It is still raining. Three dogs, two cats, and an army of black rats are the only non-human mammals living on Palmyra. The two dogs, Tutu and Floppy are shark-hunters, evident by the nips and scars on their cheeks and under their chins. They are also celebrity dogs after their photographs appeared in National Geographic last March.
"Tutu and Floppy will leave for days at a time on their excursions," says Tara Holitzki, hostess of Palmyra, who knows the dogs best.
"Last year, fishermen picked up the two of them out on the Eastern lagoon where they were sharking, having a great 'ole time. They had to swim through the cuts in the islets and traverse a lot of country, not to mention navigate their way through the lagoons to get all the way out there.
By the time they got back, they were pretty beat up with coral cuts on their feet and little puncture wounds on their lips, but they were so happy. They just love it, especially Tutu, part German shepherd, who sits in the shallows and picks the sharks out of the water. Floppy, the black and white pit bull, chases them. They don't take Dadu, the third dog, because sharks scare him. Rats are his thing."
Tutu -- who belonged to the previous caretaker, Roger, who lived on Palmyra for six years -- is under contract with The Nature Conservancy. He can stay on the island until he dies. Floppy needs to be looking for another home. As does, Dadu, who was left behind on the island by "yachties" because he was so seasick.
Dadu has stolen my heart. He looks like the reservation dogs I knew in Navajo country. He is skinny and blonde with a black muzzle, short hair, and big, bulging eyes and radar ears that stand straight up. Each night, we sit on the lanai and watch the manta rays and mullet swim in the shallows. I know he is looking for sharks with a longing to hunt them, but he is afraid, afraid of the water that made him so sick, and so he whimpers as he runs back and forth along the storm wall, wishing he was a great shark-hunter like Tutu.