Horace…woman’s best friend

6th June 2015

Spain, Horace and Henry.

I could write a book about our experience of buying a property in Spain. In order to pursue our dream of a place in the sun we downsized and sold a beautiful river front property here in England and I have asked myself many times since if we had done the right thing. I will talk more about many things Spanish but for the moment I want to talk about Horace.

I am not, never have been ‘a dog person’ but with our move to Spain I felt that having a rural property it might be prudent to have a dog to act as a guard for us and the property. Enter Horace. We were at a friends house in Martin de la Jara and her neighbour came round with a small basket containing four or five tiny puppies only a few days old. Of course you ooh and ah at their fluffiness and vulnerability but I went a step further and for thirty euro bagged myself a puppy that she insisted would be ready to leave its’ mother at four weeks. I was quite horrified at this but apparently its the norm in Spain for both dogs and cats.

We took the pup home and decided on the name Horace. He was from the start, quite a character. He came with us everywhere, slept in our bedroom and when he was eventually house trained, at 7am he would wake us up by placing his paws on the bed under our nose. He didn’t have to do much else because he had the smelliest feet imaginable. John would take him out for a wee at this point and then he would high tail it back to the bedroom and I’d lift him onto the bed where he’d snuggle down til after I’d had my cup of tea. Then it would be walk time. He loved his walks and from the off he used to chase rabbits. That’s all he did, chase them. He was fast but not fast enough to catch one, however it was the chase he enjoyed. He did catch one once but I rather think that there was something wrong with the rabbit! He picked it up and brought it to us but didn’t do anything more than lay it at our feet.

One of the funniest sights we used to mention every single day was when we were walking behind Horace as we made our way up the hill. His backside used to sway as he walked, strutting really and showing off. He was definitely a show off. As soon as we got back from our walks he used to stick his paws in his water bowl and cool off his (big) smelly feet.

He got run over once. We don’t really know the circumstances. He rarely wore a collar and we let him run free outside as we weren’t on a road we felt it would be safe. I guess as he got older, he got braver and went beyond the boundaries of our land. Anyway we took him to the vet. He was peeing blood and was salivating copiously because he was in shock. The vet put up an IV immediately and identified some bruising and grazing and probably some internal injuries. He frightened me to death. I cried because I thought he might die and I didn’t want to be without him, He was my baby and I loved him.

He got over that trauma and we tried to keep a better eye on him. We were out walking once and the Policia Rurale told us to put him on a lead but we never did. Horace liked to be free. He never went that far, certainly not after he was injured, at least not until September 10th 2012.

In rural Spain we are blighted by hunters who regularly during the season come to properties around us to shoot rabbits and game. Every weekend morning you hear the shots ring out and when we go walking the hunters activity is evident by the dead bodies that we come across. I don’t know why they don’t pick up the dead rabbits, unless the ones we see have only been injured and have died at a later time. Many times we have fed and watered hunting dogs that have found their way to our house after having become separated from their owners. Most of them are huge things that can run for ever and ever. You can always tell the most valuable ones or those that are loved because they have trackers on and their owners will always come and find them.

I don’t like hunters. One of them stole my dog. We were busy working on the house. Horace was with me on the terrace but he followed my husband as he went to lock up. I raced after him because I didn’t want him getting shot by the hunters who were present at an old ruin about two hundred yards away. The door was open, Horace got out and although I followed him, he was gone. I called and called him but he was gone and the sight of him haring off towards the ruin was the last time I saw him. I went back inside, put on my shoes and went to look for him. By the time I got to the ruin the hunters and Horace were gone.

My neighbour, who is a policeman said ‘he was a lovely, friendly, dog and someone has obviously taken a liking to him’. I couldn’t believe anyone could be so blasé about a dog napping. I was distraught and made posters and put them everywhere. People didn’t understand why I did it. The local garage owner refused my request to put a missing poster in the shop. Horrible man!

So, that was it. My little dog, best friend and companion was gone. I still miss him every day and every time we go back I sort of expect him to have escaped and come back to me. We all live in hope of something don’t we?

Have you ever had anything like this happen? It;s not a one off thing in Spain. Tomorrow let me tell you about Beccs and Henry two more mysteries.

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