¿dónde están los perros?

The dogs have gone awol. It’s past 23.00 and O is out looking for the little buggers. They’ve disappeared, off piste goat hunting, in the mountains.

He walks them every evening whilst I’m putting G to bed and reading (for the nnth time) The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Whilst I am convincing G it really IS time to go to sleep, O is yomping across the mountains which lie in a horseshoe around us whilst the dogs harass wild goats and make themselves unpopular with the locals. Animal ownership in Mallorca is a strange paradox. The Spanish don’t have the greatest image of animal care, but they are big fans of the dog. Oddly there is a tendency to own a dog which is kept at a finca in the countryside, frequently tied up which is a sad practice. It’s peculiar because there is even an annual fiesta (St Antoni) where they celebrate animals, the dogs are taken off their chains for the day and brought into the towns where they are blessed with holy water, sprinkled over them by a priest.

We have two dogs, a Breton Spaniel, and a Dachshund. The Breton is viewed appreciatively by the hunting, shooting, fishing elements of our village – he’s a big boy for his breed, and the breed is popular locally for its usefulness in those outdoor pursuits. The Dachshund is tolerated, but only just. She’s a bit feisty and a bit naughty, and just a little too keen on escaping out of our garden and running up and down the road barking at people walking, or indeed cars driving, past the house.

We found the Breton in a finca when he was about 6 weeks old. We were there for a party and as guests of the owners of the finca were required to do a tour of their outhouses which were home to a variety of farm animals, including goats, sheep and pigs. When we reached the pigsty where two enormous Black Pigs were snorting and snuffling around we were initially delighted to see a piglet, but on closer inspection realised that it wasn’t a piglet, but a puppy. The puppy had mistakenly found itself on the wrong side of the pigsty and we wondered aloud what would happen to it if we left it inside the pighouse…. didn’t pigs pretty much eat anything that got in their way? The puppy was swiftly removed from the sty and took up residence on the inside of my coat where he stayed. We didn’t mean to get a dog, but ended up taking him home with us….

A couple of years on and we (or I should say I) found ourselves in the position of having a garden and only the one dog to make a complete mess of it. So speed up the process we (or rather, I) decided that a second, smaller dog would be a great idea, to keep the Breton company. Wrong wrong wrong. She’s a complete nightmare. You can’t leave anything out in the kitchen as she leaps onto worktops to devour the leftovers, or even the beginnings, of a meal, she is Houdini returned in the shape of a dog and she loves loves loves to chase goats. So that is why O is out right now looking for them….. we haven’t seen them since 20.30. That’s three hours ago, and no sign of them, or O….. I’m idlly wondering what’s happenned to them as I chug through a copa de vino.

A glass of wine later and he is back, swearing. The dogs aren’t with him. And he’s adamant he’s not going back out to look for them again. So off I am going with my special dog whistle, my fingers crossed, and my jungle strength mosquito repellant on.

Post update: 12.48am Home, with two dogs who look rather pleased with themselves. I am covered in mozzie bites and there’s no wine left in the bottle, and no chocolate anywhere in the house. Oh the joys of dog ownership.

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