OK, I can write about this now, a few days after the trauma. I have almost even got my sense of humour back. Almost….
You know we can’t resist a rescue dog. Adopting our three has been and continues to be extremely rewarding. Our dainty little 2 year old Spanish Podenco is no exception to this, but she is not without her challenges.
Firstly, escapologist. You know that towards the end of our West Yorkshire tenure, our neighbours at the back cut back their hedge which formed our boundary. Our little minx realised with less substance in the hedge and the slight bow of the dry stone wall she could get into our neighbours garden. It was an area that they didn’t use and was totally enclosed but still, not cool. The last few weeks she was under full supervision, usually on lead, no more sunbathing for her.
Freya, is a Podenco, a Spanish breed used primarily for hunting rabbit. Notoriously mistreated and allowed to breed without control, many are inhumanely “put down” by their owners, the lucky few end up in the hell holes that are the Spanish perreras, high kill shelters. The luckiest of the lucky few find their way to an actual loving home. They’re not a common breed in the U.K., I don’t believe the Kennel Club recognises them, but they are a very ancient one, similar to the Ibiza or Pharaoh hound.
Like all sight hounds, recall can be an issue, and we have been trying to whistle train her, but she’s not a very food oriented dog, much more interested in the buzzing of a fly or the tail flick of one of the little lizards we have here, so breaking her focus is tricky. We have 3 dogs with different exercise needs at the moment. Rather than walk Shelly too far, and Freya not enough, I’ve been walking Freya solo, then returning to walk the others. This particular morning was sunny and bright, I walked Freya, brought her back, and in the fenced area at the front of the house planned to take Cleo our 13 year old deaf little sausage out for her customary 5-10 minute sniff and explore. As I opened the gate the merest of cracks, Cleo did a little stumble right in front of it, and Freya took full advantage, bolting down the main road.
My heart hit my boots and settled in my windpipe. I quickly pulled the other two inside, grabbed lead, whistle, treats and chased after her. Damn she’s fast. Every now and again she’d slow down, stop, turn and look at me – crouched down and trying my hardest not to bellow at her, before bolting again. She turned up a track just off the main road which headed to the woods, I turned the same corner but no sign of her. I walked up the track, and turning right off it led through an open doored barn stacked high with apples and into a lovely garden. Little shit I thought. I made my way through the barn, shouting Bonjour as I went, just in time to catch a glimpse of a lady, and then a flicker of a strawberry blonde tail. As I rounded the corner a pristine, beautiful white duck was flat on it’s back on the ground. Oh god, oh god, I thought I was going to throw up. Said perpetrator was within a finger tips grip of me but scooted past, just as the man of the house aimed a kick at her and kicked her into the road. She cowered and came to me and I got her back on the lead. The lady had picked up the lovely duck and was stroking it. There was a noticeable bite mark on the fleshy part of the leg. Upon seeing this yours truly, a grown adult woman, stood purple faced and sweaty from chasing Queen Lateefa, burst into tears in one of our closest neighbours gardens. A neighbour I’d not previously met, and my dog had just sunk her teeth into her beautiful duck. This was not a good day.
The lady was very lovely, it was apparent how upset I was, I was mortified that my dog had done this, mortified the lovely duck had been hurt, mortified to meet my neighbours in this fashion. It was just rubbish. I asked if there was anything at all that I can do, vet bills anything at all. She was very matter of fact. “If the duck doesn’t survive then perhaps a new duck”. For the first 24 hours, I lived in constant fear that I’d have a visitor to tell me that we had an ex-canard situation. Touch wood this has yet to happen, and I had a cheery Bonjour from the lovely lady as she cycled past yesterday which made me feel better.
Must stress, I don’t remotely blame the gentleman for lashing out at Freya like that, if someone’s dog had bitten my duck I think I would have done worse, but it has made me apprehensive about the warmth of my welcome.
My instinct is to arrive on the doorstep with a bottle of wine and enquire about the patient, but typically, this all happened about an hour after Craig left for the airport and is gone for a week. I’m not feeling brave enough to visit solo, but when Craig is back I have wine and home-made jam on stand-by for just this purpose.
I confess it sent my anxiety into overdrive, it was an accident ultimately, but I blamed myself for giving her too much trust. I couldn’t look at her for hours afterwards. I even said to Craig that when he drives back to the UK to sell the car, he can return her to the rescue. As soon as I said it I knew I didn’t mean it, don’t worry. Ultimately while I’m beyond upset about what she did, I can’t be upset with a hunting dog following instinct. I’m her guardian, and I failed to keep her from that situation, entirely my fault. She had no idea of what she’d done of course, by the end of the afternoon she was asleep head under my arm, like the sweet girl she is, and I wasn’t mad anymore.
So, I’ve doubled her exercise routine, increased her daily recall training, and I walk her on two leads now, one to collar, one to harness, for additional safety. It’s either that or shrink wrap her to a pallet truck while wearing a hockey mask, Hannibal Lecter style.
As I stood in the kitchen later in the day, in the dark, when boiling the kettle shorted the power again, I had a massive wobble. But, my perspective has gradually returned, and even if we are now infamous in our small village for all the wrong reasons then I was reminded by someone wiser than I, that anyone that judges someone before even meeting them doesn’t really matter anyway.