Wednesday

So, we have a dog now.

Yup, a dog.



I guess it was inevitable really; we had dogs before we came here. Even so I would like to say that it was not my idea.

Let’s back track a little.

*cue whimsical harp music*
*maybe add a washout effect to transition between the scenes*

“Honey, I know he’s cute. I know he needs love, but we have 2 cats. What I am saying is that we have enough animal already.” I said with as much authority as I could muster.

“But he looks like a cross between Iggy and Abe”  (our previous dogs) My wife, unfairly playing the emotional card, thereby insinuating that by not adopting this guy we were abandoning the memory of our long lost buddies.

“But we have two cats and live in a 2 bedroom apartment”

“We lived in a two bedroom town house with Ig, Abe and Max (our cat)” she replied, cunningly reminding me that we have had more than 2 animals before.

“Yes, but if ever we move back to Australia it is going to cost us a fortune to get them back there. I am talking PACKETS of cash” fighting a rear-guard action, it was all I had.

“Yes, but if we had children it would be way more expensive than a couple of cages and a plane ticket” replied my bride, which I took to be ‘We adopt this dog, or we are having babies’.

With that veiled threat I retreated.

And then we went to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was ace, and will be coming along in another post – it’s full of happy folk, awesome curries, mountains, Buddhas  and… dogs.

Everywhere.

It seemed that each house had a happy looking mutt in front of it. I mentioned this to George, our driver extraordinaire and he said “Oh no, they are not pet dogs, they are stray dogs”

Confused I asked from the back seat of the van: “but they look fat and happy, not like stray dogs at all”

“Yes” said George “because they are usually fed by the house they are sitting in front of, the house owners also look after them if they get injured”

“So, they aren’t really stray, people own them” I pressed on, George looked at in the rear view mirror (and somehow deftly missed 5 tuk-tuks and a bus) “No, they are stray dogs, no-one owns them”



The point of this diversion? Every other dog we saw looked like the dog that had popped up on facebook via a local animal advocacy group ‘Animal Action – Abu Dhabi’.

All of a sudden everywhere we looked a rusty coloured dog leered back at us, tongue lolling and whispering “Take me home”.

At least I think they were whispering, although might have been the delicious Sri Lankan beer.

On returning to the UAE, we both checked the Animal Action site, albeit independently, and without knowledge of what each of us were furtively doing.

Each day Rusty (the name that was ultimately chosen by a friend, although we didn’t know it at the time) would stare back at us from depths of cyber space.

The breaking point came one day via the animal channel.

I work from home and while I don’t often have the TV on, I thought I’d have a lunch and telly break.
“Oh Animal ER… that’ll be interesting and uplifting” said I, as I settled down to eat my omelette.

WRONG!.

It was an episode that had one animal that had eaten rat poison, the footage was rounded out by extensive filming of the distraught and grieving owner begging the Doc to do everything that could be done.

With my food half eaten I, misguidedly, thought I’d hang in there for the following show - ‘Last chance highway’- A lovely show about beaten and unwanted animals being loaded on to a large air conditioned trailer then driven across the states to their new loving homes.

I endured the show, and seeing all those lovely animals find a home, to not be thrown out as rubbish brought up a whole bunch of stuff regarding our own animals back in Australia.

I am NOT going to get all melodramatic here.

After such self imposed flagellation I moved to the computer and send an email to the most divisive person  in the world, recommending that if she found herself at home it would be wise NOT to watch such shows if she intended to continue having a good day.

My wife is divisive (not just because of this incident, but it adds to my ongoing case) because she responded with this photo, that a third party had put up on a local auction web-site.



The perpetrator of such emotional violence had added an entire spiel to the Auction site about how Rusty had been abused and abandoned, and that even though his guardians had treated him badly, he missed them anyway. The reader was then asked, in desperate fashion, with that photo staring balefully at them -  “Who will look after me?”.

What chance did I have?


Whoever wrote it should consider writing propaganda leaflets for any organisation that required such a service.

Straw.

Camel’s back.

Broken.

After sending a ‘Thanks for that’ email to my cruel and victorious wife, I contacted the kind folk that had been looking after him up until that time, to arrange a meeting with the skinny guy.

The rest is history, as 2 days later we had a new addition to our family.

He is still coming to terms with the fact that there is nothing he can do in the entire world that is ‘wrong’. There’s plenty that he can do to get extra scratches behind the ear, and belly rubs, but nothing that will have him kicked or beaten ever again.

When we answer the oft asked question “Why is he so skinny?” with all the reasons why it is amazing the dog is alive at all let alone skinny, people’s first response is usually along the lines of how lucky Rusty is.

It’s been 2 weeks now, and I can say without reserve that we, by any measure, are the lucky ones. So very lucky. He is a good dog now, in spite of the way he has been treated in the past (he is still getting used to the idea that human feet aren’t for kicking) and with some gentle care will become a great dog.

We’d forgotten the joy of a dog. Our cats are fine. They seem to have larger personalities than the cats we have had in the past, and my Cat “moose” behaves like he is part dog, but both of the cats still retain that that aloof attitude reserved for our feline friends.

Rusty (the dog) on the other hand is so besotted by us, he is obviously happy to see us when we come in from being out of the house, and simply wants to be allowed to be by our side.

It’s the fundamental difference between dogs and cats.

Dogs want us around, cats want to be fed – loosely speaking.

I’ve often commented that the main difference between domestic cats and dogs can be summed up in a simple analogy – in this instance I’ll use our animals for the example.

If, I was living alone, and dropped dead in my living room - preferably with a Shakespearean flourish, and additional dramatization. Maybe knocking some stuff off the coffee table, hopefully even dragging the TV off the wall before unfurling my mortal coil .

Regardless of the manner of my demise, let’s just assume I’ve croaked and in the middle of the lounge room floor – if that were to happen (and I sincerely hope it doesn’t for many years yet) but IF it were to happen…

…Rusty would probably sit quietly next to me. Guarding my lifeless body, until he himself succumbed and followed me to the after world, where we could play ball and he could roll in whatever he wanted to.

… the cats on the other hand would have started eating me by noon the second day. Probably lamenting that I hadn’t been thoughtful enough to peg out in the shower, because then there would be no clothes to work around.

So, welcome Rusty-dog to the Abudhabilist fold – I am sure he’s going to be the source of a stack of writing material.

If you live in Abu Dhabi or the UAE there are plenty of facebook animal groups and websites you can join, but I suggest the following.

Animal Action - Abu Dhabi (facebook group)
BVC - British Veterinary Clinic Abu Dhabi (facebook group)
SAD - Strays of Abu Dhabi (facebook group)
Feline Friends - Abu Dhabi (facebook group)

Anyone who wants me to add their animal based group or website to this list, just let me know and I'll add it immediately.

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Andrew Webber is a writer, living in Abu Dhabi with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

His first book "Erasure" was published in June 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Prequel to Erasure, "Broken".

In 2016 Erasure was a prize winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize - part of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

For more information click the "Erasure" book cover on the left side of this site, or simply go to www.athwebber.com

Thanks for visiting.