Today is Rosies 6 month birthday, I guess it's about time I introduced her properly.
It was last year when I set off on my travels that I realised how much I wanted a dog of my own. Almost every van I came across had a pooch or two living in it, having spent 6 months getting to know and falling in love with many of them and there stories I knew I wanted a best friend to call my own. Combined with the amount of strays I saw while traveling through Spain and Portugal, I felt confident I was at a stage in my life that I could give a dog a better life than living on the street. I knew heading back to Portugal this time around, with the festival season behind me, that it was the right time to adopt.
I was so excited that I had already started researching dog shelters in Portugal before I had even arrived, while researching I found out a lot of the shelters where full, Facebook pages in all different areas of Portugal were being set up to help with the over flow of strays and abandoned puppies. I checked daily as new posts about dogs and puppies that needed homes were constant. I set a date to join a group dog walking Day at a shelter, that same day a photo of Rosie and a quick description of her was posted to the Facebook group I was following. I instantly introduced myself to Belinda, the women who had raised Rosie so far, and explained her my story.
In the uk adopting a dog without an address is pretty impossible, I know that some view the way I live my life as irresponsible or irrational or just too far out the box, I had already received a couple of replies saying they wouldn't adopt to someone living in a van. I hoped more than anything that my message to Belinda would show her that this way of life is such a beautiful one for a dog. Being surrounded by other dogs to play and learn from, to be so social with humans and dogs from a young age, to live in nature where it's safe to roam and play, beautiful surroundings to walk in and explore mountains, rivers and beaches. I promised to love whichever dog chose me with all my heart, that they would come first when making future life choices, that I work from my home so my dog won't be locked up long hours while I'm away, that my back yard is an ever changing world to explore and I'm so ready for a companion to share it with.
I was so happy to receive a response from Belinda, she was warm and kind from the get go, she spent time writing me a lovely reply sharing Rosie's story with me;
"Hi Annie, thank you for your message. Sure, I don't see any problem with living in a van 🙂 It's just that she is being a pup still, so she is chewing on things at the moment, we are trying our best to teach her not to, but she hasn't learned that yet 😉 I'll tell you more about her story:
Since she was born, she is living in our garden with her mom, who came into our garden all skin and bones, half of april. We couldn't throw her on the street again, so we started feeding her to gain weight, and wanted to get her sterilized when she was stronger. But within 3 weeks, she managed to get pregnant while being in our garden... But we didn't notice before she gave birth, since we thought she was gaining weight because of all the food we gave.... But we did see the possible father, he's been around our garden for 2 days. So, on July 8th, we saw the mom had given birth at night, to 4 puppies, but sadly enough, only 1 was (still?) alive.
Mom and pup are checked by a vet, both dewormed and mom vaccinated, pup was too young to vaccinate at that moment.
Both are still living together in our garden (they have a kennel for shelter), because the 2 dogs we already have for 8 years, and mom don't get along. And 1 of our own dogs doesn't like the pup either. We are living on the 1st floor, and not much space to keep all 4 of them... And since a pup is more easy to get adopted, we decided to find her a new home, where she can get the attention and love she deserves 🙂
Please let me know if you have other questions 🙂
I later learned that Rosies mum is a black Ridgeback mix, I recently met 2 Ridgebacks at the beach, they were absolutely huge but Rosies mum, Roxy, Is a medium sized dog, around knee height. Her dad they believed to be a kooiker, a small spaniel type breed. This is where rosie gets her colour.
I instantly sent the photos of Rosie to my parents and my best friend Amy who's dog mad, I think then I knew I wanted her. Everyone I showed her photo to remarked on how big she looked, that she was going to grow massive. I love big dogs, anyone that has followed me on Instagram this last year will have seen my obsession with Bennie the Shepard and Portuguese mountain dog mix. Bennie is one of my main reasons for realising how much love could come from a dog but he also made me realise how small a big dog made my van feel. To make life the most comfortable for me and who ever my new dog was going to be, I had in mind that I would aim to adopt a medium to small dog.
That being said I still couldn't resist setting up a meeting to visit Rosie, even if she looked big I had to find out for myself. I was that excited I arranged to meet just a couple of days after first contacting Belinda. I arrived on a sunny day to Silves in the south of Portugal, a pin point on my google map as they lived in a quiet area with minimal neighbours. The moment I opened my door and looked up at the house I saw Rosie's little head pop through the second floor railings of the balcony, soon followed by the friendly faces of Belinda and her husband.
They invited me in and made me a cup of coffee. We took our drinks out to the balcony where I first met the now love of my life. She was TINY, nothing like her photos implied, the smallest, sweetest ball of joy. She ran straight for me, in my lap and started franctily licking my cleavage. Something she still does today! We played while I tried to hold a conversation and not get too distracted by how lovely she was.
I heard the words fall out of my mouth before I had really processed what I was saying "can I take her for a trial period" that was it, the moment I decided I wanted to be her best friend. The trial was for her sake, to make sure she didn't get car sick or hated van life, but if that all went well I knew there was no chance in hell that I could give her back, I couldn't even take my eyes of her after 10 minutes of knowing her.
I set off that morning thinking I was just dipping a toe in, she was just the first dog and she looked huge anyway, I didn't expect to be leaving with a puppy, but here I was discussing flee medication and food portion size. Carrying her few belongings into my van, her green bone, a towel, a green food bowl and a little orange collar. Before I knew it we were sat, just her and I on the floor of my van staring at each other.
I gave her some time to sniff around and get acquainted, I lay her towel so she would be comfortable for her first ever drive in Ivy (my van). At 3 months old Rosie had been living outside, hadn't walked on a lead or really driven in a car. She cried at first, we had an hour journey to get back to my stomping ground and introduce her to my friends but she soon settled and fell asleep for the rest of the ride.
I was almost as shocked as my friends when I turned up a few hours later with a puppy at the end of the lead I'd found washed up on a beach in Spain (a sign from the universe It was the right time, or so I like to believe.) That night she slept in my arms, I stared into her little face as I felt a world of emotions bubbling inside of me, I fell asleep happy and excited, scared and vulnerable, alive and overwhelmed. The next day when I woke up by the beach I wrote my first diary entry in months. I didn't realise how many emotions this tiny fury thing could awaken in me.
Now 3 months since meeting, on her 6 month birthday I feel all those same emotions and more, except I'm less scared, we're more connected and the teenage months are setting in, she's annoying, and funny, clumsy and super smart and I couldn't imagine my life without her.