Jasper, the Portuguese Water Dog
This is Jasper.
Jasper is the latest addition to our family. He was 4-years-old when we rescued him from a dog shelter near Lisbon in March 2019.
His story is that his previous owner had passed away and so he needed to be re-homed. He grew up in an apartment block, which is a very different lifestyle to the one he lives now!
Jasper is a cheeky, highly intelligent, and playful dog. He is quickly learning English and teaching my parents Portuguese.
He’s very much a people kind of dog, not a dog-dog. He absolutely adores my parents, and gives them both hugs. This is something I’ve only seen really intelligent animals do.
Jasper gets a lot of attention from the Portuguese, as they recognise he is a Portuguese Water Dog.
Barmy, the Tabby Cat
She adopted us. We had no choice in the matter. After coming back to Portugal in the Spring of 2018, a tabby cat had decided our house was hers and there was no getting rid of her.
Barmy started off her life as a boy cat. I know, right? I figured that ‘he’ was so handsome that he just couldn’t be a girl. My parents had their suspicions, but after several hours of Google image searching for ‘male and female cat bums’, we were still none the wiser.
It wasn’t until Barmy suddenly had three kittens that we knew for sure that ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’.
Barmy went missing for a whole day, which was very unusual as she normally spent every waking moment at the house. I was having visions of her being hit by a car or her deciding that she loved someone else’s cat food more than ours.
That turned out to not be the case. I was up by the old collapsed bread oven one morning when I heard some kitten-like mewing. I knew immediately what was up and called over to my Mum:
‘Mum, Barmy’s a girl and she’s had kittens in the bread oven.’
So Barmy had three very cute kittens inside the collapsed bread oven. We realised what fools we had been: for falling for a stray cat in need, for failing to realise that ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’, and that ‘she’ was indeed pregnant. I honestly thought she had just eaten too many birds.
We put a ladder at the side of the bread oven and I climbed up with an old towel for warmth, food, and a small bowl of water. Barmy didn’t mind me being there one bit, she actually wanted to show me her kittens.
Once the kittens were old enough to open their eyes and were crawling around, Barmy carried them down to us. Poppy, our Border Collie, was in love. She was like a surrogate mother to them, she kept guard, and followed them around as they clumsily explored the house.
With the help of our local vets, we had the kittens homed once they were old enough. We insisted that they went to proper homes with responsible owners. Then we had Barmy spayed as the cat population in Portugal is out of control – it also meant no more surprises!
Barmy has been our resident cat ever since.
In Memory of…
Scrappy, the Cocker Spaniel (2006-2019)
This is Scrappy.
He was naughty, disobedient, and he never listened (except for when food was involved). He was a working Cocker Spaniel and was about 5-years-old when we started making trips to Portugal.
Before our home in Portugal, we used to live on a farm that had sheep. If Scrappy ever disappeared then you could guarantee you would find him in the field eating sheep poop. He developed a bad case of gingivitis from this and had to have an operation – so he lived most of his life with only five teeth.
But he’s a true working cocker spaniel. He’ll retrieve anything you want or don’t want, including balls, rabbits, and cats.
Scrappy loved Portugal and the Portuguese loved him. Every time we would go out on a walk, people would stop us to pet him (but not Poppy, poor girl).
His favourite past times included eating sheep poop, chasing and barking at cats, and jumping up and down. Scrappy would regularly run around the house perimeter on ‘cat-alert’.
We had to regularly groom Scrappy and keep his hair short because it tangled so easily. Dad would make him look like a little lion, with a thick mane and furry tail. I dug through my photos of Scrappy and this was the best one I could find of him with his lion haircut:
We lost the Little Lion Man when he was about 14-years-old. He developed a form of cancer that was not treatable and was clearly in a lot of pain.
Poppy, the Border Collie (2004-2019)
This is Poppy. She was the exact opposite of Scrappy – she was very intelligent, obedient, and loyal.
She joined our family when she was just four months old. We adopted her from a dog rescue in Wales, UK. Her first home didn’t quite understand how much work bringing up a puppy can be, and so they gave her to the dog rescue.
She was about 8-years-old when she started making trips to Portugal and back. She’s the most loyal dog I have ever known. She’d do a back flip for you if she knew how.
Her favourite past times included chasing sheep, howling like a wolf and trying to jump into the swimming pool. She also enjoys barking at pigeons.
A Story about Poppy
A lot of the Portuguese didn’t tend to like Poppy as they have a thing against black dogs, we haven’t worked out why yet. But there is one person who absolutely loved her.
There is a shepherd who tends to sheep at a field near our house. One day when the sheep were in the street and being herded to the next field Poppy was nearby. She saw the sheep and the sheep saw her. She went into Border Collie Sheep-Herding-Mode and they bolted down the streets, running amongst the cars
We thought that the shepherd would’ve been angry, but he couldn’t contain his laughter. Now, every time Poppy goes for a walk along the road the shepherd stops and gives her lots of strokes.
After Scrappy passed away whilst we were in the UK in the winter, Poppy was noticeably depressed and really lost her spark. We thought long and hard about getting another dog to keep her company. But when we arrived back to Portugal in the Spring of 2018, a stray tabby cat adopted us.
Scrappy had always chased away cats, but Poppy was ambivalent. She grew attached to the cat, which we named Barmy (there’s a story there) and Poppy was beside herself when she suddenly had three kittens (so were we!). Poppy was like a surrogate mother to the kittens and would follow them around to make sure they didn’t get into any trouble. It gave her a whole new lease of life, and it was amazing to see her spark again.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to our dear Poppy when she was fifteen years old. Her back legs finally gave out and she had several health issues, so it was the right time to say goodbye.
Poppy and Scrappy were the two happiest dogs ever and are deeply missed.