, Gloucester, MA

January 7, 2013

One dog's journey

Rockport teacher, family give 'sato' a new home

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

---- — ROCPORT — A tiny 5-pound dog dumped from a car in Puerto Rico has found its way to the shores of Rockport and into the arms a loving family, thanks to the efforts of a local teacher and her friends. The 1,700-mile trip was not without bumps, however, because Erin Canniff found the dog about 24 hours before she was scheduled to fly back to Boston and return to Cape Ann.

Canniff said the saga began when, after three hours of surfing in the northwest part of the Caribbean island, she and some friends were sitting on the beach talking.

“All of a sudden a man selling coconuts saw the dog dropped off in the middle of the road, and he puts it over the seawall so it wouldn’t get hit by cars, and the dog trots over to our friend Jay, and crawls on his chest and gives him kisses,” said Canniff, a physical education teacher at Rockport Elementary School. “I said we had to do something.”

The black sato — sato is Puerto Rican slang for a mutt or feral dog — had white on its nose, chest and feet, and he endeared himself immediately to the group.

“He was so sweet and loving when we found him,” said Canniff. After a lot of driving around, she tracked down a veterinarian so she could obtain health papers and bought a crate so she could fly the dog back to Rockport. She had the dog’s crate right in front of her seat inside the plane. Meanwhile, Canniff and the dog’s story was being disseminated through Facebook along with many photos, and there were several people eager to take in the sato upon their return. When Lisa Vincent saw the posting, she responded with the words “Please be ours.” In the end, the chosen owners were Rockport’s Lisa and Eoin Vincent, along with their three children, who named the dog Bear.

“We fell in love with him on Facebook,” Lisa Vincent said. “I was thinking about getting a puppy but I didn’t want to dare look at pictures of potential puppies but then there he was on Facebook. He’s just awesome.”

Bear went to a local vet Friday morning where he weighed in at 51/2 pounds and received a clean bill of health. The Vincents also learned that the pup, which most thought was about eight weeks old, is really six to eight months. The Vincents have another sato — the spotted 50-pound Lucky, who is about 10 years old and who the family says has a lot of cattle dog breed in her.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or