Thursday, October 25th, 2007 https://adamkhan.net/rambles/a-restoration-and-return
here is regular rocky motion as I write, fully aft on the Seven Sisters, a Transmanche ferry plying the Dieppe–Newhaven route. Jam is in the hire car below. Irit has just brought a cup of tea to the table. There’s a slight chill coming from the ventilator in the wooden ceiling. In the gift shop the whisky bottles chink a song. Yes, the Jam came home, and now we’re all finally going home.
It was amazing. It was later in the day of the previous parries, ‘Curs to Fate’. I’d emailed the city’s central dog kennels to report her lost. Davide had woken up and immediately resumed watching Boston Legal on my MacBook. Scathing, I hovered over him anxiously, and he finally sighed, stopped and girded himself for the bureaucratic unpleasantnesses ahead. He called the canile, the kennel, to report Jam missing. His dog Bua had gone missing for three whole weeks before being returned, and he was fairly convinced that we’d find Jam again, and that I should just calm down. He had really gone all out to find Bua, putting signs up everywhere, talking to people constantly around Trastevere. A few people had actually seen her, but the sightings hadn’t enabled him to find her. Eventually somebody saw both Davide’s posting on a website and another posting on another site by someone who had found her, and she put the two of them together. It had been a harrowing time, as he started to remember it, tears welling up. He was beginning to empathize again with my predicament.
On the phone he was told that no dogs had been brought in since the previous night. They said to email in photos of her, so I returned to the cafe for some internet access. They also told us we had to inform the police that she’s lost, because abandoning a dog is an offence. There was a Carabinieri office a couple of buildings away from his place, and we went in there to make the report. My laptop battery was running out. Davide asked the guy on duty if we could plug in to the outlet in the grubby waiting room. No. But he turned out to be a pretty decent young fellow as we made the report.
The pictures on the waiting room wall were all in a horrendous style that must have a term but I don’t know it—static Norman Rockwell-like romanticized scenes of the police force. “Looks like something out of a certain regime during a certain decade,” I said, knowingly. “A word beginning with ‘F’”, Davide responded. That a police force in a first-world country would sport images in such a morally discredited stylistic idiom speaks to the multitudes contained within Italian society.
We finished the report then headed back to the apartment. I wanted to drop off the computer there before heading into town, where I planned to rent a scooter for three days and just ride around, scouring the city for Jam. And there she was, sitting outside the apartment block! She’d found her way back to this outlying neighborhood, Talenti, all the way from Villa Borghese and the part of the park overlooking Piazza del Popolo. We’d taken the bus to the city center twice, but never walked it. I would not be able to find my way here from there myself. And yet she’d done it! It took her 20 hours to walk the five miles, though she must have walked a lot more than that if she was doing this by trial and error. How did she possibly do it? We’ve never walked up Via Nomentana at all. How did she know when to leave that road and enter this neighborhood? If I’d been told of this I wouldn’t believe it. Dogs definitely have some sort of navigational sense that we don’t understand. It can’t be smell, can it? She can’t smell a distant neighborhood can she? And not all dogs have it. Maddie would not have done this. Jam freaks out from crowds of teenagers and scarpers home, but home has never been so far away from the scene of the freak-out, nor has it ever been anywhere that she hasn’t walked, at least in stages. It’s as if they can sense not only directions but coordinates. It’s uncanny. I now feel that Jam too is magical.
And, though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, losing her for almost a day, and concluding it’s unlikely I’ll ever have her again, has been perfect in that it’s added to my gratitude and pleasure in having my dog again. I guess for the 14 months we stayed in Rome after Maddie died, she was a given, nothing special, as I cried for and lamented over Maddie. Now however it feels almost as if I am getting them both back again, that it’s a restoration.
It was almost exactly three years ago that I travelled on a 3-day ferry ride from Turkey to Italy with the two dogs. Being on a ferry again feels like a fitting end to what I called the Big Adventures. I’d planned to walk to Britain with the two dogs. That did not happen and sadly that ambition has faded. Instead it has ended up being a couple of years about Rome and Italy and terrible loss and gradual recovery rather than three months of a grand ambitious hike. This ferry ride wraps all that up.
And now I’ve spent nearly a year in Brighton, which for a Briton, even a long-lost one, is not at all adventurous. But because Jam was not here until now, I didn’t even feel settled. So it’s a bit of a new thing now.