The dog never trusted me.
She’d attached herself to us last September. Each morning, Spice, Charlie and I would set off up the footpath for our morning constitutional, and the abandoned hunting dog would come along, wary of me, but very taken with Charlie the Jack Russell, who seemed unaware of the impact of his charms on the new companion. Pocket Pointers are rarely over weight, but this one was all bone and dulling coat. I began to take food up to her.
As the rains began, I persuaded her to overnight on the balcony, where she could at least get shelter. We put a crate out for her, furnished with blankets and old carpets to preserve some warmth. Grudgingly, she accepted the hospitality, although she never seemed entirely happy trading her freedom for the comfort and her new name, Chicago. (She had white socks, you see…No? Never mind.)
She kept finding ways out of the garden, often taking Charlie with her. They’d return hours later, stinking and filthy, having got up to who knows what. Muttering darkly, I’d seal up holes in fences and gaps in hedges and implore them both to stop escaping. She insisted on staying outside, only venturing into the house gingerly and never allowing a human between her and the exit. You didn't need to be a dog psychologist to work out that a man, or men, had mistreated her.
As Queen of the garden, she always had the option of escaping when we drove in or out, but did so decreasingly, and always returning in time for supper.
She emulated Charlie, disconnecting my office from the internet, chewing through the cable. She took delight in shredding any and all textiles with which she came into contact. A chair or two and several blankets. Chicago was an avid collector of my shoes and caps, not destroying them, but taking them off to far-flung corners of the garden. Just last week, she disconnected the front gates, blowing an awkwardly placed fuse in the process.
Earlier this year, she was set to be adopted. We had registered her with a charity, and were formally her foster family. We’d discussed adopting her ourselves, but where going from one dog to two creates little difficulty, going from two to three is hard. Taking three dogs out for a walk is much harder than two. The whole two arms thing, I guess.
For one reason or another, the adoption fell through. Frankly, there are thousands of stray dogs in Cyprus and it’s a miracle that so many are adopted into Northern Europe, so we weren’t unduly surprised.
A few weeks back, another person expressed a desire to adopt Chi-Chi. Experience had taught us not to get overly excited. The person would need to pass a house-check and be prepared to part with the best part of €750 to have the dog flown to her. The adopter has a couple of dogs of her own, which Chi-chi would enjoy, and is a professional dog-walker, which bodes well. The house check was passed, and the fees paid.
Yesterday, Chicago lounged next to me on the office couch, as I earnestly explained that next day or two was going to be very confusing, but that everything would end up alright. Then we bundled her into the car with her favourite blanket and took her to the shelter, from where she’d be getting the night van to the airport with three more lucky pooches. From there, she’s flying to Brussels before continuing by road and ferry to the UK.
Mrs L and I did our best to be stiff upper lipped and failed miserably. Chicago looked at me, unsurprised that I’d finally betrayed her and was leaving her in this strange, noisy place.
Bon voyage Chi-Chi, you’ll love England. Honest. You will.