16th of June 2010
The other day, as Giuseppe, Valentino and I were getting ready to leave for our daily bike ride, I was perched on my bike, one foot on the ground and one foot on a pedal, waiting at the electronic gates of our yard for Giuseppe to ready Valentino in the toddler seat of his bike.
Laika, one of our dogs, appeared from between the rubbish bins behind our shop. Laika has been with the family for seven years, since she was a pup. She is a mix of breeds: black wavy fur and in my opinion, has the face of a Labrador, with soulful eyes and gentle expressions.
The first time I saw Laika was a photo that Giuseppe sent me over the internet, before we had met. She was sitting, curled up in a blue bucket and looked very cute indeed. Giuseppe spoke of her often, telling me all about her gentle nature and how she quickly learnt how to stay within the yard when the gates were open or not enter the house even though his parents often leave the back door to the shop wide open all day, to access the bins and storage rooms.
Our decision to bring our dog Lupa, the Jack Russell terrier, from Australia was largely based on the fact that Laika is extremely gentle and intelligent. The idea that Lupa would learn the rules of the house quickly by having Laika as her ‘mentor’ helped to convince us that we were making the right decision.
And it was. Lupa seems to have matured a year within a few months and she found a friend in Laika.
They would walk daily through Valle, the local nature park, with Giuseppe’s brother Ettore and Laika would almost always return drenched from a swim in the lake and rivers.
Coming out from in between the bins, she seemed to stumble and I noticed one of her back feed was not flat on the ground, as she ambled awkwardly and slumped down again to rest. She had withstood being hit by a car about six weeks ago, but this affected her front leg which was now almost healed.
She had been to the vet again a few days ago for an eye infection, but this also seemed irrelevant to her present condition. I pointed out her weary state to Giuseppe, who grimaced and shook his head. “I don’t know” he sighed, “Poor Laikina”. And we reluctantly wheeled out of the yard and the gates closed behind us.
“Laika è morta” Ettore lit a cigarette and stared at the empty yard as we pedaled back up the driveway and halted to a stop.
“Where is she?” I asked quietly. We stored the bikes away.
“I don’t want to ask,” Giuseppe answered, and we went inside.
We passed Lupa on the way in, who, despite her earlier successful lessons from Laika, attempted to come inside the house a handful of times that night.
We supposed she was looking for her friend.