Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have you .....

Have you hugged your dog today?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dispatches from La Habana

Greetings from La Habana.

Here I am at day five and I finally have some time to offer some commentary about this trip.

December 14th found me partaking in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Consejo Cientifico Veterinario de Cuba (Veterinary Council).
This celebratory event was initiated and for the most part organized before the untimely death of Dr.Fermin, President of the Veterinary Council. His wife Dra.Beatriz Amaro picked up the torch and carried the planning of this event to it’s completion.

One observation from this trip is the increased number of dogs in the street. Not only increase numbers but in poorer shape.
More on this when I return to Canada.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oaxaca, Mexico

It's me again. Perhaps you've been wondering what's gong on ... well, a lot.
I interrupt my last Cuba report with a trip to Oaxaca (sounds like Wahaca), Mexico
We traveled to this part of Mexico with the specific purpose of taking in the celebration, Día de los Muertos.

You will be hard pressed to find a more colourful festival.
Oaxaca is very much a town of artists and craftspeople.

True to form ... I did search out a dog story.
Before my departure I was connected with Rebecca Raab. This expat lives with here husband on property that has been in his family since the '60s.
Together they operate a wonderful guest house called Casa Raab .

Wandering the streets of Oaxaca I noticed few dogs in the streets.
Most visible dogs seemed to be associated with a person or purpose.
The one below was the "greeter" at a monument supply company.

This one seemed to clean up after lunch at the market.

This town is amazingly clean.
Recycling is second to none and people are constantly cleaning up.

Brooms seem to be on standby and at the ready should any rubbish hit the ground.
There is little to no sign of dogs being in the streets ... you know what I mean.

In the perfect world, I would like to think that the lack of strays was due to a great humane population control program.
The world is not perfect.
The efficiency with which the streets are cleaned is also displayed by the dog catcher.
This is a town that runs on tourism.
Need I say more.

You do see more dogs as you get out of town.

Rebecca calls her project Megan House.

Megan House was established in 2003 in the memory of her beloved German Shepherd.
"The number of homeless dogs and cats in Oaxaca continues to rise at an alarming rate and organizations to assist them are virtually nonexistent. More resources and facilities are urgently needed to care for these animals and to educate the community about the importance of responsible animal ownership, including sterilization and vaccination."

Read more and perhaps leave a donation here.

Oaxaca is a beautiful part of Mexico.

Should you find yourself traveling to this area ...

...don't forget our four legged friends.

Friday, October 24, 2008

09/26/2008 continued

After a short taxi ride down the Prado and along the Malecon I was in Vedado.
Awaiting me were Amparo and her cousin, my translator when needed, Justo.

A short time later arrived Gladys Morales Wiswell. Gladys is a former president of La Asociación Cubana de Aficionados a los Gatos (ACAG).

Gladys has agreed to take on the role of Coordinator for a project under development with Grupo Duce Maria Loynaz the Universidad de La Habana and Barbara Calm DVM
“Proyecto Felina” is Barbara’s brainchild.
With donated test kits, Barbara and Cuban Vets will see if Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) exist in Havana, Cuba, and if so, to what extent.

Monday, October 13, 2008


This trip to Havana found us staying at a hotel and not our usual Casa.
One week trips to Cuba are more economical if booked as a package.
The Hola Sun package we booked had us flying direct into Havana and staying at the Hotel Telegrafo. This four star is located across from Parque Central and beside my favourite cafe. So, for under $600.00 CDN, we received air into Havana with over 100 lbs of luggage allowance, transfers, and hotel with breakfast for one week. 
That is a great deal as air only with Air Canada would have been $800.00 plus.

View from our room

This trip I had quite a few things on my “to do” list.

To find this dog ...

To get an update on this dog...
-Attend a campaign.

-Meet with Consejo Cientifico Veterinario de Cuba.

-Develop a process for visiting veterinarians to work with Cuban veterinarians on projects of mutual interest.

-To have introductory meetings with Havana area vets. These meetings were to discuss how the Spanky Project may be of assistance to area clinics.

So, with all of this in mind, it was off to Vedado and a meet with Amparo, head of Grupo Dulce Maria Loynaz.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


September 25th found me packed and heading to Toronto for my third trip of the year.
Flying Cubana, and being allowed 2 x 23 kg, permitted me to take a large quantity of pre approved supplies and books. Thanks to Mags for giving up a generous portion of her 2 x 23 kg to haul for the dogs.

I must say, that with our allowance, we did take the opportunity to deliver about 8 kg each of medical supplies to Policlinico Docente Principal de Urgencia Tomas Romay in Habana Vieja.
These bags were provided by Not Just Tourists (NJT)- Toronto.
NJT provides bags of donated medical supplies for delivery to Cuba - free of charge.

A few days before departure we were informed our flight would be delayed 5 hours.
Upon arrival at the airport we found out that our CU183 flight would stop first in Havana then go onward to Camaguey. This was odd but appreciated --- as it meant we would be in Havana well before the midnight we were expecting.
Boarding the aircraft there was no one in Tropical Class (first class). Strange. The departure time came and went and we were still on the ground. Soon the Tropical Class seats were occupied. Those in the seats were given a beverage and the aircraft pushed back. Once in the air the curtain between Tropical Class and us in steerage was drawn. After the seat belt sign went off four Cubanos got out of their seats and chatted the entire flight perched, for the most part, on their respective armrests in front of the drawn curtain.

For those interested in the food and beverage inflight, Cristal and Bucanero were offered at $3 CDN.

The meal was enjoyable and much better than the $6 CDN sandwich offered on Air Canada flights.

Greek salad with olives and feta.
Grilled chicken breast served chilled.
Focaccia with tarragon (albeit dry)

Blueberry swirl cheesecake

Our flight was a smooth one but there was one tense moment ---no passengers were allowed to pass the drawn curtain.
The pleadings of one woman who said she could not wait for the washroom line up at the back of the aircraft. Tense to say the least.

Our flight landed in Havana and taxied to an area of the airport unaccustomed to me.
An announcement requested all Havana passengers, "remain seated". This seemed like a cue for all the Camaguey passengers to queue in the aisle.
Stairs were rolled up to the aircraft, the doors opened, and Tropical Class emptied --- along with the chatty arm resting Cubanos.
There was a whole lot of hugging and hand shaking taking place on the tarmac.
After a few minutes of this the aircraft door was closed and everyone was told to be seated.
The stairs were rolled back and the engines started.
We taxied to the main terminal.

Here is what we figure was going on.
On September 24th, Cuban Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura addressed the United Nations in New York.
It was likely that to return to Cuba the delegation and security (aka chatty armresters) flew NYC - Toronto to connect with a Cubana flight to Havana. Our Cubana flight.
So, to accommodate the Cuban delegation, our flight was delayed five hours and landed in Havana first and not Camaguey as originally scheduled.

After disembarking we proceeded to the immigration area. It was obvious we were the only arriving flight as the oficers began to scatter for their booths, firing up the computers at our appearance.
It was 9:20 pm and a very quiet airport.
Clearing immigration was smooth, taking two minutes and one question. Compare that to my previous trip where the officer in Varadero questioned me for 20 minutes.
As I mentioned earlier, I had my supplies pre approved. Upon recovering our bags I showed the rubber stamped paperwork to Aduana officials and was directed to the exit.
The elapsed time from arrival at the passenger terminal to exiting into the Havana night was 21 minutes . Suave

Monday, September 8, 2008

Trinidad and Ike

Preparing for Ike
Luna and the Lada
safe and dry.

At the time of this post the eye of Ike is locate very close to the town of Trinidad on the southern coast of Cuba.

This is a good opportunity to recap some of the work being done in Trinidad.
Click here for a trip report from 2007.

Julio's "Diana Project is progressing with the assistance of donated supplies from visitors to Trinidad.

If you are traveling to Trinidad, consider delivering some horse wormer or other supplies to Julio.

Wormer is easily found on the Internet

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hurricanes Are In Season

Ike is on his way .... arriving tonight.

I have received word from Havana that they are preparing for a big blow. Already electical interruptions are being experienced and it’s raining pretty good.
 Some Casa Particulare operators are directing their guests to book into hotel. Evacuations, no doubt, have begun in areas.

Last week,Gustav did some serious damage to La Isla de Juventud (Isle of Youth) in western Cuba.
 Ike could bring tremendous damage as it looks like it may run right up the spine of Cuba.

As for me ... the date is set and the flight is booked.
I depart Sept 25th for a week in Havana.
In these days of airline cutbacks due to the price of fuel, Cubana Airline still has a generous baggage allowance.
I will be allowed two checked bags at 23 kg each and a carry on of 5 kg for a total of 51 kg. 
For those that are metrically challenged that’s 112.2 pounds.

If you are planning a trip to Cuba don’t forget the furry ones as well as the people.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let's Watch This One.

I have requested a list of needs as a result of hurricane Gustav smashing western Cuba last week.

Here is a look at the next dangerous weather system, Hurricane Ike.
Ike looks very dangerous at this point.
I plan on being in Havana September 24th and will be deliver supplies as required.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wish List Wednesday

Can you help?

I have a large supply of donated supplies awaiting delivery to Cuba.
If you are located in the Toronto - Kingston corridor and have space to spare I have supplies for you. I can put together a package to suit your weight / space limits.

If you think you can help please let me know.
For those willing to deliver supplies to Havana, Holguin, Trinidad, Camaquey (Varadero soon) I will provide all the needed contact info and back up contacts.

Should you care to acquire supplies on your own below is a list:

Wormers, flea and tick preventatives are greatly needed.
For your information if an animal has a flea infestation it has worms. Therefore the need
to rid the animal of fleas goes hand in hand with worming.
Any products will be appreciated - collars, shampoos, drops and sprays etc.

DRONCIT (Praziquantel)
Praziquantel kills mature and immature development stages of tapeworms in the
intestine after a single treatment.

Control of all intestinal worms.

Ivomec 1% Injection (Ivermectine) for Cattle & Swine
Do not purchase Ivomec Plus as it has a negative effect on the livers of dogs.
The dosage of this product has been worked out for use on dogs. This is a highly
effective remedy for parasites and mange mites.
This product can be purchase at farmer’s co-ops and TSC Stores in the United States.

Replacement shaver blades for an Oster A5 Golden #40 blade ($30.00 USD)
Animal marker kit ie Spaulding Special Electric Tattoo Animal Marker (110V) ($340.00)

Permectrin II
Provides long-acting killing power for flies, lice, mites, ticks, fleas and mosquitoes

UK source for wormers

Needles, syringes
Digital thermometers
Dog and Cat carriers

Veterinary texts both english and spanish
Veterinary material in digital format
Care and training of domestic animals
Care and training of equines

Grooming equipment (Shavers, brushes, scissors, shampoo, nail clippers, flea combs, etc)
Scrub shirts and pants for staff and volunteers.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"You can't save them all..."

On my trip in May I came across this little guy in Centro Habana.
It was my last day and as I say to myself often,
 "you can't save them all".

I took a few shots and moved on.

Once back in Canada I could not keep the little guy out of my mind.
What to do?
I sent an email to one of my contacts in Havana with some photos and the location of the sighting.
A request was forward that inquires be made as to the dogs situation.
With in a few days I received a reply the dog and two others live with an elderly resident of the neighbourhood.
Apparently two dog do not leave the house but this one does.

This little guy known as Lion is now receiving anti-parasite treatment both internal and external. A dog that looks like this is a target for Zoonosis (dog catcher). Each week zoonosis picks up street dogs and holds them for three days in a location outside of Havana.
If not claimed within three days they are killed with strychnine.

The other two dogs as well as the elderly resident are also being helped out.

"You can't save them all... but helping just one feels so good”

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Memory of ....

Dr. Fermin M. Palazuelos Tuset

My deepest condolences go out to the family of Dr. Fermin M. Palazuelos Tuset.
Fermin the President of the Consejo Cientifico Veterinario de Cuba passed on Tuesday.

Since our first meeting a couple of years ago Fermin has been instrumental in assisting the Spanky Project's efforts to help the animals of Cuba.

Official recognition of this assistance came in February of this year when Fermin on behalf of the Consejo signed a Letter of Intent with the Spanky Project and the Grupo Dulce Maria Loynaz.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What can one day's interest do?

Perhaps some of you have heard of Leona Helmsley.

After Leona’s death in 2007 her will made news when it made public the bequest of $12 million to her Maltese dog named Trouble. Some Judge, against Leona’s wishes, decided Trouble did not need $12 million. Judge Reena Roth awarded $2 million to Trouble, $4 million to an undisclosed charity and $6 million to grandchildren that had be cut out of the will.

Now one has to ask the question...
What’s going to happen to the remaining $8 billion of her estate?
Yes, Leona directed that $8 billion be given to benefit the welfare of dogs.
It has been reported that in “ 2003 that the money should go to poor people and dogs. A year later, the sources said, she dropped poor people from the list. “
I wonder if some Judge is going to mess with her directive.

This money will hopefully be put to good use by good people to help dogs.
I wonder if the funds are directed for use in the USA only or whether international Organizations will also benefit.

Ah, what to do with just one hours worth of interest on $8 billion.
Do you realize that at 4% interest per annum the first hour would generate $36,529.68?

That is a lot of Dog Wash Fundraisers.

To the left is the Canada Day Dog Wash in Picton, Ontario.

Proceeds went to the building fund for the Picton Dog Park.

How would you put $36,529.68 to work for the benefit of the canine world?

Please leave your comments.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Musings On A Monday

Some members of the Muslim community in Scotland took offense to the poster below.

In what can only be viewed as over sensitivity without consultation it is being proposed that there be ...

Canine footwear for police dogs entering Muslim homes?
By Venkata VemuriLondon | July 06, 2008 12:05:06 PM IST

Police sniffer dogs may have to cover their feet when entering Muslim homes in order not to cause offense.

Efforts by security agencies to respect Muslim sensibilities in crime probes has come down to this - canine footwear. Guidelines being drawn up by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) urge awareness of religious sensitivities when using dogs to search for drugs and explosives, reports The Sunday Times.

The guidelines, to be published this year, originally designed to cover mosques will now apply to other buildings, including homes.

Where Muslims object, officers will be obliged to use sniffer dogs only in exceptional cases. Where dogs are used, they will have to wear bootees with rubber soles.

The new rule has its roots in a crime prevention poster of the Tayside Police of Dundee in Scotland featuring a german shepherd puppy. A Muslim councillor objected to the poster, saying some of his brethren may find it objectionable on the ground that dogs are unclean.

However, Muslims say it is stretching things too far. One of Britain's leading Imams, Ibrahim Mogra, says: "In Islamic law the dog is not regarded as impure, only its saliva is. Most Islamic schools of law agree on that. If security measures require to send a dog into a house, then it has to be done. I think Acpo needs to consult better and more widely."

John Midgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, says: "The police are in effect being overly sensitive to potential criminals and not being sensitive enough to the public at large who need to be protected. These sort of things have a counter-productive effect because they cause huge friction between different communities."

Dog lovers are not far behind lampooning the police. Caroline Kisko, of the Kennel Club, says: "We would not condone any attempt to make search dogs wear special clothing, which could cause them distress."

Police dogs at present are issued with footwear only at scenes of explosions to prevent them injuring their paws on broken glass.


In an effort to provide a little education I offer the following from the website

Read: haraam = forbidden.
1. It is NOT haraam to own a dog, though it is not hygienic to keep a dog in the house.

2. It is NOT haraam to touch a dog or any other animal. If the saliva of a dog touches you or any part of your clothing, then it is required of you to wash the body part touched and the item of clothing touched by the dog’s mouth or snout.

3. It is incumbent upon all Muslims who own animals, whether for farming or work purposes or as pets, to provide adequate shelter, food, water, and, when needed, veterinary care for their animals. Arrangements must be made, if one is going to be away from home, to have one’s animals taken care of as well.

4. It is haraam to keep a dog or any other animal on a short lead for long periods without food, water, and shelter. Dogs need exercise and are social creatures who form organized “family” structures in nature. Dog owners therefore need to spend time daily with their dogs.

5. It is cruel, and therefore haraam, to keep any animal in a cage so small that it cannot behave in a natural way.

6. Fireworks cause untold suffering to most domestic animals because of their acute sense of hearing.

7. It is haraam to participate in any blood “sport,” like dog fighting and trophy hunting.

I find number six hits home for me. Our mutt Skeeter was freaked out over the recent weekend by fireworks. Even though they were at a great distance both July 1st and 4th were a stress for her.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day

Going strong at 141

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

F.... is for a Forever home

Some of you my remember from last October the beginning of the Shaggy dog rescue.
A dog to be named Shaggy was rescued from Cuba by a caring lady from England with the help of the Spanky Project here in Canada.

Recently I received an email update from Marilyn in the UK.

Hi Terry,

Shaggy has had a haircut . Perhaps I should find another name for him now!! ............ (No..... he will always be Shaggy to me, because that is his history).

When he arrived in England in November he weighed 7 kilo but now he weighs 9.5 kilo and is full of energy. He has been home for a week and we are having fun together. The first night he was home I showed him his bed, turned out the light and shut the door. He settled down immediately and he did not disturb me all night. He is so good. Already he sits when he is told to and comes to me most of the time when he is called. He loves to meet the other dogs in the park and is friendly and confident, therefore I can let him off the lead with no problem. He is a pleasure to be with and he has changed my life. ... While he was in quarantine I visited him 2 or 3 times a week and now instead of playing with my computer I play with him and take him for walks.

With best wishes always,


Don't you like happy endings!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


E... is for educación
Education is the corner stone of any Humane Population Control program.
Dispel the myths and get down to work!!!

MYTH: It's better to have one litter first.
FACT: Medical evidence indicates just the opposite. In fact, the evidence shows that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Many veterinarians now sterilize dogs and cats as young as eight weeks of age. Check with your veterinarian about the appropriate time for these procedures.

MYTH: I want my dog to be protective.
FACT: Spaying or neutering does not affect a dog's natural instinct to protect homeand family. A dog's personality is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones.
MYTH: I'll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens.
FACT: You may find homes for all of your pet's litter. But each home you find means one less home for the dogs and cats in shelters who need good homes. Also, in less than one year's time, each of your pet's offspring may have his or her own litter, adding even more animals to the population. The problem of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.

I wonder what happened to the pups birthed on this Havana roof.

An unspayed female cat, her mate and all their offspring, producing 2 litters per year
with 2.8 surviving kittens per year can total 11,606,077 cats in only 9 years. Source: Spay USA

An unspayed female dog, her mate and all of their puppies, if none are ever neutered or spayed, add up to 67,000 dogs in 6 years. Source: Spay USA

Education is even provided at the campaigns.
At this location informative material is posted.
“Como a cuidar su perros.”

How to care for your dog.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my favourite beverage at this point.

E.... is for Espresso.
For a good cup of Black Gold in in nice setting visit Cafe Escorial located on Plaza Viaja in Havana.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dogs, Doctors and Donations

D for ... well ........Dogs!!

Each week in Havana, on average, 150 unloved dogs are destroyed.
The Spanky Project is supporting efforts for humane population control in Havana and other locations in Cuba.

D for Doctors.

Joemel, Fermin, Ibrahim, Alexis, Portales,Livan, Eduardo,Luis and Juan are some of those I have come to know..
All of these Doctors have become compañeros in the fight for those that cannot speak.

D for donations
The work that the Doctors do with the dogs and other animals cannot be accomplished without donations of one kind or another.

Jennifer (on the right) and her husband Yoan deliver supplies from Canada to Dr. Margarita Acosta (left). Margarita is the President of the Consejo Cientifico Veterinaro for the Province of Camaguey.
If you care to deliver much needed supplies, I have contacts in Trinidad,Sancti Spiritus, Camaguey, Holquin and Havana. (Varadero coming soon)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cats Consejo Cientifico

C .... is for Cats

While in Havana the Spanky Project provided, through donations, the funding for a 100 Cat Spay / Neuter Campaign.
The campaign was completed in four sessions between February 17 and March 23.
85 females 15 males.

Ever wonder what Cubanos name their cats?
Here are the names of the 100 patients:

C... is for Consejo Cientifico Veterinario de Cuba.

The Consejo has been very supportive of the efforts of the Spanky Project.

Official announcement of Centennial celebrations in December 2008
The Cuban Veterinary Scientific Council calls its members and related national, foreign and international institutions and associations to participate in the activities that will be held during next year at the level of its base structures, provincial branches and National Executive Bureau to mark the centenary in December 2008 of its foundation.

Once the Free School of Veterinary Medicine was founded in April 10, 1907 at the request of Professor Dr. Francisco Etchegoyen y Montane, a number of veterinarians who had graduated at different colleges abroad defended their titles, organized themselves and proposed the creation of the Asociacion Nacional de Medicina Veterinaria de Cuba (National Association of Veterinary Medicine of Cuba), which was registered the 14th of December 1908 at the provincial government of Havana. Subsequently, the association was given other names, such as: Asociacion de Medicos Veterinarios (1933), Colegio Nacional de Veterinaria (1939), and later Colegio Nacional de Medicina Veterinaria name that was kept until 1962 when it was renamed Colegio Nacional de Ciencia Veterinarias. Veterinarians always remained united in order to fulfill their professional tasks, create scientific sections and coordinate meetings and congresses.

In 1967, by Resolution No. 17 of the Instituto Nacional de Medicina Veterinaria (national veterinary services) of August 28, it was agreed to name the veterinary organization Consejo Cientifico Veterinario de Cuba (Cuban Veterinary Scientific Council), whose mission for forty years has been to unite and integrate professionals, technicians and workers in the field of veterinary sciences with the main purpose of facilitating the continuous technological and scientific improvement of its members. This has been achieved thanks to the work of the scientific societies that additionally have organized many scientific meetings and veterinary congresses of national and international scope throughout the years.

The celebration of the 100 years of the foundation of the veterinary medical association is a duty and a great honor for today’s veterinarians, continuators of the task of many distinguished professionals and scientists as well as significant personalities of Cuba’s social life and history that throughout the different years have been members.

It will be a great pleasure to see our members and friends celebrating and participating together in the commemorative activities for the centenary of the foundation of our association.

Dr. Fermin M. Palazuelos Tuset
Cuban Veterinary Scientific Council