Getting plastered on a Saturday night*

* Hat tip to Bruvver Eccles for the title, from Twitter last night:

Twitter conversation late last night when I was discharged from hospital.

Twitter conversation late last night when I was discharged from hospital.

It is my normal custom to check the donkeys at the last moment before I retire to bed. I make sure they have enough water for the night – particularly in this hot weather – and everything is secure and safe for them on the field. I usually take a torch but last night I forgot it.  I could have done with the torch last night: for within five minutes of arriving on the field I was dripping blood from a wounded right arm and phoning the police for assistance.

The house nextdoor - a traditional Spanish farmhouse ruined by an oversized satellite dish and English headbangers

The house nextdoor – a traditional Spanish farmhouse ruined by an oversized satellite dish and English headbangers

Some weeks ago my neighbour in the house nextdoor moved back to England and I waited – somewhat anxiously – to see what kind of people would move in when the house was rented out again. After three days of the new “neighbours” who arrived on Thursday, I have the answer to that question: headbangers.

The house has been rented to some young English people who are accompanied by others in several cars and I understand from a local source that one of these vehicles has been seen outside an English bar known to be a drugs bar.  From the very first day, my main concern was the treatment of a very neurotic and out-of-control dog. The man who appeared to be its owner was hitting it full on with a broom, then in another incident holding it down and punching it in the head. This was distressing to see. Finally, I summed up the courage, stood on my balcony – which overlooks their garden – and complained that enough is enough!  That was the first day.  Things did not improve, so I spoke to my landlord, who owns both properties, and he said he would come around today and speak to them. Unfortunately things moved on more quickly…

The low wall at the entrance to the donkey field

The low wall at the entrance to the donkey field

Last night – with the new neighbours out for their Saturday night on the town – I was left with their ceaselessly barking dog for several hours.  Barking at me through the fence.  Little did I know that their fence gate had not been properly secured.  It is a very short distance from that house to the donkey field and Aitana was standing near the low wall by the water tank when the dog arrived to attack.

I was checking the far end of the field and saying goodnight to Matilde, Rubí and Morris, who were all sitting down under the lemon tree. I stroked Matilde’s ears and Morris was snoring nearby. The sudden commotion of the dog attacking Aitana sent me racing across the field and all I could think of was protecting my donkey: the olive twig that I quickly snapped off a tree was hardly more use than a feather as a weapon!

As Aitana fled, I stood between the dog and the donkey and swatted the beast across the head with my silly twig. The fact that I had no torch was crucial: I could have dazzled the dog.  Instead I felt his fangs sink into my right arm. I kicked him in the head and he ran back over the short distance to the neighbouring house.

My arm after hospital treatment.

My arm after hospital treatment.

I phoned the Policia Local in Finestrat and they were very prompt arriving.  The owner of the dog arrived home by coincidence at the same moment the police arrived. My friend Carl and his parents arrived too, having cut short their evening out in Finestrat.

Having given my statement to the police, I left them to deal with the culpable owner and I followed their advice to go to hospital straight away. It was nearly eleven o’clock at night but my friends kindly offered to drive me to Marina Baixa hospital.  The waiting room was full of the Saturday night casualties of the Costa Blanca, but I was immediately processed and seen within three minutes to have the bite wounds dressed.  I then had to wait for a doctor’s decision on whether one injection would be sufficient (anti-tetanus) or two, and I was dreading a possible rabies injection, as I’ve heard that is a big needle in the stomach. Thankfully the decision was made to go for the anti-tetanus alone!

Aitana inspects the wounded arm of her gallant protector

Aitana inspects the wounded arm of her gallant protector

This morning my landlord came around and spoke to the people nextdoor.  I have no idea what was said, but he was already aware of the incident in the night because the police phoned him.


There goes my quiet life here in the country…  but for how long?  I have had four years of quiet and simple farmyard life with the donks: a pleasant retreat when I come home from my full-time teaching job. And how I was looking forward to my summer holiday after another year’s teaching!

Note:  Some changes have been made to this post and some images removed, following my decision to launch a “denuncia” against the dog owner, and the matter is now in the hands of the Guardia Civil.

Update Monday 4 August midday:

This morning a friend and neighbour of mine telephoned the commandante of the Guardia Civil in Finestrat on my behalf, as the commandante is a personal friend, and he assured me I should go for a prosecution and the Guardia Civil would issue a “denuncia” against the dog owner. Consequently, I arrived at the Cuartel de la Guardia Civil in Finestrat at 9.30 and explained to the duty officer, then the commandante.  They got the information from Saturday’s incident from the Policia Local (in the office fifty metres away!) and I passed on all the information about the comings and goings next door.
The guy who owns the dog will receive the “denuncia” from the Guardia by the time I get home. The dog is still there, indoors as far as I am aware. But now the denuncia has been issued it will be taken away and quarantined for 30 days and an analysis will be made .
The denuncia will finally come before a judge in court and he/she will pronounce on the matter, but that could be a couple of months hence. These people could be long gone by then.
Do keep me in your prayers. I am still concerned for the safety of my donkeys, as I still have these headbangers nextdoor.    I now have a sign on the fence next to the donkeys, with the phone number of the local police, just in case.  It is worrying.
At least I’m not getting bored on my “holiday”. (Sigh.)



About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself dividing my time mostly between looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca and preparing a legal case against the corrupt management of my monstrous last employer - the Elians group - for unfair dismissal. I like to hear the wind in the pine trees. I do not like struggling to get a duvet into a duvet cover. My musical tastes are extinct and I have mostly given up cycle racing.
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23 Responses to Getting plastered on a Saturday night*

  1. Fr Hugh says:

    **sigh** Hang in there! Pax.

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Thanks, Fr Hugh. 🙂

  3. Catherine Geldart says:

    Appalling! So glad the donkeys were ok. And that you have such good friends.

  4. Frere Rabit says:

    Thanks, Catherine. Donks are OK but I’m rather stuck indoors now. After this shake up, I don’t even want to go out to the shops in case anything happens.

  5. Dilly says:

    Did they not take the dog with them? Are they gone for good? Every sign that they are involved in dodginess

  6. Oh dear. People these days. What a lovely life, peaceful with donks….that picture months ago with the (almond?) tree blossoms and a donk in its shade sticks in my mind as almost paradise. Then you get people with fast cars, savage dogs, drugs, noise, violence….I suppose they think they are having a good time??….I can’t understand it myself. After reading that I scrolled down to your previous post….read 2 lines and gave up in disgust. What is the matter with people? What is the matter with the world? What is going on?

    Peace, bruvver rabit….I hope it returns soon.

  7. Who needs neighbours? If only there were few enough of us to not need to be so close to others. We feel for you and hope there is a way of persuading them to leave.

  8. Cath says:

    So sad that your idyll was dusrupted in this horrible way.Here in Canada that dog would be put down tout de suite.I hope your arm heals quickly

  9. Frere Rabit says:

    Thanks Martine and David and Cath. Possible moves taking place tomorrow, now the landlord is aware of the number of people and cars using the house and the suspicious nature of their activities. It is very stressful.

  10. Jim of Olym says:

    Dear Frere Rabit:
    I’m so glad your injuries were not worse! And here I thought a donkey would prefer to kick the s–t out of a dog that attacked! Don’t they use donkeys as sheep guards? You must train Aitana in self-defense tactics.

  11. Frere Rabit says:

    Sorry, Dilly, just caught up with your comment from earlier. No, they have not gone. Tomorrow I think the landlord is going to consult an abogado (whether that’s a solicitor or a judge I don’t know: a “denuncia” is a complicated business.) The dog seems to be still there, but hidden in the house, not outside. I have protected the donks with extra chain link fence temporarily draped around the cisterna. Please God, I just wanted a well-deserved holiday after another year’s teaching and a final sweaty month of summer school in July!!!

  12. Frere Rabit says:

    Hi Jim, and good to hear from you as always. Aitana is such a meek creature that she makes friends with any dog that comes past, particularly the regular dogs being walked past her fence. She was probably thinking the dog wanted to play. These animals do not know any violence, except food fights!

  13. Annie says:

    Oh my gosh, that’s terrible! I hope you get rid of them soon. Back in May, I was attacked by 2 dogs owned by some people down the street. They are supposed to be stopped by an invisible fence from leaving the property but they didn’t have their collars on (which somehow works with the fence to stop them). I had a few seconds notice and was able to turn my back and plant my feet hard on the sidewalk. Fortunately, the neighbor across the street saw the whole thing and came running out screaming at them to get back – she knows their names. The lady told me that the dogs have attacked other people and even bit an elderly woman last year. I called the police and filed a report . . . we’ll see what happens. The worst part is that it’s stopped me from walking on that side of the street anymore – they disappeared for awhile but now are sitting out there on the lawn in all their glory. I’m at the point where I hate a lot of dog owners because many of them think it’s oh so cute for frisky Fido to jump all over me. I’ll have dogs jumping up and slobbering on me (with scratched arms and legs to prove it) and the owners will say, “Now, now, Fido – don’t do that” – while he keeps doing it – and then saying to me, ‘Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you – he’s very friendly, really’ – aren’t you my wittle precious one. Aw, look at that, he likes you.” They’re lucky I don’t have a gun.

    Btw – What’s a “headbanger”?

  14. Frere Rabit says:

    Annie, “headbanger” is generally a term for stupid people, but I’m sure Jadis could provide a better definition than me! I’ll post it in The Other Place.

  15. Catherine Geldart says:

    Any news? things seem to move slowly, including the police there. Whatever you do don’t let this horrible incident make you lose your confidence going out. That old aphorism about getting back on a horse after a fall is very true. Love and prayers. Sorry about all the cats too! Lol

  16. Frere Rabit says:

    No, Catherine, the police are not moving slowly! Have you seen the update from this morning? Policia Local were good on Saturday night and the Guardia Civil even better today. A denuncia has been issued. (See above.) I know some of the local police and they take an interest in my donkeys. One female officer who has horses has even written a book about the Camino de Santiago on horseback, so the interest in my donkeys – and for some my blog too – is very helpful. My last instruction from the Guardia Civil is that I do not speak to these people again and if they insist on speaking to me, now I have denounced them, it will be viewed as harrassment. A phone call will bring assistance. An English martial arts expert living 200 metres away has just offered his support if needed.

  17. ksam56 says:

    Just glad your ok…and the donkeys too! Wow..heck of a way to spend your summer vacation!

  18. ksam56 says:

    Just glad to read that your ok…and the donkeys too! Heck of a way to spend your vacation time.

  19. Frere Rabit says:

    Thanks. Loads of support here from neighbours and local people in Finestrat. Police are brilliant. Everyone likes the donkeys, so any threat to them and everyone is on side! Never mind my arm getting bitten off, as long as the donks are OK… 🙂

  20. Catherine Geldart says:

    Hope that things are ok this evening. I hadn’t read the update when I posted before. Hang in there! Right is might!

  21. gracem says:

    so sorry to hear this..shall pray for you and your donkeys!!

  22. Frere Rabit says:

    Thank you, Grace. At present the situation seems to be stable. The headbangers next door are keeping a low profile and I had a meeting with the Mayor this morning. We are setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme – not just as a result of this incident but various troublemakers and burglaries in recent times – and I have been finally moved into action, with the support of other residents. We are a slightly isolated community, 4 km from the village, and it is time to get some firm security and communications in place in these unpredictable times.

  23. Frere Rabit says:

    Sorry your comment didn’t appear earlier: it unaccountably went into spam… Your comments should appear automatically without moderation as you are a regular commenter.

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