One day I was out walking with Jakal, our guardian dog, clearing one of the many walk routes around Melanya from fallen trees and overgrowth and also marking the way as there are many tracks that cross the path. I’d heard a storm approaching but thought I had time so carried on but the rain began. I could see our garden but straight lining it was impossible because of the steep mountains so I phoned home to get the chickens brought inside as they’re a bit stupid and can catch a cold. The rain became pebble size hail and I tried to shelter under trees but got completely soaked and our dog refused to leave my side until I got home. So I decided to make a run for it, counting the gaps between lightning and thunder, 4 miles, 3 miles, 2… the last 200m was over an open field and just as I got inside the house a bolt of lightning hit the roof! All my vegetable leaves now have white spots and even the tomatoes have dimples!
A few days later we had a different drama when I was back out continuing my work on the same walk. I’d been out for 2 hours and the dog was behind me when he started yelping and holding his front paw up. I thought he’d trodden on a thorn but he wouldn’t let me look, not biting me but warning me he didn’t want an inspection. He tried to follow me but couldn’t put his foot down and it was obviously hurting him a lot as he gave up and sat down. I realised he was in a bad way so phoned Lee back at the house. “Jakal can’t walk and his leg has started to swell”, I said, “fancy a mountain rescue?” I’d been walking along mountain paths but knew I was near to a timber track so Lee drove as far as he could to meet me and was such a star as Jakal’s a heavy dog but he managed to carry him the 1k back to the Land Rover, over swollen streams and rocky paths. Lee the hero!
At the car we were so worried as the dog’s paw was now the size of a boxing glove and he was becoming lifeless and delirious so we put him in the back and I stayed with him to stop him being thrown about on the bumpy track. He seemed to respond to my touch and I kept telling him to ‘stay with me’ as we rushed him to town which was an hour drive away, during which I phoned around to try to find where to go as we’d never been to a vet before in Bulgaria. After trying several people who were unable to help, I called our local workman and he tried to explain how to find the surgery but I couldn’t understand the directions he gave in Bulgarian, so he got his friend’s son to meet us in town and we followed his car. Wow.
After a check up the vet agreed it was either a snake bite or scorpion sting and administered the anti-venom but said not to worry, it wasn’t a deadly one or the dog wouldn’t have made it! We also didn’t have any money on us but he said no rush for the payment. We found out he regularly comes to our village to see to the neighbours cows so he knew we lived a long drive away and returning would be difficult. He gave us the next shots needed at 3 day intervals and showed us how to inject our dog.
Unfortunately we now needed fuel to get the landy home so called another friend, who luckily was nearby in town, and he lent us the cash. We had enough to get some food too as Lee and I were starving and the poor dog had another bumpy journey back up into the mountains. What an episode but it wasn’t over. Ahead of us, in the distance, we could see a storm approaching. My 15 chickens! So another phone call and Ian & Ilse, current guests enjoying a romantic holiday at Melanya Mountain Retreat, managed to round them up and feed them as well for me. A big thank you to them.
Injecting the dog wasn’t easy but he’s fine now. Fully recovered but a bit more cautious and hopefully the biggest drama he’ll ever have. As he was following in my footsteps, the lesson we learnt here is always wear walking boots when off on mountain walking holidays!