Once upon a time not so very long ago, there was a little chap called Rasta Man. Actually his name wasn’t Rasta at the time. I do believe he had no name. One cold and rainy winter evening I opened my front door. It was time to let the cat in. But instead of the cat I discovered an emaciated soaking wet bundle of white fur trembling on the door mat. And eyes gazing up at me as though to say “Please don’t turn me away – please don’t beat me”. Have you ever melted on the spot? Like a sticky gooey slab of butter? Well I did. We looked at each other, I stretched out my hand and my eyes answered “Don’t worry my friend, no-one will hurt you here”.
He was light as a feather – surprisingly so for a dog that size. Guess that’s what happens when you have nothing to eat. He didn’t bite, nip or wriggle. I think he was relieved at the warmth of my body as I scooped him up and brought him inside. That night I cooked a big casserole of everything I could find in the fridge, and searched in my cupboard for an old mat that was big enough for him to sleep on.
It Was the Beginning of Our Friendship.
When Rasta starting coming around a friend couldn’t understand why I fed him and let him into my home. She would shoo him away and say “I hate the way he always shivers and cringes like a coward and begs for food”.
I sat her down for a chat: “If you had been beaten your whole life, kicked by every passer by, lived on the streets in the cold and the rain, how do you think you would be? What does it cost me if I give him a warm place to stay at night, and food in his belly? Will it harm me if I stroke him and kiss him and bring some joy and a ray of sunshine into to his life? We have an OBLIGATION to help animals that come to our doorstep – we make them live on our terms, in our society, and when we are bored we abandon them”. She looked at me and understood.
Every evening after work I would find him waiting for me, dancing and prancing in the road. He would run upstairs, eat and fall asleep on his mat next to me by the sofa. Through the night he happily chased rabbits and sheep, mumbling and grumbling and giving tiny little barks as he dreamed (do dogs dream?). And in the morning I would let him out to play. As the months passed he put on weight, became less afraid and you could see he was gaining confidence. Thank goodness he and my cat got on very well.
By spring Rasta stopped sleeping in the house. Many a night he would roam the neighbourhood with other strays – old habits die hard. These dogs move in packs and they often have fierce fights. One Monday morning at about a quarter to seven, I woke suddenly. There was furious barking in the road under my house and then a howl and a scream. I jumped up, ran to the door and found Rasta outside. He had dragged himself up the stairs and was bleeding heavily. The pack had savaged him. One of his shoulders was ripped, a whole piece of flesh was missing and the leader had sunk her teeth into his jugular vein. It was too early to call the vet – I held him as he bled for 2 hours – and waited. The clock struck 9, I called, threw him into the car and drove to the clinic. His life was saved.
Miracles Do Happen.
Something strange and wonderful happened. During the last days of his time in Santorini, Rasta would visit less and less. But whenever he turned up, I saw that he was looking fine – which lead me to believe that perhaps he had found a more permanent home. During good weather I always sit with my front door open, especially at the weekends. One Saturday afternoon I was drinking coffee with a friend, when he appeared in the doorway, a huge smile on his face, his whole body wiggling, shoulders going one way and bottom going the other, his tail wagging madly. He came to get his hug, I put him his bowl of food, and he lay down and shut his eyes for 10 minutes. Then he jumped up, saluted me once more and left.
Three days later I got the call from the vet. She told me a family staying in a nearby hotel had befriended Rasta during their summer holiday and would I mind terribly if they adopted him and took him back to Holland. Would I mind? It was what I was hoping for. I knew I could never offer the home he deserved. I realised he had come to say thank you and goodbye.
I never saw him again.
Rasta Goes to Holland.
Steven, his wife and 3 children live in the northern part of Holland. The house is in the countryside near a forest. Steven is a work-at-home dental advisor – he suffers from multiple sclerosis. Other household members include a horse, a pony, cats, free range chickens, Mozes the Dobermann and Garlic the Jack Russell.
Flying Rasta to Holland proved more complicated than expected. So the whole family went back after their holiday and Steven booked yet another ticket back to Santorini to collect the new addition to the family.
Rasta Goes to France.
At Steven’s house everyone gets to go on holiday – which is as it should be. Summer in France – could life get better?
I believe that things happened the way they were meant to happen. Rasta was meant to turn up on my doorstep. I was meant to help him through the winter, meant to help him survive. I was meant to be around when he was attacked so that I could take him to the vet. I was the way to keep him in the area, so that he could meet Steven and his family. But I was just a stepping stone in his journey. He was never meant to stay with me. I believe things happen for a reason, at the time we don’t know why, and then after a while it all makes sense.
Rasta is home at last
All the photos in this post were taken in Holland and France by Steven. He also sent a specially narrated video of Rasta (now Scooby) with background music in his new found dog’s paradise. Unfortunately it was too large to upload.