Because of my accident, I have only 40% eyesight and no depth of field awareness so I am unable to drive. I walk everywhere. To my unutterable delight, my apartment is directly behind a Spar supermarket. It is a really great shop. It’s always clean and the shop assistants are friendly with ready smiles.
Perdita, my Wire-Haired Dachshund, is not allowed in the shop. She has become quite used to our shopping expeditions. I tie her to the shopping basket stand at the door. I then leave her there and proceed to do all my shopping. If I disappear down an aisle where she can’t see me for long, then Perdita begins to bark. Wherever I am in the shop, I shout out: “It’s okay, Perdita, I’m coming. Just wait!”
She mutters to herself and continues to stand and search. When she sees me she gives a joyful yelp and then sits quietly once more, her eyes never leaving me. The Spar security guard, Rita, has taken note of her distress when I disappear. She goes and stands with Perdita and speaks softly to her until I appear to collect her. Then she hands me her lead and we make our way home.
Recently I took Perdita outside to do her late night wee just before bed. She sniffled around the fence, did her wee and came running when I gave a small whistle. We went back inside, Perdita ahead of me. I locked the gate and the door behind me. Then I took Spencer, my cockatiel, through to the bedroom and shouted out to Perdita who was obviously eating her food in the lounge: “I’m just doing my face and teeth. I’m coming to bed in a moment.”
I did my face and teeth and went through to the lounge to check my doors were locked and switch off the lights. Perdita had obviously gone through to the bedroom. I closed the door behind my sliding gate and was about to switch off the light when a program on television caught my attention. I watched for about fifteen minutes then finally switched it off. I yawned as I got into bed. I was tired. I snuggled down to where Perdita normally was in my bed…and there was nothing! I shot up. “Perdita! Perdita, where are you?” No dog appeared. I put my Cochlear Implants back in so that my sound was restored and searched the flat. I have a small apartment so that didn’t take long!
No Perdita. Was I going mad? I thought back and I realised that I hadn’t seen her since she had run into my flat. Damn it! I realised that she had run ahead of me and straight out again through the sliding gate. Shytenhauzen, where the heck had she disappeared to? I went and stood in the dark garden and did her whistle. No response. I didn’t dare call her as it would wake up my flat mates. It was already ten past eleven. Perdita, please don’t do this, I thought. This was when I needed a car so badly. I needed to comb the streets and see if I could find her. It wasn’t safe for me to go “walkabout” in the pitch dark. Blast it! Then I saw that my neighbour Norene’s light was on. She was still awake. I phoned her and five minutes later we were both in her car heading into the night. We drove around the neighbourhood our eyes scanning every nook and cranny. No Perdita! We passed through the back of Spar, the corner where the dustbins are kept. All looked quiet. And then, mercifully, I saw her. The car’s headlight picked out this surprised dog picking at the rubbish. She had gone to collect all the little bits and pieces that were thrown out and collected by the rubbish van the next day. Perdita had obviously made a bee-line for all the lovely morsels of decaying food!
“Perdita!” My voice was low and deadly. She ran towards me but with her tail between her legs. Roughly I scooped her up and we drove home.
“Norene, I don’t know what I would have done without you. She could have been hit by a car. She could have been stolen. Thank you.” I was close to tears. We said good night as I let myself into my flat.
“You make so mad,” I fumed at Perdita. “How dare you go up to the Spar at this time? And by yourself!”
Perdita looked suitably ashamed. I was beside myself. “And don’t think that you are coming to sleep with me tonight. You can sleep in your basket in the study.” Slamming my door, I got into bed and yanked out my book. I hated sleeping by myself. I missed that warm body nestled into mine. “Blasted dog!” I muttered. Half an hour later I opened my door. Perdita, sitting directly outside, looked up at me. “All right, you can come in,” I growled. She flung herself at my bed in joyful abandon. Lying there with Perdita in my arms, I thought of those Mothers who had lost their children and never found them. I thought of those two hundred Nigerian school girls held captive since the 14th April. I cannot even imagine what those parents are going through. Are their daughters alive? Have they been raped? Where are they sleeping? Why can’t we find them and bring them home? I thought of Madeleine McCann’s mother. Her child has been missing for seven years. How do all these parents ever manage to fall asleep? Not to know whether your child is alive or dead! The anguish and despair they must go through is unthinkable. Perdita was missing for about an hour! I felt ashamed of my histrionics! I kissed Perdita’s head softly. I went to sleep as normal with Perdita tucked into my stomach snoring gently.
The next morning, needing some milk, Perdita and I made our way to the Spar. We passed the turn off to the dustbins and she did not even look in that direction. Good dog, I thought. At the door we were greeted by Rita, “I’ll tie her up for you.”
I handed Rita Perdita’s lead as I went in to do my shopping.
Yep, I love Spar. Laugh, and as far as Perdita is concerned: THAT SPAR IS HER SPAR!