Tuesday, 5 June 2012

In Which I Find A Puppy

Many years ago, before I was born, my parents adopted a little dog. She showed up on their doorstep one day, with a docked tail and obviously tame and used to belonging to someone. And after a few days they couldn't take it any more, so they let her in and fed her. Of course that was that - they called her Sandy, or sometimes Dig-Dig, and she lived with us for fifteen years until she died on Christmas Day when I was fourteen.

In that time she lived in five different countries, and went through quarantine twice - not a cheap process, but she was a lovely dog and we all adored her. I've taken from this two key lessons. One: never feed a strange dog unless you're ready for dog ownership. Two: dog ownership can be managed as long as you don't move too often, but international dog ownership is very expensive. While I would love to own a dog, clearly my life isn't stable enough for it to be fair on the dog right now, and I definitely can't afford it.

Unfortunately, puppies have big brown eyes that stare at you and can't be denied, and today my resolution was tested.

I was out running (horrible unfitness = inevitable result of a month of no exercise but not as bad as I feared), and on the way back a little brown puppy, looking a lot like a labrador but probably a mongrel, dashed across the street, jumped up at me, licking and sniffing my hand, before stopping and looking up at me reproachfully. I've been a bit wary of dogs ever since being bitten by one in Cote d'Ivoire and having to get a rabies shot, but this one was obviously tame and totally gorgeous. She didn't do this to anyone else, which makes me think she's owned by a white person so I look more like home to her than anyone else on the street.

I patted her a few times and looked at her collar - she had one, but no tag on it so no number to call. Considered brining her home and feeding her, because I hate the idea of her being out there all on her own and lost and maybe getting run over, but I'm not allowed pets in the guesthouse, and I'm scared of drifting into dog ownership. Obviously if I did that I'd put posters up to try and find her owner - but what if I don't find them? If I knew I'd be here all year, I might do it, but I might not be, and anyway, I really can't afford it and I'm clearly not responsible dog owner material. And I didn't have a lead or anything anyway.

In the end I cross the street again, wait for a gap in the traffic, then call her across, and ask some of the guards in the street she came out of if they've seen her before - none of them have. At least she's on the right side of the street now though, so if she does manage to find her way home then she hopefully won't have to cross any busy roads on the way.

When I get home, I tell Christina, the other English girl in the guesthouse, about it. She says she saw her too, the day before, which makes me even more worried and sad. I decide to go back later and see if she's still there - if she is, I'll get her some food from the supermarket and feed her in the street.

Luckily, the story has a happy-ish ending. I go back to where I saw the dog, and don't see her, and, to my relief, also don't see a dead dog in the street. I go down the street she came out of, and a hundred metres down the road I see her curled up outside a little corner stall. The owner is just shutting up, so I stop to talk to him - he tells me she isn't his dog, but that he's going to look after her until her owners find her. I'm glad she's found a friend, and she seems happy, so I ask if I can come back and visit (at which the stallholder clearly thinks I'm crazy but decided to humour me) and leave it at that. 

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