Bonnie’s Story – A Border Collie Goes to Live Abroad

It is a week since Bonnie died.  I have no idea why she got cancer but it is impossible to avoid wondering if something I did caused this change to happen in her body. In this Part Two of her story I will describe the good and the bad experiences that we had after moving. I don’t suppose I will ever know if the big change I put her through could have harmed her health but I do know she had many wonderful adventures and even just the fact of the fabulous weather meant that she was able to go places and do things that would not have been possible if we had stayed in Cornwall. 

Part Two  Bonnie Moves to Catalunya and the Mediterranean

The trip down south went very well. Blue found it tiring but Bonnie of course enjoyed the journey and the feeling of being in a pack on the move. We travelled with my friend Marta and stayed in hotels,stopping off for snacks in French cafes. It was a wonderful moment when we had a break and for the first time felt the warmth of Mediterranean sunshine amidst the scent of wild herbs

It certainly was different to suddenly have three dogs in our house. There were beds, water bowls and cosy corners all over the place and we had to create routines for eating and walking that made everyone happy.  I became the dog woman of Granollers.  I had worried that Blue would hate being in a busy town but actually she began to blossom here. She walked fairly slowly due to her arthritis but on the streets she had a good excuse for dawdling – the smells!  She loved sniffing all the corners, all the smells of other dogs and people. The warmth of that first winter immediately started healing her aches and pains and she got a new jaunty lease of life.
For an older dog I think that a town house is perfect.
People in the street were incredibly friendly and welcoming to us.

We all went to the mountains and the woods and to the beach and enjoyed lots of cafe stops with the dogs happily waiting under the tables for treats to drop down to their level.

Problems started gradually between Duna, the resident springer spaniel and Bonnie.
 Duna couldn’t cope with the new hierarchy and although Bonnie was submissive and avoiding conflict, skirting around the edges of Duna’s domain, it gradually turned nasty.   At first they played together but Duna occasionally would launch herself at Bonnie and fight, tooth and nail. What was amazing was how strong Bonnie was in her own defence. She found her teeth without a doubt. She always won these fights, sometimes having Duna on the floor, bleeding from her face and neck. Bonnie would always walk away at this point and then Duna…..would relaunch the attack.

How do you separate two fighting dogs? 

I searched the internet for advice and found one very useful piece of information that I want to pass on here.
If you try to separate two fighting dogs by holding their collars you will probably get bitten, by mistake, but seriously bitten sometimes to the bone. What you must do is grab the back legs of the aggressor – not the victim who you would make more vulnerable – lift them up and walk backwards as if you have a wheelbarrow. It absolutely works and they can’t reach you to bite. 

Bonnie was well trained and I could stop her fighting with a command but clearly I had to first remove Duna from the battlefield. Bonnie would then stop instantly.
We were all damaged in these struggles. I badly hurt both my hands and dislocated a finger. Bonnie became nervous of meeting other dogs, Duna sustained many wounds, and both Pep and I were bitten before we discovered the above method. Blue was able again to keep a distance from most of these problems but once I saw her go for Duna, nipping her back legs as Bonnie dealt with the front end.
It was a situation that couldn’t go on and we all went through a desperate time.  Duna spent more and more time on the lead and out on the patio.  Fights happened on the street, on the beach, in the woods, at home, in cafes, at the houses of friends. I became increasingly desperate to find a solution.

In spite of this we did have many happy adventures. Duna was unpredictable and sometimes left Bonnie alone for weeks. We went to Almeria in the camper van and impressed our neighbours by our ability to live in such a small space with two people and three dogs, two of whom had to be separate.
They all loved swimming in the warm Mediterranean sea. 

By May things were so bad between Duna and Bonnie that I took her and Blue away for a country break. We went to Sant Nicolau for the first time, a place I had found on the internet and all that interested me was that they welcomed dogs and we could rent a cottage for a week of peace

Blue was ailing by this time and in her doggy wisdom she had several lovely days before going into a rapid decline which meant I let her go while we were there. The vet came to the house and it was a peaceful and gentle death at the end of a long sunny day. The owners – now my friends – could not have been kinder and more helpful and so we were somehow led to the best ending in the best place.

Blue died in this magical place and is buried there under some apple trees, her presence marked by one of my sculptures, the Blue Dog. Bonnie loved to lie on the grassy patch when it regrew.

Bonnie and I were alone for the first time in our lives. The day after Blue died we went to Llança and shared a plate of steak and chips looking out over the sea – comforting each other

Then we went for a swim in one of the lovely coves. This was the day – sorry the photo is not good

It felt strange and exciting to be together alone in this new land, the beginning of something new. I thought it would last for so many more years

Later that summer we yet again made the journey back up through France, camping all the way to Calais and the tunnel. The two dogs were kept apart at all times

By this time we had decided to definitely find another home for Duna. I have to add that Duna was and is a beautiful dog and very loving when she is is not feeling passionate hatred. I knew it would be easier to find the best home in the UK, in the country with someone who was going to give her the outdoor life she deserved. We were so lucky to find exactly the right couple who fell in love with her days after we arrived and she now lives a blissful life. Her days are spent with the man who works on farms and gardens,  evenings are spent either fishing or walking with her new owners, and at night she is to be found lounging on the sofa or the bed, cossetted and adored by the woman. 

From that day in July when Duna was adopted by her new family, Bonnie’s happy and exciting life with us truly began. She became our be-by dog and accompanied us always wherever we went.
We spent the rest of the summer in Cornwall where she was queen of the cabaña where we stay.

In Part Three I will finish Bonnie’s tale of her life with us – till tomorrow

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4 thoughts on “Bonnie’s Story – A Border Collie Goes to Live Abroad

  1. I am reading this beautiful story and cannot wait to get to part III. Oh, Kate. You have chronicled it all so well! You should make a small book for yourself and fill it with the pictures and the story.

  2. Kate, I truly do not believe that a move to Catalunya would have harmed her health. If I think about everything Chuck went through before we got him, which is a pretty terrible story, and then flying him across the Atlantic, driving him around parts of the US and taking him sailing!?!??

    Sometimes cancer happens. It’s a bitch. Sometimes we have no idea why it happens, of the people I know who have gotten it, they lived normal healthy lives, but still, they are dead.

    Huge hugs, don’t beat yourself up, there’s nothing you did or could have done. She had a wonderful life, as you’re showing us with this beautiful story.

    Love the photos.

  3. Lovely to read and the photos are wonderful. It’s probably normal to wonder if you could or should have done anything differently but what you did was love her to bits and share your life with her, you can’t get any better than that.

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