by Arabella McIntyre-Brown
My house is in the mountains near Brasov, at the edge of a village. Next-door’s dog Papi spends much of his time chez moi because I feed him and don’t hit him. He is fiercely protective, and knows the difference between friendly strangers (canine and human) and those with bad intentions. Papi’s lucky to be free-range – many village dogs are on chains.
Strange dogs pass by, some needing a meal; but they eat and go. When a small black scruffball turned up on my doorstep two years ago, and wouldn’t leave, I couldn’t ignore him, no matter how much my cat Buster screamed and spat in outrage. It was a golden, warm November when the black scruff arrived, and I had no problems leaving him outside, feeding him in the sunshine.
But the snow came early, and the puppy’s fur trapped snow so that his paws and face were weighed down by balls of ice. I let him move in, to the cats’ utter disgust, and he leapt straight onto the sofa. He was discouraged from the furniture, but took possession of the hearth rug. But it showed that he’d been someone’s house pet. I reckoned that he was a city-dweller’s pet as he was relaxed in the house, didn’t bother the cats, was fine with a collar and lead in town, and happy in the car.
He wasn’t microchipped, though, so we couldn’t trace his owner. So the challenge was to find him a new home. I have the wrong lifestyle to keep a dog, so despite his charms he wasn’t destined to stay here. He got a name: Pita (acronym for Pain In The Arse), and settled in; he was a sweet character, unaggressive, cute and clever.. I badgered friends in Romania to help, with no success; but my cousin Vicki saw his photo on Facebook and claimed him as her own. Slight problem – Vicki lives in London. Air travel and professional pet transport people were hideously expensive, but a friend put me in touch with Eli Pet Transport, a Romanian/UK charity that takes a vanload of strays every week to be rehomed in the UK. Brilliant.
Pita was snipped, chipped, vaccinated, boosted and passported by my vet, Cosmin Dobas, and was booked in with Eli Pet Transport for 5th January.
We all had a jolly festive time chasing snowballs and frolicking; but on 1st January, Pita vanished. Despite the best efforts of my friends Sergiu and Gabriela to help me find Pita, it was like he’d never existed. I gave the grim news to Vicki, and told Claudia at Eli. A bleak start to 2016. It was between -15C and -20C in January – surely Pita couldn’t survive out there alone… (cue cliffhanger music).
I’ve now turned Pita’s story into a children’s book. I’ve made myself a Romanian family with fictional neighbours, but fictional Floss is 100% real-life Pita – and yes, there is a happy ending. It’s a Christmas story.
Pita was the inspiration for “Floss the lost puppy”, Arabella McIntyre-Brown’s latest book. Read more about this here.