From time to time, we have to make the six hundred kilometre round trip down to our previous home down in Malaga region. It is always a pleasure to catch up with friends, but the logistics can be a little hairy. As well as organising ourselves, we have to pack the car to the hilt with amps, speakers and other gig paraphernalia, which leaves precious little room for anything else.
The Dog of the Blog, her diminutive partner in crime, the chicken ladies, the chicken babies and Boggle all need to be taken care of, or taken with us. Fortunately for us, we have had the lovely Rosemary living with us for the last few months, and she has coped admirably, in spite of not having grown up around dogs. Four active and demanding puppies, however, were four canines too far, and the date for our next trip was fast approaching.
Our very good friend and former near neighbour had offered to foster one of the puppies and put it up for adoption with one of the animal charities down in the Axarquia region of Malaga province. We decided that as this puppy would be away from his siblings first, it had better be the über-confident Teddy 2. We would somehow squeeze him into the car, probably harnessed on my lap, with a bin liner to catch any unfortunate accidents.
This left three teddies that needed to be cared for over the weekend. Teddies 1 and 3 had been reserved for families in Germany, but they could not go until June. Teddy 4 was still waiting for an offer. We told the puppy charities that we were desperate for help, but they had no places at all to spare. It was time to call in the cavalry, or as she is better known, Kim.
With only a day or two to go, I was climbing the walls, tearing my hair out and notching up some fabulous opportunities for mixed metaphors. My brain was feeling like a disaster in a spaghetti factory and I was getting nowhere fast.
“What am I going to do?” I whimpered over the interweb.
“We can have two of them for the weekend, and just keep one when you go back,” suggested Kim.
“That still leaves two!” I was in full-on wimp mode, and too far gone to care how pathetic I looked.
“I’ll ask around and see if anyone can help out. Don’t panic.”
It is amazing what having contacts can do. Having not lived up here for long, we do not as yet have an extensive network of potential helpers. Kim, however, got to work and, within an hour, had her friend Rachel on side. Messages flew backwards and forwards, arrangements were made to meet at a Burger King on the coast to hand over two teddies for a weekend break, and Geoff began to work out how we could fit the dog crate into the car.
I should mention at this point that we had begun to have conversations about Teddy 4. His less than flattering mug shot on the puppy rescue website had not brought the offers flooding in. This was shame, as he is a dear little chap, very eager to please, extremely cuddly, and far prettier than his picture suggested. The photograph was taken just after he had been found grubbing about in wet undergrowth, and showed a wet and rather disgruntled Teddy, not looking his sunny best.
I could not tell you where the line between what if we were to keep one of them? and which one are we keeping? was crossed. We are fortunate enough to have a marriage where we often decide things by osmosis, neither of us being sure whose idea something was. However it came about, Teddy 4, AKA Shylock or Reggie is staying with us.
I was still of the opinion that bitches were more my thing, but had to admit that he had a great deal of charm, and that he had pulled a bit of a flanker as far as my unsuspecting heart was concerned. Geoff has been amazingly restrained, considering the rich vein of teasing potential my downfall presents for him to mine at my expense.
In the light of who was now destined to live where, we arranged for Rachel and her family to have Teddy 1 (Foxy) and Teddy 3 (dubbed Red Ted because of his collar) for the weekend. Kim and Phil would have Teddy 2 (Blondie) and Teddy 4 (our Ted).
Poppy and Minnow were baffled by the fact that the mattress from the crate was still in the sitting room, but the crate, the interlopers and we humans were disappearing into the car. Reports when we got back suggest that Minnow took advantage of the opportunity to sleep on Rosemary’s bed, and Poppy had the bean bag to herself.
You would have thought that we were murdering the teddies as we loaded them into the crate and shut the boot. They wailed and cried and flailed and screwed all the newspaper into one corner, shuffling and snuffling their distress all the way over the hill, down onto the Velez Rubio road, through Santa Maria de Nieva, and past Huercal-Overa. Geoff and I tried making soothing noises. We tried putting Mark Knopfler on the car stereo and ignoring them. We tried speaking kindly but firmly. After fifteen minutes of the three and a half hour journey, we were twitching and wondering how much we would be able to stand.
And then it all went quiet. We did not hear another peep out of them until we pulled up at the Burger King, three hundred kilometres later.
Rachel, her two daughters and two little friends soon had two teddies in the car and heading for a weekend of cuddly, puddly confusion. We drove on to Kim and Phil’s and deposited the other two.
It felt strangely quiet without any of our menagerie to worry about, but I slept soundly for the first time in days.
The other end of a busy but animal-free weekend, we collected our Teddy from Kim and Phil. As well as being good friends, these good souls have fostered numerous puppies over the last few years, and they miss their furry charges terribly when they move to their permanent homes. As always, they had fallen in love with the puppies, and a tear or two were shed as we left. A possible home for Blondie Teddy had fallen through, so at least they had him for a while.
We decided to stop off on our way to the coast, to give Teddy a drink and to find a something for our lunch. One of the bars Geoff has played at seemed a good option, so we pulled off into the car park and Geoff headed inside to see what was available.
As he walked into the bar, a man caught up with him and asked if he was Geoff Murrell , who had rescued some puppies. It turned out that he had sent a message the previous week, saying that he would like to adopt one, so that his five-year-old son could grow up with a canine friend. Geoff had never received the message.
We were able to put the gentleman in touch with Kim and Phil, and I am delighted to say that Teddy, renamed simply T, is now settling happily into his new family, and having a great time.
Once back on the coast, I collected the other two teddies (and almost ended up with Rachel’s two daughters as stowaways) while Geoff, Phil and Martin had a hugely successful gig.
The trip home was much as the trip down had been. The teddies kicked up the most terrible fuss for about ten minutes, and then fell asleep. They only cried once more on the way back, and it turned out they all needed a wee. Once they had sorted that out, they settled back into the crate and slept until we arrived home.
We went to bed that night feeling very relieved and thankful. All the teddies were fine after their eventful weekend. We had been rescued not only by good friends but also by complete strangers. The last of the teddies had found a loving home, and Poppy and Minnow had had a peaceful weekend with the long-suffering Rosemary.
P.S. We are told that the Dog of the Blog had to have a bath, after giving Rosemary the slip and rolling in a pile of fish heads. We told her she had not only let herself down, but she had let Minnow and the entire family down. She had the grace to look slightly ashamed of herself, but I do not doubt for one minute that she will do it again as soon as the opportunity arises.