Today I went for a walk through the narrow streets of Tinalhas and out on one of the maze of tracks that surround the village. We’ve only been living in Portugal a couple of months so we’re still getting used to it. Three wild dogs have just followed us home. One is a sandy coloured, fluffy puppy, the other is a small brown and white dog, blind in one eye and with a rough patch around the collar and a fat little bottom. They are both mongrels and although I have no idea what breed they are although there is a serving of terrier in them.
The winter sun is finally shining warmly, after a freezing night with no central heating, as I walk along the sandy track, olive groves to one side and a vineyard along the other, a grey stone abandoned farm house nestling peacefully in the distance. Fluffy puppy runs in and out the vines and up and down the wire fence to make friends with Milly, our black Alsation Labrador cross. Like the Pied Piper, Milly soon has a following and by the time we come to the little square with the church in the middle and washing strewn between two trees another couple of dogs have joined in. A small, grey woolly terrier appears who clearly feels the square is his territory and suddenly a fight ensues between the half blind dog and the wild-eyed terrier, the dogs growling and jumping on each other. We scarper up the road, the fight dies down and the grey terrier flees, the puppy having legged it back to its field.
That’s the thing about Portugal. In every village it seems there is a gang of stray dogs who look happy strutting around their own little patch in the sunshine, tails wagging, tongues hanging out, feeding off little dishes of food left out for them outside gates, but get closer and there are the inevitable patches of sore looking skin, clusters of ticks and lameness. The other thing about Portugal and dogs is that every house with a garden seems to have one and because they are always kept outdoors, the barking can be incessant.
We moved to Portugal with our two children and dog. We don’t have a garden, but a lovely village house we are renovating and the search is on for somewhere nearer Lisbon, with a garden and maybe even a field.
Meanwhile, we like it here and there are plenty of adventures to keep us busy.