By Elaine St John

Volunteer of the Lakeside Spay & Neuter Center

Barco, the “Labracat”


doberman-hungry“Mamá”, “Papá”, “Electra” and “Sissy” are a family of dogs that reside at Lakeside Spay & Neuter Dog Ranch. Three of them are altered, with the exception of Sissy, who unlike her parents and sister was feral. She roams the Ranch property, and visits her family, but is fearful of humans, and as of yet we are unable to catch her so she can be spayed. Sissy became pregnant, and gave birth. We Ranch volunteers monitored Sissy’s comings and goings, and eventually discovered the “den” and three healthy pups. All three pups have now been adopted. One of them is our little “Barco” who lives in Chapala, along with our cats and other dogs.

Having a young Labrador-mix puppy in the home can be humorous as well as challenging. His favorite hobby is getting into trouble. The solution? The CAT NANNIES!

The cats took on their role as nannies with vigor and enthusiasm, subjecting the chubby fuzz ball to long grooming sessions. They promptly began schooling Barco in the finer points of Important Cat Knowledge, for example, how to lick one’s derriere with grace and balance without toppling over, the art of bug chasing, spider swatting, and how to find the best and biggest sun beam for extended napping. All the essential life lessons every kitten must master to pass muster.

Never mind that in this case the “student” was a puppy; Barco seemed quite content to “lick, listen and learn.” One day, while cleaning the upstairs, I discovered what a quick study little Barco has become. He toddled over to the litter boxes. Thinking he was satisfying his urge to explore, I quickly realized he had an urge of quite a different sort. Before my eyes, he hoisted his plump little rump up and over the side of the box, got himself “properly positioned” (as instructed by his feline mentors) and proceeded to pee. He then discreetly buried his accomplishment, admiringly witnessed by the approving felines.

Alternative house training? Well, maybe it has its drawbacks. I would most certainly take issue if upon growing to 90 pounds of massive mutt, Barco still thinks he’s a cat. No, he hasn’t started purring yet, but if he does, it wouldn’t surprise me! And speaking of surprises, one never knows what grinning, wagging doggie awaits your visit (and perhaps your home and heart!) at the Lakeside Spay & Neuter Dog Ranch. All dogs available for adoption are healthy and adoptions are free!

Our most recent rescue took place at the Chili Cook-Off. A neglected black and white male sheepdog-mix was roaming around trying to find something to eat. Some of the vendors there hurled dirt and rocks at him in an attempt to shoo him away. We wouldn’t stand for that, and coaxed him to our Lakeside Spay & Neuter booth. There he was given food and fresh water and will be taken to a place where he will be safe. The Lakeside Spay & Neuter Center always welcomes volunteers. Welcome, too, are any items you would care to donate, from our Wish List: Dog Food, Dishes, Leashes, Collars, Blankets, Rope or Rope Scraps, Tarps, etc. We are experts at creative solutions using whatever is at hand. Anything you cannot use, we most certainly will, and we thank you for your generosity!

For more information about Lake Chapala visit:

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