Hi! My name is Fergus!
First off, let me state unequivocally that I didn’t set out this morning to become the most famous dog on the Camino between Palas de Rei and Melide. Like most things in my already charmed life, it just happened.
I was standing at the gate greeting Pilgrims when someone, my soon to be new best friend, opened it up to pet me. Now, any self respecting perro knows that when a human opens a gate you run through it!! Out onto the road with a thousand of those brightly dressed humans carrying backpacks, singing, trudging with sticks. I usually like sticks but these sticks make loud noises on the black pavement. It makes me nervous.
At this point I followed my new friends like swimming in a river. Everyone knows that when you see a river you jump in! Common sense dictates. Each person I met was soooo happy to see me. Like they had been waiting for me all day. Possibly all week! And who am I to disappoint them? After walking for awhile, I turned around and realized I didn’t recognize anything. Not the path. Not the trees. Nothing smelled or looked like home. And where was my Mom and Dad? I didn’t know. So I kept walking. Maybe I would find them up ahead.
Jeff’s Version Of The Big Adventure
Kelli let Fergus out as I made her coffee. She fed the cat and the dog. Then I handed her my usual cafe con leche de nueces. We sat down and chatted while she drank it. Before long, LuLu cried at the door for her breakfast. She had been out all night. Kelli went to let her in and called for Fergus to come get his breakfast. Then she went out onto the lawn, calling again. No dog. Then she called for me.
Fergus comes when we call him. He knows we are food. I put on my rubber boots with my overalls and a jacket and took the back half of the property. Kelli took the front, heading out the gate to call for him in the lane and in the horse pasture across the road. I came back from the field and we both shrugged. This isn’t like Fergus. He was no where within shouting distance to hear his name. Not a good sign. Kelli opened the gate again and started running towards the village calling his name, as I took up the rear.
Kelli: The Real Truth
Fergus knows my voice. And he knows my whistle. If I whistle he will come from a mile away. Running hell for leather towards me from two fields away. He has never not come when I whistled for him. This morning was the first time, ever.
I was in my pajamas when I strapped on my rubber boots barefoot, to call for him. And I was in this very same get up when I went out to the road. I didn’t care. I’d never see these people again. But then Fergus didn’t come. So I started asking Pilgrims if they had seen a black dog. I described him and told them his name. But they all shook their heads and said no. I saw Jeff coming back towards the barn. Fergus wasn’t with him. Fergus would have been trotting right beside him if Jeff had found him.
Based on the info, or lack there of from the Pilgrims, this meant he wasn’t to the right towards Palas de Rei. Or to the back of our property. He was somewhere towards Melide. I ran out the gate in my pj’s and rubber boots towards OCoto. Asking all the pilgrims – 50+ – on the road if they had seen a black lab. And telling them his name in case they came upon him. I got up to OCoto and Luis was open at the cafe. He looked taken aback at my pajamas and rubber boots. I called whistled for Fergus, asking the next 100 pilgrims, and the driver of a tour bus if they had seen a black dog? No one had.
Then I remembered Fergus’ AirTag. I could track him on my phone. But looking in the app he should have been standing beside me. His last pinged location. Pilgrims helped me look everywhere. Even out n the N-547 highway. No Fergus. By this time Jeff arrived and I told him I had found nothing.
‘I’m going to get the car. You walk to Leboriero.’ I told him.
I started running towards home when I asked a guy who was sitting on a stone wall near the horses since the last time I passed. ‘Have you seen a black dog?’
He had, pointing in the direction Jeff was walking. So I ran back home, showing Fergus’ photo to Pilgrims and giving them Jeff’s mobile number.
Jeff’s Trek Down The Camino
Kelli ran for the car, as I made my way in rubber boots without socks down the Camino to the tiny village of Leboriero with it’s old Roman bridge and buildings more than 500 years old. The church is one of the oldest in Galicia. If Fergus saw the door open he would be in there.
I whistled for him but he didn’t come.
‘Are you looking for Fergus?’ A group of women asked me.
‘Yes. How did you know?’
‘You wife is asking everyone. It got put on our group chat in WhatsApp.’
Our dog is now famous on Camino WhatsApp.
I thanked them and walked faster after hearing dogs barking at a house we call The Duck House on the other side of the old stone bridge. They are the grandparents of some people who own a restaurant in Melide. We know them and they have a German Shepherd. Fergus might be there barking at their farm dog. Sadly, I was forming a blister on my big toe in my rubber boots. Well, it is the Camino.
Kelli Flying Low
I got a bag of treats, and the car, then drove as fast as I could without hitting Pilgrims toward Melide. I turned into the industrial park before the town and rolled down my window to ask a Pilgrim if they had seen a black dog. He nodded and pointed up the trail with his pole. I looked and there was a black flash at the top of the rise, before the downhill towards Furelos. I jumped out of the car, still in my pajamas and rubber boots, with the treats, and whistled. The black blob stopped. Then, it started running towards me. Halfway there he stopped again. Like he wasn’t sure it was me. The guy he was walking with had stopped, as well. I called Fergus and shook the treat bag. Finally, reassured it was me, he looked back at the guy standing there, as if to say goodbye to his new Pilgrim friend. Then Fergus ran towards me like a greyhound.
I won’t lie. I teared up as he licked me furiously, then rolled over for a muddy belly rub. My pajamas were quickly covered in wet mud. Pilgrims gathered around taking pictures and videos of our happy, pajama’d reunion. It felt a little weird, but I guess people had become invested in The Great Fergus Saga. I prayed they would not post pics of Dirty Pajama Rubber Boot Kelli on social media. Reunion complete, Fergus and I made our way together toward the car so we could call Jeff to pick him up somewhere on the trail.
Fergus’ Last Word
Once again, I’m warm and dry on my rug on this rainy day. Back home with treats and lots of love. Some people might think I was lost but I wasn’t. I wasn’t worried, because I knew she would come for me. She always does. Because she’s my Mom. But somebody should tell those Pilgrims that they should never open a gate to a dog. Especially if he’s a black lab on the Camino Frances named Fergus😉 🐕🦺🐾