Tilla came into my life at the beginning of living and teaching in Nassau, The Bahamas, in October of 2009 after a mugging incident had taken place in my own yard. I was told that “potcakes” (a Bahamian mix breed named for the crusty cake of rice that forms at the bottom of a pot of rice) were wonderful guard dogs, fiercely loyal to their yards, and exactly what I needed to protect me from further incidents. Thus, after years of being a “cat” lady I found myself the owner of Tilla - about 10 months old, beautiful, but very unsocialized by “American” standards of pet ownership.
Over the next weeks and months this animal and I forged ahead in learning about love and relationships while I continued to learn about the ways and culture of this beautiful island country I was calling home. She learned to be touched, to take treats from my hand, to sit, lay down, walk on a leash, receive belly rubs, and, after about 8 months, finally set foot inside the house for the first time. As she learned about being a pet, I learned the amazingness of unconditional love that I had heard about from dog owners all my life. Her fierce devotion to me and those I loved became apparent as she would dutiful bark her head off at any suspicious cars or people in or around our yard. She would lie in the driveway in the evenings or night waiting to get me safely inside the house, where she would lick my toes and stretch herself out on the cool tile to snore away until morning.
After five years of amazing island life, Tilla and I have journeyed to the USA together this past May via a chartered flight to Ft Lauderdale, a stay at doggie day care in Disney World, a long van ride with Uncle Terry to Mississippi, a summer stay at Granny and Pop’s house in Starkville this summer, a visit to our cousins in Knoxville, TN, and, not quite two weeks ago, to our new home in southwest Virginia. Tilla has been a champ – civilized, loving and still fiercely protective of any potential threat around me or our family.
Last Monday, Tilla went missing from our yard in Virginia. I am fairly certain she was stolen out of our yard, as I’m hearing more and more incidents of “dog”napping for ransom money occurring in this region. I’m convinced this is what has happened. I’m amazed at the far reaching kindness that has been bestowed upon me this week as friends and strangers are rallying on the search for Tilla.
As I guest write for my cousin Leanna, I want to share the biggest lesson I have learned from Tilla and that is the Power of Love. As she was given the chance, her doggie heart grew and gave huge amounts of Love in the best ways she knew how. I know God loves the furry people, and I know He places them in our lives to serve as Angels to protect, love, and serve us where so often humans can fail. Perhaps you, too, have experienced the unconditional love of on of God's most precious creatures and man's best friend. If so, please join me in praying Prayers for this Potcake, that she find her way safely home.
NOTE: Tilla received her name from the piece of accompanying music performed by C Force (I’m playing piano) and composed by Bahamian colleague Christian Justilien. It’s written in a style of Bahamian music called “goombay.” Tilla knows it’s her theme song and it fits her personality perfectly.