I returned on a Wednesday. I still remember the blast of hot air getting off the plane. Due to the size of Seville airport, the chances of ever getting a jet way to the terminal are non-existent. Now carrying the layers I had on me back in Dublin, I began the short trek home.
Aneira usually barks, or grumbles to herself when sensing someone near the door or in the corridor outside. I approached the third floor, hoody and jacket still in one arm, airport shopping bags in another. A few metres from the door a bark, followed by the clipping of paws running towards the door.
The barks continued. I felt like a stranger, which was hardly surprising considering the length of time I had been away. Siobhan opened the door. As soon as it was slightly ajar, her nose appeared. It took a few seconds for her to register it was me, the person who had only known her a month before taking off abroad for the same period of time.
I had seen the YouTube videos of owners returning to their dogs. Watching the sheer delight and excitement often made me wonder just how exactly it felt. The moment Aneira jumped up I could finally empathise with those in the videos. They say the unconditional love of a dog is at times indescribable; the feeling of adoration as she lay by the couch, making sure I didn’t leave the flat again could only be described in one word: adorable.
In the days that followed, it registered to me just what Siobhan had to put up with in the month I was gone. With temperatures in thirties by the time it was even eleven, dog walks had to be done early. Feeling guilty at being away for that period of time, I took on the responsibility for the first week back just to give Siobhan a break. By the end of the week, it hit me just how much work a dog would be for people on their own full-time, particularly in the heat of a Sevilliano summer.
Armed with her new harness, which I had brought back as a sort of I’m sorry for suddenly abandoning you gift, we saw out the summer the way it started: together and by the river. Following her trip to the vet and three doses of medication a day, we didn’t encounter any further spillages in the house, but had to constantly monitor just how much liquid she was consuming. Watermelon, which we had identified as one of the causes of filling her bladder too quickly, became smaller treats of frozen cubes in an attempt to cool her down after coming in from a walk. She was still as appreciative as ever.
Mornings were spent practicing re-call. Before my trip back home, we had only started letting her off lead on walks by the river, so it almost felt a shame I had to leave despite making such positive progress. Mornings by the river were often quiet, which made it perfect to allow her off lead to explore, while watching her hunt for rats by the river bank also gave us an idea of her previous life in the countryside.
The only downside to having such free time to connect and train with her was how quickly the temperatures rose, and how long they took to come back down. The heat left us all tired and zoned out before it was even lunchtime, and afternoon naps in
front of the fan became a daily occurrence. Going out at night depended on the temperature, so we kept an eye on hour-by-hour forecast. Some days you could get out at 10pm, other days it was well past 11.
And then there were the fireworks. They came every evening, without fail – so much so that Aneira began to anticipate them. It meant pumping up the volume on the TV after 6pm, making sure there was enough bass to drown any potential noise. Why were they celebrating? What could they possibly have to celebrate? The fact it was now cool enough to go outside? As I type this, I still struggle to think why.
But, we survived, as did Aneira. As the weeks past, we wished for the temperatures to drop, even by a few degrees just for a little respite. In winter, you don’t look at the weather half as much but summer being such a different monster, the difference between thirty-six and forty degrees was too much to ignore. Such a difference meant staying out a little longer in the morning, and being able to leave the house earlier in the evening. With temperatures remaining consistently in the high thirties as we entered September, the fear of our current routine continuing for yet another month began to set in.
Two months is doable, three is pushing it.