Today I got to know Felipe. I’d often seen him walking around, confident and cheerful, weaving in and out of the strollers on the promenade, along the paths through the gardens, over the grass and under the palm trees.
From time to time he’d turn up on the terrace of the cafeteria where customers drink coffee and read newspapers.
‘One of these days I’ll kill that dog,’ said Paqui, the waitress, when he nearly tripped her up with a tray of cups.
But today she runs out in bare feet to greet him. ‘Felipe!’ she cries. ‘Where have you been? It’s four days since you came to see me.’ She carries a bag of broken biscuits, and leads him off for a private feast.
‘Where does he come from?’ I ask, intrigued. Is he a waif and stray, or simply a free spirit, scorning the discipline of outings on leads?
Nobody seems to know. The dueña thinks he belongs to the people who run the restaurant of the arrozes. They feed him on kitchen scraps and leave him to fend for himself. An elderly customer says, no, he arrived with a family who owned one of the villas and when they left, he chose to stay. Life is good here with all the bars and cafes, and if he’s not after food, he spends his time following a lady dog.
‘There used to be three or four of them,’ says the dueña.
‘No wonder, with him and the lady dog,’ says the customer.
‘Now the others have all disappeared,’ the dueña tells me. ‘Maybe they died off in the winter. It’s a big problem – people come here for the summer, then go away again, and lots of dogs get left behind.’
‘The problem is the children,’ says the customer. ‘They want pets but don’t realise the responsibilities.’
We nod, three old people with the wisdom of experience. Down on the beach Paqui is running along the edge of the sand, skipping in and out of the waves, swinging her arms.
There’s no sign of Felipe.