When Horchata Came to Stay


Winter arrived overnight. Balmy evenings, quickly replaced with shortened evenings and chilly breezes. Normal procedure after work is straightforward with a dog; whoever arrives home first, takes the girl out. Autumn temperatures allowed for longer walks around 11 at night. In winter, they were more or less halved.

Aneira’s night-time walk rarely takes her far from home. On some occasions, we’d go a little further, and maybe stop in a bar for a drink on the way home. This time we decided to go around the barrio (neighbourhood) in the opposite direction to what we normally do. Adventurous, I know.

Turning back to head home, there was something going on Fray Isidoro, one of the main streets in our barrio. Isidoro often reminds me of Dublin’s Camden Street on a Saturday: fruit out on stalls, locals buying newspapers and magazines from local kiosks, and locally owned businesses as far as the street stretched. Our route home had been blocked by what I can only think of was some sort of TV or film production doing some night shooting. It forced us in to going a longer way round, via a parallel street and the local hospital.

Aneira spotted her first. Across the street in front of the hospital’s car park, a tall, gangly, yet elegant dog was wandering up and down the street. We stopped what we were doing to keep an eye on her, hoping to see an owner come or for her to run off after someone.

Temporary home…

The only people in the vicinity were two girls, who appeared to be waiting for the bus, but not quite standing at the bus stop itself. I walked across to ask them if they owned the now nervous and lost-looking dog. They claimed to know nothing. Upon telling Siobhan, her mind was made up: either we wait for owner, or take her home for the night.

As adamant as Siobhan was, I remained nervous. Again, I had only been a dog owner for about half a year, and was still nervous of the fact of bringing home a dog straight off the street. Siobhan however, showed me what all her years of living around animals had done to her. For someone who gets in to a panic over cooking an egg, she was remarkably calm in this instance.

We brought her in to the living room, and offered some food and water. Despite giving her a separate bowl, she decided to eat from Aneira’s. All the while, the present Queen of the house was a bundle of confusion and nerves towards this long-legged being who was now taking the attention away from her.

All the while we began to wonder about our new guest. She looked as if she was part Galgo, or Spanish Greyhound – a breed often abused and left to die in the countryside. It soon became obvious that she was also in heat, so there was also the worry of what she may have been facing out on the street. All we could do was get her though the night, and hope that the vet could find a microchip in her the next morning.

Aneira was still a little overwhelmed at the situation, and was beginning to let her feelings known, loudly. Siobhan took our guest, now known as the leggy one in to the front room, while I went to our bedroom. Aneira stayed up most of the night, face pointed at the door, most definitely in the direction of where this new stranger was.

It felt as time was going slowly until the vet opened the next morning. Looking back now,

Aneira was never too far away…

how many days would it have taken for Aneira to accept that his was more permanent than temporary? We took both of them on a morning walk. Aneira was better around the leggy one outdoors, perhaps due to the fact she was now away from her food, toys and sofa.

As Siobhan turned to go to the vet, I tried to turn with Aneira to go home. This to Aneira could well have been the final separation, seeing as though her mummy was leaving with a different dog. She planted her rear on the ground, and acted as a dead weight. It took almost 20 minutes to get her home from a crossroad 5 minutes away.

Then came the news we were hoping for: Horchata had an owner. Thankfully, she had been micro chipped and registered to a rescue centre in Jaen, which was nearly 300 kilometres away. The vet then promised to continue making calls to find out who exactly had rescued or was fostering her from that centre, and told Siobhan to take her home for now.

Plans were now being made in the event of not finding an owner in time before we had to leave for work. We would leave both in separate rooms with food and water, as leaving them both together could well have become a nervous disaster zone. With the clock now ticking towards lunchtime, we were beginning to concede we may have to have another night of the same.

Just before 1pm, Siobhan’s phone went off. It was Horchata’s foster, who also had happened to live nearby. The next message to come informed us that he was downstairs at the door waiting. Taking a look at leggy one perhaps for the last time, Aneira said her

Ready to say goodbye…

goodbye, but not before her food bowl could be raided again. I still remember the look of relief in her foster, who was no older than us.

It was then that we then learned that Horchata escaped one evening, perhaps being spooked by local bangers in preparation for the holidays. With a grateful smile, he thanked us once again as he took Horchata away down the street. I wanted to tell him to thank Siobhan more than myself, but all he wanted to do was get her home.

To this day, we wonder how that fostering went, and whether or not the two of them are still together. Based on how happy he was to see her again, we certainly hope so.





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