Dog Training 101: Don’t Cross Over The Rainbow Bridge.

“When the student is ready the teacher appears.”

– Buddha.

In hindsight, there’s one thing I really should’ve taught my dogs. While “sit”, “stay” and doing your business outside are important, perhaps this one command could really save their lives:

“Don’t Cross Over the Rainbow Bridge. Never. Not ever. Got it?!!! Stay here. Good dog!”

While I know that it might be a little late to start teaching Bilbo new tricks in his old age, given his current health crisis, I’m doing some fast talking and have even resorted to flash cards.

happy rainbow

Don’t Cross Over the Rainbow Bridge.

I’m hoping it works. Bilbo is an incredibly obedient dog. Our side gate or front door have been left open in the past. However, did Bilbo take off? Escape? Surprisingly not, not even when his untrustworthy canine companion, Lady, was long gone. That’s right. He was still there with his paws out in front staying put and being a good dog.

So, Bilbo would be a prime candidate for testing this theory.

What do you think? Am I onto something here? Do you think Bilbo could resist the alluring appeal of the Rainbow Bridge? Perhaps, would you like to join me and give it a go with your dog as well? 

Humph. It was much easier to believe I was in there with a chance, when I was just mulling it over on my own. However, you did have to remind me of a few unfortunate, biological realities. That, in what seems like complete madness, dogs and humans live side-by-side and yet the hands of their clock spin round seven times faster than our own. Poignantly, I just have to look at our 11 year old daughter and our Bilbo, our 11 year old dog. While Miss is about 6 months older than Bilbo and was crawling when he arrived as a pup, she is still a child and he’s become elderly…an old man.  That contrast really puts things in perspective.

Bilbo + Amelia

Bilbo and Miss almost 11 years ago.

Moreover, there’s another spanner in the works. Despite his strong willpower, if there’s a pot of fresh mince at the end of that rainbow, Bilbo would be over that bridge in a flash. Even with his reduced appetite, he can still polish off a pack of fresh mince and he could never resist that.

“I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?”

– Sir Walter Scott

So, it appears I’m back to the drawing board. Or, as it turns out, Bilbo is back to the vet tomorrow for a follow-up appointment and a scan of his spleen. AND…on the off chance he can’t pull a magic pill out of his hat, we prayed for Bilbo at Church tonight. I know there are more important matters a foot in our world at the moment, but I make no apologies for loving our Bilbo to the moon and back. He has loved us absolutely and without qualification. He has been there for us in such a ubiquitous way often sleeping in between the lines of everything that’s gone on around here in the last 11 years, yet possessing an empathy and understanding which defies logic. He’s also brought us so much joy…even if it’s just running our fingers through his coat or patting his ears while he sleeps.

“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog, it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs your heart is very big.”

– Erica Jong

Perhaps, you would like to share some of your dog stories or introduce the special dog(s) in your life.

xx Rowena

In case you haven’t heard of the rainbow bridge, here’s the poem:

The Rainbow Bridge

“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….”

Author unknown…

Sickies…Dogs Don’t Lie.

As a parent, I’m always wary when the kids bung on one of their dying swan “can I stay home from school” routines. These performances can be worthy of an Academy Award. Yet, all too often when I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt, they resurrect like Lazarus and “party like it’s 1999”.

Bilbo with ball

Bilbo in peak performance appropriating another dog’s ball.

On the other hand, our dog’s never chucked a sickie in his life. He’s either chasing his ball with mad obsessive focus and eating like a hollow-legged teen. Or, he’s seriously ill. Moreover, when it comes to jumping in the car and going to the beach, he at the door in a flash. Never tells me to “wait”. Indeed, he’d be out the door already if he could open it himself.

However, Bilbo is no longer a pup. He’s now 77 in dog years, and he’d be forgiven for requesting a Dawson Chair, a Zimmer frame and signing up for the pension. However, being a Border Collie to the core, he tells me there’s life in the old dog yet.

Unfortunately, Bilbo is gravely ill. Last week, he started getting sluggish, and my radar kicked in. We noticed he coughed up a blood cyst, but as he was still eating, we didn’t rush him off to the vet. However, last night he went off his food and when that continued this morning, we knew it was time.  By this point, we were obviously expecting one of those conversations you don’t want to have with the vet. Not only in terms of what might be wrong with him, and there might be nothing they can do. There’s also that other conversation. That is, that there is treatment, but what is it going to cost? It’s hard to put a measurement on love that knows no bounds. Yet, the bank balance doesn’t understand that, and shows no mercy. It’s a callous brute without compassion.

However, all those thoughts could wait. We still had a few hours before we could get into the vet.

Since the dogs were already in the car, I decided to take them to the beach. Not the best move, in hindsight as the vet has ordered him to rest. However, I’m not a vet. I’m his Mum and knowing how much he loves the beach and what it’s means to us, I wanted him to be in his favourite place…his heaven on earth.

IMG_0998.JPG

However, if I needed confirmation that Bilbo wasn’t well, this was it. He laboured down the beach so slowly, that he was his own ghost. I threw his ball, and he didn’t blink. He just let it roll into the water. I tried a few more times with the same result, retrieving the ball myself. As much as I’ve thought his obsession with the tennis ball was extreme, seriously annoying and beyond the realms of addiction, this was worse. It felt like an echoing emptyness, if that makes any sense.

Yet, like a noble warrior, he ultimately did have a few laboured efforts.

Bilbo and Maya

You have to feel for the old dog unable to chase his ball, when some young whippersnapper races off with it.

Meanwhile, his young mates chased the ball like maniacs, legs whirling furiously through the sand.

By this point, you’d expect that some kind of emotion would set in, but I was blank. Couldn’t feel anything. It’s a day we’ve known is coming, and I don’t know how to react. I don’t feel I can cry anymore. That there aren’t any tears. That too much has happened and I’ve become a rock. A rock with some kind of senses, but nothing like who I was.

Or, perhaps, I’ve simply grown up. Become resiliant.

This would be a good thing because this time we lose a dog, I have to be the strong one. I have to be the rock supporting the kids. Mum can’t go to pieces. Can’t be the mess. I need to put on the big high heels and answer their questions, hug and comfort them and wipe away their tears, especially as they don’t even remember life without Bilbo. Miss was about 10 months old and crawling when Bilbo arrived and Mr was 3 years old. I still remember how Mr missed our previous dog (a huge Old English Sheepdog called Rufus) and didn’t like the new puppy because he wanted a big dog. Mr had been able to sit on Rufus and use him as a horse. He was a very big dog indeed.

Newton Family & bilbo

A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007.

So, Bilbo has been part of our family during a very special ten years of our lives.

Yet, it’s not time to get all misty eyed yet. At this point, we’re still at the beach. It’s 18°C and a gloriously sunny Winter’s day and the beach is magic.

Mid-morning, we return to the vet. He quickly points out that Bilbo’s gums and tongue are an exceptionally pale shade of pink and I’m quite shocked. He took some blood and we were sent out to wait. My husband ducked off to pick our daughter up from dancing. I wasn’t sure she should be there, but figured that the vet’s better versed at this than us. That if there is bad news, the vet no doubt knows what to say.

Bilbo + Amelia

11 years is a long time in human years too!

The news from the vet wasn’t good, but it wasn’t all bad. At this point, it seems that Bilbo could have an unpronouncable auto-immune disease. I can’t remember what the vet called it, and meant to write it down. His red blood cell count is down to 2.86 (should be 5.65-8.87) and his haemoglobin is 5.3 when it should be 13.1 – 20.5). He has just enough platelets to hope the treatment could work. His white cell count is high and he seems to be fighting back. He was given an injection of prednisone and is on tablets. I take him back on Monday morning for a CT of his spleen and a followup.

Meanwhile, I started my own, additional treatment. We bought him some fresh mince to see if that might stimulate his appetite and we had a rather hungry dog. He’s eaten 500g of mince tonight, minus a few donations to Lady, our other dog. It’s not going to cure him, but it might give him a fighting chance. Get him over the hump. It’s also much cheaper than a blood transfusion!!

Of course, I’m hopeful that he’s going to be okay. That there isn’t going to be something else going on and he’ll respond to treatment. He’s been in good health, so surely that must help… That “he’ll be right, mate.”

….

Well, it’s now Sunday afternoon. Bilbo’s still with us and lying on my lap quite happy to be a lap top dog. He’s eating the mince, but not so keen on his kibble. He’s perked up a fair bit. Yet, his beathing is very rapid, and I guess that’s the big concern and we still need to take that CT of his spleen.

So, I am feeling optimistic. No doubt, it’s the sort of optimism based on wishful thinking. An optimism which could seriously backfire and hurt like hell.

Yet, like the kids who don’t know life without Bilbo, I can’t imagine it either and am still hopeful that the vet might find that magic pill which will give him eternal life.

Meanwhile, Bilbo’s been instructed to “Stay. Don’t go near the Rainbow Bridge. Why don’t you watch a bit of TV….”

Yet, although he’s always been an incredibly obedient and faithful dog, there will  come a time when that last journey will come.

All the same, can I put in a request?

Not yet…

Thank you in advance for your concern. It is much appreciated!!

xx Rowena

 

 

Tasmanian Farewell – Friday Fictioneers.

The Spirit of Tasmania was boarding. With two cats perched on the back window of the Ford Laser, their Border Collie in the back, two lifetimes packed in the boot like a Chinese puzzle box, Jane and Dave were economic refugees moving to the Mainland.

Jane popped a couple of sea sickness pills. It was her first time, crossing treacherous Bass Strait. She was sick, before they’d even set sail. Even this massive North Sea Ferry, could become another Titanic.

Yet, with barely a whitecap, they had a perfect sail.

“It’s a sign, she smiled. “We’re making the right move.

…..

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

In January this year, our family caught the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Tasmania return. We were taking the kids down to Tasmania for them to see and experience where Daddy is from. You can read abut our trip here.

My husband is Tasmanian and his family have lived there since as early as 1828. During the late 80s early 90s during a nasty economic recession, Geoff and his then girlfriend left Tasmania bound for the Australian mainland in search of work. The rest of his immediate family had already left.

It’s a bold move to leave everything and everyone you’ve ever known, to move way. Pack everything up, and throw your stability into the wind.

I’ve done the same thing myself a couple of times in my lifetime. It didn’t seem such a big deal at the time, because I always had my parents to go back to. They were my anchor…my foundation and they’ve always called me home. I can’t imagine what it would be like going one way, with no prospect of return, especially moving to an unknown country on the other side of the world like my ancestors have done. I would love to know how they felt. Were there any regrets and where was truly home?

Best wishes,

Rowena

How To Accept Weird Stuff Happens Once You Become A #Writer #SundayBlogShare

Since I was a born writer, I guess I can attribute a lifetime of weirdness to my calling. It has nothing to do with me. How about you? Do you relate to this at all?
xx Rowena

BlondeWriteMore

Once I became a writer weird stuff started happening to me. When I say weird stuff I mean unexplained things, unusual situations, bizarre hunches and crazy feelings.

In order to prove that I am not the only writer out there experiencing weird stuff I thought I would write this blog post on the subject.

*Lowers blonde head and mutters something about not wanting to be the only writer dealingwith unexplained things.*

Let me explain something which occurred last week. I have spent the last two months working on a new first draft. It’s been a tough draft to work on… actually I am going to be honest and use a naughty word – it has been a bloody nightmare! Things have not run smoothly, characters have run riot, I have been FORCED to research stuff and my heartstrings have been left in tatters.

Once I typed ‘The End’ I was…

View original post 612 more words

Weekend Coffee Share 17th June, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Shark Foam

Did you like my bit of fun with the Scrabble letters? Thought I’d give you a bit of a laugh. We’ve been playing Scrabble as a family over the last couple of weekends. It’s Winter here and Scrabble is such a great hibernation activity. Actually, I play Scrabble all year round, and I’m really thrilled our son’s really got into it. However, as much as I enjoy playing Scrabble online, its not the same as  as  delving into the bag to pull out your letters, and all the highs and lows which go along with it. Like books, I prefer hard copy or “the real thing”.

Jonathon scrabble blog

Our son using the modern dictionary to play Scrabble.

I’m starting to think we should film our Scrabble games, and even post them on utube. They can get quite hilarious what with the various words which crop up, and certain persons attempts to get weird and wonderful “words” through to the keeper. Last week, my attempt was “Quan”. Today, our son tried “Jaxie”, which is cockney rhyming slang for your backside. He’d found a site where you typed your words in and it came back with options. This was very good for him and enabled him to play along with my husband and I who are Scrabble affectionados. By the way, another cheer went up when my husband put down “GLOAT”. He did end up gloating at the end of that game. Although I won the first game, Geoff romped home in the second game and thrashed me by 101 with a score of 238.

Gloat

Sorry, I’ve been raving on about Scrabble so much, that I’ve forgotten to offer you a cuppa…tea, coffee, juice? I can also offer you a mint flavoured Tim Tam. They’re really addictive (much like Scrabble).

How was your week?

Thinking about the last week, I seriously need a holiday. I’ve been spending the last couple of months, sorting out our house and I’m starting to reach the point where a good week involves clearing the stuff out of the bathtub. Yes, it was quite a eureka moment when our daughter was finally able to have a bath for the first time in well…a long time. Being so focused on cleaning, organization and the state of dust around the place, is so not me and I’m starting to wonder if I’ve crossed over to the devil. After all, for most creatives, cleanliness is anti-creativity.

Rah 2017

Rah the New & Improved Much Loved Lion.

During one of my clean-ups, I found my son’s toy lion in need of major reconstructive surgery, looking like he’d been mauled by a tiger after years of enduring “too much love”, which included having his mane cut off during a “haircut”. So, I did what parents do. I donned my surgical cap. Pulled out the needle and thread and patched him up “like a surgeon”. Well, at least I did my best. I certainly didn’t throw him out. He’s part of the family.

You can read about saving Rah here: Like A Surgeon…Saving “Rah”.

Meanwhile, there’s a world out there beyond my four walls where things have been pretty bleak. Naturally, my thoughts have been over in London following the terrorist attack and the horrific fire which destroyed Grenfell Tower. Words can’t describe such grief, but like people the world over, I care and offer my condolances, which sounds so lame.

However, last night I heard about The Great Get Together , which is being held arount the UK this weekend on the anniversary of the death of murdered MP, Jo Cox who spoke out about greater racial tolerance, acceptance and intergration. Being a social person, her husband, family and the wide community wanted to do something positive to honour her life.

It was all a bit late to organize a physical get together this weekend. So, I did what bloggers do. Organized an online party and invite you to join us here. We’d love to have you along.

Anyway, I hope you’ve had a great weekend.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Nerd in the Brain.   We would love to have you pop over and join us. Just click on the Linky.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Great Get Together Goes Global #MoreInCommon

Lately, I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed by the latest terror attacks in the UK, which as we all know too well, are simply the latest chapters in a much longer story. Despite believing in the power of the pen to overcome the sword and in the power of the individual to change the world, or at least influence the world around them, I am starting to doubt. These attacks are so random and unpredictable and the victims ordinary people…it’s all becoming quite impossible to fathom.

Coffee french

For those of you who have been following my blog for some time, you’ll know that I’ve been part of a global blogging group 1000 Voices for Compassion, which started up after the attacks on Paris. However, I’d already been speaking out against terrorism  following the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in the Ukraine and the Lindt Cafe Siege in Sydney. Journalists covering the MH17 disaster, brought back sunflower seeds from the crash site to give to families and friends of the victims. I had written to many of these victims and we sent them red hearts on paddlepop sticks which the kids had made to acknowledge their loss. It wasn’t much, it came from the heart. When I heard that they were offering the sunflower seeds, I put my hat in the ring not expecting anything. However, a few months later, a package arrived in the mail with a tin of seeds, a photo and a beautiful letter wishing: “May your sunflowers bloom.”

may your sunflowers bloom

A personal message from journalist Paul McGeogh & Kate Geraghty who sent me the sunflowers.

It took me a year to find the courage to plant those seeds. I am not a great gardener and I didn’t want to destroy something so precious, especially through my usual neglect. However, I was contacted by the cousin of the pilot of the plane who had lost her seeds and I thought I finally had to have a go. Have some faith. As these seedling were growing, I managed to take them to a few local schools to talk about compassion, the love of a stranger and the need to take a stand not only against terrorism, but also to simply treat each other better. These are simple truths. Not rocket science but when we think of changing the world, we usually think so big that we feel overwhelmed and do nothing. It’s so easy to forget that a simple cup of tea can be a stepping stone towards something momentous.

So, tonight when I heard about The Great Get Together which is being held across the UK to honor the life of slain MP Jo Cox, I wanted to get onboard, even though I’m in Australia on the other side of the world. After all, why not take Jo’s message global.

In her maiden speech in Parliament, Jo said: “We have far more in common than that which divides us.”

So, I’d like to invite you to join me for a cup of tea or coffee, toast and Vegemite and even a chocolate Tim Tam. I’d like you to share a bit about yourself and let’s see if we can help join the dots right around the globe.

So, here are our conversation starters. Please leave your answers in the comments below and I ask you to reblog this please. Let’s get the party started!

  • Which country do you live in? How about the city or town you live in?
  • What do you like about where you live? What’s a favourite spot?
  • What is your favourite novel? Why?
  • What is your favourite film? Why?
  • Do you prefer tea or coffee? Why?
  • Introduce your blog and provide a link.

Here are my responses:

I live in Australia with my husband Geoff, our two kids Mr who is 13 and Miss who is 11 and our two dogs. We live in Greater Sydney on Broken Bay a stone’s throw from the beach and a short drive to Brisbane Water, which is protected and ideal for sailing and kayaking. So, we have the best of both worlds, although I tend to appreciate our local area more as a walker with and without the dogs.

What I love most about where we live, is the relaxed atmosphere and the proximity to the hussle and bussle of Sydney, without being in it. Initially, we moved here due to more affordable real estate. However, being away from the thick of it is a real drawcard, which we’re appreciating more and more. My husband commutes to Sydney by train and Sydney is only a train trip away and I also do enjoy that proximity to catch up with family and also get to arty places like Surry Hills.

My Favourite novel. I’m not much of a novel reader. My favourite books are more inspirational and philosophical such as Kilail Gibran’s The Prophet, Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s With Morrie and Daniel Gottlieb’s Letters to Sam. If you haven’t read these, I highly recommend them.

My favourite film: Casablanca. Years lately, I still go to jelly with so many of those lines and feel a dreadful heartache as I watch the plane take off.

Tea or coffee: I mostly drink decaf tea because I’d be flying if I drank coffee of full strength tea all day. I start the day with a medium strength expresso and will have another if I go to a cafe. I generally have a full strength English Breakfast tea to backup the coffee in the mornind another in the afternoon.

I started Beyond the Flow five years ago as a stepping stone to getting my writing out into the world.My focus at the time was on getting published in the mainstream media and to write and publish books. However, the blog gained a life and purpose of its own, which has also helped me find my voice. This voice surprised me as it was very different to what I’d expected. In the five years I’ve been blogging, there have been many twists and turns. Most notably, there’s been the ups and downs of living with my chronic health conditions…hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain and dermatomyositis, which included a stint of chemo and the uncertainies which go with all of that. I’ve been in remission for 3.5 years now, which hasn’t been smooth sailing. It’s been a very long road for me to find my feet again but I am almost there. My blog is very much about my role as a parent and aspects of that journey with our kids who were 8 and 6 and are now 13 and 11 years old. We have also added another dog to the family. I love how the blog has documented these moments.

Best wishes and I look forward to getting together,

xx Rowena

Like A Surgeon…Saving “Rah”.

Today, our son’s much loved soft toy lion, “Rah”, ended up in the operating theatre with Dr Curtin on duty. Unfortunately for Rah, he got the wrong Dr Curtin. So, while he’s all stitched up and you can’t see the stitches through the fur, he’s not what he was. Not that he was what he was before I got to him. Indeed, when our son was three, he gave Rah a haircut and took off much of his mane. So, you could say, that Rah had lost his magic powers long ago. On the other hand, after being with us all this time, he’s gained a very different power… the power of love.

Sadly, when you’re an über-loved, scraggly soft toy, you don’t get your choice of surgeons when your stuffing pops out. Rather, “You get who you get and you don’t get upset.” Worse still, you’re told to be grateful. Unlike so many of your peers, you’re being stitched up. You’re not being thrown out. As for anaethesetic or fancy equipment, all you get is a needle and thread…nothing high tech. And, as for the surgeon, that’s a no brainer. It’s Mum. Mum who failed cross stitch class and could never turn her needlework over. Yes, Mum of “hack stitch” fame is sewing you up. Yet, all you can do is: “Keep calm and carry on”. Face your challenge like a lion. Be brave!!

So, there I was finally sewing Rah up. This wasn’t going to be easy. His front leg was split open with stuffing missing. There was a hole under his chin and another gaping wound on his hind leg. Many would’ve written him off, unceremoniously binning him while the child was at school.

However, I am not most people. I believe in history, stories, memories, friendship. So, when I was asked: “Can you fix it?” Of course, I answered: “Yes, I can!!”

 

 

There’s no way we’d ever throw Rah out. Indeed, I still have my childhood teddy which is probably little more than moth fodder by now, but I still remember my mother trying to patch her up as well. There was never a question of throwing her out either.  That’s because we need the old as well as the new. That, while time causes wear and tear, it also produces shared experiences, which ultimately develop into memories. Story stacked upon story, building fanciful tales.

By the way, the other thing I really like about my son’s attachment to Rah all these years, is that Rah was his choice. Our son chose Rah as his favourite toy and Rah is unique. He’s not a teddy, but a lion and I’m pretty sure he came from the op shop and wasn’t new. Our son also obviously named him “Rah”, making the roar himself for the lion which couldn’t make a sound.

 

Now, I’ll be interested to hear what the kids have to say about Rah’s surgery when they get home from school. While he’s now in one piece after having 4-5 holes stiched up, including a leg reconstruction, he’s obviously not in proportion. The stuffing had fallen out of his right leg and in order to give it added strength, I over-compensated and it now looks like it’s on steroids and his front legs are quite different. This could be considered “character”, but I have a feeling my daughter will struggle with the two legs looking quite different. However, it’s not her lion and unless she’s willing to fix it, she’ll have to let it be. As for our son, I think he’ll just smile at the latest Mummyism. After all, I do have my own unique way of doing things.

What are your views about fixing toys? Are they “trash” or “treasure”? I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena