We never really planned to have this many animals! Merlin was our dog in England and he travelled here with us in the back of the M3 when we arrived 4 years ago.
When we moved to the House of Oranges we had already acquired two kittens - Mog and Olive. Brother and sister, they settled into the wilderness that was the land like proverbial ducks to water. Tree climbing, leaf chasing and the occasional mouse. Collar-less until the fateful day that Mog caught a bird. Then on went the collar of shame, complete with jingly bells!
We decided that Merlin needed a friend. Because Merlin has such a great pedigree and is the most handsome German Shepherd, we knew his new partner in crime needed to be the complete antithesis and so Arthur came into our lives. His fur grows in patches, some of it long and curly, some of it smooth. His legs are short, but he can run for his toy like the wind. He has the most endearing face and I’m happy to say that everyone loves him!
So we were happy with the two dogs. We thought that would be it. Little did we know that our family was about to expand so much! about 3 weeks after moving into the house, a strange looking cat appeared on the doorstep. Battered and bruised and very nervous. We gave ‘it’ some food, shouted out on social media in case anyone had lost ‘it’, but no one came forward. ‘it’ found a warm spot on the sofa and stayed. Because ‘it’ was so nervous we weren’t able to tell whether ‘it’ was a he or a she, so ‘it’ was given the temporary name - Ladyboy (well it covered all bases at the time!). Ladyboy stayed, and so did the name. She is now an established member of the House of Orange family.
Next came Stanley the black cat. I firmly believe that everyone should own a black cat! Thought of as bad luck in many cultures, these beautiful creatures deserve a break! Stanley was found by a friend in the local village, hiding in the gutter at 3-4 weeks old. He was so tiny he could sit comfortably in the palm of my hand. He settled quickly and soon began giving Ladyboy the run around. He fell in love with the dogs, and them with him. Sometimes I wonder if he knows that he is a cat, as he is as comfortable doing dog things as he is cat things!
Next came our beautiful Alfred, sadly now he runs at the rainbow bridge. A stately gentleman, Andalucian Mastin, the size of a small donkey. He came into our lives and enriched it no end, and his short time with us was full of laughs. He was found wandering the mountains, no home and no family, and we didn’t think twice about making him part of ours. Stubborn as the mule he looked like, and with a comic voice that had us in stitches. Him and Merlin were never the best of friends, but in the end he was settled and happy. We still miss him now.
Nina the lady of the family came next. She had grown up at the House of Oranges, so when her previous owners could no longer keep her, it was a no-brainer that she come home. She’s a bin surfer. That dog will eat anything - and I mean anything! We have been advised to keep rubber gloves out of her reach, and I’m sorry to say that its a regular occasion for us to wake in the morning to find the contents of the bin have been scattered around the kitchen. Champion avocado scrumper, she manages to hide scraps around the land to save for a snack later! Shaped like a child’s drawing - fat body, spindly legs and a little head - we fondly call her ‘the ugly dog’!
Phew where am I up to? Jinx… Jinx is next. Our beautiful rescue cat from the streets of Salares. A tiny little cat, beaten, bruised and abused by every tom in the village. We couldn’t say no to fetching the cat box and bringing her home. Her tiny body had had a lifetime of abuse, 3-4 litters of kittens, all had perished because she wasn’t strong enough to carry them. We didn’t know whether she would survive, but we brought her home, fed and watered her and gave her the love she deserved. But survive she did, it took a few weeks for her body to adjust to regular food, sleep and comfort, but she now is the queen of the house, and we have never met such an affectionate little lady. She makes it difficult to do anything, constantly wanting to sit on your lap, or climb up to sit on a shoulder. She wont wander far, she knows her home is here.
Bentley the Miracle Boy came into our lives next. He was found in a bin along with 5 siblings at only two days old. We thought we would have a go at fostering! (hmmm that didn’t work out too well!). He looked just like a baby polar bear, eyes and ears closed and completely helpless. 3 weeks of sleepless nights, bottle feeds every two hours, but he pulled through. The other dogs and cats loved him, a little ball of blonde fluff. Then someone asked the fateful question - ‘when will he be ready for adoption?’ A feeling of complete panic and maternal instinct flooded through my veins, as I thought ‘no one will love him as much as we do’. We couldn’t do it, we couldn’t let him go. Sorry we said, but he’s staying here! 18 months on and he’s now a much bigger ball of fluff, and has his own special spot on the sofa!
So now to the latest (and apparently the last) additions to our family. Cinco and Zero the ginger twins. A gift for my 50th birthday - hence the names. Terrified, half feral cats that wouldn’t let us go near them for the first 3 months they were here! But patience and determination prevailed, and now they seem to be fully paid up members of the Spice/Harper House of Oranges family!