Amidst all of the veterinary visits, we also spent some time beginning our scholarship program for the high school kids in the area. We set up a meeting with the Vice Principal at Georgetown Technical High School. When we arrived in Hopkins it was one week prior to the start of the new school year, and there were kids attempting to raise money for school on every street corner. In Belize, there is no public education system. All schools cost money and high school is exceedingly expensive for Belizean families. On average, Belizeans make $1.65 USD per hour ($26k per year), and high school costs roughly $1,000.00 USD per year. Most families have at least three children, and education is simply not affordable.
We wanted to make sure that the funds that we had raised went to the kids who needed it the most. We also needed to get a full accounting of the cost of school for each child per year. This cost included tuition, daily meals and snacks, because hungry kids have a hard time learning, uniforms, books, and supplies. The staff at the school was incredibly helpful and they gave us a detailed tour of the facilities. You can watch our terribly shaky video below. We learned at that time about two young ladies whose father had been in a horrible motorcycle accident and lost a portion of his foot. He was unable to work for the foreseeable future and the girls would not be able to go to school. We also learned about two other students who would need financial help. We agreed to sponsor these four students, even though we hadn’t yet raised the money for all four. We wanted to make sure they could all start school on the first day and begin the year strong.
Tapir’s or Pigs? Brief Comic Relief!
After we left the school, we were driving down the road and I made Rob pull over so I could get a photo of a Mama Tapir and her baby that I had spotted. I was so excited to see a Tapir in the wild and I hopped out and began making my way across a large weedy field to snap a photo of them. They were furiously rooting in the mud and neither looked up until I got close enough for a picture. It was at that point that I realized that I had just walked through a field to photograph a mama PIG and her baby! She gave me an angry oink, and told me I was close enough! When I turned around I realized that I had attracted quite the crowd, and was being watched by a large group of Belizeans who I am sure were baffled as to why I pulled over to photograph a pig!
Zack and Daisy “Relaxed”
I didn’t forget to continue the tale of Zack and Daisy. We knew we couldn’t send Zack and Daisy back to their home if we wanted them to receive the medications and care that they desperately needed. So Rob devised a plan to “scare” the owner into surrendering them by describing in detail the extreme care they would need going forward; however, in the days leading up to the meeting Daisy discovered that the home next door had a pen with outdoor rabbits inside and she turned into a crazed, psycho beast every time we took her outside. All she wanted was to catch and eat the poor bunnies. Zack was also interested in the bunnies and as the days moved on both dogs started to relax in our care. A relaxed dog with no training, can be a BAD DOG and they were A LOT!
We had started to reconsider keeping them, when we learned that Zack was trained…..to be a raging racist! Why American’s would move to a predominantly black and hispanic country if they’re afraid of different races is beyond me! Apparently his former people were very prejudiced and he picked up on that behavior. We learned this when a friend and her granddaughters came to the house. She was aware of the people, and Zack was not nice to her granddaughters. He growled and snarled, and was clearly not okay with the beautiful caramel skinned ladies who tried so hard to love him.
We didn’t know what to do, but we were overwhelmed to say the least. We had a veterinary appointment for both dogs the day following the encounter and the veterinarian confirmed the story. She said that both dogs had been conditioned to fear people of color. Apparently Zack had bitten several people prior and the veterinarian recommended that we euthanize him. We told her we would think about it and get back to her, we had to leave and meet our contractor, Zack’s new owner, on our property.
Rob and I were silent the entire way there. Neither of us knew what to do about these two dogs that we had formed a love-hate relationship with during our ten days together. When we arrived at the property our contractor was already there. I let the dogs out of the car and their responses were undeniable. Zack saw his owner, turned around, and got back in the car. Daisy tried to bolt! As she ran away he went to grab her leash and she hit the ground in fear and began to urinate all over herself. She shook with terror and my heart absolutely broke. I put her back in the car and Rob and I exchanged a look. We both knew these dogs would not be going back.
Rob began with his fear tactics, describing all of their medical needs to their owner, and he was not met with the response that he had hoped for. Our contractor said he would ask his wife, and again we were left in limbo. I decided to take a different approach. I simply described how loved they were and how much my heart would break without them. He agreed then and there to give us both dogs. I felt a brief sigh of relief, before realizing that we would have to return to the states in four days to close on our house. What in the world would I do with two dogs for the time we would be gone?
We reached out to the veterinarian and she agreed to board both dogs for the time we were away. Rob would return to Belize full time two weeks later, and he would pick them up at that time. Our friends in the area were going home to South Africa for 6 weeks, and he was watching their dogs, so his living arrangements were already set up. Everything seemed to be in order, when their plans fell through. We now had to find a place for Rob to stay indefinitely, with two “relaxed” dogs and Damn it Carl. We also needed to introduce Zack and Daisy to Carl.
Damn It Carl – The Meeting
We took Carl from his foster home and brought him to our Airbnb for the introduction. I wanted it to be outside, but the desire to catch and kill bunnies was still on Daisy’s mind, so we fashioned a gate out of some chairs to keep all of the dogs on the verandah. We kept Zack on a leash and let Carl and Daisy meet first. He was not excited to meet a new friend and he quickly hid behind my legs, growling and showing his teeth. Daisy had no fear and absolutely no manners. She ignored Carl’s efforts to communicate his displeasure, was not respecting his boundaries, so we had to leash her in order to give Carl space. She just wanted to play but he wasn’t having it. The poor guy was absolutely terrified. We then introduced him to Zack who was completely indifferent. Those two would not have any issues coexisting. After about an hour we released Daisy and she and Carl began to get along. We realized that as long as we had a place for Rob to live while our house was being built, these three would be just fine.
Sleep? Who Needs Sleep?
On our last day we were able to secure a place for Rob to stay with the dogs, and we delivered Carl back to his foster home, and boarded Zack and Daisy back to the vet for boarding. We were absolutely exhausted from our time in Belize and realized that neither of us had even gotten a tan. We had spend all of our time taking care of dogs, kids, and trying to navigate the building process in Belize. It was a lot of work, but we both agreed that this is exactly what we are supposed to be doing.
During our time in Belize our Colorado house went under contract and we would have seven days to get the rest of our belongings out of our house and 14 days before Rob would permanently relocate to Belize. This would not be an easy task to accomplish, and my anxiety was out of control. I realized very quickly how real this entire adventure had become and the fear began to set in.
Stay tuned for the next blog to hear about how I lost my mind!