While most associate Cleopatra with Egypt, Kleopatra has become a big part of my life in Puerto Rico.
Stray animals are a big problem in Puerto Rico. There is no humane society or animal control and it is very common to see dogs, cats and chickens roaming through the streets in search of scraps to eat. Many pet owners here do not spay or neuter their animals, further contributing to the problem. The same week that I arrived at Arecibo, the observatory staff began noticing another visitor, a small, black, shaggy dog, clearly struggling to survive in the streets. I have always been a dog lover and couldn’t bear to watch the animal suffer while I had more food in front of me than I could eat. So I began leaving food and water for the dog. She was too afraid of people to come near me, but I would always return to find the food gone. After only a few days of this, the little dog, at the time nicknamed Shaggy, started following me home at night and sleeping on my porch. After just a week, she let me give her a bath and groom her, and from that moment on her fate was sealed: I was in love and was going to give this dog a home.
At this point, the observatory staff decided that she needed a real name. Shaggy just wasn’t going it cut it, especially after she had been cleaned up! After many suggestions, I decided that I wanted her name to reflect where she had come from Arecibo. One of the students studying radar astronomy suggested that we name her after Kleopatra, an asteroid known for its dog-bone shape. The name stuck! With the generous help of a few local scientists, Kleopatra (Kleo) has been taken to the vet, given all of her vaccinations and is excited to move to Golden, Colo., for the next stage of her life.
When I am not with Kleo, I can usually be found in my office, working to code and perfect the small-scale prototype of my design system to clean the telescope dish. During this stage I have encountered numerous complications with faulty electronics. As much as I love this island, trying to get new equipment sent here is an expensive and time-consuming process, causing significant setbacks for my project. While I have not gotten as far as I would like in my work, I have learned so much and have had a truly incredible experience here so far. I am excited to see what my last few weeks here will bring.