals. Baark believes that spay and neuter is the only way to solve the Bahamas problem of animal overpopulation and suffering. They also promote and provide education on responsible pet ownership to local communities.