The terribly sad incident of the rescued galga, Hayley reminded me of a strange, quite creepy event that happened decades ago when I lived in Kenya and had three beautiful Standard Poodles, Bijou, Pepe and Lulu.
I was invited to a coffee morning by a woman (who subsequently stole a whole shelf full of my books, but that’s beside the point.)
There were several other women there, all strangers to each other. During the morning one of them went and sat next to another, and took her hand. She said: “Don’t worry, this time everything is going to be fine. You’ll have a beautiful, healthy daughter.”
The other woman looked stunned, and it came out that she had had several miscarriages, but had learned the previous day that she was pregnant again. She hadn’t told anybody. (The prophecy did indeed come true, BTW.)
This led to the first woman claiming she was a white witch, like her aunt who was some kind of senior white witch in England.
I didn’t really think much about it for the rest of the morning as the subject changed, and I my only conversation with the ‘white witch’ was to ask if I could pass her another slice of cake.
When we were leaving, she caught up with me at the door and grabbed my arm.
“Please be careful,” she said. “You are in danger. You are surrounded by a powerful smell of bitter almonds. Be terribly careful what you eat. It’s a sign of poison.”
That’s when I thought she might be a bit loopy.
Back home, I had a nap after lunch, and dreamed a weird, frightening dream, of fires and masks and drums beating, really quite disturbing and woke up feeling panicky.
The cook came to say that the man had come to read the water meter, and he would shut the dogs in the garage. Although they were the most playful and sociable dogs, most Africans were very cautious around them. So he shut the dogs away. The man read the meter, and we let the dogs out.
Two minutes later the cook called out urgently: “Lulu is sick!”
She was lying on the ground, foaming at the mouth. She was rigid, her back so arched that the back of her head was almost touching her tail.
I rushed her to the vet, pushed past the people in the queue and shouted for help.
They laid her on the stainless steel table. By now she was floppy, yellow foam gushing from her mouth, covering her chest and legs. The vet put his ear to her chest, and shook his head. “She’s gone,” he said.
And then he began pounding on the table with his fist, with all his strength. Her body flew up and down, crashing onto the table. He kept pounding the table, and then he put his ear to her chest again. “We have a heartbeat,” he said.
He took a sample of the foam and sent it for analysis.
Lulu was breathing very, very faintly.
“She’s been poisoned,” he said. “Probably strychnine in rat poison. There’s very little we can do; it’s in her system, and there’s no way to get it out. I’m going to give her a very strong sedative to make her sleep through the night and allow her body to fight. If she is strong enough, she will survive. Either she will wake up in the morning, or she will pass away painlessly during the night.”
I took the sleeping dog home and put her in a basket in my room. She was sleeping peacefully, and still hardly breathing.
The vet rang later. “I was strychnine,” he said. “Rat poison. Let me know what happens. If she doesn’t wake up, at least you will know she hasn’t suffered.”
After this drama, it wasn’t until later that evening that I remembered the strange conversation I’d had with the ‘white witch’. Maybe it was a coincidence, but if so it was very close to home, so I phoned her.
When I told her what had happened, she said “Oh I am so pleased to hear from you, and to know you are OK. There was absolutely no question in my mind this morning that you were going to be affected by poisoning. But I thought it would be you, not your dog.”
She asked me to go to a seance, but I wanted to stay with the dog, and declined.
“I’m really not a believer in the occult,” I said. “Although events today have made me think, it’s not something I want to get involved in.”
After assuring her that I would let her know about Lulu the next day, she ended our conversation saying: “Just one thing I’d like to say. Whether or not you believe in the occult, that doesn’t matter, but please, never play with a ouija board, even for fun. It’s very dangerous. Just take my word.”
Lulu and I both slept through the night.
We both woke next morning. She made a full recovery.
I’ve never touched a ouija board.
Seeing my dog in such a condition, hearing the words “She gone. Poison. Strychnine,” I had virtually no hope that she would survive. And yet she did, so there is hope that Hayley too will be able to come through.