Raglan’s Tadpole is his formal name, but Kermit is what his friend’s call him. He is a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, who loves to vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands. His human grandfather lives on the island of Providenciales. The Turks and Caicos Islands are part of the British West Indies and located just below the Bahama chain and just east of Cuba. Kermit has spent much of his young life running the beautiful beaches of these islands with his sisters, Gizmo and Zoë. On Kermit’s first visit to Providenciales, he met a Potcake.
A “Potcake” you ask? The Potcakes are the wild island dogs that inhabit and run throughout the Turks and Caicos. Their name is a Bahamian term for the thick, congealed food that remains in the bottom of a pot of peas and rice, after several re-heatings. For centuries, the native islanders fed the potcake to the feral, indigenous dogs that inhabited the island. Although technically considered a mixed breed, the Potcake is considered the official breed of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Historians believe the original Potcakes came to the islands with the Arawak Indians from Central and South America. As explorers came to the islands, they brought early terrier breeds on board their ships to protect their provisions from rats and mice. Many of these dogs remained on the island, thus expanding the Potcake gene pool. Then another pup was added to the mix when the British Loyalists and their canine partners settled in the islands during the American Revolutionary War. Blend them together and you have the birth of the modern day Potcake breed.
Potcakes have distinct characteristics that include size, coat, temperament and genetically imprinted behavior patterns. They usually have a short, smooth coat, cocked ears, and a long terrier shaped face. Most Potcakes are brown in color, stand about 24-inches tall, and usually weigh around 25 pounds. In their natural environment, a Potcake must tolerate heat, long term physical stress, extreme competition for food and a diet very low in protein. For a roaming street dog, these are the qualities needed to survive.
Native islanders and locals have adopted many of the feral Potcakes as their own. Many others run wild all over the islands. Our Kermit’s first meeting with a Potcake was somewhat nerve wracking for me, as I was unsure how friendly or socialized this little Potcake might be to our little pup. Anyone who knows Kermit, knows he loves everyone and has never met a stranger and certainly had no inkling that a dog could be unfriendly. When the Potcake approached us on the beach that morning, I was a bit nervous. However, as he neared, I realized he was only a puppy. Upon their meeting, it became clear that he and Kermit would become steadfast friends. As they met, they both play bowed, and then the fun was on. They took off down the beach running in and out of the surf, while stopping to wrestle a bit on the shore. As we return to Providenciales every year to visit, we reunite with Potcake wild and free on that same stretch of beach. With each reunion, it is as if he and Kermit have not been apart a day, running and playing together. They are both grown dogs now, from different countries, and different worlds. Kermit an American Kennel Club titled agility and herding dog and Potcake, a scrappy, free running island dog. Having no care of their very different lives, culture, and upbringing, they just love each other. Their only care is a great game of chase up and down the beach and an epic sand filled wrestling match. How we could all learn from these two.