Paddy – settling into his new home
As I explained in Chapter 1, it took me a long time to persuade Tony that we should have another Dog in Residence. So, why did he finally change his mind? I really don’t know. On New Year’s Eve, 2013, when four of our friends pitched in and pleaded my case, he got stroppy and said something along the lines of ‘Never mention dogs to me again, or else,’ yet less than three months later, we were collecting Paddy from the K9 Club Animal Charity in La Marina.
Maybe it was down to the lucky red knickers I was wearing on New Year’s Eve, or perhaps it was because he was having one of his ‘What’s Sandra going to do when I die?’ moments. He’s been having those quite regularly since he hit 70 – he’s 81 now, so there have been a lot of them. Anyway, we were sitting in the sun on Sunday 16 March, 2014, and he suddenly asked me if I still had the Coastrider.
That’s the local English language newspaper for the Torrevieja area, and I wondered what he wanted it for. Tony said he wanted to look in the Classifieds, and I got a bit concerned then. You see, in Spain, along with the adverts for plumbers and removal men, you’re likely to see adverts for – er – ladies belonging to the oldest profession in the world. I wondered whether Tony was perhaps trying to hasten his demise and wanted go out with a smile on his face, but what he said was even more of a shock than if he’d asked me to book an appointment with ‘Janine, busty, long-legged blonde, 37. Will meet at your place or mine.’ His next words were:
‘Pick yourself a puppy from one of the animal shelters.’
First of all, I ignored him, thinking I’d heard him wrong. When he repeated it, I went indoors to check the levels on the whisky bottle. That didn’t seem to have ‘evaporated’ since last night, so I went back to the sun loungers, and asked him if I’d heard him right. Apparently I had, because once again, Tony repeated the words I’d resigned myself to never, ever hearing.
I checked the Coastrider, and the Courier, and the Round Town News. And there were puppies aplenty – too many puppies, because I wanted all of them, yet none of them actually said to me ‘Take me home – I’m yours.’ Well, they couldn’t have, could they? Not from the newspaper and not in person, but you get the idea, I’m sure.
I was quite happy to wait for next week’s papers, but once Tony wants to do something, he wants to do it now, or even yesterday. He can be so impatient. A religious friend of ours once suggested he should pray for patience, and he said, ‘Please God, grant me patience, and I’d like it immediately.’ And he was only half joking! But I digress.
Anyway, Tony suggested we look on the websites for the various charities, because he reasoned there were so many dogs needing homes, they probably couldn’t put them all in the newspapers. Before I did that, I tried to do my duty as a Responsible Wife and told Tony that if we had a puppy, it would be hard work for a couple of years. Wouldn’t it be easier on us to get an older dog?
Tony’s answer to that was that with an older dog, we might not know what sort of life he’d had before, or how it could affect his temperament. He had a good point, actually. Although we don’t have any young children at home, we do have grandchildren and great grandchildren in England, and we didn’t want to put any of them in danger from an unpredictable dog. As Tony said, if we started with a puppy, even if he’d had bad experiences, we should be able to get him over them with love and attention, and train him so we had the kind of dog we could take anywhere.
We wanted a dog that wasn’t too big, but what we didn’t want was what we call ‘a rat on a string.’ Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas are okay if they belong to somebody
Teddy – soon to become Paddy. Our first sight of him on the K9 Club website
else, and we’ll make a fuss of them, like we do with any dog, but it would never be our choice for a pet. Having had a Border Collie, we did think some sort of Collie cross would be ideal for us, and when we went to the K9 Club website, we saw Paddy – or Teddy as he was called then.
It was love at first sight for both of us – now I’d found a puppy who looked at me and said ‘‘Take me home – I’m yours.’ I think the main reason we fell in love so completely was that he reminded us of Patch. He wasn’t pure Border Collie, but there was more of that than anything else, and he had a white blaze on his face, white socks and a white chest. When we actually hunted out our old pictures of Patch, he wasn’t much like him at all, but at the time, it struck a chord.
Now we’d found our boy, I was impatient to get to him before anyone else did, so I called the kennels, even though it was Sunday teatime. I reckoned that looking after dogs wasn’t a 9 to 5 weekday thing, and I was right. Kayla answered the phone, and told me all about Teddy, as she’d called him. And what she told me made me cry, and made me want to bring Teddy home and make it up to him for the rotten start he’d had in his short life.
A week earlier, Kayla had been exercising some of the 11 dogs they had in the kennels at the time near the canal. The dogs got excited, and Kayla thought she heard a noise, so she investigated. She found Teddy, covered in mud, freezing cold and whimpering, by the side of the canal. Next to him was what she presumed was his brother, and he was already dead. The puppies were no older than 6 or 7 weeks, and Kayla said if she hadn’t found Teddy when she did, he too would have been dead by morning.
Kayla had no way of knowing whether the dogs had been thrown in the canal and managed to struggle out, or whether they’d just been left on the canal bank. She was distraught that the puppies had not been left at the K9 kennels, which backed onto the canal, because then both of them may have been saved. She took Teddy home, bathed him, fed him and, because he was so tiny and cold, she allowed him to sleep with her in her bed, rather than putting him in the kennels with the other dogs.
By now, I was determined to have Teddy – although he would need a name change. As Tony said, he had no intention of standing at the top of the steps and shouting ‘Teddy, time for dinner!’ I mean, you never know who might be passing, and if somebody sees an 80 year old calling his Teddy in for dinner, they might decide to call the Ambulancia to take said 80 year old to a place of safety.
Kayla called him Teddy because he was such an affectionate little chap, even though he’d had such a rotten start in life. As we were chatting about names that evening, we thought a Spanish name such as Pedro, Paco or Pablo would probably suit him, but we decided to leave the naming ceremony until we’d actually met him.
The next day, we headed for the K9 Kennels bright and early. When we arrived, Kayla took us to met Teddy. He was in a pen with two other Collie cross puppies who were a few weeks older than him, and twice his size. They were bounding over him as if they were on elastic, knocking him over, and he was just getting back up and back in the fray. I fell in love all over again, and although the other puppies had on their best ‘Pick Me!’ faces, I knew that Teddy was coming home with us, and so did Tony. When Kayla let him out of the pen, he just strolled over to me, wagged his tail – which was as long as him with a little white tip – and gazed at me. I picked him up, and he nestled in my arms. Teddy was home.
Kayla explained that we did not have to make a donation unless we wanted to, but we wouldn’t have felt comfortable about taking Teddy without giving something to them to cover his keep for the week he’d been waiting for us. And we were so pleased to have found him, so we handed over €50. I don’t think many people give as much as that, because Kayla was over the moon. She filled out a receipt for the donation, and as I signed it, I noticed the date – 17 March, St Patrick’s Day. We finally had a new name for Teddy. On such a day, what else could we call him but Paddy?