• Living the Dream – 21. Moving On

    Moving on from Nero

    In my last post, I compressed ten days into a few paragraphs. For Margaret and I, those ten days felt like ten months. We are both still sad. We both miss Nero and we will never forget him. That, is as it should be.
    Every night, we listen to Nero’s assailant barking.
    That, is not, as it should be.
    I’m not going into the action that we are taking – but we have spent time with the police, the local authority and retained legal counsel.

    Bureaucracy

    In between vet visits, we got the ball rolling on a variety of ‘immigration admin’. The car is now registered – she got her Cypriot paperwork faster than we did. As an only slightly political aside – we had to pay duty. Bringing in our personal, duty paid, vehicle from an EU country, to another EU country, we had to pay duty. Frictionless eh?
    We started the process of getting our residence permit. Yes, we are EU citizens and therefore can exercise the right of freedom of movement etc…but actually, we can’t. For example, we need to take private health insurance, and we need to demonstrate that we won’t be a drain on the Cypriot state. Cypriot citizens don’t have to do that. We need to jump through several hoops to be permanent residents here. #justsayin

    Winter is coming

    The evenings are chilly up in the village now. In comparison with the UK, that’s nonsense. I’m sitting outside in the dark, typing away. It’s 16 degrees centigrade, so 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but it feels cold to us now. I’m still swimming every day, but long-term residents think I’m certifiable.

    Settling In

    Mags has done amazing work getting the house setup. Our furniture is in place, our clothes in the right wardrobes and the house feels more like a home every day – with one obvious exception.

    We both know there will be more dogs in our lives, but how and when – we don’t know that yet.

    Time to get on with #livingthedream

  • Living the Dream – 20. Nightmare

    London

    Mine is the easy nightmare. I had got to the airport, and killed time in departures. As the aircraft took off, I was waiting for a message indicating whether Nero had survived emergency surgery.
    We had adopted Nero at 12 weeks old, and shared our lives with him for 11 years.
    I lost signal before a message came.
    That felt a long, long flight.

    Cyprus

    On landing, I learned that he had survived, but was on the critical list, kept in a medical coma.
    Once home, Margaret relived her terrifying day. It was surreal. Hers was the real nightmare, one that she still relives regularly. Our dog lay dying in a country that suddenly felt entirely alien. Snatched from Margaret’s arms by a huge, snarling dog, at least part Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The attack was prolonged and ferocious. It had bitten and shaken Nero multiple times.
    The vet had operated to rescue his ruptured intestine. He told us to expect the worst. Day by day, Nero improved. The operation had been a success, and a powerful cocktail of antibiotics kept infection at bay. I spoke about it on 1857.

    Operation 2

    Then, things got worse. The antibiotics were, in fact, masking the progress of a voracious infection that was eating Nero up. There are photos, but ones that I cannot bring myself to post here.
    A second emergency operation was undertaken. Large chunks of infected flesh were cut away. Antibiotics were changed – it was decided that a simple protocol would be used – preventing any masking. Again, our boy was on the critical list. Again, each morning, he would stagger to his feet and wag his tail at the sound of our voices. The team at the vets marvelled at his strength and spirit.
    Nevertheless, the infection was unstoppable. Nero was being consumed bit by bit.

    The End

    On the tenth day after the attack, the team rolled the dice one last time. More flesh was going to be removed and an attempt made to graft muscle and flesh tissue around the dog. Nobody could give up while Nero fought on.
    However – the grafts proved impossible. It was clear to the vet that Nero could not survive. So, the decision was made not to wake him from this third operation and he slipped away an hour later.

    We had been crying for ten days, and we’re still crying now. Crying with grief. Crying with fury. A ten day nightmare.

    “#Livingthedream” had become one of the worst times of our lives.

     

  • Living the Dream – 19. Shattered

    It’s shattered. I finished the last post with the following reference to leaving Margaret alone just after our container arrived:

    “Predictably – the day after its arrival, I’m back to London for a brief business trip. Mags will face the mountain of boxes alone, at least for a couple of days. Unfortunate timing? Or excellent planning? Again. I’ll let you know next week.”

    I flew to London Thursday afternoon for a Friday conference. I was giving the last presentation. It went well. There followed an awards dinner, complete with cheerleaders and a stand-up comic. All great fun.

    On Saturday morning, I awoke early and through some sort of instinct checked my phone.

    “#livingthedream” shattered there and then.

    Mags was in the village square, screaming and sobbing, our beloved miniature schnauzer, Nero, bleeding at her feet.

    A dog, habitually chained up, had somehow been freed. It saw Mags and Nero and charged them. Instinctively, Mags scooped Nero up and tried to shield him from the attack. The aggressor snatched Nero from her arms and savaged him.

    Mags’ screams of terror had roused the village and the dog was pulled off. I called at this point. Mags called some local friends who whipped Nero to the vet and my wife home.

    I was due to leave from Heathrow at lunchtime and arrive home in the evening. Mags and I talked on the phone, exchanged messages. Physically, she was relatively unhurt, but I could hear the trauma in every word, sob and tear. Never have I felt so useless and so remote.

    The 12 hours between the voice mail (which you can listen to here – although it’s a very hard listen) and finally getting home are the longest that I have endured.

    So – to answer the question that I posed at the end of the last post – “unfortunate timing?”

    Definitely.

    Timing that will haunt me forever.

  • Living the Dream-17. What’s the hurry?

    What’s the hurry?

    Last week, we celebrated the arrival of a somewhat shaken, but not stirred, Nero; the real ruler of our household.
    This week, all three of us have been getting more settled and focused on designing our new lives.

    Windows

    A Cypriot friend organised for the ‘window man’ to come. He arrived, quoted, and promised to fit new locks to all of our windows on Tuesday evening.

    We gave our apologies to the quiz team and settled in to await his arrival. On Wednesday, we learned that regrettably, the required locks were not in stock, and would only be available in two weeks. I felt that this information would have been useful to us on the Tuesday evening…but hey.

    Doors

    Our bedroom door needs replacing. It’s a bespoke size. Fortunately, it was made by a fellow from the village. So I called around. Literally, I called. His ferocious hound threw itself at the gate repeatedly as, in the deepest voice I could muster, I called for its master. No response. However, his neighbour, a village elder, promised to let the ‘door-man’ know of our problem. It seems he’s retired from doors, but his son keeps his hand in on a part-time basis. We’re to await contact.

    Phones

    I recorded a podcast episode. It took around 18 hours to upload. I spoke to the Telecom people. They assured me, that on Tuesday or Wednesday, I would get a call, telling me that my broadband was now the best it could be. On Thursday, my phone rang as I walked to the first tee. In our pidgin English and Greek we thanked each other. In an hour, all would be done.
    The phone rang again on the 4th.
    “You are in the house?”
    “No. Should I be? I’ll be there this afternoon.”
    “We can’t do afternoon.”
    “Ah. Well, I’m at Customs at the Port tomorrow morning…”
    “Ok. We come Monday morning.”
    “Ah. Right. Thank you.”
    “Now. Your line no work. Ok. Bye”
    “But! But…” I was talking to myself.

    No phone, no broadband for a whole weekend!

    Hence, I find myself drafting this post on my phone, and uploading through my UK mobile account. So please excuse any typos and formatting errors. Fat finger syndrome.😁

    Friday, we’re off to customs and the insurance broker.

    Bet that’ll be fun…

    Still, I sunk a monster putt on the second.

    What’s the hurry?

  • Living the Dream – 16. Landed

    Yasu! We’ve landed.

    First Days

    On Saturday the 22nd of September 2018, we left home at 4 am and by a pleasingly symmetrical 4 pm we were at the house in Cyprus, our home for the foreseeable future.
    We are settling in; assessing the losses from the burglary, working out where our furniture is going be placed when it arrives and generally feeling our way in to the new life.
    Exciting isn’t it?
    Erm…well, hmmm…

    Feelings

    Curiously, neither of us knows quite how to feel. Margaret desperately wants to organise stuff, but is a bit snookered until our belongings arrive. We are beefing up home security and taking stock of all the things that need to be done around and about the house.

    Nero

    The arrival of Nero, who landed a couple of days ago, has impacted us both. Airlines regard pets as freight. If that’s the starting point, things are unlikely to go well. Two employees at Larnaca airport probably have no idea how close they were to very sudden blunt trauma injuries as they faffed about being bureaucratic halfwits. Fortunately, I resisted the temptation to punch anyone through a wall, and Mags, Nero and I are together at last. All of us needed a stiff drink.
    The stress of his arrival apart, Nero has given me a bit of rhythm. My day starts with his walk, as does my evening, when we meander around the village, greeting all and sundry. Thus far, our favourite restaurants have been welcoming of him, (on the terrace) bar one, who has had a customer go nuts at the sight of a dog. Neither Mags and I has been willing to leave him alone – not until he is a bit more settled. As I type this, on the terrace, he is dozing at my feet, looking for all the world, master of his territory.

    Perhaps, I’m settling in more than I think.

  • Living the Dream – 9. Nero

    Nero. The Easiest Decision.

    I wrote last week about the Hassle Hurricane and my coping strategy. The to-do lists are still growing but light is discernible at the end of the tunnel. One of our first decisions, which I have not covered in an earlier post, was our easiest. What to do with Nero.

    Nero is our miniature schnauzer, and there was absolutely no way that Mags and I were going anywhere without him.

    As there are no longer ferries to Cyprus, like us Nero need to travel to by air. Technically, he is cargo, but we don’t say that when he’s within earshot. Cargo costs are remarkably reasonable, however when the cargo is a beloved family pet, the ‘extras’ come thick and fast. Overall, Nero’s one-way travel will cost considerably more than two human return tickets.

    The little guy won’t be flying with us. In part, this is because we are flying at a weekend, and in part because I would rather not deal with lots of luggage and him at the same time. Wrangling the luggage to the car hire desk, and then to the hire car is bothersome enough, with a disoriented dog desperate to mark his territory, explore every nook and cranny of the airport and make everyone aware of his presence with a persistent bark.

    Reservation

    So he will spend a few days in kennels in England, where he will undergo his pre-flight medical checks and will fly to us on the Tuesday. (We fly the previous Saturday.)

    In my experience, dogs are sanguine creatures, and Nero will adapt easily to the flight, first enjoying the new sounds and smells, then opting for his usual coping mechanisms of a hearty bark, and then a good snooze. That knowledge won’t stop Mags and I worrying about him. If you have a dog – you know.

    Nero, always a puppy to us, is a senior citizen now. The vet predicts that the warmer weather will do his arthritis the world of good. Quite what he’ll make of the wildlife, I’ve no idea. Small lizards and snakes will be entirely new to him, I imagine.

    For Mags and I, the sight of Nero in the house will be significant, I think.

    Where Nero is, is home.