Thursday, 10 January 2013
When Louisa Begg stumbled across a listless, starving dog and her four puppies, her life was set to change forever…
Written by Wendy Gomersall.We found Boomer and her four puppies hidden under tree roots in the middle of nowhere, at least 18 miles from the nearest town. My husband Kevin and I were out on a horse ride on the 6,500-acre family ranch in Argentina, where we live.
The pups were about a month old and in great health – fat, bright-eyed with plenty of life and just a few ticks. But their mum probably had just a few days to live. Almost a skeleton, with a bit of hair, covered in ticks and sores, she could barely stand. We felt she had given every last ounce of energy to her puppies.
We had no doubt she had been dumped when she was pregnant – most people here can’t afford to have their dogs neutered. There was little chance of finding where she came from, and even if we could have done they would not want her back. Although we had no idea of her history – she might have been aggressive – there was no way we could leave the dogs where they were.
We gathered up the puppies first. But the mother, whom we later called Boomer, could hardly walk and just collapsed in my arms. I picked her up and put her in the truck with her family to bring them home…
Coming from Britain, such an animal-loving country, I found it hard to comprehend how anyone could dump their dog under any circumstances. I was born in Hampshire and grew up in a lovely village. We always had cats and dogs and I spent my weekends at the local stables, so I was an animal lover from a very early age.
I met my husband when I came on holiday to Estancia Los Potreros in the heart of the Córdoba region of Argentina in 2005. Kevin, who’s Anglo- Argentinian, is a member of the Begg family who own the estancia.
I kept in touch after I went home; he came to visit me, we went on holiday – and after four days he proposed. Six weeks later I packed up my life in the UK and moved to Argentina.
Kevin’s definitely an animal lover, too – at the time we found Boomer we had three dogs, five cats and about 120 horses. Sadly, we had just lost a couple of dogs and had been looking around for a puppy, but none had ‘chosen us’. Kevin had said we should wait, and that our next dog would find us…
Once we got the little dog family home – we kept our own dogs away from them at first – we called the vet to come and see them. He prescribed something to treat the ticks and sores, and also gave Boomer a couple of injections to fight off any infections and diseases she might have had.
The vet said Boomer was two or three years old and of unknown parentage, possibly part Labrador, part sports dog and maybe part collie, which might be where she gets her two-coloured eyes from – one is blue, the other brown. The vet assured us there was nothing wrong with them, though, and that while the colouring was unusual, she could see perfectly well. When you look into Boomer’s eyes you feel like she is telling you her life story – they are so sad and soulful.
The vet’s bills came to about 700 pesos, around £100, which is significant by Argentine standards. We had Boomer vaccinated and spayed as soon as she was well enough. We decided that once the family was healthy, we would re-home Boomer and three of the puppies and keep one puppy for ourselves.
We found homes for the puppies among friends, then our regular painter fell for Boomer, so once she was strong enough, we put her in the truck and took her to his home in a village about 20 miles away.
The next morning we woke up, looked out of the window – and there was Boomer sitting on our lawn. She had escaped from the painter’s garden and made her way back up into the hills, a climb of about 1,000 metres, to us. It was remarkable she had found her way back and covered such a distance in a relatively short time.
We phoned the painter, who asked us to drop her at his brother’s house on the outskirts of Córdoba city, about 40 miles away, where he’d pick her up. The morning after we’d taken her there, we woke up to find Boomer sitting on the lawn again. When we looked out at her peering up at us, we knew we couldn’t part with her again. So that’s why we called her Boomerang – Boomer for short – we kept sending her away and she kept coming back.
She had decided her home was with us and we felt she had earned the right to stay. So we gave the puppy to the painter and kept Boomer with us, the only way we could guarantee a happy ending for her.
Boomer is the sweetest and gentlest of all of our dogs. She is also the most intelligent. She can be a little insecure, and when we come back from holidays, looks up at us as if to question why we left her. She is definitely a survivor, though, and will use her eyes and sweet looks to manipulate us into allowing her on the sofa.
Having spent so much of her life in hardship, Boomer now likes the finer things in life. During the day she curls up on the guest chairs on the veranda. We run an authentic estancia stay, where holidaymakers stay as part of our family and experience Argentine rural life, usually on horseback, with walks, photography and bird-watching.
Visitors are always struck by Boomer’s beautiful eyes, her gentle nature – and love of sofas.
For information on Estancia Los Potreros: 00 54 (0) 11 6091 2692, www.estancialospotreros.com
Daily tip from the lady archive
“A GRACEFUL walk is a great asset, for sometimes it can create an illusion of beauty where little exists.”The Lady. Pleasant Exercises for Grace. 2nd April 1931