It’s been a strange year on site for me as far as animals are concerned. Especially dogs. From a very young age, in fact as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fear of dogs. I’d cross the road to avoid passing one in the street. I’d not visit someone if they had a dog. Despite Mum and Dad having a German Shepherd for years, she was my baby, I still had this fear I couldn’t escape.
Upon arrival at site to meet our new wardens, the comment that affects my speech, it makes me go cold, it makes me freeze, it stops me thinking straight ‘You’re ok with dogs aren’t you?’ Cue Marley, white, solid muscle, the resident staffy comes bounding towards us. I froze, stood as close as I could to The Boss and allowed myself to be lead inside for a cuppa. Fortunately, after a few minutes he lost interest and settled on his bed. I relaxed a bit but never took my eye off him.
When we applied for the job I didn’t think about encountering domestic pets. In my head I suppose I saw them through holiday makers eyes and presumed I’d be able to avoid them. In the early days I tried to keep my distance out on site from dogs, always being respectful and keeping a distance, hoping they’d be kept on a short tight lead whilst I talked to their owners.
Over the first couple of weeks I built up a bit of a relationship with Marley, the resident Staffy. I saw how he interacted with other people and slowly he gained my confidence, trust and love.
Still a little bit apprehensive around other dogs, I began to stand closer, I’d ask their owners if they were ok to stroke. I even began carrying a pocket full of biscuits around. Without realising it, Marley, with his patience had won me round and shown me that with a little bit of respect and permission I could be around other dogs without my usual fear. Our site is extremely popular with dog owners so it’s a good job really. We’ve had a few dogs on site that have caught my attention and been gentle and understanding with me. Including spider dog who dressed up for Halloween, a dog that lived riding in the basket on Mum’s bike, Chops the chocolate lab, Max and Ronnie who I even managed to take a walk on the lead and a pup that escaped and watched us eat fish and chips in the back office.
Wandering around site over the eight months we have been here I’ve come to see that caravanners take a variety of pets away with them.
Cats are popular visitors. Some quite happily laze in their pens, other walk around site on harnesses. Others happily stay inside, peering through the windows.
One lovely sunny afternoon, I was out washing bollards. I kept hearing wolf whistling. Not a common sound in this day and age, still my inner sixteen year old self, pushed my fringe away from my eyes and coyly glanced around. Just an old boy taking his chemical toilet cassette back to his van, without even a backward glance at me. Not surprising really, I’m no longer 16 and the uniform is anything but flattering. Again, another whistle, a blooming big spider fell out of the bollard I was cleaning. ‘Spider!’ I shrieked. ‘Incey Wincey Spider climbs up the water spout!’ I turned. The old boy with the toilet cassette is now walking towards me, a little chuckle and he tells me it’s a parrot in the next van.
Curiosity got the better of me, I had to go and say hello. A beautiful grey parrot met me clutching a floret of cauliflower. My beauty from a distance had now silenced the parrot. Said parrot’s human parents tried to encourage him to speak, but, as they say, don’t work with children and animals, his beak was sealed.
Over the months we had quite a few feathered visitors come to stay with us.
One lovely gentleman informed me, whilst buying his newspaper, that he had his ‘morning, rabbit jumper’ on. The jumper was full of holes where the rabbit contentedly nibbled whilst having it’s morning cuddles. The rabbit had an outdoor pen and was free to roam in the caravan during the day.
A tortoise turned up one day, with its pen placed in the sunshine. Happy to potter around and hide from the midday sun under its little plastic, stone like shelter.
Visiting animals to site, pheasants, stags, squirrels, field mice, rabbits and the countless birds never fail to make stop and gaze. One little fella Bob, our little adopted robin, got cheekier and cheekier as our season came to an end. Shouting at us for crumbs, getting closer and closer as we fed him, to the point I’m sure given another week or so I’d have him feeding out of my hand. He did seem quite partial to a bit of pumpkin.
The one beast who really did steal my heart and who I’m going to miss more than any of the staff I worked with, Marley.