Welcome everyone Sandra in Spain - FlamencoI’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible.. Read more
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Remembering Paddy

Paddy has been a major part of my life since I adopted him in March 2014, at the grand old age of 8 weeks, or thereabouts. On 13th March 2019 – almost 5 years to the day after he brought so much joy into my life – Paddy died in the most traumatic circumstances. In his all-too-short time here on Earth, Paddy touched many lives. He even had his own Facebook page, and sometimes ‘wrote’ guest posts on here too.

When the time is right, I will tell Paddy’s full story, so everyone can know what a hero he was. In the meantime, this page is a memorial to his short but eventful life, and a place where I can share my thoughts and hopefully help others as they process the loss of a much loved pet. Paddy was larger than life, and his spirit lives on in my heart. He will never be forgotten by those who knew and loved him.

Free to a good home: dog and husband

Tony and Paddy - don't let their calm disposition fool you. These two are trouble!

Tony and Paddy – don’t let their calm disposition fool you. These two are trouble!

‘There are two men in my life, to one I am a mother, to the other I’m a wife.’ Those of a certain age might recognise those words from the popular 1970s commercial for Shredded Wheat – you know, the Brillo Pad lookalike cereal that is supposed to be good for you but tastes disgusting. Well, the two men in my life are now going free to a good home – or even a bad one, as long as I never again have to go through the embarrassment they caused me yesterday.

The day started off very well – the last day of our motor home rally wrapped up with lunch at our favourite Chinese restaurant in Punta Prima. After getting home and unpacking the motor home and doing the washing, I had about half an hour before I needed to leave for Algorfa to help with a charity market. I asked Tony if he wanted to come with me, but after watching me unpack the van and do the washing, the poor lamb was exhausted, so I set off on my own.

Everything was going well, and everyone was enjoying themselves and emptying their pockets in a good cause, when a friend said those words no wife or Puppy Mummy wants to hear: ‘Sandra, the Police are taking Paddy and Tony off to the slammer.’ So, off I headed, wondering what the devil was happening. The charity Zumbathon had just kicked off, so I had a nasty suspicion that maybe Tony had got a little bit over excited at the sight of so many scantily clad young ladies bouncing around to music, but that wouldn’t explain why Paddy was also under arrest. He’s not even interested in lady dogs, having been relieved of some of the most important bits of his anatomy almost a year before.

I sprinted across the Plaza de Espana, hoping my friend was mistaken, but no, there were Tony and Paddy, flanked by two of Algorfa’s finest Policia Local. And despite the festive atmosphere in the square, none of them was smiling – not even Paddy, who is the happiest dog I’ve ever known.

I caught up with them just as they arrived at the side door to the Ayuntamiento, and I made myself known to the officers in question. Then I asked Tony what the devil was going on. Apparently, he’d decided to walk Paddy down to the village to surprise me. Well, he did that alright – although shocked or stunned would have probably better described my state of mind than surprised.

Anyway, when Paddy saw all the people in the square, and heard the music, he speeded up. Unfortunately, Tony didn’t. His two speeds are Slow and Stop – there is no position in the Piddock gearbox for Excited Puppy. It could have been worse, of course. Tony didn’t land on the deck, but he did crash into a wall on the end of the lead. When the irresistible force of an 81 year old doing three times his normal speed meets an immovable object like a wall, the effects can be unfortunate. Tony was All Shook Up, and not in an Elvis Presley kind of way. So, he did what he thought was the sensible thing, and sat down on the grass in the square to get his breath back.

The helpful Spanish people who witnessed this thought he’d fallen down, and pulled him straight back to his feet, which made him even more shook up, then a couple of English people shoved a chair under him and asked if he had any pains anywhere. Tony said no, which was probably the wrong thing to say, because the Police naturally assumed that if he wasn’t ill, but he was wobbly on his feet, he must be under the affluence of ilcahol while in charge of a minor – that’s Paddy, the source of all the trouble.

Paddy being a friendly soul – some would say too friendly –  welcomed the policemen in the traditional way by bounding up to them as if he was on elastic. However, when the policemen laid hands on Tony to help him to his feet, Paddy went into protective mode, and that’s when I caught up with them.

So, we went into the Ayuntamiento, and provided our names, address, phone number and car registration. Then I had to explain what had happened in my best Spanish. I did emphasise that Tony wasn’t drunk – not even drunk on the beauty of the Zumba ladies – but it was clear the officers of the law didn’t believe me. They asked if I had been drinking. I could truthfully say I hadn’t, but I knew that as soon as this nightmare was over, I would be hitting the cava or vodka big time. In fact, it would probably be both. Anything to forget all about what was unfolding before me.

I was instructed to fetch the car, at which time the Police would decant my hooligan dog and husband into the car so that I could take them home – and leave them there. Apparently, I was still welcome in the square, but Tony and Paddy definitely weren’t. So, like I said – anybody want a dog and a husband? I’d prefer them to remain together, but I’m happy to separate, as long as they are re-homed as far away from me as possible!

Paddy goes AWOL!

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Last weekend was a special one for Paddy. Although he’s travelled half way across Europe in the motor home, he’s never actually been to a rally with us, and spent a weekend camping. This was rectified when we recently went to the Western Motor Home Show at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern. For the geographically challenged, that’s in Worcestershire, and it’s a very beautiful place. More of that in Travels in the Trigano later, but this one is all about Paddy.

We know he’s good travelling in the motor home, but he’s always been in his cage before, so it was an experiment taking him without it. It’s not a problem finding room for it when you’re on the move, but we were going to be parked up and living in the motor home for 4 days, so we left the cage behind, and he was good as gold. We have a restraint that plugs into the seat belt housing, and it was long enough for him to sit on the floor or climb onto the rear seat for a better view of proceedings. Being the inquisitive little darling he is, he spent most of the journey on the seat.

When we arrived at Malvern, we found we were parked alongside a sturdy fence, which was ideal for tethering Paddy while we sorted out the motor home and got it ready for habitation. He could see everything, and a few people came to say hello to him – some bearing treats, which went down very well. It may have been Paddy’s first rally, but he took to it like the proverbial duck to water, whether we were in our own motor home or visiting others, and everyone said what a good boy he was. And there was a wood just across the road, where I could let him run free to get rid of all his excess energy.

He was such a good boy that when we called in to see a friend in Wellington on the way back – that’s Wellington, Somerset, by the way, not New Zealand – I had no qualms staying overnight. It meant I could have a few drinks instead of watching the others make inroads into wine, beer, gin and tonic and Calvados while I sipped sparkling water. As regular readers will know, I do like my drink -preferably in industrial quantities in the company of friends.

Our friend John, with whom we were staying, has a beautiful, sprawling house out in the country, with lots of land, so he suggested we let Paddy run free. The problem was, the property backed on to a busy road, and there was no gate there, so I was a bit concerned about that. I did a few ‘dummy runs,’ where I took Paddy to parts of the grounds, let him off the lead for a few minutes, and called him back whenever he ventured in the direction of the road. He’s quick on the uptake, and he soon realised that if he went near the road, the lead went back on, so within a short while, he was running free in the grounds and having a wonderful time.

By midnight, we’d demolished three bottles of wine, a bottle of gin, a bottle of Calvados and quite a few beers between the five of us, so we thought it was politic to head to bed while we could still stand. Larry and June and Tony and I had decided to sleep in our motor homes to save John any trouble, and as we headed for them, Paddy spotted a rabbit and took off into the undergrowth. I wasn’t too concerned, because I thought he’d come back when the rabbit made its escape – which they always do. Paddy may be quick off the mark, but the rabbits are invariably even quicker, thank goodness.

After 10 minutes, he still wasn’t back, so we got into bed and slept the sleep of the suitably sloshed. When Tony’s bladder gave him a wake up call at 6.30 am, there was still no sign of Paddy. Now I was really worried. I had visions of him lying flattened in the road, caught in an illegal trap, or kidnapped and on his way out of the country. You see, although our boy is very adventurous, he doesn’t like to be too far from his Mummy, and we were in a strange place he’d never been to before. If he hadn’t come back, it meant he couldn’t, for one reason or another.

I lay there wondering what I could do – I could hardly go looking for him at that time, as I’d disturb Larry and June. Tony – that master of Stating the Bloody Obvious – said ‘He’s probably lying dead by the side of the road.’ That thought had crossed my mind more than once, but I figured if that was the case, I’d rather find him and know, one way or the other. If I didn’t find him, I could ring the Police and the local dog warden, put adverts in the local press, post on Facebook, and hope my boy showed up before we went back to Spain. He’s micro chipped, but to the Spanish address, so I needed to get it ‘out there’ as much as possible if I was to have any hope of seeing Paddy again.

By now, it had turned 7, and I figured I could go looking. Even if I did disturb Larry and June, being dog lovers, they would understand, and help with the search. I quickly got dressed, but before I could set off on my oddysey, there was a knock at the door of the van. It was Larry, and Tony’s first words were, ‘Sandra’s lost our dog.’ Talk about Mr Supportive! When Paddy is being naughty, he’s my dog, but now it looked like we’d never see him again, he’s our dog all of a sudden, and I’m the villain of the piece!

Larry’s next words were music to my ears. ‘He’s in our van – I knew Sandra would be frantic, so I came over as soon as I heard you moving about.’ It turned out that Paddy had returned at 3.00 am and, unable to rouse Tony or myself, he’d headed to Larry and June’s van. Larry had also had a wake up call from his bladder, heard barking, and opened the van door. Paddy rushed in and promptly settled down for the rest of the night in Larry’s bed.

Smart boy, but a while later, when Larry went to have a shower in the house, Paddy stood at the top of the steps and barred his way with much barking and growling. Talk about ungrateful! All the excitement – and the fresh air – took its toll though;  when we got back to Bigbury, Paddy spent the rest of Tuesday in a state of collapse on the caravan bench seat.

Pick on someone your own size, Gizmo!

Let the games begin! I must apologise for the picture quality, but it all happened pretty qucik!

Let the games begin! I must apologise for the picture quality, but it all happened pretty quick!

Paddy loves people, and he loves other dogs – well, most of them, anyway – so when I told him his Aunty Glenys was coming to see him and bringing her Chihuahua/ Papillon cross Gizmo, he was over the moon. I wasn’t so sure, because Gizmo weighs just over 3 kilos, while Paddy tips the scales at 33 kilos, and counting. And he’s not very dainty at all, so I had visions of scraping up flattened Gizmo from the carpet. However, Glenys said she wasn’t worried about Gizmo, she was more worried about Paddy, and it turns out she was right.

From the get-go, Paddy had the advantage. He’s bigger, and he barks louder, but Glenys and I being the soppy female dog lovers we are wanted to share the love, so when Paddy tried to eat Gizmo before he even came through the door, we decided to take them both down to the dog exercise field to sort themselves out. And sort themselves out they did – or rather, Gizmo sorted Paddy out. Paddy may have got into the field first, because he knows where he’s going, but Gizmo told him in no uncertain terms that he was in his spot. In fact anywhere Paddy happened to be turned out to be Gizmo’s spot. Wherever Paddy laid his hat, or more accurately parked his bum or legs, Gizmo bit them.

Gizmo might be small, but he has about 12 months on Paddy, and my boy being good mannered, and having respect

for his elders, let him dictate the pace in the field. And that’s where he

Mummy, keep that mad dog away from me! Tell him to pick on somebody his own size!

Mummy, keep that mad dog away from me! Tell him to pick on somebody his own size!

made the fatal error, because when we got back, Gizmo played his advantage. Every time Paddy went near him, it wasn’t so much happy clappy as snappy snarly. My gentle giant tried to find refuge on the bench seats in the caravan, which he erroneously assumed were beyond the reach of the Mighty Midget. What a mistake-a to make-a, because Gizmo, fuelled with – well not testosterone, because, like Paddy, he’d been done, but he was definitely fuelled with something – just leaped up there after him. This was a dog on a wire.

Paddy looked desperately to his Mummy for protection, reassurance, and love. And what did he get? Hysterical laughter, because watching 3 kilos pull the strings of 33 kilos was the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. I did try to be a responsible Puppy Mummy, and told Gizmo to pick on somebody his own size, but I don’t think Paddy appreciated it. Most of the afternoon passed in the same vein, and Paddy tried to show his rebellious spirit by drinking Gizmo’s water, which just earned him another nip on the ankles and necessitated another leap onto the bench seat.

Has he gone yet?

Has he gone yet?

Eventually, both dogs were exhausted and flaked out – Paddy on the bench seat and Gizmo on the floor. And they even managed to eat supper without incident. Maybe there is a blossoming friendship after all. Or maybe not. We shall soon know, anyway.

We’re going to have a rerun on Thursday, when we head off in the motor homes for a rally at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire. Paddy and Gizmo will spend 5 days together. I haven’t told Paddy yet – I’m keeping it as a surprise. Or shock, as the case may be.

Wet, Wet, Wet!

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Okay, I know we shouldn’t moan about the weather – after all, it’s Spain, and it’s supposed to be hot, but 40 degrees? That’s 104 in English money, or fahrenheit, or whatever you want to call it. That’s just too hot for early July, and poor Paddy has had more trouble coping with it than we have. After all, he’s got a thick black fur coat, and he can’t take it off. So, like a good Puppy Mummy, I’ve been trying to come up with walkies that won’t frazzle the pair of us within minutes.

I really thought I’d come up with a solution, too. On the road out of Algorfa towards Benejuzar is La Ermita. That’s a palace and a church, with an adjacent pine forest, albeit a small one. Anyway, it’s good enough for Paddy, because he can run in the shade, and there are plenty of trees to elevate legs against, and unlimited smells to investigate. What more could a dog want?

Well, today, he wanted to play with the rabbit in the orange grove across the road. He wanted to play with him so much that he zoomed across the road, zig-zagging his way between the cars coming in both directions at at least 120 kilometres an hour. Thank goodness they were on a go slow, or I might have been scraping Paddy off the tarmac with a dustpan and brush.

Like all members of the male species, Paddy knows where his bread is buttered, so I stood by the car, confidently expecting him to join me at any minute. After about 10 minutes, the confidence evaporated in the heat, and I fired up the ‘Paddy, come!’ mantra, gaining in annoyance and intensity as the minutes ticked by. After another 10 minutes, I thought I’d better go and look for the little bugger.

I headed across the road, into the orange grove, calling ‘Paddy, come’ with increasing intensity. A Spanish guy in a car headed along the drive at the same time as me, and when I caught up with him, as he opened the gates to drive through, I asked in my best Spanish if he’d seen a dog. And no, you’re not getting the actual words here – do what I had to do and look it up.

Anyway, his reply was, ‘Is that your dog in the water?’ Again, in Spanish, and again, I’m not telling. I mean, how many times do you need that phrase? Unless your dog is called Paddy, because yes, dear reader, that was my dog in the water. We’re not talking swimming pools or salt lakes here – nothing so picturesque. Paddy had managed to get himself into a steep, concrete sided drainage ditch. And he’d obviously been trying to get himself out ever since, because he was frightened, panicky and exhausted. Pretty much like me, really.

So, my Spanish guy is suggesting I turn one of the sluice wheels to lift the panel so Paddy can climb through. He still has to negotiate the concrete, but there’s not so much of it. Good plan, if somebody had kept the sluice wheels oiled, but they hadn’t. Like Goldilocks, I tried everything going, and the first two were absolutely no use, but the third sluice wheel actually moved. It had obviously been oiled recently. Very recently, because the stuff was all over my hands. Still, it worked, and I managed to raise the panel enough for Paddy to get through it to dry land and the welcoming arms of his Mummy – who was waiting to kill the little sod.

Like Romeo and Juliet, fate kept us apart, or rather the mud in the bottom of the ditch did, because every time Paddy tried to mount the great escape, he slid right back into the water. What next then? Well,  I thought if maybe I got on my hands and knees, in the mud, and rocked the ‘Paddy, come’ thing one more time, maybe he’d be so overwhelmed that he’d get that extra spring in his paw and get the flipping heck out of the ditch. Well, flipping heck wasn’t entirely my original thought, but you get the picture, I’m sure. Obviously, the sight of me, dehydrated, on my knees in mud, did something for the poor boy, because finally, he managed to scramble out. He smelled like something that could be used in chemical warfare, but at least he was here, with me, and very wet, wet, wet.

So now we need another walking route. Any ideas gratefully received. Better still – anybody want to adopt a dog? New condition, low mileage, good fuel economy, one careful but very stressed out owner.

Paddy thought he saw a pussy cat!

The puddy tat up the tree and safe for the moment!

The puddy tat up the tree and safe for the moment!

It was a beautiful, sunny Spain morning – the last of my friend Jane’s too short stay, and as we  sat sipping our freshly squeezed orange juice, and listening to Dave Bull’s brilliant breakfast show on Real Radio International, Paddy decided he needed to go wee wees.  Tony did the honours, and opened the gate for Paddy, who shot down the terrace steps like the demons of hell were after him. Then he set up a cacophony of barking and tried to squeeze his 33 kilos through a 7.5 centimetre gap at the base of the shed. (That’s just over 5 stones and 3 inches in English money, and, like a constipated canary, it wouldn’t go.)He couldn’t even get his snout through, and he was getting more and more agitated.

We were thinking it must be a rat under there – except for Jane, who is blonde and from Essex, and doesn’t think anything most of the time. She just sat there with her orange juice and Dave Bull. I was rather miffed at being dragged away from my favourite morning listening, so I suggested Tony flushed the rat out with the hosepipe so calm could be restored at Piddock Place. Only problem was, it wasn’t a rat, it was a cat, and as it flew out from under the shed faster than Lewis Hamilton with a rocket on the back of his car, Paddy chased it around the garden, kicking up gravel so high it was landing on the upstairs apartment’s balcony.

The cat managed to escape Paddy’s clutches – just like the rabbits in the orange grove – and she hurtled up the trunk of the palm tree. Paddy also tried to hurtle, but only succeeded in bouncing about 8 feet into the air, and landing on Tony’s prized troughs. Twice. Now the troughs are no longer prized and full of flowers. They are decidedly empty and un-prized. So, Tony shouted at Paddy to get off his troughs, I shouted at Tony to stop shouting at Paddy, then shouted at Paddy to get indoors. Paddy didn’t like that idea much, so he barked even louder, and the cat screeched. Through all this, Jane stayed serene and smiling, listening to the radio and sipping her orange juice. I reckon she’d sneaked some cava into it, because nobody should stay that calm in the midst of such uproar – even an Essex blonde.

I finally managed to grab Paddy’s collar, and dragged him towards the terrace steps. He of course was eager to get back to his brief encounter with the pussy cat, and in the ensuing struggle, another 3 plant pots deposited their contents on our posh two tone gravel, which was now three tone – two shades of beige fetchingly combined in a pleasing mix with potting compost. Now Tony was shouting at me to get ‘Your dog’ under control. Funny how when he was being such a good boy in Torrevieja yesterday he was ‘Our dog,’ but this morning he was my dog, isn’t it? Anyway, I shouted back at Tony, Paddy barked at me, Tony and the cat, and the cat screeched even louder at anyone who would listen. Indoors, Jane was listening to Dave Bull. It would have been a delicious irony if he’d been playing Who Let the Dogs Out? or even I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat, but sadly it was just Stevie Wonder singing Signed, Sealed, Delivered. It’s Jane’s favourite song, so that must have been why she was still calm while all around was chaos. Unless there was more cava than orange juice in that glass of course. Must check the bottle when I finish this.

We managed to get him indoors finally, and the cat made her escape. Unfortunately, she only escaped as far as the other side of the road, and when Paddy managed to get down to the garden again, he vaulted the railings and landed in the calle 8 feet below, fuelled by adrenalin and ready for Round Two. In the process, he knocked over another large pot, which landed in the rockery, flattening the two biggest cacti in there. By now, our garden was looking more like a bomb site than a serious contender for a medal at the Chelsea Flower Show, and Tony was still shouting. And now we had a fired up dog on the loose.

Luckily, the community gardeners were on duty, and in my best Spanish, I armed them with a handful of dog biscuits and persuaded them to go and call Paddy back, before he spotted another cat. As I expected, the combination of his favourite gravy bones and two new ‘Uncles’ to make a fuss of him persuaded Paddy to return to home, sweet home. Only it isn’t very sweet at the moment. When Tony finally stopped shouting, both Paddy and I got the silent treatment. And Jane just carried on sipping her orange juice and listening to Dave Bull. How I wish I could switch off like that sometimes, because now I know it wasn’t cava-assisted. The girl is a genius at keeping her head while all around are losing theirs. I’m going to miss her!

A mixed week for Paddy!

Paddy looking and feeling sorry for himself. Bees and wasps are now off the menu!

Paddy looking and feeling sorry for himself. Bees and wasps are now off the menu!

Paddy has been such a good boy while I’ve been battling this virus, and he’s been so good at dog training that I decided to take him for a really long walk on Sunday as a treat. It was a treat for me too, because I’ve missed our meanderings through the orange groves – and missed the glorious sight of him in hot pursuit of rabbits which – thankfully – always manage to outwit him. I really don’t know how I’d cope if he brought me a comatose bunny, and it would be comatose or worse, because although he would only want to play, the combination of a small bunny and 32 kilos of boisterous puppy is only ever going to have one outcome, and it’s going to be bad news for the bunny.

We got home after an hour, and Paddy settled down for a well-earned nap, after checking out the garden with Daddy. After a while, I noticed he was messing with his nose. Now, he usually grooms his face and snout with the help of a paw, but this looked like something else. When I went to see what was happening I was horrified. My beautiful boy looked like he’d got a new job as a punchbag in a gym. His snout was three times its normal size, and literally growing in front of my very eyes.

My first thought was that he’d picked up a pine caterpillar, but there are no pine trees in the orange groves. Then I remembered that the hairs can travel on the wind, and I was beside myself. I looked out the vet’s number, but the only number I had didn’t switch to an out of hours service. I wasn’t too worried, as I was sure there’d be a list of out of hours vets on the Internet. Only there wasn’t, and after 15 frantic minutes when Paddy was getting more and more distressed, I had the idea of ringing one of the animal shelters – after all, they must need an out of hours service, right? Thankfully, I was right, and a few minutes later, we were on our way to the vet at Benimar.

As I drove like Lewis Hamilton on a grand prix circuit, I could see Paddy reflected in the rear view mirror, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. His eyes were now closing rapidly, and I was terrified in case the swelling travelled the other way and blocked his airways before I could get him the help he clearly needed. I was no longer worried about pine caterpillars, as the vet had ruled that out because his tongue wasn’t swollen, but obviously something was very wrong.

When we arrived at the vet, she administered a cortisone injection straight into the vein. For this, he had to keep very still, and of course, he didn’t want to. It took 20 minutes of puppy wrestling to get the cortisone where it needed to be, and both the vet and I were in a state of collapse by the time the deed was done. She was pretty sure he’e eaten a bee or a wasp, and had an allergic reaction, and because he hadn’t reacted until about an hour after we got back, it was unlikely it had happened in the orange grove.

With treatment, the swelling soon started to subside, but his hormones must have still been racing around in the evening, because our usual 20 minute walk took less than 15, and we also managed to chase two cats. Normally, he hardly gives them a second glance.

Tuesdays’ training class was looking distinctly dodgy, but he’d made a full recovery, so off we went. He’s made such big improvements over

Finally - Paddy gets the concept of 'stay,' It only took 5 months!

Finally – Paddy gets the concept of ‘stay,’ It only took 5 months!

the last month that the trainer Alex regularly checks in case I’ve traded him in for another model, but on Tuesday he really surpassed himself. We’ve finally managed to get through to him that ‘stay’ means just that, not ‘get up and follow Mummy just in case she’s leaving me here.’ And on Tuesday, he managed to ‘stay’ for a full five minutes, even with the temptation of other dogs who were not so obedient taking off after their owners. And he did it without a single verbal command – it was all done on hand signals. Oh, it was such a wonderful feeling not to be the Embarrassed One for once!

The only blip was when Paddy had his play time off the lead and he wouldn’t come back to have his lead back on. Alex said it was my fault, because I wasn’t giving him the right signals. My voice said ‘Come’ but my body language and hand signals said ‘Playtime!’  When I got it right, he came back right away, and I mentioned to Alex that maybe it was me who needed the training, not Paddy.

‘At last,’ he said. Now you know why you’re here every week.  It will be fine from now on.’ So, all this time, I’ve been the problem, not Paddy. It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

What a difference a year makes!

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It’s St Patrick’s Day, and in Piddock Place, that’s a day for celebration. Not because we’re Irish, but because on this day in 2014, we brought our rescue dog Paddy home with us. Not that we intended to call him Paddy. He was going to have a Spanish name like Pedro, Pablo, Manuel or Jose. We were coming down on the side of Pedro, and then we signed the papers to make him ours, and looked at the date. What else could we call him but Paddy? Certainly not Teddy which was the name Kayla at the K9 Club animal shelter had given him. Tony absolutely refused to stand on the terrace steps and shout ‘Does Teddy want his dinner then?’ He reckoned it wouldn’t do his street cred any good, and I hadn’t got the heart to tell him it was way to late for that.

When we put him in the car to take him home, it was clear that the last time he’d been in a car was on his journey to be dumped by the canal at La Marina, because he went from being calm and contented, snuggled in my arms to fighting tooth and nail to get away. I felt a rush of loathing for whoever had put this beautiful, tiny, 6 week old bundle of fur through such a traumatic experience, and hoped it hadn’t done too much harm to him. For several weeks, I couldn’t look at Paddy without thinking how close he came to dying with his brother at the side of the canal, and I would fill up with tears every time. At the same time, I was thankful that he had found us, because from Day One he brought joy into our home.

Yes, there were problems. Like most puppies, anything he can get in his mouth is fair game, so I’ve had to bid a fond farewell to earrings, sandals, slippers, knickers – we call him Paddy Pervert because he loves to get hold of a pair of my unmentionables and chew them up, even a year down the line. Still, it saves on washing I suppose. And he has a fatal attraction for false teeth, having stripped the teeth from my partial denture and turned Tony’s into a 4-piece jigsaw.

His other fatal attraction is tissues – they’re not safe anywhere. Whether they’re in your pocket, up your sleeve or in your bra, he’ll go after them, as my friend Glenys discovered when she stayed with us. He can whip them away without you even noticing – although Glenys did notice when he went fishing in her bra. I sometimes think that if I wasn’t so honest I could make quite a good living taking him around the markets and letting him sniff pockets, because he takes anything else that happens to be in there with the tissue as well.

And Paddy’s a very keen gardener – although Tony isn’t very keen on his style of gardening, since it usually involves digging holes where they’re not wanted and transplanting fruit bushes. The most memorable instance of this was when he transplanted a blackberry bush into his mouth, and it emerged intact a couple of days later. Cue Mummy with a wet wipe and a tug, and one puppy sitting down very firmly whenever Mummy came near for several days after that. Still, he hasn’t done it since, so it was good training.

Speaking of training, that’s a work in progress. He’s a very intelligent dog – and also a very stubborn one. That comes from the terrier in the mix. Because he’s such a big, powerful dog – 32 kilos and still growing – I take him to training classes, and sometimes they’re a real source of embarrassment, but we’re getting there. He’ll sit and stay with the best of them, and for the last three weeks or so, he’s been one of the shining stars of the class, but it was not ever thus, as this post explains.

We have some great fun on our walks too, mainly down to Paddy’s genuine interest in everything he sees. There was the time the hare boxed his nose as he sniffed in the bushes. The hare ran and so did Paddy – thankfully in opposite directions, or I’d have gone flying down a steep 30 foot bank on the end of the lead. Mary Poppins I ain’t, so I was rather pleased that Paddy took the coward’s way out that day. Then there was the memorable incident of the Big Green Monster with the Pink Hat. A child had obviously lost her hat while out walking, and a helpful soul had positioned it on a bush, so that if they chanced that way again, they’d see it. To Paddy, though, it was a monster who threatened the well being of his beloved Mummy, so it had to be shown the error of its ways.

The latest ‘must have’ accessory on walkies is a stick. Any stick, from a few inches long to the width of the pavement or more. So, I’ve got a few scrapes around the calves, and the local palm trees are taking a bit of a beating. Paddy has a system whereby he carries his stick until he gets tired or fancies a change, then he puts it down and chooses another one. On the next walk, he knows exactly where each stick is, so he transports it a little further. When he finally gets them home, he gives them to us for the fire. Well, he doesn’t actually give them to us, we have to fight him for them, but if he was left to it he’d eat them, so we all get something from the exercise this way.

So, one year on, our nervous little puppy has grown into a handsome, happy confident dog who draws admiring glances everywhere he goes. Just a week or two back, a gentleman stopped us on our walk and asked if he could take a photo. I thought he was some sort of pervert, until he said ‘I’ve never seen such a beautiful dog, and I want to show him to my wife.’ That dented my self-image as a sassy sixty-something, but I was filled with pride that a stranger thought my boy was so lovely, they wanted others to see him too.

I bless the day Paddy was abandoned, because it brought him into our lives, and we are so much the richer for his arrival. Even if we’ve both got a few more grey hairs than a year ago, and the new teeth cost a fortune, we wouldn’t be without him, and we’re looking forward to many more happy years with our beautiful boy.

What a difference a day makes!

Wednesday 17 February - Paddy is wound up, and won't walk to heel. I'm wound up too!

Wednesday 18 February – Paddy is wound up, and won’t walk to heel. I’m wound up too!

Not only is this a great 1959 song from Dinah Washington, it’s an appropriate description of how I felt after Paddy’s training class on Tuesday. Now, if you’ve been paying attention to my regular ramblings, you’re probably chiming in with ‘Hang on – isn’t Paddy’s training class on Wednesday?’

Well, yes it has been, until now, but we haven’t been making a great deal of progress. One week, everything seems to be going well, and the next, we seem to be back at Square One. Paddy is a very intelligent dog, and that’s not just Mummy Bias on my part. His trainer Alex said so the first time I took him to training at Pets World on the San Miguel-Orihuela  road (CV 95). He’s also very stubborn, very persistent, and very protective of me. So when there’s an aggressive or wound up dog around, Paddy’s first thought is that there is a threat to my safety and stability, so although he’s a real sweetie with people and other dogs normally, he’s been a bit twitchy with the dogs at training. That makes me anxious, he picks up on it, and so we’ve been getting nowhere.

Alex saw how upset I was, and suggested that this week, I brought Paddy on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. I couldn’t see that it would make any difference, but I trust Alex’s judgement, and I didn’t have any better ideas, so I decided to give it a go. As soon as I got there, I knew Tuesday was going to be different. I always park as far away from the training ring as I can, so I can walk Paddy calmly down to the other dogs, rather than parking the car in the midst of dogs and owners, and having him going ballistic because he scents playtime. Usually, at least one or two dogs start barking, and he responds and pulls, winding himself and the other dog/s up. This time, they’re all sitting or standing serenely by their owners, so Paddy ambled along, tail wagging, not even trying to turn my 5′ 2″ inches from vertical to horizontal. Good start.

One of Alex’s provisos for the change of day was that Paddy wore a muzzle until we were certain he would be fine

Out of breath after running free with the other dogs on the campo - and coming back the first time he was called!

Out of breath after running free with the other dogs on the campo – and coming back the first time he was called!

with the other dogs. I wasn’t happy about that, but I understood why it was necessary. Dogs are pack animals, and they learn behaviour from the pack. My laid-back little man was learning to be a wired-up puppy on a string, so we had to proceed with caution. After about 10 minutes, Alex decided the muzzle wasn’t necessary. Just as well really, as Paddy took less time to get it off than I took to get it on.

He happily joined in with every activity and training exercise, both on and off the lead. Regular readers of Paddy’s exploits – and my resulting embarrassments – are going to find this hard to believe, but it’s true. Three times I called Paddy back to have his lead back on, and three times he came at the first call. Not only that, but when we did the 4 stage walking exercise, we completed all four stages. It works like this: you walk the dog, then at Alex’s signal, you stop and the dog stops with you. Next stage is to stop and get the dog to sit, then stop and get him to lie down, and finally stop, get the dog to lie down, then walk away while he stays.

I can almost hear the laughter from my so-called friends  – Paddy stay? No chance! Where Mummy goes, so does he. And such was the case – until Tuesday. Okay, he only ‘stayed’ for three and a half steps, but he kept that backside welded to the floor for three and a half steps more than he’d ever done before, so I call that a result. If only I had the evidence captured on camera, but the battery chose that particular second to die. However, I have independent witnesses – both Alex and my friend Glenys were witness to the miracle.

Tuesday 24 February - calmly and happily sharing the water break with the other dogs - what a difference a day makes!

Tuesday 24 February – calmly and happily sharing the water break with the other dogs – what a difference a day makes!

So, what made the big difference? A number of things, but mainly the fact that Paddy was with a group of dogs that  he was comfortable with, so he relaxed and enjoyed the training, which allowed me to do the same. I’m not saying there’s anything ‘wrong’ with the other dogs – just Paddy’s perception of them. He’s still only a youngster after all, so he needs to learn how the real world works, and that just because another dog is aggressive to Paddy, it doesn’t mean he’s going to rip my throat out, so Paddy doesn’t need to act as my 24/7 minder.

Now Paddy can concentrate on enjoying being a dog, and learning how to behave acceptably in polite company. And finally, I’m confident that the hooligan in him can be banished – or at least, toned down considerably. What a difference a day makes!

Paddy and the Salt Lake

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Ever since Paddy’s unscheduled swimming lesson, when he admired the reflection of the dog gazing up at him from the surface of the swimming pool at our friends’ hacienda and ended up being fished out by his harness, he’s been wary of the water. When we took him to the beach, even when we threw his favourite ball in the water, he put the brakes on before he got his paws wet. He even runs a mile when Tony gets the hosepipe out or fills a watering can, and he hates having his paws washed.

So when a friend suggested we take him for a run by the shores of the salt lake at St Luis, we wondered if it was a good idea. Still, it was a nice peaceful spot, and it was a beautiful afternoon, so Glenys and I headed out there.

I’ve mentioned before how he loves to bound through the orange groves once he’s off the leash – and I love to see his unconfined joy as he romps through the trees and up the banks in search of those ever-elusive rabbits. Well, it was the same thing when we got to the lake. He bounced across the sand, and the crystallised salt at the shore, and then he ventured a tentative toe in the water. Whether it was the stillness of the water, the temperature, or the different ‘feel’ due to the presence of so much salt, this was a water encounter that was definitely not torture.

He charged around, picking up bits of driftwood – that’s the latest trick, he has to have something to carry on our walks and runs. Then he looked baffled when they disintegrated in his mouth. How do you explain to a puppy that not all wood is hard? You don’t – you just distract him, and when we threw a piece of driftwood into the lake, he went chasing after it. Job done!

I must have thousands of photos of Paddy now – after all, we’ve had him for almost a year now, and the camera is never far away – but these photos of him enjoying himself in the salt lake are particular favourites. He loved it, and so did we. Mind you, he wasn’t so keen on the bath when he got home!

Poorly Paddy!

Paddy feeling very sorry for himself in the grip of the doggie version of Delhi Belly

Paddy feeling very sorry for himself in the grip of the doggie version of Delhi Belly

We’ve been very lucky with Paddy as far as his health goes. Aside from the routine vaccinations and being neutered to calm him down – which seems to have failed spectacularly – we’ve never had to take him to the vet. However, all that changed earlier this week.

On Friday, he developed a dicky tummy. Normally his plumbing works just fine, but on Friday, it all went pear-shaped. Actually there was no shape – it was all very liquid, if you get my drift. This has happened a couple of times before, and a day on a light diet usually puts things right within 24 hours, but not this time. Apart from the diarrhoea, he didn’t seem too bad, but when it hadn’t cleared by Monday, it was off to the vet.

Madeleine at Centro Veterinario Internacional in Los Montesinos was pretty sure that Paddy’s penchant for eating anything that would fit into his mouth – including poop bags, tissues, plant roots, cinders, gravel and aluminium foil – was responsible for his predicament. However, it was also clear from the sample she analysed that he had unwanted visitors in the form of bacteria in his gut.

So it was starvation rations, antibiotics, rehydration medication and something to soothe his delicate stomach.One thing I’ve noticed about the vets in Spain – or at least this particular vet – is that they don’t supply medication. Madeleine gave me a prescription to fill at the local farmacia. I was amazed how cheap it was – just over €6 for the two items, plus €29 for the consultation and examination, including the initial medication and some special food. In addition, I have enough medication in case Paddy has the same problem again – although I obviously wouldn’t administer it without checking with Madeleine first.

My friends with pets in the UK tell me that it’s around £40 for an initial consultation, and silly money for

48 hours later, following vet Madeleine's ministrations, he's back to normal.

48 hours later, following vet Madeleine’s ministrations, he’s back to normal.

medications. These prices would seem to prove that point. Another example of Rip Off Britain, methinks. If our Spanish vets can maintain a state-of-the-art surgery, with the latest technology and still make a profit, why does it have to be so expensive to get treatment for your pets in the UK?

Paddy was back to his normal, full of beans self within 48 hours, thanks to Madeleine and her magic. If you’re in the Los Montesinos area – and even if you’re not – you can entrust your precious pets to her care, and you don’t always need an appointment. As far as Madeleine and her colleague Regina are concerned, the animals come first, and they won’t keep a poorly pet waiting for treatment.

Centro Veterinario Internacional is at the Torrevieja end of the main street in Los Montesinos. There’s plenty of free parking nearby. Call 966 721 095 for advice or to make an appointment for a consultation.