Axarquia, Costa del Sol, Andalucia, Spain

ALFIE`S WORLD

Welcome to the canine world, I’m Alfie and I like to think I’m head of this household, well I guess I am being the male of the two canines in the home, although their are other male animals in our home – Casper is feline and he is almost 6, Pequeno who’s of the Equine variety is 13. There is also Isabelle and her two kittens that really are too young to have any dominance or say in the matter, the kitten’s names are Pigeon and Dog (at this point I should add that the oldest human in our home is the one who has chosen their strange names, as he has for my canine companion - Fanny).

Fanny was brought into our home last August by a Spanish friend of our humans, as a gift – she arrived as a tiny bundle of fluff, which trembled a lot and didn’t smell that nice. After a bath, to rid her of any nasties she then looked and smelled an awful lot better, I shouldn’t be mean about her, I was lucky and started my life off with proper parents who only put me in a pet shop because they couldn’t keep all their babies, and that is where my humans spotted me in May last year and brought me back to their home where I rein supreme in the canine world. Back to poor Fanny, she was born in a hole underground with 8 other siblings hence the aroma she arrived with, but she is now quite acceptable thanks to the baths and trims she now gets living in my home and I have of course taught her how this household runs and she seems quite happy to listen and learn – so far we are living in happy harmony.

We have quite a carefree life, no being cooped up in an apartment or villa with enclosed garden for us – our home is in the campo. Now some of you canines might feel more superior to us with your electric gates, and walled in grounds, and automated watering systems but we don’t have those luxuries and although my oldest female human may moan about living in an old Cortijo, that needs loads doing to it - for us its just fab.

We have the run of our own land plus many other parcels of land surrounding us, there are plenty of neighbouring animals for us to play with, or in the case of the numerous felines, that live with our spanish neighbours then we have to teach them where they live, by chasing them off the patio – if only they could understand english, it’s a matter of principal its our patio and nothing to do with animal type.

Josepha, our neighbour

Both Fanny and I are constantly subjected to their lovely spanish human who shoos us away with her broom and says ‘Sape’ in a high voice when we venture onto her patio in a neighbourly fashion – we have both come to the conclusion that it must be some coded word, as its not anywhere in the Collins Spanish / English Dictionary. Whilst at the same time our humans tell us to “come here”, so we have made an educated guess that she doesn’t want us to visit that often. But from the picture of our neighbour she looks so welcoming doesn’t she?

Back to our idyllic lifestyle, we start our day by waking up our humans – most of them push us away, pull the sheets up and tell us to get down, but the youngest one loves it and and makes us feel really important by letting us stay on her bed till she gets up – if we were the sort of animals to take offence we wouldn’t bother with the others and just go straight to her room, but we don’t have favourites.

Once we have woken our humans up, then its time to remind them that we need to be let out to do our morning business and the best way to do this is by scratching at the doors, we still haven’t worked out why this always causes them to raise their voices and leap up to open the doors! If they are lucky we then bring them back a gift, which can vary from day to day, sometimes it is a shoe that one of the younger humans might have left outside overnight, sometimes its one of our toys, best of all is when we find a bone that has been left by someone or something. Our humans don’t seem to like the latter gifts and tell us to take it back outside, which of course then means we have to find somewhere safe to bury it out of sight of other canines. This can be quite a chore in the summer as the ground is quite hard for digging, unless we find a patch in our humans flower beds, which doesn’t meet with approval from her when she sees what we’ve done to her plants – maybe someone should explain to us the difference between the common weed and say for example plumbago – to the canine eye they both look pretty similar apart from that one has some blue bits!

After our morning exercise we then wait to be fed. I feel that we are most probably the most patient of the animals in our home, unlike the felines who rub around our humans legs, attempt to jump onto the worktops and make an awful lot of noise as soon as the cutlery draw is opened, which is the signal that food is about to served, once this happens they then almost trip up our humans in their haste to get to the bowls. We of course have waited patiently throughout all of this, for ours to be served which is usually a mix of tinned meat and some dry shapes of different flavours – nice enough if there is nothing else available, we like to try the felines food too, but have to be very careful as they are prone to scratch and hiss at us, which isn’t very friendly is it!

Rachel and Pequeno

Next it’s the Pequeno’s turn and we follow our human down to the coral to see if he gets anything that we might fancy too, carrots, apple and this dry grainy stuff isn’t very nice we’ve decided, but daily we go along just in case he gets something that might appeal to us. He doesn’t make a lot of noise like the felines, well that is unless he has to wait, if our human has a lay in which happens a lot in the school holidays, then he might whiney a few times to remind them that he is waiting. He does this little walk in a circle tossing his head up and down and then rubs his head once against the fencing seems a bit silly to us, but he still does it every time his bucket is picked up, we have tried to tell him that he doesn’t need to do that he will get fed anyway, but he doesn’t listen to us, and sometimes he’ll even swish us with his tail which isn’t very nice.

Once we’ve had our breakfast, we like to spend a bit of time playing with our friends and our humans if they’re not too busy, helping pickup the dirty laundry is fun and sometimes we can entice them into a game of hide and seek with an odd sock. Hoovering isn’t that much fun, as it makes a lot of noise, we much prefer the broom as we can then chase the bits as they are swept across the floor. Watering the garden is another favourite, the hose wiggles like a snake, as our human sprays, so we have to chase and drag it, we do find that the spray is turned on us, if we don’t “drop it” when we’ve been asked, which is quite refreshing on a hot day.

We like to have a mid-morning nap, which is usually broken up by the beeping of the breadman, fishman and various other delivery van horns, they are most inconsiderate of our siesta and we have to explain this on a daily basis, by firstly barking, despite whether they are known to us or not and then I have to christen the wheels in a way only male canines can, Fanny understands that is my job and once its done, we can then retire back inside.

Waking up Caitlin

I said earlier on that we don’t have favourites, that isn’t strictly true we have found that one of our humans is keener to do things with us than the others, so she is our No. 1 Human – as I said she lets us stay on her bed, she is always cuddling us and throwing a ball when we bring it to her, we’re allowed to play with her soft toys and she gives us snacks off her plate (sometimes she gets into trouble if the older humans see her doing it), but best of all she takes us for walks round the Cortijo or as she calls it ‘round the block’ as soon as she has picked up our leads we know the routine, she hides the leads behind her back and we have to pretend we can’t see them, whilst she asks us to sit which is really difficult when you’re so excited, we try to explain this by trying to lick her as she does up the leads, then we’re off. We go down the slope past the neighbours house, as we can’t chase her cats on a lead, we do our best to scare them by barking at them, then our friends who live at the bottom of the hill hear us, and come up for a canine greeting which consists of sniffing each other and then if you’re a male, you all have to christen the same area to show you’ve been there. The walk along the bottom of the Cortijo is fun, because you can see the road from there, but its not near enough to be dangerous to us, everyday there is something new to sniff, and we find that walking does make our bladders weak, so we have to stop every couple of feet, as we reach the end of the walk she lets us off the lead and starts to run, so that we can chase her, she is always a good loser because we always make it to the door before her, then when we get inside we get to jump on her lap and have another cuddle.

Caitlin with Alfie & Fanny

Our days are spent in around the home with our humans, we’re quite happy in the campo and there is so much to do that we don’t need to visit the big city but every so often our humans tell us that we have to go and see the vet, we try to make this fun for our humans, as from previous experience we have found that we don’t like it that much. Firstly they have to get us into the car, which involves a lot of pulling on the lead, strange how you can sense that it won’t be the same as a walk round the block , eventually they have to pick us up and put us in the car. Then once we’re there getting out of the car is easy because we have new places to sniff and explore and after the windy and bumpy journey we are desperate to stretch our legs.They take us to this big glass door and although they can’t smell it, we always get this scent of other canines who could possibly be big and ugly, and the unmistakable scent of strange felines, who we have never been able to get to because they are always in these funny boxes with thin slits that we can’t get our paws through. Doesn’t seem to matter to our humans that we might be scared of what’s behind that door, they still insist on taking us in and although our vet is a lovely woman and always makes us feel really special, she more often than not sticks a big needle in us, then rubs the area and tells us how good we’ve been. Getting back into the car after that is a pleasure.

As I said we are very lucky to live in the campo, there are lots of lizards, mice, shrews and birds to chase, we help rounding up Pequeno when its time for him to go back into his coral after he’s been out grazing, but we do have to be careful that we don’t get kicked if we get too close behind him. Some of the local Spanish humans have goats too, who come and visit when they are passing. These animals aren’t so easy to chase and we have to be careful of the bigger ones with horns, who like to chase us if we get too close.

There is only one downside as far as I can tell to living in the campo and that is Burrs, they get caught in your fur and in-between your pads, and they really hurt when your humans pull them out for you. If we get an awful lot in us, which usually only happens if we have been playing and rolling a lot, then we have a bath to get rid of them, I’m not overly keen on baths but know that if needs must, the best bit is getting dry, surely humans know by now, that it doesn’t matter how much towelling they do, we still have to shake off the excess and jump on the beds and sofas to rub ourselves completely dry.

We do find life as a canine quite exhausting, especially in this heat, so as well as our midmorning nap, we try to get some sleep in during the day, usually in whichever room our humans are in. One thing has always puzzled me, why is it called “Cat Napping”, because dogs do it too, and I have often seen my oldest human do it, when he gets in from work, its quite funny to watch as his head slowly goes down towards his tummy and then all of a sudden jerks up again and he pretends that he was really watching the telly!

Our evening meal is much the same routine as breakfast, of course by this time our humans are also preparing their dinner, we keep trying to tell them, we would rather have the same as them, things like homemade steak and kidney pie which smells so good and tastes even better, we only know this as sometimes we’ve been lucky enough to get leftovers, when they’ve finished.

Night-times are spent lying on the floor, there doesn’t seem to be as much room on the sofas at that time of day because all of the humans are home by then, but that’s fine as its cooler on the floor and easier to get up in a hurry if one of those pesky felines from next door needs sending home again!

Once lights are out, the valley seems to come alive with our canine friends calling to each other, it would be so rude not to reply, so we join in which then makes our human tell us in loud voices “lay down go to sleep” eventually we do, until morning dawns which is signalled by the cockrel next door, and we then start our daily routine all over again.

Rachel Toller
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