Dhalia – the third of our nine dogs.
It was a Sunday around the middle of the month of September in the year 2005. My friend, Gwen, and I had set off for La Manga, a small fishing village three miles from San Carlos, Mexico. As the trip would take us through areas of desolate desert and the day was forecast to be a sizzler, we left early. The purpose of the journey was to feed a pack of dogs that were living on the outskirts of La Manga. These wild dogs were gradually getting used to our presence and with the aid of a humane trap we had previously caught two of them, a small puppy and her mother. Those two dogs were at my home and were gradually becoming tame so that good homes could be found for them.
Half-way to our destination, we saw two dogs running by the side of the road. It wasn’t unusual to see strays searching for road-kill. I stopped the car and prepared food and water for them. One dog took off almost immediately but the other just stood perfectly still looking intently at me. She was rail-thin and full of mange. Her ears and chest were scabbed with blood, and I could see that previously she had had pups. Tentatively, I pushed the food towards her. She took a bite and sat on her haunches; her eyes never leaving mine. Then she lifted a paw and reached out to me. Immediately, I burst into tears and scooped her into my arms. I carried her back to the car where she lay quietly in my lap whilst we went on to do our feeding. She was bloody and very smelly. However, I didn’t care.
I named her Dhalia and after treatments for mange she became quite beautiful. She was the pivotal part of a short story Paul wrote back in 2011. [Ed: see note] Under her sweet exterior remains that same will to survive so evident when I rescued her all those years ago. There has been more than one occasion that she has brought me a recently killed squirrel or an ancient bone. We love our Dhalia: she still reaches out with her front paw when she seeks attention. Dhalia will be ten-years-old this year.
NB: Tomorrow, I will publish the short story written three years ago Messages from the Night. Next week another account from Jean about one of our family members.