Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’!
Sunday August 21st 2016
Well, it all begins on Friday with a lovely lady in the park. She is tall, black and graceful, a greyhound shape with, perhaps, some saluki or collie in her. I speak to her but do not realise that she is on her own. Later, as Gr., Sa. and I natter near the main car park, Joh. approaches with Ben. Walking beside them is the lovely lady.
Ben is a very sensible, obedient dog so Joh. is able to clip Ben’s lead onto the stranger’s collar and take her to the White House to see if park team-leader Alison recognises her. She doesn’t. Joh. walks the dogs round the park but meets no-one looking for a lost dog. He decides to take the lovely lady to the vet’s to check for a chip, and off they go to the white van. Now, Ben goes almost everywhere with Joh. and the white van is Ben’s mobile kennel. How will he feel about a strange dog sharing it?
Joh. is very dogwise. He opens the door and asks Ben, “Are you going to invite her in, then?”
Ben nods to her a ‘come with me’ gesture and she follows him into the van.
At the vet’s the chip is read then Joh. and the vet go into the office, leaving the two dogs in the van. The owners are contacted and arrange to collect their dog.
When Joh. returns to the van to fetch her, he finds Ben sitting in the passenger seat and the lovely lady sitting beside him in the driver’s seat. Love at first sight, obviously. Joh. is impressed too. He tells the vet that if she is an unwanted dog, he will have her.
The next day, Isis is enjoying her acrobatics in Kings Heath Park when we are approached by a second lovely lady. Her name is H. and she is asking dog walkers if they have seen a lost dog in the park: a small, brown, wire-haired dog called Chester. The dog escaped from H.’s neighbours’ house that morning. The neighbours, who are looking after the dog while his owners are away, are distraught. H. tells me her address, and I promise to post Chester’s details on Facebook as soon as I get home.
No sooner have I posted than there is a response from Hannah Forkin. Her friend D. has reported that a dog was found that morning by T. of The Goose on the High Street. When I phone T. and give him the description, bingo – it’s a fit! T. says he will take Chester to the lady’s house.
But later on, Hannah phones. The lady was not at home when T. called, and Chester, now on his own in an upstairs room in the pub, is barking his head off. Hannah is just about to leave on another doggy mission so I am happy to fetch Chester and keep him until he can be reunited with his carer. (I don’t mention my intentions to Isis whom I leave slumbering post-park on the futon.)
On the way to the pub, I ring the lady’s doorbell and those of her next-door neighbours, but everyone appears to be out.
At The Goose, T. takes me upstairs to a room where Chester has been given every comfort. He has a padded anorak to lie on, a bowl of water and even a steak roll. T. explains that he’d just bought the roll from Greggs for himself but when he went out into the pub’s yard and found a soaking wet, shivering, little brown dog, he felt so sorry for him that he gave him the roll! The dog wouldn’t eat the roll but was happy to be dried and petted. T. decided that he would take the dog home with him if it wasn’t claimed by the end of the day, and look after him until his owner could be found. With this in mind, he bought him a lovely red lead.
Chester is happy to accompany me. On the way to the car, I try the lady in the park’s door again. Still no reply. I accost passers by but no-one knows who has lost Chester. Then, our luck changes. A young guy says he has only just moved in so doesn’t know anyone’s name, but does know that a guy across the road was looking for a dog that morning. He points out the house.
A handsome young man with a serious expression answers the door. But when he sees Chester, a huge smile spreads across his face. He gives me a big hug before asking my name and tells me his name is R. Then R. sits on his doorstep while Chester lies belly up behind him enjoying lots of tickles. R. explains that he inadvertently allowed Chester to escape that morning, and asks where Chester had been found. I recount the story. Afterwards, I get another big hug.
On the way home I reflect on how lovely it is that six people have all played a part in reuniting R. and Chester.
In the evening, Isis and I return to the park. We play hunt the ball-on-a-string for a while, then, suddenly, the ball disappears. We both search. No sign or smell of it. Some dog must have walked past and snitched it. We scramble up the bank and through the hedge onto the next level. Here, four teenagers are sitting on a bench, playing with their dog. Isis and I walk up and down searching in the grass for the ball. Still no luck.
We return to search the lower space again. Someone must have it.
We scramble back up the bank, back through the hedge. The teenagers are leaving, walking briskly. And one of them is nonchalantly swinging Hairy One’s red ball on its blue string.
No lady me. I set off in hot pursuit. They seem to be quickening their pace. I walk faster too but they’ve disappeared round the corner by the time I hit the hilly bit of the path. I follow, trotting now, whizz round the corner and then run until I’m close enough to call, “Excuse me. Did you find that?”
The lad with the ball-on the-string turns round, smiling sweetly. “Yes”, he says holding out the ball. I smile sweetly too and thank him, adding, “She loves that ball.”
As Isis and I retrace our footsteps, I allow myself to pant for a while.
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk