For many years in Spain, I edited and published a monthly English language features magazine. It was a great wee gig, it allowed me to be self-employed, to have no boss, and provided was a nice little income for many years. It was a job I could do from home, and it was doing the magazine that taught me how to write quickly and to meet deadlines. There’s nothing like an impending print date to concentrate a writer’s mind.
However, after the Spanish economy went down the toilet pan, it became harder and harder to keep the magazine going. It was free to readers, and funded exclusively by advertising, but with the problems in the Spanish economy, the magazine was no longer paying for itself and I took the decision to close it down. This happened as my partner Andy’s health had started to deteriorate, and he needed me to stay at home, so I didn’t return to work although I’d received a number of job offers in Spain. Financially things were tight for us, but looking after Andy was more important.
Every month, I used to publish photos from local animal rescue charities of dogs and cats which had been rescued as strays and which needed a good home. There is a huge problem with abandoned cats and dogs in Spain. In rural parts of the country it is sadly not uncommon to come across a dog which has been abandoned and left confused, sad and lonely to its own devices. And those are the lucky ones. Some in the Spanish hunting fraternity have been known to hang dogs they no longer want from trees. I informed everyone that the magazine was no longer being published, and no longer received details of poor doggies and cats who tug at the heartstrings.
Over a year later, I got up one morning and while making Andy a spot of breakfast, he told me about a vivid dream he’d had the night before. He’d dreamed that we had acquired a ginger coloured young male dog, with a rough coat, a wide head and short muzzle, and a curly tail. “It was such a vivid dream,” remarked Andy, “We called the dog Ginger, and we were living in Scotland. And Scotland was independent. It was very odd.”
Neither of us thought much of it, especially the independent Scotland bit, this happened a few years before the SNP won their landslide victory and the referendum became a reality. After breakfast I went and switched on the computer to check my emails. Out of the blue I’d been contacted by a local animal charity I’d not previously worked with, who had found the magazine contact details from an old copy of the magazine and hadn’t realised it had ceased publication over a year before. The email contained photos and details of four dogs which had been rescued just a few days earlier.
One of the pics was of a ginger coloured dog, with a wide head and a short muzzle, he looked just like the dog Andy had described in his dream. The dog had been rescued two days before from the banks of an irrigation canal near the town of Elx, just to the south west of Alicante. He’d been dumped there a few weeks previously, according to the local residents who had been leaving food out for him.
I pulled the photo up, and called Andy over to the computer without telling him what the photo was.
“That’s the dog!” he exclaimed. “How did you get that photo? Does the dog belong to someone we know and that’s why I dreamed about it?”
I told him what it was, that it was sheer coincidence and the dog was newly rescued and needed a good home. At the time we had another dog, an elderly bitch called Lottie who was the love of Andy’s life. She was pining for another dog we used to have, who had died a few months before.
“It’s a sign,” said Andy. “It’s not a coincidence. We need to get that dog.”
So I called up the doggy rescue people, explained that the magazine was no longer being published so unfortunately I was unable to help them with that, but that we were very interested in adopting the ginger coloured dog in the photo.
Within 24 hours, Ginger was with us, and he’s been a much loved part of the family ever since. He was in shocking condition when we got him, his spine and ribs were sticking out and he was severely malnourished. He’d been badly neglected for a long time. He didn’t have a name, so we called him Ginger. For the first few months we had to feed him extra and make sure he received extra care, but he’s a healthy animal, and was soon bouncing about full of the joys of doggy life.
Like many rescued dogs, he has “issues”. Ginger was clearly not properly socialised with other dogs when he was a puppy, and is nervous and can be aggressive around other dogs. He learned to tolerate our other dog, and never displayed aggression towards her. She died about a year later at the advanced age of 15, and since then Ginger has been noticeably more relaxed.
But he adores humans, even though some humans have clearly been cruel to him in the past, and apart from having to keep him away from other dogs, he’s the easiest dog to look after that we’ve ever had. He’s a real joy.
When Andy’s health deteriorated further, it became clear that we would have to return to Scotland. Andy is English, but I needed the support from my family and friends in order to continue looking after him at home, so we came back to Glasgow instead of returning to the south of England where his sister lives. She has health problems of her own. Naturally Ginger came with us.
Ginger took very quickly to life in Scotland. He loves the grass under his paws, the smells that the wet ground holds much better than the dry dust of southern Spain, and he loves that Scotland has a dog-friendly culture. In Spain people do not generally approach strange dogs, but Scotland is full of folk who love dogs and give the local doggies treats. Ginger is in his doggy element. He loves being a Scottish boy.
One part of the Ginger Dream has already come true. We have a dug called Ginger and we live with him in Scotland. Let’s make the other part of the dream come true too, so Ginger lives in an independent Scotland.