As the sun sets on the end of the first week of a nation-wide lockdown, a white dog runs up and down the beach. And the whole of Spain wishes it could be that dog, or at least its owner.
While non-dog owners are forbidden from stretching their legs in the out-of-doors unless on their way to the pharmacy, the supermarket, or, I’ve recently learned, the tobacco shop, the new elite dog-owner class has permission to flout this rule every time Fido needs to do his business. The problem is some Fidos seem to need to do their business a little too often, or for too long. Some Fidos, it turns out, aren’t even real.
A couple days ago, one media outlet reported on the rise of the “fake” dog after a man was caught on camera “dragging a stuffed toy along by a leash.” This was not a solitary incident and has led to a revision of lockdown rules to specify that all dogs must be “live.”
Here in Bueu, the dogs running off-leash up and down the beach seem, at least from my vantage point at the top of the hill, alive. And free. So very free.
From eight o’clock in the morning until well after sunset I watch them run up and down the gold crescent of beach weaving in and out of the waves. I’ve never envied a dog so much in my life. In fact, as a staunch, card-carrying Cat Person, I’ve never envied dogs, and especially their owners, at all.
But that’s all changed. Every time I look out my window, they’re there, on that beach where I long to sink my toes in the sand. Dog owners, sometimes dressed in jogging gear, run up and down alongside their companions, obviously not hurrying them along to do their business. Sometimes other dog owners appear and they congregate in large circles, pooches delighted by the two-metre wide spaces, playing tug-of-war with strands of seaweed.
But, like all good things, this will likely end soon. Maybe it even ended tonight. The Guardia Civil has discovered the small road from the pizza-slice joint to the boardwalk and tonight I saw them lurking behind the white house on the corner, waiting. It didn’t take long before two joyful dog owners emerged from the beach, obviously refreshed from the sea spray’s positive ions and the seashell scavenging. I was too high up to hear what passed between them, but heads bowed visibly and doggie tails drooped.
Today the government announced they will extend the lockdown, if Spain’s lower house, the Congress of Deputies, approves. That means we are looking at another 20 days of wishing we were a dog, or had adopted that dog the locals call Whiskey who wanders from café to café seeking bits of jamón (dry-cured ham) and bread crusts. “The worst is yet to come,” warned the Prime Minister.