“I can’t concentrate! Why don’t the Spanish stop their dogs barking?”
I was trying to write the next chapter for my latest Old Fools book, but the constant background noise was spoiling my concentration.
There are plenty of dogs in our village, all shapes and sizes.
There’s a Jack Russell that never stops yapping, a German Shepherd that guards one of the big houses and looks as though he’d enjoy tearing an intruder apart, plus numerous mongrels that roam the streets freely.The Spanish seem to have a different attitude towards dogs than we have. Instead of taking them for walks, they allow the animals to wander unsupervised about our narrow streets. Constant barking is accepted and dog poo deposits ignored. Dogs are rarely neutered, and unwanted litters of puppies abound.
I’ve never owned a dog, but I’d love to have one some day. I think it would do us good. Joe and I spend so much time huddled over our computers, and having a dog would force us to go for beneficial walks and get us out of the house more.
But it wouldn’t be sensible at the moment. We travel too much, particularly now that we have a granddaughter in Australia.
When my daughter told me they were thinking of getting a miniature pig as a pet, I was a little surprised.
“No,” she said, “it’s not a late April Fool joke, we really would like a pig. They are very intelligent, you can train them just like a dog, and they can be house trained.”
“Have you got space in your garden?”
“Oh yes, loads. We’ve got in touch with the farmer and we’ve chosen a little black one. We’re going to call him Hamlet.”
About a week later, we chatted again.
“We’re not getting a pig after all. We went to visit the litter and met the piggy parents. They’re HUGE. So we’ve decided to get a puppy instead.”
“What sort are you going to get?”
“Don’t know. We’re not quite ready yet, but we’ll visit the Dog Rescue just to see what’s available.”
“Well,” I said, “it’s a pity you aren’t here in Spain. Everywhere you look there are puppies looking for homes.”
Ready or not, they fell in love with one particular puppy at the Rescue Centre. It was bigger than they’d planned, part husky and part Staffie, but they couldn’t resist.
Of course I was worried, as little Indy is just a toddler.
“Don’t worry,” said my daughter. “The Rescue Centre has checked him out thoroughly. He’s gentle, fantastic with kids and other dogs, intelligent and although he’s only 10 weeks old he’s already obedient. We’ll have him on two weeks’ trial, and I’ll be taking him to puppy classes.”
I don’t believe puppy classes exist here in Spain, not in our part of the world, anyway. None of the village dogs obey any commands.
The puppy, LJ, named after the initials of the hotel where my daughter met her husband-to-be, arrived and settled in very quickly. They soon discovered that puppies are hard work, like newborn babies, but LJ was clearly there to stay. My daughter took him to puppy class where he performed beautifully. He already understood ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’, ‘Leave’ and ‘Go to bed’.
“He was the best behaved dog there, Mum,” she said proudly.
“Model student. It was just a pity that he peed on the rug as soon as we got home.”
So lucky LJ has a lovely new home and will hopefully grow up to be the perfect pet. We’ll meet him next winter when we visit Australia.
In the meantime, I guess we’ll just continue to put up with the barking in our village and dodging the piles of doggy poo dotting the streets.
Tomato and Garlic Dip
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
14 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
500g tinned plum tomatoes, roughly mashed
1 Tsp Hot smoked paprika
½ Tsp Sugar
3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper (optional)
Knob of butter
1. Heat the olive oil in a terracotta cazuela and add the garlic – fry for 5 – 10 minutes until lightly browned.
2. Add the smoked paprika and pepper, stir then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly.
3. Turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
4. Leave to cool then serve with breadsticks or tortilla chips – delicious!
by Victoria Twead.
Victoria is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2004 she nagged poor, long-suffering Joe into leaving Britain and relocating to a tiny, remote mountain village in Andalucía, where they became reluctant chicken farmers and owned the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Village life inspired Victoria’s first book, Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, and was quickly followed by two more in the Old Fools series, all of which fast became Amazon bestsellers.
Victoria and Joe continue to enjoy life keeping chickens, writing, sampling the local wine and living alongside their colourful neighbours.
Read Victoria's other Expat Focus articles here or click the button below to view her own blog…