Last year I hosted a writing retreat on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. It was my second time there, and I loved it! One of the interesting things about this exotic location is the potcake dogs.

According to Wikipedia, “a potcake dog is a mixed-breed dog type found on several Caribbean islands. Its name comes from the congealed peas and rice mixture that local residents traditionally eat, as the rice that cakes to the bottom of the pot would go to the dogs. Although appearance varies, potcakes generally have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces. A group of potcakes is known as a parliament.”


In my experience, the dogs—who generally travel in small groups—are friendly. They’re usually looking for a food handout. If you accommodate them (which I don’t think you’re supposed to, but I did), then you have friends for life!

The same thing happened when I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

And the same thing happened when I was on a writing sabbatical in Darby, Montana—only this time, it was with a small herd of deer!

Would you feed a stray animal—even if you’re not supposed to?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

87 thoughts on “Potcakes

  1. I’d find it difficult not to, unless they supposed a risk (and not only an inconvenience). Interesting how they got their names. Thanks, Laurie!

  2. Guilty as charged, Your Honour. I am glad to be in good company. I have also fed cats and always carry a bird feeder for when we stop in our travels for longer periods. It is good to share. 👍

  3. I will feed dogs and cats but not wild animals. It is dangerous and not always good for them. It was humans who domesticated dogs and cats so as humans we need to look after them. I certainly would have fed the potcake dogs. They look adorable.

  4. We all gave bits of food to the hungry cats that came around our cabins on Grand Turk Island, though we were told not to. Here on Beaver island, I see the damage that comes from feeding the wild ducks and other shorebirds. They forget their nature. They don’t fish for their dinner; they don’t even head south when they should. People have turned them into beggars, stripped them of their past and their dignity.

  5. There were stray dogs, feral really, that ran in packs when we lived in Zhezkazgan. I never thought to feed them. Never had anything on me to feed them with, but truly never thought of it. Now you’ve got me thinking, Laurie.

  6. Oh, Laurie….I had one stray cat who found me. Then she had babies (before we could TNR her) and brought the kids. I open my garage (breakfast and dinner) and 4 cats come swarming in. It is a riot! And now Big Ginger is trying to hone in, but she needs table manners before she can eat with the other.

  7. Laurie, I’ve fed lots of animals, wild and domesticated, and I do have reservations about feeding any and all. I’ve fed chickens, cattle, horses, hogs and all the squirrels in Christendom it seems. Deer beat a trail to my garden in season, leading the way for another gang of thugs, the racoons, possums,rabbits and groundhogs. Snakes eat the mice that come to nibble on my tomatoes in the night. Of course, the wild birds pick up the crumbs and tidy the place up, carrying off the debris to build their nests. I would feed a feral cat from a distance but never a coyote or a fox. There’s a world of difference between a lost pet and a wild dog, in the country you must cautious when dealing with unknown dogs, a strange animal could be a loaded weapon and rabies is a very real threat. A known Parliament of Potcake dogs On the whole I don’t mind sharing my resources with the beasts of the fields as long as they don’t ravage the place, I look at it as rent on the land, part of my tithe to the Earth. I feed but using a a watchful eye, not wanting to draw the undesirables that I consider vermin, mice and rats. I’ve been blessed to walk this Earth for more than 6 decades and I take to heart what God asked of the Human Race, that we be good stewards of the land and leave a small amount of grain ungathered in the field to feed the birds and beasts.

  8. I suppose so. When Mom and I were in Spain, the hotel seemed to have a pride of cats that would emerge from the wall. Mom was always bringing food for them, or feeding the birds on the balcony !

  9. Potcakes is an interesting name for stray dogs, I have never heard it though I have seen many, some of them can be dangerous. I have never fed them and if you do, they sit outside your house and bring along many friends. 🙂

  10. I don’t because if I feed an animal I feel like I have an obligation to bring them inside and care for them properly. Obviously I can’t do that for all the strays. Around here we have the added complication that most cats and dogs that appear to be strays aren’t and do not need to be fed. They are “outdoor” cats still claimed by people or dogs that escape from yards in the next community and go on an adventure.

    Now I do feed birds and of course when you feed birds you feed squirrels. But we are on the migration path for several species and they need the extra food to make their journey. Other than that I don’t feed wildlife — we were educated on that when we lived in Colorado.

  11. I probably would feed dogs or cats that came around, when no one was looking, or I was feeling brave and adventurous if someone was looking. We had a pair of deer coming around for awhile and I put some food out for them, until I heard about a woman who was feeding some deer locally and ended up in the hospital because they attacked her with their hooves. I do feed the birds and small critters in my yard. I’m usually pretty cautious.

  12. We used to live near a college, the college is still there we moved! Every Spring as the students would leave our yard and neighborhood would fill up with cats, dogs, and even one time we found a goldfish in a bowl in our driveway. I fed them enough to get them in a crate and take them to Animal Control. Every time I went I had to pay $45 a drop off. But I felt like the animals could no longer fend for themselves so I did it anyway. We have shared life with several cats and 4 dogs, but allergies are such a problem in our household we can not adopt the strays. Our yard is filled with bunnies and they eat heartily out of our garden and we do put out finch suet for the birds. We had coyotes that dined off of the outdoor cats in one place we lived and we saw a red fox for years. 11 or 12 deer every morning at the old house ( apple orchard enthusiasts) and at our first house a huge bear wandered through and was finally trapped and moved back up the mountain. I share food with what comes by, but do not intentionally feed. We are now helping get rid of mice which are eating seabirds alive by supporting zombiemice.org. National Geography has a link. We humans have made quite a mess of things – I feel it is a responsibility I must deal with

    How do folks “like” the comments? I do not see a button? Though I can not seem to get IT Girl to put a like button on my blog site either?

    • Your living-near-the-college story makes me sad, and ashamed of the students who would take on “pets” for a season, and then dump them.

      Oh my gosh, a wandering bear would have me darned concerned!

      Thank you for the zombiemice.org information.

      As to the liking comments button, I don’t know. I’ll have to look into the back side of my WordPress site.

  13. For some years, I have been feeding the white migrant birds with long legs whenever the weather in their location is unbearable. they will fly more than a thousand miles to Africa where I (a vegan) live, and will feed them at location known to them in my area.

  14. This is a hard question to answer, Laurie. It’s hard not to feed the adorable raccoons and deer that populate my island home, but I know the damage these animals can do–and it breeds dependency. But they are so darn cute it is hard to walk away.
    The dogs pictured look so much like my dog–adopted from the SPCA–that I wonder yet again about her backstory.
    I hope you continue to have a wonderful time, Laurie.

  15. I once fed a tiny, scruffy and very hungry cat in Greece (I have fed quit a few there, but this one in particular stands out). It had climbed up on the roof terrace, where we where staying. It had almost lost its voice and it just kept sitting there. I couldn’t not fed it. Unfortunately all I had left was some boiled potatoes. In no time, the cat had finished it all.

  16. Stray cats and dogs – absolutely. The poor things have no human taking care of them – they must fend for themselves. I know in different countries/cultures they have a different attitude about stray animals; but I believe in being caring and helping in any way I can. I have a friend who travels to these countries on her own time/dime and works with shelters and animal refuge centers to help feed them, help with vet care, AND help them be treated so they don’t get pregnant or impregnate. That’s what’s needed.
    But I do NOT try and feed the deer who trample over my garden in the dark of night, nor the rabbits who snack on my little flowers, nor the squirrels who hang on my bird feeder upside down snacking away until I run out and scold them. 🙂

  17. Most definitely. I didn’t see too many stray dogs (or cats) in Europe recently…. but lots in Brazil and they were very friendly and even charming at times. 🤗💛 sending love, dear Laurie 😘

  18. I’m a farm girl – I would only feed an animal if it would be beneficial over the long-term. Sometimes short-term feeding does far more harm than good. Good intentions gone awry. Call me Mrs. McGregor 🙂

  19. Growing up on the farm, I was familiar with both sides of the argument. We fed cats milk, and they returned the favor with keeping mice away. But we respected nature’s order when it came to other animals. We fed the ones we raised well, but we didn’t attract the kinds of animals who might kill our chickens, eat our corn, make big holes in our fields, etc.

  20. Fascinating, Laurie! I am definitely intrigued! I am rather a rules-follower, I have to admit, but if I really thought an animal were hungry, I couldn’t NOT feed it, so that’s my non-definitive, safe answer. LOL! A parliament! I do love that. 🙂

  21. ‘To break or not break the rules’, that is the question… I could never in good conscience walk away from a hungry doggie.

  22. Of course I would . I adore animals as you know . For me rules are meant to be broken, especially if it’s feeling animal rules .

  23. Good question – Where I live in Colorado, there are so many wild animals that have lost their way due to humans giving them food. Bears, raccoons, squirrels, blue jays, marmots, ducks, geese, and the processed food they receive is nasty. Maybe they need to turn their nose up and walk away from our handouts! Ha!

  24. After visiting Greece and Turkey I have mixed feelings on this for sure. Many locals will put out big bowls, but it doesn’t really help the root problem. Since I have two cats of my own, I would never feed a stray. It’s bad enough when strays come to taunt my two cats through the front window and then do something like pee on the house!

  25. I have fed stray animals. But, I would think twice about feeding a healthy looking stray wearing a collar.

    In Persian cuisine, that rice that cakes at the bottom of a pan would be cooked to a golden crust and be the prized part of the dish. They call that golden crust “tadeeg” or “tadig” in Farsi.

  26. Oh boy. I will let my “domestic holdings” answer that question. We have four cats, two dogs (one lab just passed away at age 13 sadly); one tortoise, two guinea pigs, two parakeets, one amazon parrot, and one…………….wait for it………………..rooster!

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