We begrudgingly gave up on mushroom foraging and headed back towards the car. Our friends Jacky and Menno had found a small handful of purple mushrooms, but the outing was pretty much a bust. Mojito didn’t care, he loved running around in the woods and exploring.
We were not that far from where the cars were parked, so I whistled for Mojito. He had been ahead of us on the path, but seemed to have veered off on some adventure. Nothing. I whistled again. Still no Mojito – but I heard a strange noise, almost a whimpering of sorts, which made no sense.
Heading back down the track, I saw Mojito to the side of an old abandoned stone farmhouse. He was looking down at something, and was so mesmerized that he ignored me completely. Most unusual.
I went towards him and peered into what was a stone-walled courtyard. To my utter surprise, I saw innumerable puppy faces looking up at me!
There were 11 puppies. Eleven! A few were dark brown and black, had flatter faces with unruly hair, and reminded me of Chewbacca – in a tiny, adorable, puppy-licious way. The other half were light brown verging on blonde, with muzzles dipped in black and big, light eyes. None were afraid of humans, and they did not seem underfed.
We played with them for a few minutes, and headed home. Our hope was that it was a wild litter, and we had stumbled upon them right when the mother was out hunting (spot the optimists).
The return visit(s)
Unwilling to leave the puppies’ fate up to chance, Jacky, Francois and I went back two days later with food and water. The puppies were right where we left them, and ravenous. Still no mother. We drove away once again, with the promise of going back the next day.
By the time our third visit came around, I had called the kennel in Guarda and knew we could bring in the litter at any time before 5pm. We had a few boxes in our two cars, more dog food and water, and a few towels in case any of the puppies had accidents during the drive to town (none did).
There were only 10 puppies there to welcome us, but bread and cereal in a corner suggested other visitors had come by and likely adopted one. So, we piled the ten puppies into our cars, and headed to town.
To adopt or not to adopt
Francois had almost taken home one of the puppies the first time we came across them. I sort of wanted to adopt them all, but thought it wiser to pass on even taking one home. In the car, one of the blonde-ish puppies started crying, so I took her (as it turned out) on my lap to comfort her. When I tried to put her down to pick up another crying puppy, she had wrapped her paws around my arm and wouldn’t let go!
That was the end of me.
Of the 11 puppies, the one disappeared before we mounted our rescue mission, one was adopted by a friend, and we took one home.
We decided to call our newest member of the Cramooz Tribe Castanha, which means “chestnut” (the fruit and the color) in Portuguese.
Mojito took a few days to warm up to her, and initially jumped whenever she got too close. Then he realized she – unlike his friends the cat, the donkey, the chickens, or the goats – liked playing as much as and in the same way as he did! Bingo.
Francois was smitten from the get-go.
I tried to be on the fence and critical, because Mojito was so smart and funny that I couldn’t believe we would luck out twice in a row. I lasted a few days. Then, this little bundle of mischief won me over.
From being feisty and fierce, Castanha has slowly softened around the edges – now when she fights with Mojito, she doesn’t try to bite him where it hurts (she used to go for his lips and balls, no joke). If you go to pet her, her default isn’t to show her teeth, but she melts into it and often rolls onto her back so you can give her a proper belly rub.
Castanha is still very vocal, and almost sings whenever she wants to get our attention – for food, to go outside, or if she thinks we’re ignoring the fact that the water bowl is empty.
She’s also very different from Mojito – she doesn’t suffer from any FOMO whatsoever. She’s independent, happy to explore on her own or stay at the tiny house (aka Chateau Cramooz) while we go feed the donkeys or drive into town to run errands. She’s also growing at the speed of light, and has gone from fitting in both my hands when we first got her to being two-thirds of Mojito’s size… in a mere 6 weeks!
We suspect Castanha will make a wonderful guard dog, and be a lifelong playmate (and partner in mischief) to Mojito. We love how fierce yet cuddly she is, and look forward to many of you meeting her when you come for a visit!