A couple of weeks ago my wife went away for a few days and left me in charge of the house and her dog. Now I never liked that dog from the start. In fact I have been quietly waiting for the bugger to die ever since we bought our house and my wife announced that he would come and live with us (he had previously been living with my parents-in-law).
He was 19 which is very old in doggy years apparently. I suspect he was hanging on deliberately just to keep crapping all over the garden and generally annoying me.
Anyway, this left me with the problem of what to do with a dead dog. Having duly informed my wife of the situation she was quite upset and therefore said I had to ‘deal with it’ before she got back. That gave me two days time.
Now I have never had to deal with a dead dog before so I wasn’t too sure what to do. I mean, what do you do with a dead dog? My first thought was to go to a vet because back home in London I would have expected a vet either to take the body or know of someone or somewhere that would. So the next day I went to town and found a vet. Quite surprisingly the vet said he didn’t have facilities to deal with the dog and couldn’t further advise me. When I asked him what Polish people normally do with dead animals he gave me that classic Polish look that says “we both know that what people do and what I am allowed to tell you to do are not the same thing” before repeating that he couldn’t further advise me.
So then I decided to drive around town and look for a second vet. Luckily I found one that was open. He told me that he also couldn’t help, but had no qualms in telling me that most people just bury their dead pets in the garden. The idea of that much hard work didn’t appeal to me so my next question was “how deep?”, imagining myself in the snow with a shovel for the next 4 hours. “About half a metre should do it” was the reply.
Back home I decided to have a quick look on google.pl to see if there was another solution. I searched for anything I could think of that might help – “zwłoki zwierząt”, “martwy pies”, “krematorium psa” all turned up blanks. The only thing I found out was that it is against the rules to bury dead dogs in the garden. Hmmm, that means I had better wait till dark so the neighbours don’t see. So later on I went outside in the cold and snow and started work with my shovel. The temperature was -5 degrees and the ground was totally frozen. I managed a pathetic 5 centimetres before deciding that to continue was just stupid. I went back in to the house and back on the Internet to look for some sort of inspiration – I now had less than one day before my wife returned and still had a dead (and now totally frozen) dog to deal with.
With google letting me down (or possibly my lack of Polish vocabulary concerning dead animals) I decided a change in strategy was necessary. I went to the Polish yellow pages at www.pkt.pl and decided to ring every vet in małopolskie until I found one that could help me. I figured that a 2 hour round-trip by car to Kraków would be better than 6 hours in the snow with a shovel.
On only my second phone call I struck gold. The kindly and elderly voice on the phone said that there was a company in Osiek near Oświęcim that collected dead pets. He said he had their phone number on an invoice somewhere. After a couple of minutes on hold he found their head office number in Warsaw. I rang them up with excitement. They gave me the Osiek number. I rang them up with even more excitement hoping that an end to my problem was drawing near. What a joy to my ears to hear that yes, they disposed of dead dogs, and that even better – they would come and collect it. I asked how much this was going to cost me. Free! Yes, apparently they have an agreement with the local council and this is a free service to residents. A couple of hours later a huge truck turned up and they relieved me of my frozen four-legged burden.
This got me thinking later – if this is a free and clearly very useful service, how comes nobody seems to know about it? Surely somebody at the council would have the brainwave to send a notice to all vets in the area that it exists?
Then the cynical part of my brain (that has been living in Poland for too long) came up with the answer. It’s probably because the council pays for it that nobody knows about it. Still, I am not going to complain about that. That’s the reason why in the UK I paid £1,100 a year in council tax and in Poland I pay precisely £0.
Just in case you are reading this with a dead dog outside and your spouse hours away from return, I was going to put the details of the company here, but for the life of me I can’t find them. They didn’t leave me any paperwork and I didn’t keep their phone number. I suggest you ring your local gmina to see if they run this service, or start ringing all the vets within a 50 mile radius. Good luck….