Monday, September 30, 2013

“For what are we born if not to aid one another?” - E Hemingway

Signed sealed and delivered - June 20, 2013.
The Spanky Project has formalized it's relationship with Finca Vigia / Museo Hemingway.
This agreement was three years in the making.
Our heartfelt appreciation goes to Ada Rosa Alfonso Rosales - director Museo Hemingway - for keeping the dream of this project alive.
Special thanks to Gladys Collazo Usallán presidenta del Consejo Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural with whom the agreement was signed.
Upon taking up her position, as president, she saw the benefits of the proposal and a signing at the
14th International Ernest Hemingway Colloquium
was arranged.

Año 55 de la Revolución

To Whom it May Concern:

The signatories below to this Letter of Intention agree on collaboration between the Consejo Nacional de Patrimonio Nacional, Museo Ernest Hemingway / Finca Vigía and the Canadian organization, Spanky Project, with the objective to:

Create and maintain a stable and healthy cat and dog population at Finca Vigía that reflects the historic character of Ernest Hemingway’s life in this location.


It is widely known that Ernest Hemingway befriended dogs and cats throughout his life, and that he referred to cats as “purr factories” and “love sponges” who gave him much comfort and companionship. The historic archives of Ernest Hemingway at Finca Vigía, as well as in Key West, make it clear that he was always surrounded by dogs and cats. At any one time at Finca Vigía, he had between eight and nine dogs and over fifty cats, including special rooms set aside for sheltering his cats and a full-time staff person whose responsibility was the ongoing care of these animals. He also buried some of his favourite dogs in marked graves.


To provide a healthy and controlled symbolic population – that is, small and manageable numbers – of dogs and cats at Finca Vigía to represent the cats and dogs with whom Hemingway always lived.

Project Phases

Phase I: Stabilization of the existing dog population through a program of sterilization, vaccination and deparasitation. (Sterilizations completed; vaccination and deparasitation ongoing)
Phase II: Reintroduction of Hemingway’s cats.
Community and educational program through a “Hemingway Look-Alike Cat” search to identify cats that might be introduced to Finca Vigía.
Design and construct an adequate shelter for the cats. (A shelter already exists for the dogs.)
Phase III: Using Finca Vigía as the launching pad, conduct a mass sterilization campaign in the local community, thus stabilizing the surrounding dog and cat population.

Cooperative programs with the local community.
Participation of the community and Cuban veterinary partners.
Educational programs and materials for Finca Vigía workers on the program objectives and care and protection of animals.
Collaboration of the above and international veterinary partners.
Sterilization of Finca Vigía cats and dogs.
Ongoing vaccination and deparasitation program for Finca Vigía dogs and cats.
Future sterilization, vaccination and deparasitation program for dogs and cats in the community surrounding Finca Vigía.

Cooperation: Spanky Project

Provide medications and supplies for sterilization, deparasitation, vaccination and ongoing veterinary care for the animals.
Mobilize international participation and support for the project.
Provide qualified international veterinarians who could be called upon, when necessary, by the Cuban veterinarians participating in the project for information and consultation.
Coordinate an international veterinarian team to work side-by-side with Cuban veterinarian(s) in the project during Phase III.
This will be known as a VetTrek (specialized veterinarian tourism under the Spanky Project). The programs could also include other properties under the administration and stewardship of CNPC.
Promote this program and collaboration with CNPC on the Spanky Project website.

Cooperation: Consejo Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural y Finca Vigía

Provide historic information (e.g., photos, descriptions, etc.) of the dog and cat population that existed during Hemingway’s period of residence.
Guarantee the ongoing health care of the animal population including appropriate shelter.
Identify a veterinarian doctor from a nearby community who would be responsible for regularly monitoring and caring for the cat and dog population. This would include scheduled exams, vaccinations, deparasitation, etc. (Done)
Identify a staff person at Finca Vigía who would be responsible for the day-to-day non-medical care of the animals, e.g., the provision of food and water, the administration of oral deparasitation tablets under the direction of the veterinarian, regular and recorded observations of the animals, etc. This person should have the capacity to speak with visitors about the program.
A systematic, regular and guaranteed supply of food for Finca Vigía’s dogs and cats including the exploration of a written agreement with the slaughterhouse to expedite the regular purchase of viscera. The provision of a regular supply of non-protein items such as sweet potato, rice, etc.
Inform the local dog catchers about the program and that Finca Vigía dogs and cats, once sterilized, are identifiable by a tattoo in their ear.
Finca Vigía to accept and hold donations from visitors for the program.
Agreement from CNPC that the Spanky Project and its VetTrek program can use the Finca Vigía and Hemingway name in its promotion of the programs.
CNPC to list this program on its website.

After the signing Mayra Pombo Garcia interviewed me for CUBANOW.

Also, it was great to get a mention in Gramma.
This is an opportunity for all you Hemingway/animal lovers to combine your two passions in support of a unique program.
Email us and we will let you know how you can help.

Fellow Canadian Brian Gordon Sinclair has been a long time friend of the Spanky Project.
He has provided ongoing support for the feeding of Finca Vigia's resident dogs.
On this day he came through again.
Thanks Brian!
Throughout the colloquium Brian gave several performances including 
a wonderful evening performance of his Hot In Havana.
"A superb one-actor show that will make you
believe that Ernest Hemingway is standing right there in front of you.
 It's a rousing adventure of sharks, pirates, submarines and romance ."
During the Colloquim there were many interesting papers presented such as

Another presenter was Cuban Veterinarian Dr.Walfrido López.
His theme,“Hemingway, los gatos y el tiempo”
Walfrido was very kind to present me with his DVD,
Tips Para El Cuidado Del Cats - Tips For The Care of Cats.
He has offered his assistance with our programs.
In addition to the "scholarly" presentations we were taken on some field trips.
Here "The Hemingways" enjoy the Museo de Ron.
We also traveled to Cojimar, a small fishing village east of Havana.
 This is where Hemingway docked his boat the Pilar.
The group participated in a wreath laying ceremony in memory of Hemingway...
.... and a pit stop at Las Terrazas one of his haunts.

Another gem discovered on this trip was meeting David Soul, you remember him- 
Hutch of Starsky and Hutch. 
He is leading the restoration of Hemingway's long lost 1955 Chrysler New Yorker.  David and Christopher Baker- author of Mi Moto Fidel and various Moon travel books- were also working on the documentary.
The closing ceremony was held at Finca Vigia.
In addition to being Hemingway's home, it is home to
Estrellas de Gigi, or Gigi's Stars.
 They were the boys baseball team that Hemingway organized in the 1940s.
A tradition that continues to this day.

Finca Vigia is where Feo, Fita, Kacha (aka Chiquita), Linda, Negrita, 
Negrito, Niña, Pinti and Pinto reside.
These are the dogs we provide for.
Food, vaccines, deparasitizations and check ups.
Tatiana, a Finca staff member, and Pinto.

 The Spanky Project is putting together a VetTrek (veterinary tour)  on the trail of Hemingway.
This will included working in Habana Vieja, San Francisco de Paula - Finca Vigia and Cojimar.
Deparasitizations, sterilizations and consultations will be the order of the day.
If you are in the veterinary field and would like to be kept informed as to our plans, we would 
love to hear from you.
Email us your contact info and details of your field of practice.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In Memoriam


Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
Author unknown..

Ten years ago today we said  Adiós.
Oh yes, we didn't play dress up with Spanky. 
The cow sweater shots were from her knitwear modeling days!