It’s not fair! In the beginning I thought, it might be fun to stay at a boarding kennel to see plenty other dogs in Phalabora west of the South Africa’s Kruger National Park, till my humans return from their safari. But no, I hadn’t expected THIS!
There was Tony, the Spitz. His fur was white as snow and fluffy. He had a shiny black wet nose. Other than that there was something seriously wrong with him as he was jumping up and down on one spot, barking hysterically in a high-pitched voice. He was obviously totally out of his mind.
Dan, a big Dane next to my cage sat apathetically there with his droopy eyes staring blankly into space only to wake up twice a day to eat his food. On the other side of my cage lived Gypsy, a mixed breed of about my size, who hadn’t lost his senses yet, he assured to me thoughtfully. Only because of him I started to figure, that this wasn’t only a dog-boarding kennel, but also an animal shelter for abandoned dogs. He explained to me, that he wasn’t there for holidays like me, but probably till he would die, if nobody would show up for him to take him home. I was in a dog shelter! Jeeeez, how terrible!
All dogs had their own cage of about ten by three meters, a concrete floor and a wooden deck to lie on. The other dogs didn’t own a nice soft dog bed like me with a sleeping bag to roll myself in during the chilly nights. Gypsy didn’t care, as he was a tough street dog, used to any hardship. Helena, a small Pincher lady was shivering and clapping her teeth the whole night till Geeny, the guard, a gentle girl with skin as brown as milk chocolate and curly hair, felt pity and convinced the manager to give her a place to sleep in the office.
“Vlou, I know, you are only here for a couple of days. But as you are a smart Beagle, can’t you help me to escape?” “How should I do that, Gypsy? I’d love to help you, but I don’t see any possibility. Look at the fences and the concrete floor. No ways, you get out of here!” “That’s right, Vlou, but you don’t know yet that we get to stretch our legs once a day in the backyard for a couple of hours. There is also a fence, but not attached to the ground and you will see, the ground only consists of dirt. If we make them believe that we are big buddies, they let us out together and won’t watch us longer than a few minutes to make sure we are getting along well as they have plenty other work to do. Then you can make out the spot with the smoothest soil, as you’ve got the famous sensitive Beagle nose to discover that, hè? My nose is only good enough to find scraps along the way, but not for this kind of masterpiece. We’ll have sufficient time to dig a hole under the fence, where we can push through. We’ll make it, as you have much bigger paws than I to dig within short time, before anybody notices, hè? Oh yes! We’ll make it buddy, hè? Come, please, let’s do it! I can’t wait to get back to my street and I really need to get back to my girl!”
I watched the other dogs, which had already lost any hope. All the spirit had left their body a long time ago. “Alright then, I’ll try to help you! I don’t want that you’ll lose it like these other poor guys,” I added sadly. Unfortunately they let me out alone without Gypsy that afternoon. Nevertheless I managed to explore the soil in minuscule detail to be able to point out the best spot for the digging action. “Jeeez, Vlou, I just hope they let us out together tomorrow, hè bru! How is it, did you find the best way for our escape route, hè?” I’d just returned to my cage as Gypsy was asking me impatiently about my observations. “It won’t be a problem, if there doesn’t popup any unexpected rock under the soil, Gypsy. Relax! The only thing you should worry about is how you want to convince Geeny to let us out into the backyard together tomorrow!” “I thought about that, when you were out there, Vlou. You know, human girls are normally very romantic. So lets just play, as we love each other and sit close together against the fence, when she returns, hè? “ “There is just one little mistake in your plan, Gypsy. I’m also a guy like you and I’m surely not gay, Hè! You have to come up with a better idea, Hè!” (I got a bit annoyed of his street slang, repeating always “Hè” …). “Oh, mmmmh, yes … let’s see.” Gipsy was scratching himself with his hind leg behind his ear. “Alright, I got it! You don’t eat your foot this evening and tomorrow morning and play the homesick poor little Beagle, hè? That won’t be to difficult for you with your face, haha!” “Haaaaa-haaaaa!” I answered half-heartedly. “Yes, then they will let us out together, so I can lift up your mood. I saw, that Geeny does that also with other dogs.”
And so it happened as predicted, that Geeny was touched by my miserable appearance and let Gypsy and me out into the backyard together the next afternoon. As soon as she turned around the corner I started to dig and Gypsy stayed as watch guard next to the gate. Not even a quarter of an hour I needed to manage a big enough hole to squeeze us through into liberty. I’d never seen such a bright smile on a dog before as the one on Gypsy’s face, when he thanked me passionately on the other side of the fence. “Let’s get out of here, Gypsy! Fast, I already heard steps coming this way!” We ran as fast as two bullets around the corner only hearing a fading call far back: “Vlou! Gypsy! Come back!!!” Geeny screamed in a high voice. Shame, she must have felt bad, but that didn’t bother us.
“Vlou, I thank you so much, hè! You saved my life, hè! I’m back home on the street, where I belong and where I was born. I know how to make my living and don’t need any humans.” Carefully he licked Delia, a handsome lady, who was nursing Gypsy’s cubs. “Oh, that’s why you wanted to get out of the shelter as fast as possible,” I assumed, smiling. “Yes, these little varmints mean the world to me,” he said with a tremble in his voice. I stayed with the happy family in their shack for the night. Not used to sleeping on a bare floor and eating just scraps I dreamed to get back to my humans, who will bring me a big bone from their safari. Oh, I miss them so much. “Vlou, what’s up, hè? You look terrible, hè,” Gypsy asked concerned. He’d just gotten up and saw me watching in the direction we had come from. “I need to go back and find my humans, Gypsy. I love them. I can’t stay with you guys.” Gypsy looked thoughtfully and said: “Look, Vlou. I’ve never had humans, who were nice to me, hè. But I see, you are suffering, hè. You did more for me as I could have hoped.” “Thanks for your understanding, Gypsy. I need to go back to the dog shelter.”
I wished Gypsy farewell and all the best for his family, which was still sleeping soundly, huddled together in a paper box. I left in a fierce trot to cover as many kilometres as possible to reach the dog shelter before dawn. They hadn’t fixed the hole of our escape yet, so I went back into the backyard of the dog shelter as easily as I had gotten out. As the gate went open, I saw my humans coming in to fetch me. I couldn’t believe the luck, which made my heart jump from happiness. I almost had to weep like a girl, when Marcelle hugged me. And yes, as soon as I got into the car to drive home, she gave me a huge fresh bone. Good choice to go back, I thought, gnawing away in bliss.