Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Worst Dog in Town

When Win Wells the famous playwright and artist became ill he asked me if I could come take care of his house and animals while he was in England in hospital. He had two cats and two dogs. I didn’t mind as it was almost next door to my house and he said I could bring my small animals which consisted at that time of a strange abandoned dog that was nursing an interesting mixture of two baby bunnies and two new-born kittens. Plus I had my Great Dane, Nisha, who had come from the USA with me a couple of years previously. Who was, I freely admit, rather large. What Win had neglected to tell me was that all of his animals were pregnant and within a week of moving in, I had no less than 27 animals to deal with. The only male was a small brindle mutt named Elmer, who enjoyed a reputation for being quite the worst dog in town. I couldn’t believe that he was that bad and thought a little socialization was all he needed. I was wrong. I took him to the plaza on a lead and he attacked every dog he saw no matter the size, and Elmer was very small; he humped everyone and peed on everything. He was completely unmanageable. I ended up having to shut him in the phone booth so I could finish my coffee. I tried a few more times and the same thing happened so I started to leave him at home.
In another story on this blog I talk about Foxy the abandoned dog that nursed the two kittens and two rabbits so I won’t go into that here. About a year later Foxy was returned to her rightful owner whom we bumped into one day quite by chance on the beach. It turned out it was a custody battle in a broken relationship, so the man had thrown out the dog and it somehow had ended up at my house. We were sad to see her go but you could see how thrilled the lady was to have found her dog she thought was long gone.
I luckily found good homes for all of Win’s baby animals and I kept my two bunnies and kittens, one of which was called Cookie who I loved and she was very special and I have written about her too.
As time went on it was clear that Win’s health would not allow him to return to Spain, so he and his partner sold or rented the house, I don’t remember which, but I told the new people that the house came with two dogs and two cats one of which was Elmer the brindle mutt. Every day on my way home the people would be on the balcony and they would call down to me to say they couldn’t deal with Elmer and would have to put him down. I knew I couldn’t have him, I already had too many animals, and the last thing I needed was the worst dog in town. After a few weeks as I was walking home one evening they told me it was his last day so I broke down and said open the door and I will take him. He ran out the door and down the stairs like a jack rabbit and was at my side in a flash. When I arrived home with Elmer my father was furious because that was the last thing we needed. My father said he was my responsibility and one wrong step and he was gone. Well, I think Elmer listened to this very carefully because from that moment on he became a dream dog. The kind everyone wants. I don’t know what made the instant change in his personality, maybe he realized that this was his last chance but Elmer became the perfect dog. I remember once, around the same time, my mother had a horrible cat called Nando who was about as bad as Elmer and one day she picked him up by the scruff of the neck and said next time I will throw you over the cliff. At that moment too, Nando became cat perfect and never looked back. It is funny how we had the two worst animals in town and just like that they became the kind of animal every one wants around. They both lived a long and happy life with us.

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