A small brown dog scurried towards my window as soon as we pulled up at a rest-area for the night. It had the most impassive face I’ve ever seen, it was as if he’d found a rubbish bag outside a clinic and accidentally jabbed himself with used Botox injections.
Then another two dogs appeared, one was small and long, not my style dog. But the other was beautiful, he almost looked like a young husky, he had a sweet face, big puppy dog eyes and drooping eyebrows. Oh, and he only had 3 legs. We named him Larry. Larry was real good at begging, well, the lack of leg and hobble helped a lot, but he had a very emotional face. Unlike Mr Stone Face that just reminded me of a young Indian boy staring at me. We gave them all bread and Larry turned out to be the leader and most dominant. From that point on we were safe for the night. Anyone that walked or cycled within 50m of us was barked away and chased down the road.
The next day we drove down a small dirt road to have a well needed solar shower. We were about 5m from the railway track, what was the likelihood of a train coming along? Well, two did, and they were both passenger trains. How awkward! As soon as I started shampooing my hair the first one came along and the driver had a big smile and pumped his fist in the air. We couldn’t help but crack up. Urban showering at its finest.
We drove to Retezat National Park where we were told to follow a dirt track to a trailhead. The dirt track was awful, it clearly becomes a river in the rain and had deep gullies and uneven rocks. We had to turn around and park on some grass. Within a few minutes a stray dog found us. After the successful dog feeding the previous night we decided to also befriend this one. We named her Bella, she had scruffy grey and black fur with cream legs. Her back had become so matted that it had formed one flat dreadlock, it moved as she walked like a rhinos armour. It was so bad that it almost looked like a fashion statement, like she was wearing the hide of a wolf she’d hunted with her bare paws.
Bella got excited very easily; as soon as we spoke or smiled at her she wagged her tail like mad and would start growling, it was a really odd way to show happiness. Craig tried playing fetch with her but she cowered away and put her tail between her legs thinking he was angry at her. So we fed her more bread.
As we brushed our teeth at night we opened the door to spit outside. It was pitch black and really creepy. Then we heard sticks snapping near us! Oh my god – is it a bear or is it Bella? We couldn’t see a thing so quickly closed up while I contemplated what to do with a mouthful of toothpaste. A very swift open, spit, shut and lock.
It rained all night. At around 6am cows with bells were ushered past us by a shepherd. Then we heard a few woofs and realised Bella had slept outside our van all night in the rain. We felt awful. We opened the side door, but she wasn’t there. I looked out the front window and there she was, lying inbetween us and the road – the ideal security position. We called her over and she was super excited. She was drenched, but I guess she’s used to it as she wasn’t shivering. Craig gave her a stroke which she lapped up. Then he tried playing frisbee with her…I told him it wouldn’t work. Clearly the poor thing has never been played with before and doesn’t understand fetch, she associates things being thrown, with people hitting her with sticks.
We set off for a walk into the park, and of course Bella came along too. It was all along the bumpy road and not very exciting. When we made it to Carnic, dogs seemed to come out the woodwork and surround us. Then Bella ran off and played with a young bachelor and the crowd dispersed. She seemed to know all the dogs and none of them even barked at us. She stayed with them while we continued our hike.
After three hours of walking, we made it to some cabanas. From there we saw a sign saying 3.5hrs to the end of a valley where we’d hoped to walk to. So it would be a total of around 12 hours to do the whole hike. The info lady told us 7 hours. So we gave up and went back, ideally what you’d do is stay in a cabana and hike from there, sadly we didn’t, so couldn’t fully appreciate the park. We did get a nice view of a few snowy peaks the day before in the distance at least, but that was from the road and not from a 5 hour hike that we’d just done.
When we walked back through Carnic, the dogs all barked at us and we had to grab stones just incase. Where the fuck was our guard dog? Then we spotted here snoozing under a fence. She woke up and followed us all the way back to Pablo.
Soon enough we had to leave her, we fed her more bread, gave her a stroke and started reversing out. She just walked alongside us all confused. Then we slowly drove along the dirt road – she trotted alongside us. When we hit tarmac, I watched her in my wing mirror become a speck in the distance. Craig wanted to keep her, but I said it wouldn’t be practical. She was pretty crazy, she got so excited when I stroked her the first time that she pawed me and nearly knocked me over. Hopefully she’ll find some other tourists to befriend her.