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​Dog in a Stroller

Photographs by Mark Lyndersay.

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

My name is Cassandra Patrick and I take my dog Ziggy for walks in a stroller.

I grew up in St James until age 22 when I got married and moved to Westmoorings, where I still live. We have one daughter, Danielle. I come from a huge family, ten brothers and two sisters. I am number 11. Yes, we were a very Catholic family. When I said there were 13 of us, the first thing would come out of people’s mouths was, “Ay, your parents didn’t have a TV or what?”

I am Catholic. I went into a church last week for the first time since my husband’s funeral in 2019. My faith during that whole ordeal, was very strong but diminished over time. My mother and my sister are, like, staunch-staunch Catholics. I went to Catholic schools, Mucurapo Girls RC and then on to Holy Name. I try as much as possible to follow the faith but I would not say I’m staunch.

When my husband Dennis got sick in 2019, I started to question my faith. Dennis lived around the corner in St James So I knew him for most of my life. I was friends with his sister at primary school.

After three years, it’s still extremely painful to talk about my husband. I’m doing a lot better than I was a year ago, a few months ago. I will never get over grieving for my husband but I am certainly getting through it. So I look at that as progress.

Dennis did a lot of travelling for work and, in July 2019, he visited five countries in six days and came back home tired. Then he collapsed and I took him to the hospital. We were waiting for the blood work result when we heard a doctor exclaim, “What does it mean when a blood count is 1,000 times what it’s supposed to be!” Dennis immediately started to cry. He had acute myloid leukaemia. He died six weeks after finding out he had AML.

Never in my wildest dreams, when I got on that plane leaving Trinidad to take my husband to hospital in Miami did I think my husband would die. I was in denial for months. I worked trough the stages of grief. Anger, guilt… I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that he’s not coming back.

I kept my husband’s stuff for two years. In my crazy head, I thought, “If he comes back, we’ll have to get all his stuff again!”

The company he worked with used to charter ships and wanted to get their own ship. That last five-day trip he went on, they were looking for a shipping company partner. They decided on a Swedish company, Stenna. The CEO of his company, David Cassidy, wanted to name their first ship in honour of Dennis. So they named it Stenna Pro Patria, the Patria coming from our surname, Patrick.

I have these two doggies. Marley loves to walk and play, Ziggy, not so much. After two steps on a walk, Ziggy would just plump himself down and refuse to move – but Marley wants to go! So I would pick Ziggy up in my arms and we’d go around the park. He’s only eight pounds but it adds up over distance. I used to be, like, real sweating. I told my daughter, “I don’t know why someone doesn’t come up with baby-strollers for dogs!”

My daughter always says I’m the most difficult person to get a gift for and, honestly, I don’t rely on anyone to get me anything. I buy what I want. And then on my birthday, there was the doggie-stroller. I could start taking both dogs for walks!

It baffles me how EVERYBODY is so fascinated by a dog in a stroller! I hate to be the centre of attention but everyone would ask, “Is there something wrong with him?” And I’d have to say, “No, he just doesn’t like to walk.” I like to go early in the morning when there’re hardly any people. But, still, people stop and ask me about it.

People tell me I have a “Corn-vent” accent. I tell them my dog’s name is Marley. And then they ask me why I called my dog Molly.

The stroller is designed for dogs.

I always teased my daughter about when I’d get a grandchild. She eventually called me one day and said, “You want a grandchild? Well, I’ve decided to get a puppy.” So I said, okay, a puppy would be as fine as a grandchild. So now she drops Reo off at my doggie day care at six in the morning and picks him up in the afternoon.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayZiggy was a birthday gift from my husband. We used to call him the King of the Castle because he held his head so high up in the air. Like royalty. So, when I put him in that stroller, he sits in there with that same regal air. And Marley is there, running along, sniffing everything It’s really a joy to see him looking around, observing everything, really like a king. It warms my heart.

The bad part of taking him for a walk in a stroller might be that Ziggy is a real drama queen, this real high-pitched bark so early in the morning. Waking up people. But he’s still so cool, looking around at people, like he’s telling them, “Look at me! I’m being pushed! I don’t have to walk like Molly.”

I guess they haven’t seen one before but people who see him are fascinated by someone pushing a dog in a stroller. But to say they love him? Ziggy is VERY antisocial! You try to play with Ziggy, he moves away. Molly and Reo are like best buds but Ziggy doesn’t have time for them. He has this entitled way about him. “I’m on a different level. I’m in a stroller!”

I was a Carnival baby. As a child, I would be watching pan finals on Carnival Saturday night and Dimache Gras on Carnival Sunday. On Carnival Tuesday, my entire family would go to the bleachers. It was a big picnic, with food and drink. I used to look forward to seeing bands like Wayne Berekely, Stephen Lee Heung and Edmond Hart. In those days, costumes were elaborate.

I used to daydream as a child about being big and being in one of those costumes. I started playing mas with Edmond Hart when I was 12, 13, and played with them right up until 2015. When this Monday wear came into play and I thought, “This is ridiculous! I pay all these thousands of dollars and could only wear my costume for ONE day?” I used to say I’d play mas with a walking stick. But, no, the costumes are ridiculous, too.

I am concerned about our crime, like everybody else. It’s like we’ve come to terms with it. It’s scary. There’s no accountability. I don’t think we’re doing enough.

Besides the obvious about being born here, to me a Trinbagonian is warm-hearted to the core. We pretend that we DGAF – but we do! We are the masters of the inappropriate comment and unsolicited advice. But, at our core, we are fun-loving.

Trinidad and Tobago is sincerely home. This is where my daughter, my family and extended family are. This is where I am most comfortable. You travel all over the world but come back home. Despite the concerns about crime and a host of other things, this is home, where my family and friends are .