We are not a family in need of a dog. Yes, it’s true that we’ve always kind of wanted one, but we are certainly not at the point of going out and buying a puppy. In fact, we exercised remarkable restraint a few months ago when the half wild dogs on the beach had six cute little roly-poly puppies, and Rambo kept asking us if we wanted one.
Yesterday, though, as we were heading off for our morning time at the beach, we walked out our front gate to so much yelping I thought there must be a dog fight. It turned out to be just one dog, and not a very big one, at that. He was in the bushes next to our dirt road, and I assumed he must be upset because his owners had left him outside for a few minutes.
When we got back a couple of hours later, he was still there, although no longer yelping. Nobody on the street knew where he had come from. Tony coaxed him out from behind the car where he was hiding, and he was actually quite friendly. It was a warm day, so we gave him some water, since the puddle in the street he had been drinking from had dried up. Tony and I sat down to play with him, and think about what to do for him.
Ever since an incident with a rescued bat three years ago, Tony takes it upon himself to keep our house from becoming a menagerie. In Italy we did take in a dove after it had a run-in with the neighbor’s dog, which I successfully released a day or two later. And we found an errant turtle a few weeks ago, which lived on our porch for a couple of days, until our landlord gave us another one, and it got to be too many turtles on one little porch. But we’ve not done much rescuing otherwise.
There are plenty of animals in Tunisia in need of rescue. Stray cats abound. Feral dogs too, although they take care of themselves, and I’d be nervous to try to rescue one. In Yasmine Hammamet, where the fancy hotels are, you can walk down the street and see enough sad, mistreated camels, hawks, monkeys, and tiny fennec foxes to make your heart bleed. They’re not really a job for an amateur rescuer, though.
This poor little dog was a simpler matter. He was only a puppy really; dark brown with a cute white tummy, a snippet of white on his forehead, and four little white feet. One of his big ears was ever so slightly adorably droopy, giving him a perpetually vulnerable look. He was obviously lost, not feral, and was even wearing a collar, which we immediately examined for clues. It had a nifty little snap-on identity patch, which said “address on the other side” in Italian. Unfortunately, the other side was blank. Poor thing.
Tony wanted to just feed him on the street, but I voted for bringing him home. Our discussion was interrupted by a little elderly Italian tourist, who was obviously terrified of the puppy, and begged us to keep him away from her. That settled it. What could we do? We took him in and gave him chopped-up boiled eggs and leftover beef stew and couscous, since that was the closest thing we had to dog food in the house.
We were about to go out to the Medina for gelato, and I suggested we bring the puppy, since everyone who comes to Hammamet goes to the Medina. I thought there was at least a chance that his family might see him there, and we might preside over a happy reunion. However, things around the Medina are pretty dead at 8:00 p.m. during Ramadan, since everyone is home eating dinner. We were lucky to even find an open gelateria. The nice Italian woman who scooped our ice cream clucked over the puppy, and gave him a little ice cream cup full of water, and his own ice cream cone (sans gelato).
We left our phone number with her, the Italian restaurant around the corner from our house, and the main hotel in our area of town. Today we made a sign for the public entrance to the beach too. Rambo is on the case, although we suspect that he’s not so much interested in finding the puppy’s family as finding a buyer and making some cash off the poor lost puppy. We’ll watch for funny business. I’m sure the poor owners are frantic. We hope we’ll be able to find them.
In the meantime, he’s sleeping at the foot of my bed, all tuckered out from a morning playing at the beach. Since he’s presumably Italian, I’ve been calling him Luca, after my favorite Italian singer. We are not a family in need of a dog. But if the worst happens, and his own family can’t be found, I’m afraid we’ve completely lost our hearts to Luca.