Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Puppies For Sale

It’s a two-hour drive from home to puppy heaven, and I’m not too sure about the directions. My wife has the paper with some vague notes I’d got off the phone, but, hey! We’re here nonetheless. Press the buzzer! Open the gates! Conchi will be with us in a moment. She’s taking pictures of a clutch of baby cockers.
She welcomes us in, together with a pack of chattering briards. Hi, make yourself at home, I shan’t be long.
We bee-lined for the nursery.
The crèche was warm, damp and knee-deep in puppies. Well, it would have been if Conchi had opened up all the cages. In one, eight puppies were with their mother, a terrier. In others, the young ’uns were by themselves as their mothers were taking the waters outside. In a box on the floor, more puppies mewled and grunted as a matronly basset hound looked on fondly.
Conchi bustles in. she smiles and drops to the box where our puppies are. On your knees! On the floor!
I was assailed by a generous selection of juniors all either wagging anything that occurred to them, or if younger still, shyly mouthing an outstretched finger.
It’s such a delight to spend some time with puppies. This time, without guilt or remorse. These little chaps have cards, tattoos and pedigrees. I’m not going to argue the advantages here of a breed puppy over a tattered inmate from the pound. It takes all sorts. They all need loving.
A kitten watched gravely as I handled a puppy. Turn it over and see if it trusts you, someone said, so I did.
Outside, more young dogs in caged runs, with still others running free. A couple of Chihuahuas politely asked if they might nibble on something small as some doves landed on the roof of the nearby bungalow and cooed at the bedlam below. Out came the finger again.
We are sat in a comfortable office in a house with wooden floors and open windows just outside Elche, the town famous for its stone carving of a mysterious queen or goddess from ancient times. But this is canine country. Conchi Valenti, the owner of DaSilva, is a licenced breeder of a selection of different breeds of dogs. She grooms and kennels her extended family and sundry guests and she somehow still finds time to go on the show circuit. Everything is clean and ordered. She has help from her parents and a friend, as long as they follow her notes. She was off that very afternoon to the Azores in search of another silver cup for the collection on a sideboard in her office. Pictures of past champions are pinned to the wall and the phone buzzes regularly with questions, orders and advice from her extended listing of customers and acquaintances. The clatter and yelps of her wards echo through the window.
We are here to buy a puppy. We’ve chosen two (one of which…) and we’ve paid a deposit. We’ll be back when the litter is six weeks old.
(The New Entertainer July 2006)
... ...
Now, four years later, we found ourselves in the area and so we dropped by to visit with Conchi. Things are the same as before, except the sideboard of trophies that was in her office has become an entire wall.

DaSilva. Elche, Alicante. Phone 96 545 35 36. Conchi speaks Spanish and German.

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