Monday, 14 December 2009

A Dog's Life

During the war here many people couldn't manage to feed their dogs so had to set them free to fend for themselves. This combined with a patchy government strategy for dealing with dogs means that there are a lot of strays around here. Really a lot.

For the past couple of months we've been sort of looking after one of them. Or, more accurately, she sort of attached herself to us, and we couldn't resist her. It's difficult to say what sort of dog she was, bit of German Shepherd certainly, but finer featured and not as big. Either way, she was a real gem of a dog. Calm, even tempered and ever so sweet she played hard with Jess and was calm with the boys. We wormed, ticked and flea-ed her, fed her some proper food and she began to shine. If we went to the shops she would come too, just touching our hands with her nose to let us know that she was there, then she'd wait patiently outside the shop for us to come out before trotting back proudly and beautifully to heel.

She won our confidence over time and I began to trust her. She was allowed to come inside the house in the evenings, but still slept outside. A couple of times we asked if she wanted to get in the car to come for a walk with us, but she didn't fancy that idea much, preferring to do her own thing during the day.

She could get in and out of the garden at will and settled into a routine of heading off to do whatever it is that dogs do in the morning and coming back in the afternoon. Occasionally I'd come across her on the other side of town (having crossed at least 2 major roads to get there). She'd come over to say hello, but again wouldn't want a lift in the car so we'd go our separate ways and she'd come back later that day in time for supper. We tried to block the escape route up, but she would just take it down again, not really wanting to be totally domesticated just yet. In many ways she was living the doggy dream, a house when she wanted it, but also the freedom to do whatever she wanted when she wanted it.

We asked around a bit and the slightly mad, dog obsessed bloke over the road (he of the tendency to put raw bones down the back of his trousers) knew some of her history. He remembered her litter, estimating that she was about 15 months old and had spent her life on the streets. No one owned her or was responsible for her, but he had christened her Belle, so Belle she remained.

We began to talk seriously about whether we were going to adopt her or not. Taking her back to Britain would be no mean feat, Jess is fully PETS passported up, but to get a stray dog onto the scheme would cost a fair bit of money and take a lot of time. We'd have to do things like Fed-Ex blood samples to the UK, that type of thing. But Dave went out one evening with both dogs, neither on the lead, and one stayed to heel the entire way whilst the other expensive pedigree dog that has had years of training had to be hauled out of the neighbours bins at least twice. We weren't sure about having 2 largish dogs in the house, but she was winning us over.

We haven't seen her for over a week now. This is very unusual, she was always one to be back in time for supper. The weather is cold and snowing, she would be looking for some warmth if she could. Maybe she'll turn up one evening looking for a treat, but I doubt it. She may have been hit by a car, the hunters that are occasionally employed to curtail the stray population may have got her. Possibly she found another family to take her in, maybe she just decided to hang out in a pack rather than with some humans. We don't know what has happened to her, probably never will.

I do miss her. Belle. I hope that you'll be back soon, tonight maybe? I desperately hope so, but deep down I doubt it; I think if you could have come back, you'd have been back by now. I hope you are warm and safe somewhere. But most of all I hope you enjoyed your time with us, I hope we made a difference to you. We will never forget you.

20 comments:

Liz (LivingwithKids) said...

Oh gosh I hope she's OK. Please let us know if she comes back.

TheMadHouse said...

Oh Belle, I do hope that you are OK. It must be so hard not knowing

Kat said...

I hope she comes home soon!!

London City Mum said...

Remember the good times - she will, wherever she is now.

LCM x

momcat said...

As good as it seems, the streets are a harsh place for animals. I hope she comes back to you. Maybe you could have a scout around in a few of the places you have seen her or maybe ask dog mad bloke to help you look for her. So sorry. All of us animal lovers have been through this.

notSupermum said...

Oh no, I got about halfway through before realising the ending was not going to be the happy one I hoped for.

That was a generous thing to do for Belle, looking after her like that. I hope you find out where she's gone, but rest assured you did your best with her.

Mwa said...

Awww.

A cat of ours did that one time. I still think both were better off having been free to do their own thing.

x

Alice said...

bless Belle... I am sure she loved every minute of being with you :-) and I'm sure that wherever she is, she will take those memories with her... but I kind of hope she comes back to you... as I look down at Milla now I think what a lucky girl she is to have our love (she is basically totally one of the family!!!!) and I think Belle would be very lucky to be one of your family x

nappy valley girl said...

Ohhh....I do hope she comes back. My fingers are crossed for you.

Lady Mama said...

Aww I hope she comes back!

Crumpet said...

Thats a really lovely post and reminds me why we have dogs in our lives - I forgot this morning when I came downstairs to poo everywhere...Hope she returns x

Mummy said...

This made me well up.

Maybe it is because I have had a bad day and am still working far too late.

Or maybe it is just because, like you, animals have always been an important part of the family and we love and miss them just the same.

Chanda said...

Oddly two of the three kitties I have been feeding vanished a little over a week ago also. Everytime I opened my door they would come running and now there is only one. I am not sure where "Muffin" and "Flash" have went. We still haven't left yet. We both got a bit of a cold and all they snowy weather made us nervous. We are hopefully going this weekend with our CAR!! Keep in touch!

Mud in the City said...

How sad and how worrying - not easy to explain to children either! But you are right and I'm sure she was blessed with her time with you.

Sandy Calico said...

I'm sorry to hear she has gone. I hope she returns x

Metropolitan Mum said...

No, I am not crying. Smoke got into my eyes. And no, I have no idea where the smoke came from either. *weeeeep*

Online Mum said...

Keeping everything crossed for her safe return!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. She is still not back. To be honest, I really don't think she will be. There's now 2 foot of snow everywhere so she would have been back to toast her toes if she could have. I do miss her. She was such a lovely dog. If anything changes, I'll be sure to let you all know. x

Chanda - Great you got your car! Drive safely, these roads are treacherous with this much snow!

Owen said...

Street animals are canny creatures. Hopefully she's got an alternative host - not unknown - and has gone to ground until the environment is a bit more amenable.

Emm said...

Oh dear, this is so sad. Not knowing is just the worst! I do hope she comes home.

(Found you under the "expat" category at BlogCatalog).