Canary Island Winters - Part Six: More Animals

Muriel's home
Many boats lying at anchor in Los Cristianos bay had resident dogs and cats - quite a sensible precaution when there are rats about. One small yacht managed to accommodate a massive Newfoundland dog which came into its own whenever his owners went ashore. Unbidden, the dog would leap into the water, grasp the painter firmly in its mouth and tow them ashore in their inflatable dinghy, waiting patiently at the harbour until they came back from their shopping trip, whereupon he would repeat the process in reverse. He seemed to enjoy the whole thing enormously although the smell of big wet dog aboard a small boat must have been overpowering. 

Then there was Muriel. I loved Muriel. She lived on an old trawler which lay at anchor in the bay for months on end - a small black and white mongrel dog. The trawler also had a resident black cat. Every time her owner went ashore, Muriel would sit on the deck, raise her muzzle to the skies and howl in uttermost despair until he came back again. The cat, meanwhile, would walk along the guard rail, peer scornfully down at her distraught companion, and then stalk off to stretch out in the sun. You could almost hear her saying, 'What on earth are you making all that fuss about?'

I actually immortalized Muriel in a piece of writing called Diary of a Seadog. I changed her into a 'he' and made her owner a bit younger, and invented a whole story about their voyage to the Canaries. My dad, who was an extremely good artist on the side, as well as a scientist, did some lovely, quirky pen and watercolour illustrations for me.

My agent - as with so much else that has become inexplicably popular since then - didn't think she could sell it. But I still have it. And I have the illustrations. And if you can bear to wait a little while, sooner or later, it will turn up in eBook form.

Doggi
Finally, there was Doggi. Doggi was local. He was a stray - there are plenty of strays on these islands, dogs which scavenge for food and sleep on the beaches. But Doggi had been injured at some point down the harbour at Santa Cruz where he lived, and for a little while he wandered about in great distress. Alan had seen him on a previous flying visit and been horrified by his condition, but had lost sight of him and hadn't been able to do anything for him.

By the time we went back, things were definitely looking up for Doggi. He had more or less been adopted by the harbour. When boats left, they would pass him on to other people. Somebody must have paid for a vet to treat him because he was fit and well again, he had an oil drum kennel with his name painted on the side and he looked well fed and very happy with his life!

Doggi's house

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