‘I Went on Holiday – and Adopted a Stray Dog’

Photo by Martazmata/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by The Telegraph, November 3, 2017

We first spotted the stray dog on a beach on Mahé, an island in the Seychelles. My kids, then six and eight, were building giant sandcastles for the shore crabs, when he trotted over and watched them. The next day he appeared on the porch of our holiday villa.

My then-husband Farid and I assumed he was looking for food, but soon realised he just wanted company. He was a shy, submissive mongrel, about three years old, with orange, foxlike fur, big eyes and a long nose. We called him Chell – an old man’s name in our native Sweden and a nod to the country we were holidaying in – and after five or six days of him loitering nearby, we began to get attached.

Virtual Event

Pivoting Back to Travel, The Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Edition

2020 put the nuptial plans of thousands upon thousands of couples on hold, but with the promise of widespread vaccine distribution in the near future, it’s time to get back to planning and ensure your clients live out the destination weddings & honeymoons of their dreams. Hear from top suppliers and destinations on wedding venue & ceremony options, romantic destinations & resorts and more when you watch the event on-demand.

We made enquiries online: was there somewhere that could take him in? Finally, after several calls to the only shelter on the island, we met Olga, a 19-year-old local with five stray dogs and a heart of gold, who agreed to adopt him.

Chell had only been with us a week, but when Olga arrived and tried to move him from our porch to her car, he refused, making himself heavy. Eventually we managed it and watched sadly as they drove off.

‘Will we ever see Chell again?’ my elder daughter asked, crying. ‘I guess not,’ I said, not wanting to sugarcoat it. But months later, Olga phoned us to say she was moving abroad to study and would we like to adopt Chell ourselves? ‘Let’s find out if it’s possible,’ I said. She warned that it would be complicated – something that soon proved to be a wild understatement. 

First, we had to send Chell’s blood samples to a veterinary laboratory in South Africa (there aren’t any in the Seychelles) to test for rabies, and then we got him vaccinated against it and sent off more samples. Next, there were endless reams of documentation from local vets, and even from the department of agriculture.

With a busy career as a news anchor and writer, I could barely find the time and it fell to Farid, who filled in every form with endless patience. Six months – and about £1,500 – later, our application was approved and he flew from our home in Stockholm to the Seychelles with a dog cage the size of a small apartment to bring Chell home. I’ll never forget the October day Chell arrived.

It was cold, unlike the tropical Seychelles, and he was afraid of most things: climbing the stairs, our other dog Kerstin (a grumpy female border terrier) – he even seemed afraid of himself. He’d start to play, then stop abruptly, the rush of happy emotions frightening him. This was perhaps most heartbreaking of all: a dog who couldn’t play. 

Months later, the weather turned wintry and we let Chell into the yard to see his first snow. By now he had gained confidence and had almost doubled in size to a healthy weight. Holding our breath, we watched as he lifted his paws carefully, nervous at first. Then, all of a sudden, Chell began ploughing the snowy lawn with his nose, jumping around happily.

At that moment I realised he was going to be OK. Two years on, Chell is a beloved member of the family. He now climbs the stairs without fear, gets on with Kerstin and is impeccably behaved, aside from his habit of chewing the kids’ stuffed toys. Sometimes it strikes me what luck we had – not just us, not just Chell, but all of us, that we found each other on that beach. One should always be happy to find love. 

Asa Avdic is a journalist and writer. Her debut novel, ‘The Dying Game’, is out now (£7.99, Penguin Random House)

 

This article was from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

Related Articles

Doggy Day Care: The London Hotel Offering Spa Treatments for Dogs and Their Owners

Pet Travel: Four Essentials for the Holidays

Jet Set Pets

Traveling Pets: Canine Couture

Suggested Articles:

Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong has announced the completion of the first phase of its top-to-bottom renovation. Read more here.

Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection will be a nature-inspired luxury retreat in the Hudson Valley. It’s slated to open in fall 2022.

Shangri-La Group will develop a luxury hotel just north of the Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Kyoto. Learn more here.