What happened this morning was a surprising sequel to yesterday’s post about hunting. For about half an hour I’d been watching a little blue Peugeot van drive up and down with a man getting out and whistling. I deduced that he was looking for his dog lost from the hunting trip yesterday but Joe scoffed, “pure conjecture” (he’s used to my not-always-accurate pronouncements). We went out shortly afterwards to drive into the mountains for our usual walk, and came across the same man, this time with our German neighbour Thorsten and they both asked whether we’d seen a white hunting dog as he’d run away yesterday. The man I recognised as Candido, a local plumber, who tried to sell us a broken-down dinosaur of a diesel generator for 1,000 euro, and who’d supplied us with a man and a mini-digger (at exorbitant cost, of course) earlier this year. I said I’d heard a dog whining and whimpering in the night, and we said we’d keep a lookout. He was very distressed, and I’m not surprised since a good hunting dog is highly-prized around these parts. Joe apologised profusely, of course.
We had our walk, liberated a few beautiful stones, and coming back down the mountain track he noticed a big white dog, the dog. His collar was a heavy chain encased in a thick plastic sleeve, and a broken chain hung down from this collar. He was very nervous of the car, and when Joe got out he was even more nervous. He moved away and just lay in the middle of the road. Joe kept well away and as I walked towards him, talking soothing rubbish, his ears pricked up and tail did half a wag and he moved towards me. My turn to be scared so I didn’t put my hand out to pet him, or try and hold onto him by his collar.
Feeling a bit like a dog whisperer I got him to follow me as we made slow progress along the stony track, followed by Joe and Mitsubishi at a safe distance. I was making for Thorsten’s house as I knew he would contact Candido. Btw, presumably ‘Candido’ must mean something different in Spanish? The male version of candida albicans, the dreaded thrush?
I digress. What a beautiful dog he was. As we walked along, I imagined we were gently communing with each other. He seemed to trust me and I wondered what on earth I was doing, taking him back for more of the same. Should we have left him lying in the road? He walked with a lolloping gait and although his legs were covered with red marks and cuts, there didn’t appear to be any broken bones. His eyes were kind; a gentle giant I reckoned, but somehow I still couldn’t bring myself to grab his collar, or even reach out and touch him. His nose and face were covered in scars and his ears had some quite significant holes and tears.
He stopped from time to time to sniff the odd bush, and then he gulped down some horse poo. I concluded that whatever conditions Candido kept this dog in, and whatever damage he would sustain in the future from cornering wild boar and other big game, this was probably a better fate than being left to wander free, exhausted, hungry and thirsty. All the feelings I have expressed about hunters and their dogs, and here was I walking such a dog back to an unknown fate!
We eventually got to Thorsten’s house. We had been gone for two hours. My gentle giant became very agitated at seeing another man, and kept close to me. I walked him round to the gates, and he took a few dog biscuits Thorsten offered before slipping a lead on him, saying he would phone Candido immediately. We said our goodbyes, but it wasn’t to be as the dog would not go through the gates into the garden. I came back and then he reluctantly, slowly, followed me inside. The gentle giant is apparently only 8 months old and it’s his first hunting season. As we returned to our house we passed Candido’s blue Peugeot and he, with his half toothless and half black-toothed smile, thanked us.
To see that beautiful, noble dog with his tail between his legs, scared and suddenly not tempted by Thorsten’s water or biscuits, was really quite distressing. So many injuries in so little time. Did I do the right thing?