Have you ever heard of a Potcake? The potcakes are a registered dog breed that are the result of small populations of stays living and interbreeding on small Caribbean Islands. This is the coolest breed imaginable, because rather than being selected to fit in a handbag, fight in a dog-pit, or look like a freak of nature, these dogs are bred for friendly survival. Everybody loves a mutt, and potcakes are registered mixed-breed dogs that could have been predicted with a combination of population genetic theory and natural selection. Evolutionary biologist, Karl Kjer comments that it makes sense that they would converge on features that make them great dogs. There is a lot of evolutionary theory that is unique to island populations, including ideas of rapid speciation, and miniaturization.
Imagine the traits that a feral dog would need to survive on a small island. First, you would need to be friendly. Mean and aggressive dogs would be killed. You would need to be medium-sized. All over the world, there is a standard size for stray dogs in poor countries. Not so big that people would see you as a threat (or as food), and not so small that other dogs would kill you. Potcake fur is generally short, and light, adapted to survival in the hot Caribbean sun. And potcakes have stomachs of iron, adapted from eating garbage on the beach. They have a deep bark that they rarely use, better to project size so that rivals might back away. But their temperament is mild, calm and gentle.
“Noodle,” running on the beach North of Seaside Heights NJ (of “Jersey Shore” fame)
The name “potcake” comes from a traditional Caribbean practice of scraping the residue off the bottom of a pot of rice and peas, and feeding it to stray dogs.
Karl Kjer picked up his Potcake, Noodle, from a rescue shelter. “She is great to run with,” and she can run like lighting. Kjer runs with Noodle every day. He notes:
“This sweet dog has such a surprisingly incongruous bloodlust for squirrels. When I know a squirrel is close enough to a tree to be safe, I let Noodle loose. She just flies, as you can see by the leash in the picture. This time however, there was a second squirrel (middle frame) that I had not seen. It overran the tree, then did a 180, and ran under Noodle’s legs, to scamper up the tree, safely. Wild Kingdom here in Highland Park New Jersey.”
Like most dogs, Noodle has a bit of a compulsive obsession with squirrels.
Kjer’s potcake has two speeds: active, and sleeping. When not running, she lays quietly beside me, as I work on my editing job for Upwork. What a wonderful companion. Dogs make us realize that love need not be confined to our own species. Life has its ups and downs, but our canine companions love us, regardless of the messes we may have made of our lives. “I don’t know what I would do without Noodle,” says Kjer.
Here she is, in her native habitat.
Here she is, in her native habitat: