(Based on a true story.)
The Café Gijon was busy as usual in that cold January morning of 1946. The smell of Colombian coffee and black tobacco smoke was the order of the day back then. The well-appointed white uniformed staff never stopped in the rush to serve their customers in the morning shift. Steaming coffee, churros and brandy flowed around the tables, satisfying the discerning clientele of the legendary Café. Writers and journalists would share a table, exchange a few stories and tell each other a few lies. Business as usual in a landmark founded as far back as in 1888.
Padre Fernando de Ayala, the local Parish priest of El Barco, a remote village in Avila, ordered a café sombra which was promptly served together with half a portion of churros.
Borja Benitez del Campo, the Spanish Major, came over right on time to join his old-time friend for a coffee. “Father, my dear old friend. How good to see you again. What brings you over to the capital in this cold weather?”
“Well, well. I came to see my sister and to collect the dog of a friend who had to leave the country unexpectedly. Son, I need to ask you for a favour: This old friend of mine has suddenly been posted abroad. The Argentine in South America to be precise. The thing is he had this young Jagdterrier dog which he could not take with him on his trip. He asked me to find the dog a caring owner and a good home here in Madrid. I took the liberty of thinking that you, being a bachelor, and a keen field sportsman as well as a countryman, could very well be the ideal person to have the dog. I know it is very short notice but I desperately need your help, Borja. What do you say?”
The major touched his well manicured moustache as he always did when any difficult situation came up.
“Well Father, I guess we better give it a try and take the dog for a few days. We shall simply take it from there.”
“Splendid, Major. The dog (a beautiful female flat-coated black and brown Jagdterrier) could not be in better hands. I am delighted that you have agreed to become Kira´s new master. Give me a few minutes and I shall bring her out of my car.”
It took the priest less than five minutes to bring the dog over to The Café Gijon where all the staff admired the good looking black-and-gold Terrier. Rather unusual, remarked an elderly waiter. Good looking dog, remarked another. Rich man’s dog no doubt, said the cook.
It was at the Café Gijon in that cold month of January when Major Benitez from The Spanish Army Engineer Corps became the new rightful owner of this young Fox Terrier.
The dog was shy in the beginning. She did not know what was going on but she gradually gained a little confidence and started trusting her new master. In a funny sort of way the dog must have noticed a certain resemblance or possibly certain things that reminded her of her former master. They went for long walks in The Retiro Park where the major would release her and she was free to chase the odd pigeon or thrush bird. Much to the amazement of passersby, Kira would also jump into the lake and swim in the company of some mallard duck or waterfowl. This was quite different from her former days in Northern Europe where it was a lot colder and snow as well as ice were quite common in winter, making it impossible to swim until the weather melted the ice on the lakes.
The Major and the Terrier enjoyed morning as well as evening walks down along the Paseo de La Castellana to the Royal Engineers Army headquarters, where his waiting chauffeur would take Kira back home for a siesta until the boss returned at the end of the day. A favourite walk was no doubt The Retiro Park where the Major would let Kira run as much as she wished. The dog was well behaved and obedient, professionally trained the Major admitted, and not by him but most likely by her previous owner, who had done a remarkable job.
The Major had a place in the country near Talavera and the Tagus River. Weekends where spent there in the company of friends and relatives. Kira, as part of the family then, enjoyed the Spanish social life as another of the Major’s guests. She was quite spoilt to some extent and always had a crunchy biscuit or two during breakfast time courtesy of a friendly guest, and a little snack of tortilla or chorizo during the fabulous and lavish luncheons given in the house by the open fire. Kira’s life was so good that Mario the chauffeur used to say some wished they were dogs in the Major’s house.
One day, some years afterwards, the Major received an unexpected telephone call from a foreign gentleman with a strong German accent. The gentleman in question introduced himself as Colonel (Oberst) von Stauffer, ex German Army, and explained to the Major that he needed to see him as soon as feasible. It was regarding a personal matter, he claimed. The German gentleman said that it was Father Fernando, their mutual friend, who had suggested he ring the major and ask if they could possibly meet the following week at The Café Gijon. The Major agreed on the condition that Colonel von Stauffer would brief him beforehand about the final reason of this unexpected encounter. His sole reply was: “It is regarding Kira, the Jagdterrier dog…”.