Trending: When Your Vacation Happily Goes to the Dogs
A crescendo of barks greeted a vehicle that recently pulled up to the Montego Bay Animal Haven in Jamaica. Penned dogs — 147 of them — were tipped off it was time for their morning walk. They leapt at the chain link fence, tails wagging, then surged in joyous waves through a gate. Dog-loving visitors, in expendable clothing, climbed out of the van to welcome the onslaught with laughter, no fear.“Hiking with the Hooligans” began as a tourist activity in January, a raucous way to enjoy Jamaica’s hilly countryside flush with ackee, guava, mango and papaya trees. There are no sea views from this inland sanctuary; the dogs grab all the attention. The hourlong hike is rugged, not a day at the beach, so wearing flip-flops would be a mistake.Tammy Browne, the haven’s founder, was inspired after visiting Territorio de Zaguates (Land of the Strays) in Costa Rica last year, a no-kill sanctuary with hundreds of dogs roaming the land (it is currently closed to the public). Since Ms. Browne’s 17-acre property in Jamaica is enclosed, the dogs are unleashed for the hike. The panting pack sociably trots together, the shelter’s guides breaking up the occasional disagreement.Charlie Brown had three legs. Albus was missing an eye and part of his tail. Stallone’s head was furrowed with scars; his street-wise gravitas commanded respect from the other dogs. To the untrained eye, those lacking distinctive features looked pretty much alike, but Ms. Browne knew all their names. She had rescued them from the streets or abusive owners and nursed them back to health. They are spayed and have the relevant vaccines.
“I hate the word mongrel,” Ms. Browne said. “Royal Caribbean terriers, I call them. Every dog you see has a story, the most horrendous background.” She said she has found homes for hundreds of dogs since she founded the nonprofit shelter in 2009 and “adoptions are up tenfold since we started the hike, more in the last two months than we had in the last year.”