Wednesday, July 22, 2009

‘Bye, Liz

I think we’ve lost the dog.

Every morning without fail, her cheerful, optimistic grin has met me at the door when I get up. This morning, silence greeted me. No whines, no wiggles of joy, no rushed clicking of nails on stone.

Usually I feed her before I feed Alex, then when he’s gone off to work I potter in the field – weeding here, cutting there, picking for an order if there’s one due – and scolding Lizzie when she rolls in the flat leaf parsley or pounces on a lizard in the chard. This morning I, alone, chased the goats out of the roses.

I called her, and when Zenon got up, I sent him out to scour the area, but silence met his calls as well.

Perhaps she ran off, though I don’t think so; she was happy here and seldom strayed far from the verandah. Perhaps someone nicked her, but I don’t think so; who’d want a silly yellow bitch with little brain but a sweet nature and a big smile? I heard hunters pass this morning – at least the yelping of a dog that I assumed to be a hunter’s woke me just as dawn was breaking – but she was no hunting dog, and I doubt very much that she got swept up by a passing pack of hounds.

No, I think that she took poison – or ate a poisoned animal, a rat or a bird – and crawled off somewhere to die a miserable death alone. Not that anywhere near here we have the plague that has carried off so many pets – a vindictive neighbour that doesn’t like barking, someone who’s fed up with cats turning out their garbage – who puts down Lanate-baited meat.

We put rat poison in the carob tree a month ago when Sophia , while cleaning her room, found a rat in her drawer. (Snakes usually provide adequate rat control outside – this is the first time we have used poison – but finding one in the house was a symptom of a situation out of control, and I took it to the local snake farm, but that’s another story), and some people in the area poison fruit to get rid of magpies (we shoot them), so I think that Lizzie ate a dead or dying animal. A cat won’t, and Stumpy was what I had in mind when we tacked the bait to the carob tree well out of reach of pets and children. But a dog is less discriminatory in what it eats, and my brother-in-law found Mili’s dog vomiting the other day and rushed her to the vet in time to save her. It didn’t occur to me to worry about Lizzie, and now regrets are too late.

She was with us only a short time, but she filled a space that now echoes.

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