If you have followed my adventures for a while, you may know that I am the very proud guardian of a little pup called Willy, my adventure partner-in-crime,
William came into my life in January 2013. I was living close to Malaga on the Meditteranean coast in Andalucia, so I searched online for a dog rescue centre in the area. I intended to pay a visit to see if one of the rescue dogs spoke to my soul.
I came across the website of an agency who placed rescue dogs around Europe. As I scrolled through the screen of photos, one stood out in particular. A little rescue dog called William. With a cheeky smile and fluffy tail, right away, I knew he was meant for me.
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I went through the process of contacting the agency who gave me the details of the rescue centre an hour away. I rang to check if William was still available. They told me that they could bring him to me a week on Wednesday.
I know, I should have hesitated and asked to see him first, but I also knew he was meant for me. We planned to meet in the centre of my town in ten days when William would become all mine.
She put me in touch with the lady that fostered him, a kind soul who shared his story with me. He was rescued from a farmer in the countryside along with his mother and an identical brother they named Harry. William’s name made sense. They were named after the British Princes.
She told me that William had been very badly treated. He was skin and bones when he arrived to stay with her six months before. He would need help to build up his confidence, as he was terrified of humans and other dogs, but nothing a lot of love couldn’t solve.
The day arrived to met the rescue centre lady in town to collect William. As she picked him up from the back of the car, I was shocked at just how small he was. You see, Sally (my first dog) and I were mountain girls. We were born to roam. Would William be able to keep up with us? I wondered, with his little legs and all.
Once home, I tried to settle William, as I showed him to his bed, toys, and bowl. Right from the beginning, I realised that he suffered from intense anxiety which often played out as hyperactivity.
He was completely untrained when it came to his toilet business and had no sense of where he could go. Worse still, he jumped up on every surface. Indeed, on his second day, I found him stealing bacon directly from a pan on the hot stove. He’d climbed up on the chair, onto the table, and jumped across to steal a treat.
As I William-proofed the whole house and cleaned up numerous peewees and poops, I began to feel a little nervous, Did I have the experience needed to train this little boy or would it all be too much?
The next day, I called the foster carer to ask for her advice. Before I could say a word, she told me that he’d been adopted and brought back six times already. She was sorry she hadn’t told me before, but she really thought I was the person for him. Could I keep trying?
As I looked across at William, as he cocked his leg and peed, yet again on the side of the sofa, my heart melted. What a cruel world it had been for this little boy. I told her that, of course, I was going to keep him. I just needed a little advice and help.
The rehabilitation of William began. He soon learned that he had to poop outside although the control of his bladder would take a little longer. No more poops indoors felt like a massive stride forward, though.
I trained him to stay off the furniture, which he complied with as long as I was in the same room. Out of sight, out of mind, but he never managed to jump up on the stove again.
The main problem was his anxiety. He had to within inches of me at all times. One day, I had to take the rubbish to the bins a few minutes drive from my house. I lived in the mountains at that point and Spanish houses in the campo tend to have metal bars on the windows, not so much for security, but so you could leave all the windows open during the summer months when the heat was unbearable.
As I left the house to take the rubbish, I left the living room window open, not for one second thinking anything of it.
I got in the car and drove through my gates which I left open because I wasn’t going to be gone for more than ten minutes. Afte emptying my trash, I returned to the car to drive back.
As I made my way back home, I could see a small dot running down the middle of the road. The dot soon turned into William, howling his head off, as he ran towards me as fast as his little legs could carry him. So intense was his anxiety that he’d had to come to find me. He’d managed to climb up on the windowsill at home, squeeze through the bars, and out through the open gate.
I squealed to stop and opened the door, as he jumped in and flung himself at me. “You naughty little boy,” I shouted. “You could have got yourself killed,” all the time petting and reassuring him.
I decided to keep his given name, even though it was strange, as he really did suit being called William. He was soon given another name, one he still answers to, even to this day. “Naughty little boy!” I would bellow out, time and time again.
His behaviour improved each day. I remember the first time he played outside without me. After five minutes, he came running in, jumped up on my lap, put his little paws on my shoulders and tried to clean my face. At that point, after a month of exhausting work with him, my heart exploded open with love. Yes, this naughty little boy was mine. I’d come to love him just as much as Sally.
He drove me crazy in those first few weeks. Actually, make that the first year.
I need not have worried about his walking abilities, as his little legs can go on for miles. He can scale the side of a mountain like a goat and swim through rivers if needed. Ain’t no mountain high enough and he always has to lead. He’s a bit of an adventurer is our William. He’s his mama’s boy, for sure.
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After seven years, William is now a confident and content little dog. Everyone loves him. Yes, he still gives me cause to call him naughty little boy from time to time, but I can genuinely say that he is my greatest achievement. Forget the careers and the Caminos, the adventures and travels. Unconditionally loving Wiliam through his transformation from an anxious, hyperactive mess of a pup to a calm and confident dog with so much love to give, outstrips everything else that I’ve done in the last eight years.
Which is how William taught me that love is not conditional. Instead, love is a daily act of devotion which has the power to heal and transform.
Excerpt from my book, The Adventures Of A Wild Woman On The Camino De Santiago, my story of an adventure of a lifetime. Available to order now. Click the link below for details. Read the first chapters for free at The Adventures of a Wild Woman on the Camino de Santiago Sneak Peek
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.