Good Bye, Flava
The story of my dog.
Flava, with her dog tag literally
Did I mention, I used to live in Ireland.
The first one and a half years in Tramore, Co.Waterford, close to the beach.
In summer 1998 we moved into a derelict farmhouse in Kilmacow, Co. Kilkenny.
Well, they kept telling me, it has potential. Translation: It’s a ruin.
Now, that we were living in a big house in the country I needed a dog.
A German friend of mine is a veterinarian. He called me a few days, after we started moving. He was called to put down a dog, and I was looking for one, so I should come and have a look.
I had a look and took her with me. She was a black Labrador/Greyhound mix. Not pretty but gentle and young. She seemed to be nice to children and my kids were still Toddlers at 3 and 1 1/2 years…
She didn’t know a lead, she behaved like I was going to kill her. But after two days she got the hang of it.
I called her Flava. The golden one.
Well, she was mostly black, but her character was golden, indeed. I would say, she couldn’t hurt a fly, but those were the only animals, which she actually would hunt.
The kids could do anything with her, pull her lip and ears and she very gently let them go on.
Flava was very thin as I brought her home. I fed her and she seemed to fill out.
But her milk lines were very large as I got her, but Dirk, our vet, couldn’t feel any puppies.
Two weeks later, on 26. August 98 she had a litter of 5 huge pups. Another job for Dirk, he had to come and put four of them down, as it is very difficult to find homes for bastards, especially, if the father is unknown.
One pup stayed with Flava, she got the name Nigra.
Nigra as a pup, with a stolen soother
Flava was treated very badly by her former owners. She was scared of sticks and loud voices.
Four days after bringing her home, I changed the radio station from my custumary Deutsche Welle to a local station, as I didn’t want to listen to the service. It was Sunday morning and time for the radio transmitted German mass…
Flava pricked her ears, heard English voices and left the kitchen. Even in those few days she prefered German. (Which of course she had to learn… With babies and animals one always speak the native tongue…)
Flava and Nigra accompanied me often to the beach. I remember one outing vividly, they had found a dead fish at the beach and eaten that. On the way back home Nigra brought it up again. The smell in the car was disgusting. Dead fish is bad as it is, but together with gastric acid? Yuck.
The only bright light on the horizon was, that at the time I drove a Land Rover Series II. No carpet, not gimmicks. So take the dogs out and put the water hose in and just wash the debris out. I never appreciated the vintage car more than on that occasion.
Flava and her pup Nigra at the beach in Tramore
As the seperation from the father of my children came, there was never a question as to the whereabouts of my dogs and cats. Our vet Dirk got the rabies vaccine in Dublin for them. As in Ireland there is no mandatory vaccination against rabies as it is in Germany, the vaccine wasn’t that easy to get.
But then Flava and Nigra got a fancy health certificate, which sadly noone even checked on our way through Wales and England.
Flying a kite with my son
Nigra, Flavas daughter sadly was a vagabound. She would go rambling about and be back a few hours later. Well, this was no problem in rural Ireland, but here in urban Germany it just isn’t done. So she ended a few times in the pound.
One summer day she left for one of her sojourns. But sadly her address capsule from the collar was left one week later in front of my door. A year later I met her with her new people, who overfed her… She was unbelievable fat.
At the beach near Wilhelmshaven, North Sea. With Nyssa and my children and a friend.
Flava mourned the company of her daughter, she seemed to age in front of my eyes.
But she still liked our trips with the car. She was always afraid to be left behind and made sure, she got into the car while I was still loading.
After I started geocaching she enjoyed the hikes while I went searching for stations and finals.
Caching in the snow at Wartburg, Thuringia
Close to home at a final location, together with Nyssa and her mother Asta
My children got older and less rough with her, but then there are my nephews. Three of them under 5. Oh joy, the next generation to pull her ears and lips.
Strangly she seemed to enjoy this rough treadment, noone forced her on the children, she chose to be with them. Do I detect a touch of masochism here?
Children may have many backdraws, life is hazardous for a dog. But then children tend to eat all the time and always drop things. So it is good to keep a close eye on the floor underneath the diningtable.
Flava also was able to speak a foreign language: cat. When petted she would growl. Cats purr, she couldn’t do this, so she would growl.
Also the cats had priority of her blanket. Was a cat on it, she wouldn’t go near it. Came a cat and lay beside her, she would curl up really small…
Flava was a quiet TB at events, always willing to come over and let you pet her. The last year 2009 she got old and frail and mostly I left her at home, when I went caching. Those outings became to much for her.
I don’t know excactly, how old Flava was. But judging from the birth of her first litter of pups in summer 98 I guess she must have been born around spring 1997. So with 12, nearly 13 years she just got too frail to live anymore.
Water was never her thing, even though there was a good bit of Labrador Retriever in her. She would avoid puddles, lick herself dry the moment she came inside and also lick the cats dry. On a rainy day, when the cats came inside, they would wait in front of her, till she licked them dry. She just didn’t like anything wet.
So rain and snow was never a favourite time for her.
Snow in the garden.
Black dog in white landscape
I will miss Flava, she kept me company through some pretty rough and upheaving times in my life.
I can’t count, how often a walk in the fields cleared my head and calmed me down, when the domestics were just to much. She gave me reason to get up in the morning, cause she needed a walk and a pee. But she also was an easy companion and no trouble with other dogs or people.
Just a really gentle dog, black coated but with a golden soul. Flava.
She died in the morning hours of 29th December 2009
In the garden, August 2009