How to Acquire Treasure in the Abacos - A True Story
Jacq Marie’s Trip Report:
After a week of sun, swimming, visiting, reading, relaxing and good food, my neighbor Judy and I took the Bolo Ferry from Green Turtle Cay back to the Treasure Cay Airport to fly to Fort Lauderdale and then on to our homes in Atlanta. After arriving on the ferry, we caught a cab to the airport. I carried my bags into the airport and Coral, the friendly desk clerk from Yellow Air Taxi, greeted me with a warm smile, and after exchanging hellos she asked, “When exactly is your connecting flight leaving Fort Lauderdale?” My thought was “Oh, no, I think this plane will be late.” I pulled out our flight information and was going through the itinerary when my friend who I thought was right behind me, opened the door to the airport lobby and said, “Can I have your cheese?”
We had purchased Irish Kerry Gold cheese from Sid’s Grocery in New Plymouth. After eating grilled cheese sandwiches on homemade coconut bread, I thought the cheese was too tasty to leave behind, so I had wrapped the remaining chunk in my bag to take home for a late night snack. And then Judy says, “Do you mind if I take all of your cheese?” I said “Nooo…”, but I wondered, “What’s going on outside that my friend needs cheese?”
After a few minutes, she came into the lobby, pushed her bags to the check-in counter, and then ducked into the bathroom. I looked up and Judy was coming out of the bathroom, crying, and wiping her face with a big wad of toilet paper. I said, “What’s wrong?” She looked at me and said, “He’s going to die and he’s just a puppy!” I went outside and there he stood, jade green eyes, pale creamy coat and then I saw his left hip, it was swollen and looked like someone had smeared the dog with raw hamburger meat. He was holding his left leg off the ground and I saw more scrapes and wounds. Even though he was hunched over, emaciated, and injured, the little puppy managed to shyly wag his tail. It was clear to me that a car had hit this dog, dragging it along the asphalt road.
I went back into the ticket counter and said, “Do you expect the plane to be late?” Coral responded, “Well . . . you see, the pilot had to fly Carl down to Eleuthera and then back to Marsh Harbour to pick up three passengers there and then if he has to fly back up here to pick up you two . . . .” Her voice trailed off.
I asked if anyone owned the dog and she said “No, the dog showed up about three weeks ago and has been just hanging around the airport.” I then asked her if a veterinarian practiced in Marsh Harbour. She said, “Yes, Marsh Harbour has three vets.” She smiled at me and handed me the phone book and the phone. The first number I called I got a fast busy signal -- a sure sign that the phones were out. I tried again, but then moved to the second name in the book. I received no answer. At least the phone was ringing! The third vet I called, I received a cheery hello from a lady who identified herself as the vet assistant. I told her I had an injured dog and I wanted to know how I could get health papers to get the dog transferred to the States for treatment. She told me the process would take about thirty minutes. I said “Thirty minutes sounds great.” I thanked her and hung up the phone and looked at Coral.
She looked back at me and softly said, “I think you need to go to Marsh Harbour to catch this airplane. But first you need some rope.” I gave her a quizzical looked “Rope?” “Yes,” she said, “For the dog, to make a leash and collar for the dog.” I smiled and nodded.
Coral walked over to the Royal Bahamas Police Constable Johnson and announced, “We need rope, yes, rope, we need rope here.” The constable looked at us, leaned over and slowly opened his desk drawer in his office, and in the drawer was a tangle of sturdy cotton rope. He carefully measured out the rope and said, “Will this be enough?’’ We both said “Yes!” and he cut the rope and handed it to us with a flourish.
Judy went outside and was able to call the dog who shyly limped towards her. She tied the rope around the dog’s neck and as soon as she did so, the ticket agent crisply called out “Taxi! Theses ladies need to go to Marsh Harbour Airport by way of the Island Veterinary Clinic.” As we motored away from the airport, the ticket agent, the Royal Bahamas Police constables, the snack bar clerk and the passengers waiting for their planes came out to the curb to give us a royal wave to send us off and offered good luck on our journey with the injured Royal Bahamian Potcake.
On the way down to Marsh Harbour we held the injured potcake between us. He trembled and tucked his tail between his legs. He had probably never been in a car before! Once in Marsh Harbour, the taxi driver dropped off Judy and the puppy at the vet clinic. The veterinary assistant who had answered the phone when I called met her at the door and quickly examined the potcake, gave the rabies injection and prepared the Certificate of Health for Dr. Bailey’s signature.
I went on to the airport with our luggage. When the taxi driver dropped me off at the airport, the Yellow Air Taxi agent met me at the curb and the first thing she said to me was “Where is the dog?” I said, “At the vet’s getting his health certificate.” The ticket agent responded, “Well this plane is leaving in thirty minutes, dog or no dog.” I thought “Uh-oh,” went outside and started pacing in front of the airport, looking up every time a car pulled into the drive to see if it was a taxi with Judy and the puppy.
After 35 minutes, the airline agent came out to the curb, grabbed my elbow and said, “We are ready to leave, now! Where is the dog?” I said, “They should be here any minute now, could I please use your phone to call the vet clinic?” The ticket agent replied, “No. The phone is out of order. Go ask the lady over there if you can use her phone.” So I approached a woman sitting behind a counter and quickly explained our dilemma. This stranger, with all good grace and charm, picked up the phone and handed it to me without hesitation. I called the vet clinic and once again got the efficient voice of the vet assistant. I identified myself and asked her if she could give me a status report on the injured dog. She cheerily responded that the injured dog now had his health papers. “His name is Treasure and he is en route to the airport.” I thanked her, hung up and reported back to the ticket agent that the dog was on the way. She looked at me and said, “This better be quick.”
I went outside and continued pacing and looking for a taxi to pull up. Instead, I see my friend with Treasure on her lap, being driven into the airport in a private car. She quickly told me that when she was unable to hail a taxi, the Dr. Bailey asked a couple from Man O’War, who had brought their dog in to be treated for flea allergies, to drive her and the potcake to the airport.
Once we got Treasure into the airport, the ticket agent demanded to see the health certificate, which we provided. She nodded briskly and then said, “That dog can’t get on the plane. It’s not in a crate.” We tried to explain that the puppy would sit quietly and would not be a problem. She insisted that dog might excite the other passengers and the airline could be subject to an FAA fine. So I asked “Do you have a box we could use?” She said “No.” Then she hesitated, slowly smiled and said, “Why don’t you go to the snack bar lady and ask her for a box?’ I did, but the lady in the snack bar told me she did not have a box. She said, “You could look in the dumpster.” In the dumpster I found a small cardboard box and some cardboard flats. I grabbed the cardboard and went back to the ticket agent and asked her if she could give me some tape and scissors and maybe we could tape the cardboard together to make a crate. The ticket agent said, “That will never hold together.”
Just then a well dressed-woman who was waiting in the boarding area, observing all this, stood up, put her arm around me and said, “Come, come with me, I think I can help you.” We walked out of the airport into the parking lot and she introduced herself as Deborah DeVoe. She told me she was a school teacher who recently moved to Marsh Harbour from Nassau to teach at Abaco Central High School, and that she had a plastic storage crate in the back of her truck that we could have. I thanked her profusely and went back to the ticket agent who looked at the crate, looked at me and said, “You can’t put the dog in that crate. It will suffocate.” Then the ticket agent bent over and picked up one of the cardboard flats off the floor and said to me. "Here, tear these up and we will wedge them under the lid so the dog will have air during the flight to the States.”
The pilot produced a roll of duct tape and scissors, and was tearing the cardboard and taping the pieces under the lid. We put Treasure in the box and the pilot finished taping the lid with the cardboard wedges which left a three inch gap for the dog to breathe. Then the pilot took out the flight manifest and I noticed the ticket agent had written a complimentary ticket for a Mr. Treasure of Treasure Cay, Bahamas on the manifest. The pilot and ticket agent lifted the box into the back of the plane. Just as we were leaving, the ticket agent said, “Now mind the dog as the plane lifts off the tarmac, so he will not feel frightened.”
Once airborne, I looked at my watch and realized the ticket agent had held the plane way longer than the thirty minutes! I apologized to our three fellow passengers and thanked them for their patience. They were each gracious and solicitous about the dog’s welfare. Treasure, the Royal Bahamian Potcake puppy, slept through his first flight from the take off to the landing.
When we landed in the States, the pilot helped Judy get the dog out of the box and down the stairs of the plane. At the US Customs check point, Judy commandeered my luggage and I picked up Treasure because he was stiff and sore from being in the box and was having difficulty walking. I put my passport in my mouth and walked up to the US Customs desk. The Customs Agent took the passport out of my mouth, stamped it and put the passport back into my mouth with a bemused smile. After we got the luggage inspected, the Customs agent waved us through with a smile.
Once outside the Jet Center, I left Judy to wait with Treasure and our luggage, while I took the shuttle to the main Fort Lauderdale Airport. While I was gone, a customs agent came out to talk to Judy and wanted to know about the dog. When she told him the story, he said, “Gee, that dog looks hungry. I don’t have any dog food, but I do have some dry cat food. Could I give it to him? And maybe some water, would the dog like some water?”
When I got to the AirTran check-in counter at the Fort Lauderdale Airport, the ticket agent told me that the airline would not be able to ship the dog because they only carried animals that were small enough to fit under the seat of the plane. Our back-up plan was to drive back to Atlanta, so after I explained the Treasure story to the AirTran agent, she issued us a credit for the airfare without a penalty.
Next I went to Budget rental car center to get a car to drive Treasure to Atlanta. When I asked for a one way rental, Major, the agent, looked at me and said, “Okay lady, what’s up? You come in here with no luggage, no reservation and you want to rent a car for a one way trip? What’s going on here?” When I told Major the story of finding Treasure in the Abacos, he said, “Listen lady, I am going to rent you a subcompact but I want you to know we are having a special right now, a free upgrade -- do you think the dog would be more comfortable traveling back to Atlanta in a mini-van or an SUV?”
Once I got the mini-van and drove back to the Jet Center and loaded up Judy, the luggage and Treasure, we started driving north. We stopped at a grocery store and bought a bottle of spring water, a bag of puppy chow, two bowls and some sandwiches for us, and drove until we got tired. We spent the night in Fort Pierce, Florida, and arrived in Atlanta the next day. The following day Judy took the dog to the vet who reported that Treasure appeared to have been hit by a car but had no broken bones, only bruises and scrapes, tested negative for heart worms, and was skinny but healthy and happy!
During the entire ordeal, Treasure never whined, growled or had an accident. This puppy who was hit, abandoned and all alone in the world owes his life to the kind people of the Bahamas and fellow travelers who came to his aid. So many people were pulling for this potcake and although Treasure was clearly frightened and often trembled, he kept wagging his tail and his pale green eyes beamed with love and trust.
Since Treasure cannot talk, we would like to speak for him and thank Major, the Budget car rental agent at the Fort Lauderdale airport who made sure this injured dog had a comfortable ride back to Atlanta, AirTran for issuing us a credit without penalty, the US Customs agent who gave him cat food and cleared us through US Customs so quickly, the Yellow Air Taxi pilot who carefully carried Treasure on and off the plane after placing him in his travel box that he taped up with cardboard wedges to ensure he did not suffocate, our fellow Yellow Air Taxi passengers for waiting patiently so we could bring Treasure back with us, to Deborah DeVoe, the school teacher in the Marsh Harbour airport who gave us the travel box which we needed to get the Treasure on the plane, to the Yellow Air Taxi ticket agent in Marsh Harbour who wrote the complimentary ticket for Mr. Treasure and held the plane for so long, to the couple from Man O War Cay who had taken theirs dog to the vet and went out of their way to drive Treasure to the Marsh Harbour Airport, to Dr. Bailey, the veterinarian and his assistant who saw Treasure quickly and gave him his rabies vaccine and signed the health papers, to the taxi driver who drove Treasure down to Marsh Harbour from Treasure Cay, being careful not to pass the police car so we wouldn’t get a ticket, to Royal Bahamas Police Constable Johnson in Treasure Cay for the rope that we used to fashion the collar and leash for Treasure, to Coral, the Yellow Air Taxi agent in Treasure Cay who decided that we needed to catch the plane in Marsh Harbour and comped us the cab ride, and lastly to some guy named Carl who had to go to Eluethera which caused our plane to be late and gave Judy time to bond with a little puppy.
Treasure was about 7-8 months old and 23 pounds when rescued. Today, he's a healthy, happy 50 pounds, and living in Maryland with Roni Reed, who adopted him in November of 2005!
TREASURE WITH JACQ MARIE IN FLORIDA
Treasure's first night in the U.S. hotel room, note Royal Bahamian Police Constable's rope leash
TREASURE AFTER A BATH
TREASURE'S NEW FAMILY