So, for those of you who haven’t been treated to the social network flicker book, we have a dog.
He’s an awesome little dog 🙂
You see I have always wanted a dog of my own*, sorry, a family dog.
When I was growing up I was surrounded by dogs. Not in a scary feral kind of way, in a big fluffy member of the family kind of way. Our first dog that I remember was “shadow”. She was lovely. Very odd looking with tiny legs and a stumpy tail, but utterly lovely. I remember having her puppies in the house too. I mean that’s going back a bit, my dad still had ginger hair, but she was with us until my college years ( my dads hair was definitely not ginger by then**).
( There should be a lovely/deeply embarrassing photo of Shadow, her pups and ‘the kids’ here, but the copy I have is in a storage container in Eastbourne )
Then we had Ellie and Spring, Mum and Dads two delightfully dippy Gordon Setters. Spring was as beautiful as she was stupid, Ellie was the thinker of the pair. And she had an afro. They flew with my parents to the states and spent their golden years roaming around in the Wisconsin countryside. Sadly they would not live long enough to make the return journey.
Then there was Spanky. We don’t really talk about him. Mum and dad re-homed him after his owner died. It wasn’t a match made it heaven, but then he was never really their dog.
But as wonderful as they were, Spanky aside, they weren’t my dogs.
Since Hubby and I have lived together we have always wanted a dog. As our first flat in London was barely big enough to walk in the practical considerations outweighed our need, and ‘Hartley’ the inflatable dog became our companion.
Hartley accompanied us to our various homes over the next 13 years, he had a small mishap when we accidentally became cat owners and a puncture repair kit was pressed into service, but other than that enjoyed good health and a fine life.
I mean an inflatable dog isn’t a patch on a real dog, but it just never seemed to be the right time. When we moved from London to Luton there was a glimmer of puppy hope, but that was snuffed out when I got pregnant. I didn’t think a baby and a puppy at the same time was the best idea in the world.
When we moved to France 2 and a bit years later the puppy window was tantalisingly ajar, but then ‘Chimney’ arrived on our doorstep in her little cardboard box and metaphorically slammed the puppy window shut with a jaunty swagger and a swish of her fluffy kittenish tail.
When our beloved little Chimney passed on my thoughts turned once again to dog, but as my thoughts were also occupied with moving to a different country, once again, the time just wasn’t right and Hartley was brought into service once more, puncture patch and all.
Hartley was finally put into storage ( a grudging last minute pack when I determined that as I was already 20 kg heavy on our luggage allowance so I needed to be much more ruthless) when we moved here. Besides when we did ‘the big move’ we were getting a dog. No question.
When my husband found this wonderful house one of the first questions he had for the estate agent was ‘can we have a dog?’. His reply wasn’t the most encouraging as he said he didn’t think the owner would like the idea as it is wooden floors throughout, but if we kept it outside and just don’t tell the owner it would probably be OK. When we came for a second viewing ( my first), I instantly fell for the house and determined that we could easily get a dog and just not tell the owner. No problem. Then the owner arrived, from next door.
OK so we wouldn’t be able to get a dog by stealth, but it was agreed that the house was too good to pass up and we would see how the owner was and maybe by Christmas she would see that we were responsible enough tenants to have a dog.
We moved in and through our various gardening exploits deduced that the previous tenants must have had a dog due to the number of half chewed bones we found buried in the flower beds. Either that or they were serial killers, but we preferred to think of them as dog owners.
Thankfully, on many levels, it turns out the last tenants live just a bit further up the road now and are delightful people with a couple of dogs and after a quick chat with them we decided to inform the owner that we would be getting a dog.
Turns out she quite likes dogs
Hubby and I had decided that the following week we would seek out the local dog shelter and go and ‘have a look’ and see what kind of dogs they had available and if there was one that we wanted them we would make all the necessary arrangements and pick up our dog , once we had all the right equipment for it at home, the following week.
We were very specific about the type of dog we wanted. We have had a lot of time to think about it. A boy, a puppy, a nice breed that was good with children, a guard dog type, something a bit scary looking, not too big, but big enough that you could have a proper muck about with. We have had a lot of time to think about this
We hired a tuk-tuk for the afternoon and went off to find ‘Care for Dogs’, which turned into a mini-adventure in itself as despite maps and directions it wasn’t the easiest place to get to. We arrived and were greeted by the reason this place is deep in the country, the sound of 100 or so dogs eagerly awaiting the new people who had just arrived to pick one of them to take home….. It was deafening, and when my eyes caught up with my ears it was both heart-breaking and heart warming at the same time.
Thailand has a big problem with street dogs. The ‘soi dogs’ are a motley collection of creatures in various states of health and attitude. We are blessed ( so far ) with our soi as the dogs are of a mild nature, to us anyway, but its true that they can smell fear. Add to that the many many strays that have been taken in by, and are born at the temples and the dogs who have simply been abandoned you can find yourself having a few tense moments. Many a turf war is played out between local packs.
Care for dogs is there to pick up the pieces wherever it can and treat diseased and wounded dogs to bring then back to a point where they can be adopted out, or long term care for those who could never make the transition from pack animal to pet.
When we arrived and were herded through the double gates we were surrounded by dogs, from a break your heart gorgeous pair of Labrador newborns to the gnarled and twisted face of a crippled street fighter whose cataract misted eyes reflected a of a life of violence and hardship.
We had already primed ourself for the emotional assault of a rescue kennel and we were well practised in our mantra. ‘WE ARE HERE FOR A PUPPY. JUST ONE. WHEN WE ARE READY’ but within moments of entering the main pen, I was having to scream it to myself.
We passed up the Labrador twins and the old fella just didn’t look the type who would mix well with an exuberant and curious small person so we were led to the next area which housed, amongst others, a litter of 7 or so puppies who were being sterilized by the vets at the shelter, and the owner had just asked the centre if they could take the puppies for adoption as she just couldn’t cope with 7 more dogs.
They were all coloured in various shades and combinations of white, black and tan, some were a mixture of all 3. They swarmed our legs we came in and jumped to say hello and barked and licked in only the way that 7 or so puppies can, but as I sat down to say a proper hello along came a quiet little waggy tailed fella who sat down at my feet, licked my knee, put his head on my lap and gave me the best ‘sad dog’ eyes I’ve seen for many a year.
If any of you are familiar with the comedy series SPACED, this was our ‘Daisy/Colin moment’
As the shelter staff were photocopying the adoption paperwork a plan was hatched with the tuk-tuk driver to take us home via the local pet store so we could get a few ‘bits and bobs’*** because even though the first 2 parts of our mantra had worked, there is no way, after waiting so long to find him, we would want our little Bertie anywhere other than home. Ready or not.
Jer Gan Mài.
* I know he’s a family pet, but who does most of the walking and feeding? He’s my dog. 😛
** It was “ash blonde”.
***Every single thing you need to look after a dog. That’s a lot of single things.