Sometimes being a dog owner means that your best laid plans can get thrown out of the window at any moment. So when Paul Rigg's dog Mutley went missing, only to re-appear injured and distressed shortly before he was due to embark on a dream holiday, he thought this was one of those moments. But with a little persuasion and the help of a handful of sympathetic Spaniards, Paul was to find that his near holiday destroying episode was to lead to a new, magnificent experience with his pet.
The north of Spain is home to the Picos de Europa, a protected bio-park at Muniellos and a myriad of small slate-roofed villages with spectacular mountain views. When a last-minute crisis threatens to wreck a trip planned for over a year, however, just how understanding will the local people be?
Our dog Mutley looked up at us from the concrete basement steps of the police station and slowly wagged her tail in recognition that she had been found. After two weeks searching for food and water in the Castilla countryside she had lost several kilos, was suffering from dehydration and had a deep open wound on her front leg. We took her straight to the nearest vet, who operated on her and then told us that what she most needed was our care and attention. But should we cancel our carefully planned trip to the spectacular mountain range in the North of Spain? How would Spanish hotel and restaurant owners react when they discovered that our travelling companion was a dog?
The first mobile phone call from our car was crucial to the decision of whether we would go or not. We had the first two nights booked at a Posada in Cahecho and if the owner had said ‘No’, then our decision would have been made for us. However after a short conversation the reply from the owner was: “there are few problems that cannot be solved in this life; you are welcome with your dog.”
I should admit at this point that while our dog is very respectful and good-natured, she is also, as the Spanish put it, a ‘little special’. With Houdini-like agility she had escaped through the window of a relative’s car as the driver slowed at a roundabout and, pursued by two policeman, had then headed off across a series of fields. After we found her, we honestly told the hotel owner that she very rarely barked, but suddenly the experience of being lost and found had transformed her into a much more assertive, and yappy dog. Finally, while we sincerely told the owner that she did not pee indoors, her dehydrated state meant that her kidneys were affected… and that we had another problem on our hands.