How To Not Get Attacked By Dogs In The Caribbean: A Memoir

How To Protect Yourself From Feral Dogs While Walking In The Caribbean

I’m sitting in our adorable Air BnB here on Saint Maarten by the airport, and I was inspired for today’s topic by something I had completely forgotten about until last night as we walked through a neighborhood on St. Maarten to get to town for dinner… that time I was attacked by a savage group of Rottweiler puppies in Puerto Rico, and how to prevent this experience from happening to you!

I forgot how many f$%ing dogs just literally ROAM through Caribbean neighborhoods! While walking to dinner last night on St. Marrten we walked through a local neighborhood our bartender said was “perfectly safe,”— we probably passed 15 stray dogs in half a mile! Caribbean dogs always have this some of eery, ominous, sketchy unstable vibe about them, much like some of the boys I’ve dated. 

How To Protect Yourself From Aggressive Dogs While Walking Or Jogging In The Caribbean?

Note: I’m going to be speaking around some huge generalizations around dogs in the Caribbean. Take it with a grain of salt, of course. AND, here’s my observation in the seven years I’ve lived and been connected to Caribbean culture.

Dogs In The Caribbean Are Guardians, Not Pets

In West Indian culture, having a dog is more for function rather than our stateside lovey-dovey I-take-selfies-with-my-dog reasons.

Caribbean dogs live outside; they sleep in a dog house or under the porch or roam as they please. They are DOGS. You would never sleep in the bed with these pups; their function is to protect, be on guard, and let their owners or their pack know about danger.

In some circles dog fighting is still an underground form of entertainment, so these dogs are bred with varieties of Pitbulls for this reason. What you’ll notice is a good amount of “Coconut Retrievers” (which is what we call our mixed pups from the Caribbean) have Pitbull-esque features and unfortunately, some of these dogs can be VERY distrusting of strangers or may be encouraged to lunge and try to attack strangers.

Again, HUGE generalization, there are so many WONDERFUL coconut retrievers who aren’t aggressive and are the kindest, gentlest dogs on the planet, but we’re not talking about those pupperoos. 

We’re talking about the kind I met on a morning run in Puerto Rico.

The Cold Stone Killer Pups Of Puerto Rico

In the states, you might go for your morning walk or jog through a neighborhood or town without a single regard for people’s pets, but here in the Caribbean, it’s a different story.

August 2015 -- I was helping with a fleet haul out in Fajardo staying at an Air BnB in the mountains. 

One of the mornings I decided to treat myself to a morning run. And yes, I’m aware I am the only person in the Caribbean who runs, even when no one is chasing me.  

I head down a tropical mountain road and about 25 minutes in I passed a property with a large Rottweiler sitting underneath a car. No biggie, she’s got her space, she’s chained up, I’m on the other side of the street, she’s just observing me, it’s all good. 

What wasn’t chained, however, was the six young, sweet looking little Rottweiler puppies, about 2-3 months old, hauling ass towards the fence. 

“Awwww so cute!!!!” I thought to myself, “I’ll just assume my normal stateside high-pitched baby talk voice and start my normal sequence of coo’s and compliments to these little cuties.”

Nope.

How To Get Attacked By Dogs Step 1: Let Them Surround You

These adorable little demons ran straight beyond their fence and into the street where I was, and immediately formed a circle around me.  

How To Get Attacked By Feral Dogs Step 2: Lean Down And Appear Weak

I leaned down slightly to seem more inviting and non-threatening, but the lead pup, we’ll call him Pacho, and his siblings took this as a signal to close the circle tighter and continue towards me. 

Shiiit.

How To Get Attacked By Feral Dogs Step 3: Let Them Set Up A Trap

Now, what I wasn’t noticing until that exact moment was the National Geographic bullshit going down — Pacho’s sister Nina was slowly making her way behind me - the main pups were distracting me up front, alternating lunging at me, and Nina? That bitch was going for my blind spot.

It hit me. These weren’t six cute teenage puppies; these motherpuppers were National Geographic-ing my ass— they were the pack of dogs in full PACK MODE, I was the gad damn giraffe! 

How To Get Attacked By Feral Dogs Step 4: Go Dog Makes The First Move

Nina was the GO DOG. NINA was trying to PUNCTURE MY ACHILLES AND TAKE ME DOWN.

Now, dear reader, when you’re in this moment and your running along to Hall and Oates, the first thing you do is take your damn iPod headphones out of your head. Next? Well… shit, I didn’t know what to do next!!! 

I looked up at the house on that property thinking, “Where the FUCK ARE these animals owners?!?! Does anyone see what is happening?” and the owner was indeed up on the porch, (WAY the fuck away,  I might add) making the most pathetic attempt of trying to yell something in Spanish to the effect of “Fifi, come here Fifi! Bad dogs, no don’t do that, come home, please!” 

How To Get Attacked By Feral Dogs Step 5: Watch The Owner Watch You, Be Attacked

I'm trying to keep all the pups in my sight. It escalates to me frantically trying to gently kick at them (which, who does that anyway?) I didn’t want to hurt them, they’re just puppies, right? 

Next thing I know I get a nice bite on my ankle bone, I screamed, kicked it off like I meant it and ran away screaming and crying and the owner (still, 5 minutes later from the comfort of his front porch steps) yelling, “Lo Siento! Lo Siento!” after watching the whole thing go down…

How To Get Attacked By Feral Dogs Step 5: Get Out Of There

I called my friends; they picked me half way back limping home. I hysterically called my partner and told him about the whole thing. 

Ultimately it was just a surface wound, no significant damage other than a mad case of PTSD anytime I see stray dogs or walk in sketchy neighborhoods, especially in the Caribbean.

I never started foaming at the mouth, I'm more terrified of massive medical bills and large needles than getting Rabies apparently, that was four years ago, and I'm still here, so we'll call it good.

Coconut Retriever Stranger-Danger Protection Tips: How To Protect Yourself From A Stray Dog

SO, my dear friends, let me share a summary of my wealth of Coconut Retriever Stranger- Danger Protection Tips, because you know after that happened I googled the shit out of: 

"How to protect yourself from dogs." 

"How to avoid aggressive dogs." 

"How to spot an aggressive dog." 

"How to get away from dogs." 

"How to protect yourself from mean ass island dogs." 

And now I'm a self-proclaimed expert in Protecting Yourself from Coconut Retrievers.

Ready?

  • #1: Always Walk With A Stick.

I never knew why I’d see older West Indian men and women carrying these long sticks while walking in the mornings until this happened. But ask any West Indian, and you'll probably get something to the tune of, “Gyal, of course, you walk with a stick because that's what you do!” 

Any stick-like object will do. When you have an object that is long and an “extension” of yourself, if a dog or a PACK of dogs surrounds you, having this long swinging thing coming at them for some reason deters them. It creates a barrier from them getting to you physically.

So whatever you can find — palm frond, 2x4, a stick, PVC pipe, crowbar --anything--find something proactively BEFORE your surrounded by a pack of Satan's minions.

Bonus points: may also deter shady individuals as well!

No dog nor person is going to want to approach you while carrying a rotting 2x4 stick in the middle of the night! A great way to deter not only packs of stray dogs but people, too!

No dog nor person is going to want to approach you while carrying a rotting 2x4 stick in the middle of the night! A great way to deter not only packs of stray dogs but people, too!

 

  • #2: If Surrounded By Dogs, Here's What To Do With Said Stick

If you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being surrounded, continuously swing that palm frond side to side in large sweeping motions to create a radius around you, continue walking WITH PURPOSE (that's what they say!) out and away from their “territory” or property area. 

  • #3: Swing It Like You Mean It & Keep Moving

Dogs are more concerned with protecting their turf than proactively eating your soul, so if you steadily make your way out of their “area,” eventually they’ll disengage.

Bonus: While walking with your pretend Coconut retriever cattle prod, own it like it’s your pimp stick. Bonus points for adding a limp.


Alright, guys, that’s story time for today! We catch a flight to Martinique this afternoon, and on this mornings agenda, it looks like French Pastries, Espresso, and passionfruit!!!

Have you ever had a terrifying dog attack story?  What the heck happened and what did you do? Do you have any scary dog tips to add to the list? Share in the comments below!!