A Rescue’s Tail: Off lead

Gradually it began to cool down. Afternoons of forty degrees were replaced with those in the high thirties, and you appreciated the difference. Daily routines remained the same however. You had to be up before a certain time to be productive, and you had to run the air con and the fan, and dismiss the inevitable spike in the forthcoming electricity bill. Afternoons involved either napping or sprawled on the couch. Some attempts were made at writing or preparing for the forthcoming academic year, but working in a warm room in front of a warm laptop made productivity in that department a little stagnant.

Aneira’s best friend that summer was our tiled floor. Between walks and eating, she would lie almost motionless on her side in one area of the living room. Movement for her between the hours of two and eight generally involved a stretch and a trudge to find another cold spot. Aneira’s coat is an odd one. From her head to mid-section, you could say she is shaggy. Her mane needs regular brushing, or else you are left with an unkempt mess. Her coat isn’t the longest by any means, but you could only imagine what such a fur coat meant for her given the temperatures at the time.

Seville has a river that is confused with a canal. The Guadalquivir is one of Spain’s longest and historic rivers. Connections to the new world were formed thanks to it, and nowadays it remains home to the city’s port, which in turn finds its way to the Mediterranean via Sanlúcar in Cádiz. The waterway that separates the old town from Triana in the west is often sold to tourists as the Guadalquivir itself, where in fact it is the port’s Canal. In recent years, this particular subsection of the Guadalquivir had become a hotspot due to redevelopment, with skaters, walkers, joggers, runners, and dog walkers now all jostling for room on its walkway.

We were cautious in the beginning letting her off lead. You could never help but notice the stories of people rescuing animals, only for them to run away in a moment of panic, or in to the path of an oncoming vehicle. The river (canal) bank became a safe, enclosed spot for us to let Aneira off to her own devices, provided we had some treats in our pocket. Like most summer activities, getting there early was key if you wanted to get there before the throngs.

Off lead, she rarely went too far away, which was a relief. The banks gave her plenty of room for exploration and a chance to be cheeky by scooping up as much discarded bread as possible, which was never good for our blood pressure due to the fear of some bread being poisoned to control the level of rodents.

Aneira has a rather unhealthy obsession with bread, which we link back to her previous family. Before she came in to our lives, we would notice the amount of people out for meals with dogs in tow. With bread being such a regular occurrence at the Spanish dinner table, we wonder did they just throw bread at her from an early age to keep her satisfied to make up for the lack of attention.

Our dog’s spatial awareness is clumsy at best. She could weave in to the path of a jogger for the sake of something that smelt interesting, forcing whoever walking her in to a hastily made apology. As the summer past and people began returning to work, the number of cyclists by her now ‘happy place’ had significantly risen. Despite there being a perfectly good cycle lane up at street level, many locals preferred to, annoyingly, take in the river that little bit closer on their morning commute.

This made her off lead adventures that little more risky, and there were times where we were more than lucky said cyclist was aware and ready to apply their brakes. One however, saw the bank as an opportunity to imagine he was in the Vuelta de España, and had no problem in voicing his opinion that Aneira shouldn’t be as free as she was.

A year or two previously, my confidence in speaking Spanish would have been so low that I would have just said sorry and hooked her back on her lead. This man, however, deserved a talking back to. He was your typical urban cycling enthusiast, dressed to the nines in lycra, complete with an aura of pig-headedness. This was his bank, and no one else’s.

I managed to grab Aneira, baiting her back with a chewy, meaty treat. I asked him what was wrong with the perfectly good cycle lane up by the street, and that this area was prioridad peatonal (pedestrianized zone) and that bici’s were not peatones. Being the person he was, he decided not to reply and continued on his way, shaking his head and insisting he was above us both. It felt good to stand my ground and defend our sometimes ditzy and clumsy little girl. I would have regretted had I not said anything.

The level of cyclists unfortunately refused to let up. It became evident that our summer strolls by the waterfront appeared to be drawing to an end. The time had come consider the dog park forty minutes away.

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