When we left the US in 2018, we had to leave our cats, Lucy and Clubber. The best cats, ever. We cried when we said goodbye. When we would visit my parents, Lucy would follow me everywhere. Emilie and I had rescued her from a shelter at six weeks old.
Clubber is a polydactyl cat. She has a thick undercoat, a blunted club-like tail, and huge feet with a total of 26 toes. The breed came to the US on ships from Wales. They are swimmers. And they are the best mousers you will ever encounter. We got Clubber from a strange family who listed her on Craigslist because they thought she was too weird. The Dad threatened to feed her to a neighbor dog. Our beautiful Golden Retriever, Perkins, had died and Lucy wandered our house crying. Jeff was worried about her as Perkins had mothered her from six weeks old. They slept together, cleaned each other.
‘Lucy is depressed. She needs a friend.’
He contacted the family, who lived two hours south of us. We stood in their driveway and they opened the garage door. Clubber ran out and into Jeff’s arms. They took the $100 he was holding and went into the house. My Dad was in a physical rehabilitation center not far away, and he loved cats. So we smuggled her in and he lit up. Clubber is an amazing cat.
She loves water and would shower with me. If I couldn’t find her in the house I just had to turn on the kitchen sink and I could hear her running. Water is her joy and achilles heel.
We didn’t even consider flying the cats here. We flew them from Seattle to Phoenix one Spring and Lucy was never the same. She cried and hid at our house in AZ for two weeks. It felt like twenty+ hours in a crate on multiple flights would break her for good. We drove them from Arizona to my parents house in Portland over the course of three days to reduce the potential trauma. I wasn’t putting her through flying again. I still miss them both.
Not having a cat or a dog for the years we have lived in Spain was difficult for me. Most especially because we have been here alone. No family or friends from back home. Yes, we have made friends here. Lovely friends. But, no furry little creatures with unconditional love to curl up on my lap, or go for a walk.
When we moved to the farm from Valencia, we were greeted by Mr Sir. Or Señor. Our neighbor, Marie Carmen’s cat. He adopted, first Jeff, then me. We cared for him through scrapes. Some serious. Even visiting the vet with him last winter. But after I left for my wintery Camino last March, Jeff never saw him again. And neither has Marie Carmen. But one of her barn cats was pregnant. And in July, Marie Carmen handed me LuLu after I mowed her lawn. LuLu is a combination of Lucy, Clubber and Señor Sir. We are pretty sure she’s his daughter. She has the vocalizations and temperament of Lucy. And will fly through the air when playing, just like Clubber. She sits on the edge of the bath tub when I shower or take a bath.
As I have mentioned before, getting a kitten vaccinated, de-wormed, and spayed here is like an act of god. It was a two and a half month process.
Finally, we got LuLu completed and she is right as rain. A European pet passport means we can take her with us on vacation throughout the Schengen Ha! Mostly, it means if she decides to vacation on her own again, and gets lost, they can identify her and call us. She was going crazy after two months in the house trying to protect her from all the trawling tom-cats in the area. Jeff and I had coated all our furniture in ant-cat scratch plastic panels. But she was starting to find ways around them. Time for her to venture outside, once again.
We love LuLu. But I have also wanted a dog. For years. Living in Valencia was tough. It’s the dog capital of the world. Everyone has a dog there. It was like living outside a candy store and you weren’t allowed inside. But our landlord didn’t allow pets.
We’ve had Galician dogs who visited the food truck on a regular basis. I kept treats for them and they learned to come to the door with sad eyes. But they never stayed. Then, I started looking at rescues online. We prefer to rescue. There are so many dogs that need homes. But I also have to consider that I can’t have a dog of unknown temperament. I need one who is well socialized to strangers. And will fit in well with all the Pilgrims coming and going. Every day.
Then, there is the problem that so many shelters don’t want to respond to a foreigner inquiries. Over the past year this happened so many times. Even after I filled out the questionnaire. So, I did what I always do. I worked my community connections. And by this, I mean I told everyone I met in town that I was looking for a puppy. Including the vet during LuLu’s visits.
Jeff wants a Mastin (mastiff). I didn’t really care. I just wanted a friendly breed (or combination of breeds) who will be my buddy, and like Pilgrims. Strangers. In other words, I’m not looking for security. Just a friend. Then, the other night we got a call from our insurance agent in Melide. She has four dogs and three cats. She’s the one who rescued the hedgehog and asked us to release it on the farm. A kinder soul doesn’t exist. Monica is a foster parent for animals through a shelter in A Coruña. And they have a litter of puppies that just came in. Would I be interested? What?!? Is she crazy? Of course!
Monica made the introduction to the rescue for me. I filled out the questionnaire. Then, we reached out to the foster mom who has all the puppies and we drove up there yesterday to Sada and met them.
I am happy to introduce you to Fergus! He is our newest addition. A rescued black lab puppy. Or he will be next week. This week he will be vaccinated, chipped, and de-loused. I will pick him up when they call with the green light and his pet passport.
After Jeff and I were approved as his new parents, we drove to the big pet supply store in Marineda City and spent a million dollars on pet supplies so he will feel welcome. Including an anti-anxiety bed which is all the rage now, and keeps dogs that are in transition calm. Jeff is buying him some doggles (dog goggles) so he can go with us on our trike rides. We want to train him to be comfortable going on adventures with us. There are riding trails all over Asturias that we want to explore.
I have four months to train Fergus and socialize him before we open again. Basically, to spend every waking moment with him. Which is just fine with me. And I know LuLu will grow to love him, too. I’ve learned how to add Animal Rescue Mom to my list of How-to’s-in-Spain. And our family feels complete. Ok, maybe not. Marie Carmen just came by. She has a couple more barn kittens that need homes. And, if I’m honest, Fergus will not be our last dog. Like him, it seems I’m a pack animal at heart.