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Amigo, potcake with personality

Star quality dog


It's not every day that a Bahamian potcake (mixed-breed dog) rockets to stardom, seemingly overnight. What-to-do interviewed Amigo the Wonder Dog, Grand Bahama Humane Society's poster dog, to find out how it all came about.

How did you become a celebrity?

Well, I don't want to sound conceited, but it does help to be pretty good looking and photogenic at the same time.

How did you get your good looks?

I'm not sure, but obviously my parents had a certain amount German shepherd genes in them.

But you weren't always this handsome, were you?

No indeed. As a matter of fact one of the first things I remember, very vividly, as a puppy, is being skinny, hungry and sick. I didn't have a home and I guess I looked pretty terrible. Someone said I looked like a tragic little bag of bones.

So what happened?

Well, I was just hanging out and scrounging around the airport (Grand Bahama International Airport) feeling pretty surly and sorry for myself, and this lady, Frances Singer-Hayward, comes along in her car, stops and tries to lure me inside. Well, some of the street smarts I knew involved never taking a ride with a stranger, so I took off. Then she came back the next day, and threw out a bone, waited a bit and drove off. I got the bone, and must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So she got you hooked?

Well, no, but she kept coming back for weeks and always seemed so friendly and wanted to be helpful. Then one day she came with someone else and left a big cage with some food in it. When they left I went into the cage and the door snapped shut. At first I was pretty scared, but the food was good. I was glad when they came back. They were very friendly. So I started to act friendly too, wagging my tail and that sort of thing. But I was still pretty dirty and mangy.

So they cleaned and fixed you up?

Yes, they were very kind to me. They took me to the Humane Society, fed me, more or less nurtured me and stuck a few needles in me to get rid of whatever was destroying me. They were very nice.

You were so sick, it's a wonder they didn't put you down.

Yes, I was lucky there. Guess I turned out to be cute enough, they decided someone might want me as a friend. I guess that's where I got the name Amigo.

But you've come a long way from being a cute bedraggled little bag of bones to a poster dog for the Grand Bahama Humane Society.

Yes. Again, I was lucky. When my coat cleared up and I got healthy Frances took me to her home and I was welcomed by the other potcakes. She had sometimes as many as 16 dogs at home. I had a kennel that seemed like the Taj Mahal - with food. They later sent me to a sort of finishing school, with discipline.

You needed discipline?

Well, you know I was really just a puppy and a potcake to boot, but with good shepherd genes. I therefore still had a certain amount of street smarts and I guess that needed some polishing and some direction.

What else did you learn at finishing school?

Basically the three Ss - you know, sit, stay, smile. Actually it was a little more sophisticated than that. They taught me to like and trust people, especially kids. That's come full circle now. I go to the schools with Frances and help teach the kids how to trust and like animals. It's pretty neat. I like that.

Amigo, how old are you now?

In people's years, I guess I'm around 30. They found me about four years ago, and I'm not sure how old I was at that time.

What do you hope to be when you really grow up?

I enjoy what I'm doing now. Sort of a goodwill ambassador. Helping people appreciate and understand animals. Respecting people and having them respect us. It's pretty cool. We did a little video about it and I got to act with Ronnie Butler and Sweet Emily. Well, not really act, but I was in the video which is part of the programme on animal welfare they're promoting on the island.

What else does the programme involve?

There are the posters, and school visits, and we're working on a couple of other things. We're a sister-shelter with the Humane Society in Southampton, out on Long Island, NY. So we visited there, and I met Alec Baldwin, who's very active in animal welfare programmes. That was cool.

If you could send a message to all your other canine friends on the island, what would you tell them?

Encourage your humans to have you fixed.

You mean spayed or neutered?

Yes. Whatever. Doesn't hurt. I'd also tell them to respect and be nice to people. That's how you earn their respect and they will be nice to you in return. People and potcakes really can live happily together on this island.

Amigo, Amigo, we gotta understand
It's only up to us to give our potcake friends a hand.
(Refrain from video song)


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