"His hip bones were sticking right out, but it was his eyes that drew me in,” says Arla Veinotte. “He was telling me, I am almost done.”
Veinotte is talking about a mixed breed dog that she rescued and brought to Canada from Roatan, Honduras, on Monday, March 21.
Arla and her husband Brian, first encountered Roadie, (the name they gave to the unfortunate, wee fella), when on a day trip during a holiday in Roatan (January 28th). Roatan is an island in the Caribbean, about 48 miles long and five miles across.
“He looked dehydrated, and you could see his hips and ribs,” says Arla, with Brian explaining “There is no water around for these dogs. They can’t drink the salt water, so the only water they can get is from puddles after it rains.”
Roadie was also covered with unhealed sores caused by attacks from other dogs in the fight for food.
Arla carries kibbles everywhere she goes, and “she throws them out the taxi windows to the dogs,” says Brian. On an island with a fairly large population of stray dogs, he adds, “You could probably rescue five dogs an hour.”
“We got out of the taxi, and there he was with those big eyes,” says Arla of the discovery. “He was the most pathetic case we had ever seen. We went on our trip to the island, and I made a little package of food for him from everyone’s leftovers.”
“It was after we left him that day, and went back to our hotel, that it all started,” says Arla. “For two days, I cried. I was obsessed with this poor little dog. Eventually, my husband, who is the sweetest man on this earth, said ‘we will try to fix this’.”
And then began the effort to help Roadie which included an unsuccessful contact with a local rescue, and a botched rescue by a local.
It was after the botched rescue with the no show local, that Arla got to talking to their taxi driver, whom the Veinotte’s had come to know as Roadman.
“I didn’t know what to do. We had no one else to turn to after the failed rescue.”
The Veinottes had first encountered Roadie on a Thursday, the unsuccessful rescue was on Saturday, and the end of their vacation was approaching.
“That is when Roadman (David Hilton) said he would take him.
On Sunday, January 31st, the Veinottes and Yardman returned to Roadies’ turf (the island dogs live where they are born and have a lifespan of about two years) and, “there he was all curled up on a dock. We had a leash and collar, and when we approached him his little tail was wagging. We put the collar on him and lifted him into the car. There was no fight left in him. I don’t think he would have lasted much longer.”
Arrangements were made with the Hilton family to provide for Roadies’ care (including vetting), and the Veinotte’s returned home to Canada.
But it wasn’t over yet. About six weeks later, the Veinottes received a message from the Hiltons that due to housing complications they would not be able to keep Roadie. And again, Arla’s desire to help this dog kicked into high gear.
Although she did find an island Rescue willing to take him, the Hiltons refused to turn the dog over to anyone other than ‘Mr. Brian and Mrs. Arla’.
“That is when I said, I am bringing him home,” says Arla.
“And that is when I said, I need another rum,” laughed Brian.
Although Arla had decided she wanted to bring Roadie to Canada, it was Roadman’s wife Lorna, who made the final decision on March 4, that ‘yes, the best thing for Roadie would to be to go to Canada’. Then began the search to determine what had to be done and how to do it.
Roadies’ departure from Roatan required a $125 payment, and an application filled out by his vet on the island and forwarded to Honduras mainland for approval.
Roadie had been vetted and neutered while living with the Roadman family, and had put on five pounds when the Veinottes returned to Roatan for the rescue. His sores had healed, and although still underweight, he was a happier and healthier dog.
The trip to Canada began with several rain delays at the Roatan airport. Then after boarding, with the assumption Roadie had been loaded, they were notified that something had been detected on Roadie and they were asked to return to the terminal.
“We got in there, and there was poor Roadie in his crate,” says Arla. “We had to remove him. There was nothing, so we now had an upset and scared dog who didn’t want to get back into the crate.”
“He’s a tough little guy,” says Brian. “It was a bumpy ride home because we were in the storm.”
The Veinottes and Roadie landed in Montreal, on Monday, March 21st, paid the required $34.96 to bring him into Canada, and cleared customs with no problem. “The customs officers at Montreal were marvellous. I was surprised how smooth it was,” says Brian.
Roadies’ first full day in Canada, was on Tuesday, March 22, a snowy, cold day. It was his first contact with snow, and it was clear that the much cooler temperature would take some getting used to for this island boy.
Unfortunately, the story of Roadies’ rescue is not yet complete. Like many stray island dogs, Roadie has heartworm. After a couple of days with the Veinottes, and a visit to a Canadian veterinary, Roadie was transported to Mels All Animal and Farm Rescue near Perth. There, he is being cared for by Melanie Young while he undergoes his heartworm treatment which can be upwards of two months.
Once recovered, he will be adopted into a new forever and loving home through the Rescue’s adoption program.
“We opted not to start the heartworm treatment down there,” says Arla. “I consulted with his vet there and a vet up here, and it was agreed it would be better to wait and start the treatment here.”
Treatment for heartworm involves medication that kills the larvae in the bloodstream along with the heart worms living in the dog’s heart. During the treatment and recovery, the dog has to be kept quiet and fairly inactive to prevent complications.
Arla and Young met during their volunteer time with the Lanark Animal Welfare Society (LAWS), a no-kill shelter located near Smiths Falls.
“Mel and I together will be part of Roadies’ progress, and I will be involved with the adoption process,” says Arla.
Due to their busy lifestyle, the Veinottes have decided they are unable to give Roadie the commitment they want for him, but they hope to continue to be part of his new life with a forever family here in Canada.
“My part in all of this whole process has been wallet, transportation and calming effect,” says Brian.
“Yes, he has been my therapist,” says Arla with a chuckle.
Roadie is now a happy and loving dog. Estimated to be about three years old, he gets along with all people and children, and has had no problems with other dogs. He loves petting and touching, and although he has found his bark, it doesn’t happen often. He doesn’t play with toys, but is curious about everything he sees. Watching him become a confident, happy dog will be a wonderful experience.
“He is going to be a wonderful boy for some lucky family,” says Brian.
“I just couldn’t turn my back on this dog,” said Arla as she wrapped her arms around Roadie for a loving hug at the end of the story interview. “He had this help me look. He was telling me ‘I’m done’ and I just wasn’t going to let that happen.”
The dog rescue world is made up of angels, and that day at the bus stop in Roatan, there is no doubt that Roadie found his.