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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


Like many Americans, Ruth and I are very, very fond of our dogs. Let me tell you about them. They are of a breed called “miniature schnauzers”. Miniature of course means little and “schnauzer” is German for beard – the giant and standard schnauzers are German in origin; the British crossed in the fox terrier to create the miniature breed.

They range from 14 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder and from about 18 to 25 pounds in weight. Being a terrier breed, they do not shed and do tend to be vocally expressive – they bark to greet people and generally carry on like little children wanting attention. They are also good at chasing vermin. They are very loyal, friendly, and intelligent.

I graduated collage in the 1960s and when I got my first job and apartment, I wanted a dog that wouldn’t grow too large to be kept indoors and would not shed. A poodle would have met those criteria, but I did not see that breed as having the proper masculine image. I had my first miniature schnauzer before I met my wife Ruth and she did not even know I owned a dog until I showed up for our second date – a picnic – with him. She was taken by him at once (guys: miniature schnauzers are babe magnets). I ended up getting her a female miniature schnauzer as an engagement gift.

The rest is history. We have always had two miniature schnauzers ever since. We’ve been married nearly 35 years now, and Ranger and Lyla (she’s black and her name means “night” in Hebrew) are our 7th and 8th miniature schnauzers respectively. Ranger was 7 in February, and Lyla was 3 in the same month.

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We have brought Ranger to Dominica twice, and have shown off his repertoire of tricks at the schools in Paix Bouche and in Calibishie. He’s become a big favorite of the children! When we retire to Dominica will bring them both. I could write lots and lots about them, but perhaps it’s best to show you. Click here to take a of slide show of them performing many of their tricks

As we look forward to our retirement in our wonderful new homeland, Dominica, we have been assured that we’ll be warmly welcomed by friends we’ve made, some of 20 years acquaintance and many more recent, and by neighbors. Judging by the reception Ranger has been given, we know that he and Lyla will be welcome too.

Related articleDogs in Dominica (islandmedstudent.com)

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My most recent beach review was of Napier’s White Sand Beach, at Point Baptiste, Calibishie. In it, I mentioned that it was near the beautiful Black Sand Beach and in fact could be reached by walking paths. Therefore, I’ll give you a view of the Black Sand Beach and a few descriptive paragraphs this time around.

Black Sand Beach is nestled in a cove bounded on the west by the cliffs that overlook Napier’s Beach and by Red Rocks on the east. It is reached by trails, with the decent made fairly easy by well-cut steps.

The beach is tiny, and the off wave will wash over it, so you can’t lie out on it. It is sunny in mid-day from May to August when the sun passes to the north of overhead. You might think that the black sand in the sun would be too hot to walk on barefoot, but because it is constantly wet by the sea, the beach sand is cool.

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Even our miniature schnauzer dog “Ranger” enjoys the Black Sand Beach. Ranger is a smart dog, that’s why when his not on the beach, he is shows-off his 16 tricks to the kids in the nearby community (Calibishie and Paix Bouche) schools.

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Another interesting thing about this sand is its texture and weight. I don’t know its geologic composition, but it is jet black, very fine and smooth, not at all sticky, and quite dense. Incidentally, there are some beaches, Woodford Hill, or one, that have places where black sand like this can be found an inch or two below the white sand in some spots.

It’s possible to enter the sea for a dip at one end of the tiny beach, and there are interesting corals for snorkeling at the other end. But even if you don’t swim or snorkel, Black Sand Beach is worth visiting juts to drink in the visual beauty. Coconut palms shade the beach, the contrast between the black sand and the red rocks is visually striking, and the gorgeous blue sea breaks onto the coral, the red rocks, and cliffs nearby, providing not only sights but a sound track as well for any nature lover.

Getting To Black Sand Beach

The easiest route to Black Sand Beach is as follows: Turn off left onto the Point Baptiste road as you take the main road from Calibishie towards Melville Hall Airport. Take the left fork in the Point Baptiste road at the top of the hill. Continue past the last house and onto the dirt road, which curves to the right and ends in a meadow. Park at the end of the dirt road and look for a pathway that heads towards the sea. Take the first turn to the right on the pathway, and follow the path you’ve taken. It will go downhill and across a flat rock area, from which you can see Red Rocks on your left as you face the sea. Take up the path again as it enters the bush and proceed slightly uphill. You will come to the Napier grave sites. Look for a trail heading down to the sea from there; it leads directly down to the Black Sand Beach.

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