Rubio the guide dog for the blind. / ideal

Guide dog dies after being terrified by fireworks during village fair

Rubio, the labrador who had been with his blind owner Juan for six years, managed to escape from the house when people began letting off rockets and firecrackers in Monachil, in Andalucía's Granada province

ALBERTO FLORES Granada

Last weekend Monachil, in Andalucía's Granada province, celebrated its annual fair, and as usual the celebrations included a procession and fireworks. Not everyone is happy about the fireworks, because they hate the noise of the rockets and firecrackers, and there are often complaints. This time, however, it was not just noisy: a guide dog died after running away in terror.

Juan with Rubio. / IDEAL

Rubio had been 70-year-old Juan Navarro’s guide dog since 2016. He had always shown signs of being distressed by the noise from fireworks but on Sunday, just before the festivities came to a close, he went into an absolute panic when people started letting off rockets in the morning. He ran out of the house, terrified, and disappeared. Half the village went out to look for him, and after several hours they found him. He was dead; he had fallen down a ravine.

Ran off in a panic

“He used to get restless whenever a rocket went off, and used to try to hide under pieces of furniture even though he was too big to get under them,” said Juan about the eight-year-old labrador. Normally, Juan was able to calm him down, but on Sunday the rockets began early in the morning, when he was still in bed. “When I found he wasn’t here, I was very surprised. I don’t know how he got out, but he just ran off in a panic,” Juan said.

“We were very close. We spent 24 hours a day together for years and he helped me out of some difficult situations,” he said. “I’m helpless without him because I’m blind. Now I have to start the process with ONCE to find a new guide dog, and that will take four or five months”.

Not an isolated case

Juan said this was not an isolated case, and many animals have gone missing at fair time over the years. Some have been found, others have been run over on the road and some have just disappeared completely.

“It’s not just animals, either. People with autism, babies, elderly people, heart patients, they’re all affected by fireworks. It’s just making noise for the sake of it, it’s senseless,” he said.

He doesn’t want the fair cancelled, just celebrated differently, and he is not alone. Local residents have now created a petition on Change.org for Fireworks to be banned at Monachil fair from next year.

Rubio. / IDEAL