I like tracking things back to the point at which they began: a phone call from my school friend cancelling our arrangement to meet up on the first day of Fresher’s Week which altered who I spoke to that day and ultimately the friends I made at University; a trip made to the very north of Scotland twenty years later to visit one of said friends, which coincided with Sid the dog running away from home and his fate being sealed when my son Hamish, proclaimed “He’s just the right size!”
A whisper sent out into the Universe not long after about a dog called Nash which ten years later still, saw him come home. Out walking Sid the dog, Alastair and I used to see a couple walking a tricolour of Labradors. Speculating as to their names and dreaming of our own little pack, we settled on Crosby, Stills and Nash: Crosby for our new dog, Sid could become Stills and Nash was out there somewhere waiting for us (I don’t think we ever got as far as Young). If you have never heard of this folk rock supergroup, don’t worry, you’re not alone as neither had our boys, who discarded Crosby without a second thought and thus Dougal bounded into our lives.
Fast forward eight years with Sid no longer with us, the boys increasingly absent from our house, Dougal moping in the void, a glass of champagne too many dissolving my willpower never to look on dog adoption websites, and there he was, Nash. “It’s a sign! It’s a sign! Hic! He’s meant to be here….”
Once seen, never forgotten, he filled my nights with dreams and my waking moments with longing. There were too many reasons not to do it, except as my older son was quick to point out “they’re all just logistics” and in that moment I knew that I have taught him well and was reminded that we used to be a family who said ‘yes’ and then found a way to made it happen, like bringing a dog home with you from your holidays.
Not quite daring to believe it was real, and with more than a few doubts that it actually would happen, we waited (not so) patiently for news of his arrival from Greece. “Greece?!” What can I say? English Pointers don’t often need re-homing in the UK, they do in Greece. No he won’t understand us, but he’s not been trained, he doesn’t really ‘speak’ Greek either. “He’s not trained?!” No, he’ll learn the good from us and his bad habits from Dougal… all conversations I was perfectly willing to have in defence of our madness, but at the point where you’ve to say he’ll come in a dog transporter van from Athens to Calais, and another man with dog friendly van will bring him from Calais to our midnight rendezvous spot at Lymm Services on the M6, and yes we have sent money over the internet, it starts to sound and feel like we’re part of some elaborate scam. So we said nothing, in case it wasn’t real.
Except that it was, and he’s here, and our hearts have melted.
I don’t want to dwell on how anyone could abandon a dog to fend for itself, instead I prefer to marvel at the kindness of the man, Athanastasios (thank goodness it shortens to Nash!), who found him in the mountains and didn’t know what to do – but knew he couldn’t do nothing, Maria who dropped everything and drove two hours to get him, Domo who made sure he was safe and well, the Pointers in Need team who paid for his upkeep and arranged getting him home to us, and the men to whom driving to collect and deliver dogs in the depth of the night is not a covert operation but part of their everyday lives. Beautiful souls doing wonderful work.
How is it going? Well, Dougal has been every bit as gracious in his out-outness that we knew he would be, Nash is growing in confidence by the hour (and let’s face it he’s only been here for 36), and our family feels again like it did at it’s best – living life and saying ‘Yes’.Come to me now and rest your head for just five minutes, everything is good Such a cosy room…. *
Our House (Lyrics by Graham Nash)
(but I have a feeling that the cats might have scarpered out the yard!)