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The dog we want to smuggle back to the States

One morning while we were waiting for our bus to arrive (about a week after we arrived in Cuba), we came across this cute little puppy outside our hotel.She had about five different names since the first time we met her, but we have settled on Ellie, as it suits her perfectly.At first, we thought she was probably just a stray that we would never see again, but it has been over two weeks and she is still around and she seems to show up in the strangest places! For instance, we found her at the market that is about 2-3 blocks away from our hotel when we turned around to find Ellie following right behind us down the sidewalk. Since she evidently crossed two major avenues to get to us, we decided to make sure she made it back to the hotel in one piece, so Lauren carried her across all of the major intersections like she was our own to take care of.

Then again, just a few days ago, she surprised us again.We were getting ready to leave for class when we saw Ellie out front of the hotel.As always, we stopped to say hello and rub her tummy, but then she decided to follow us. She walked all the way (about 2 miles) to class with us, and then proceeded to come into class.She was very well behaved, and the instructors at CIM welcomed her into class warmly.She continued to sleep under our table until Sabrina passed out.At that point, just like a domestic puppy would do, Ellie ran right to Sabrina’s side and nudged her face and gave her a little lick to make sure she was okay!To calm the situation as they took care of Sabrina, I took Ellie outside and tried to get her to stay there-to no avail.Eventually Lauren got her to stay outside the building, where she waited for us until we came out and then walked all the way back to the hotel with us.For being a stray, she is awfully loyal and attached!She knows how to sit (which we didn’t teach her, promise!), and play fetch…kind of, we’re still working on the whole bring-the-toy back idea.Everyone in the group keeps joking that Lauren and I are going to find a way to bring her back to the states with us, which I am certain that we would do if we could figure out how to go about it!

I guess my reason for writing about Ellie is two-fold.First, to show everyone at home how cute she is, and second, to explain a culture difference between the US and Cuba (and many other countries) that at least I have noticed since being here.In Cuba, animals are not treated as they are in the US.Obviously, in the States we tend to treat our pets as part of our family, give them names and make sure they are just has happy with our company as we are with theirs, but here they don’t even refer to the animals as ‘he’ or ‘she’; instead ‘it’.We have seen some dogs here that would most likely make your stomach turn and maybe even bring a tear to your eye, as it has happened to me a few times already.Since I’m sure some of you who are reading this are wondering why we would play with this stray dog and name her and take of her the best we can, I’ll tell you.Because Ellie does not deserve the life she’s been given because she is a great, polite, little dog, and after seeing so many other dogs here that are struggling, it is the absolute least we can do to play and take care of just one for the next seven weeks.They do not have animal shelters to take care of unwanted or stray dogs, and they certainly have a population control problem here.Honestly, we have not even seen a pet store or veterinary hospital anywhere.

After seeing so many of these dogs who are struggling, do all of us here in Cuba a favor:If you have a dog, go hug/play/snuggle with him or her, because we all miss ours and your pup should know how lucky they are to have you, and you should know how lucky you are to have them in your life!


P.S.No one should be surprised if we show up in Columbus with Ellie. If there is a way, that won’t break the law or the bank, I assure you that we will find a way to bring her home. You have been warned.