Abaco Life Magazine

Abaco Life, An Island Magazine


A snapshot of Abaco’s most popular pets

by Jim Kerr
Photos by Jim and Cathy Kerr

Pot-cake n. 1. a highly variable canine of mixed heredity found in the Bahamas. 2. a mutt or mongrel in the Bahamas whose name derives from the thick, congealed food remaining in the bottom of a pot of peas and rice it has traditionally been fed. 3. a lovable, lop-eared lopper whose independence, loyalty and antics amuse and ingratiate a large host of dedicated humans. 4. an unwanted liability often born under a truck and abandoned at a garbage dump. (Definition by Abaco Life)

potcakes from abaco bahamasWhile their ancestors probably arrived in Abaco first with the Lucayans centuries ago and later with Loyalist settlers in the 1780s, today’s Bahamian mixed breed dogs are so mixed up they have been given a special status and name: Royal Bahamian Potcakes. They have distinct characteristics of size and tem-perament bred into them from a shared gene pool, and none of them have enough DNA from any one breed to be significantly identifiable with it.potcakes from abaco bahamas

Today their status in Abaco, depending on your point of view, ranges from abandoned pest roaming the streets and dumps, to cherished member of a human family. The quality of their lives seems to hang on fate. Often ownerless and half-starved, yelled at and shoed away with their tails hanging, they are also adored pets and companions, whose intelligence is admired and whose mirth is encouraged as they romp and dig for crabs on the beaches, ride in the bow of boats, stroll the narrow village streets and laze on the porches and sidewalks.

And while often feral tramps, Abaco’s potcakes are also prized by owners, most of whom rescued them from a much different life.
On average, potcakes weigh from 50 to 60 pounds, as opposed to 30 pounds in days gone by, because of mating with an influx of larger dogs such as Shepherds and Rottweilers, according to Dr. Derrick Bailey, Marsh Harbour’s resident veterinarian. “Potcakes don’t need grooming or much maintenance,” says Dr. Bailey. “And they do not have sep- aration anxiety which causes them to tear the house apart. They are well adapted to local conditions.”

The number of people, both local and foreign, who actively participate in Potcake rescue, fostering and ownership has grown substantially in recent years. For these folks, Canus familiaris of the Potcake variety is nothing less than an integral icon of domestic island life.

potcakes from abaco bahamas potcakes from abaco bahamas potcakes from abaco bahamas

Here are a few examples:potcakes from abaco bahamas


Kent LeBoutillier was chosen by Jake, one of 14 puppies born under a truck in Marsh Harbour. “He ran around in a circle and came to us,” says Kent, a resident of Elbow Cay. While he has some Border Collie characteristics, Jake has the look and manner of a true Potcake, she says. “He’s a sweet and loving shadow – well-mannered, smart, gentle, energetic and non-intrusive.” Jake likes to ride in the boat, swim in the harbour or anywhere off the beach. “Jake will do anything for fun,” says Kent.

SUNSHINE potcakes from abaco bahamas

Every morning when Debbie Patterson comes across Hope Town Harbour to open up her Ebb Tide gift shop, Sunshine rides along. Fourteen years ago Debbie adopted her from the Bahamas Humane Society in Freeport after a taxi driver picked the dog up on the roadside when she was about eight weeks old. “She still gets off the boat on the shore at Bay Side Tellin’ and makes the neighborhood rounds before coming to the shop,” says Debbie. “But at her age she’s a part-timer now and goes home at noon.”

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