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We have an addition to the family. I didn’t think I could ever be ecstatic about a dog. Well, almost ecstatic. Not as ecstatic as my wife.

We visited Linda Jean, animal rescuer, in Benidorm, while away for our Christmas break staying in nearby Albir. I wasn’t too enthusiastic - and less enthusiastic - when Jeanie, my wife, rang Linda Jean’s door bell. An immediate cacophony of barks, growls and scrabbles at doors confirmed that, as soon as the door opened, I was going to be eaten alive. Jeanie had seen a photograph of a small dog, Tilly, that she felt she could be interested in, having mistakenly re-homed lovely Sophie on leaving England for Spain.

As dogs poured out of the opened gateway, a huge one, with wolf like eyes, stared me full in the face and licked my hand, while a host of smaller dogs clustered around our feet. 

‘Don’t worry,’ said Linda Jean. ‘He’s my guard dog until you are welcomed in. Then he is the softest of them all.’

There were so many dogs, I fully expected to enter a morass of dog smell and dog poo. Not a hint of it. Although there were teens of dogs in the living room, it was all orderly and ordered. Dog baskets lined up around the room. Dogs sitting on every surface. I chose to sit on what appeared to be a vacant settee and was immediately inundated by dogs wanting to share my knee, wanting to lick, wanting to be petted. 

Subsequently, Linda Jean showed us the rest of her establishment. A separate pen for a new mother dog with nine puppies. Two separate pens for two families of puppies almost ready to be homed. A very large open enclosure where Linda Jean feeds her 23 cats. 

Meanwhile, Jeanie made a bee line for the settee, where Tilly was sitting quietly and rather timidly. She is a small brown dog, of undefined breed, but very pretty. A rescue dog, having been brought in after living on the street, foraging for what she could get. At that stage, pregnant. Her first visit to the vet confirmed that her puppies were dead and the placenta infected. She has clearly been very badly treated. Scared of people when they move, especially men. Trembling at the sound of any moving vehicle. 

Jeanie, having bonded with Tilly - she does like her belly to be scratched (the dog, not Jeanie) where she had the major operation - we agreed to offer Tilly a new home. This meant a hasty visit to a Chinese supermarket (they are all over the place in Spain) for dog bowl, lead, car harness, dog food, dog bed, grooming equipment.  

Picking Tilly up on the way home from Albir was a shade traumatic. For Linda Jean and for Tilly. A six page questionnaire was completed to confirm the adoption of the dog, a copy for us and a copy for Linda Jean. A dog passport was handed over to us, a donation towards rescue home running costs to Linda Jean. Linda Jean’s parting with Tilly was such sweet sorrow. A great deal of care has gone into the little dog’s recuperation. Tilly got into her dog harness. Was strapped into the car. And shook and trembled every one of the more than 100 kilometres home to Algorfa.

The journey was also traumatic for Jeanie. Half way home, she realised that she had left her handbag behind at Linda Jean’s house. The bag contained purse, wallet, mobile phone, bank cards, Spanish identification documents and driving licence, both our passports and all those other things ladies carry in voluminous bags. That involved a hasty return to Benidorm for Jeanie on Sunday after church. 

Tilly has settled much better than we could have expected. Now walking on the lead, rather than having to be dragged. She has been to the outside part of a local restaurant where she settled under the table as we ate. She has been down to the hotel and met Kata and Katalina while we had drinks on the balcony. She was welcomed into the Chandelier Showbar and fussed over by the owners. She has shopped inside the pet supermarket in Torrevieja. And she has had rides in both cars without trembling. She now knows where our upstairs bedroom is and enjoys stealing slippers from the bedside. She is eating well - including carefully taking treats from the hand - but so far, no dog poo. That needs to be kept an eye on.

So the three of us are settling in. Tilly becoming more confident with us but still very nervous of strangers.

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