Portrait of a Lady.

Apologies to Henry James! This is a portrait of quite a different Lady.

You see, Lady is our new dog and I’m sure she wasn’t the sort of “lady” novelist Henry James had in mind in his Portrait of a Lady. However, it’s always good to revisit an old classic and add a fresh spin. Mind you, after getting to know Lady a little better, I’m starting to wonder whether Daniel Defoe’s novel: Moll Flanders would have been a more appropriate choice. As much as I don’t expect Lady to be ladylike, after all that’s a very old-fashioned view of women (even female dogs), a bit of added restraint might be in order.

Two weeks ago, we welcomed our new dog Lady, a two year old Border Collie x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel into our family almost with the excitement of a new baby. If you’re not an animal lover, this comparison might seem a bit over the top. However, I challenge you to look deep into those adorable chocolate brown eyes and not fall head over heels in love with our little bundle of joy. I’d be very surprised. Lady is simply irresistible and even better…she doesn’t cry or put us through those dreadful sleepless night either! The perfect baby!

However, the grandparents don’t share our uber-joy about our new arrival. They are yet to photograph Lady and certainly haven’t emailed half the universe proudly announcing the new arrival. Moreover, my mother hasn’t started knitting dog jumpers either…not that she’d knitted anything for the kids so I can’t accuse her of bias. The one concession that my mother has made to the dogs has been bringing over little scraps of ham in what we call “Grandma’s hambag”. Just like lollies with kids, the ham is an instant hit and the dogs never bark when my mother turns up. They both adore her.

Bilbo our 8 year old Border Collie who naturally behaves himself despite Lady's antics.

Bilbo our 8 year old Border Collie who naturally behaves himself despite Lady’s antics.

This lack of enthusiasm for the latest addition to our family wasn’t just confined to the grandparents. Not unsurprisingly, Bilbo our 8 year old Border Collie didn’t share our enthusiasm either and greeted her with a growl. For a few days, there was quite a standoff between them but there’s something about being stuck in a lift or in the same backyard that draws you together in the long run. After a few week’s together, they have now become “the dogs” and mostly hang out together. They have even survived the long drive to Palm Beach without a growl in a very cramped car.

The real odd couple. This Lady with her Dad..a ruby cavalier.  Lady actually looks more like Bilbo. Her mother was the Border Collie part of the equation.

The real odd couple. This Lady with her Dad..a ruby cavalier. Lady actually looks more like Bilbo. Her mother was the Border Collie part of the equation.

When you look at Lady and Bilbo together, they don’t immediately strike you as the quintessential odd couple. After all, they do look very much like each other. They’re both black and white with varying degrees of fluffiness. However, their temperaments are quite different.

The dogs out walking.

The dogs out walking.

Bilbo is a rather shy, nervy and introverted dog who takes a long time to warm up, even to regular visitors at our home. He’s become very protective and I know that my ongoing health struggles have stressed him out. Moreover, he didn’t get out all that much for awhile there. This means that he isn’t all that comfortable around other dogs and I’m still not really sure that Bilbo acknowledges that he’s a dog himself. To make matters worse, a dog roughed him up a bit and that set him back as well.

Meanwhile, Lady is your classic extrovert. Go walking with her and it takes at least twice as long to get anywhere. It’s a bit like when you drive a Kombi or some other iconic vehicle and everyone keeps stopping you in the street. Except with us, it’s Lady making herself at home with everyone she meets. Just like me, she is what you’d describe as uber-friendly. I’m constantly apologizing for her enthusiastic intrusions into other people’s space. The upside is that I’ve been meeting quite a lot of people and feeling quite at home in our adopted neighbourhood.

Despite knowing all of this, our walk today was still quite an experience and full of the unexpected.

Ever the social butterfly, Lady invited herself to a couple of picnics and was jumping up on total strangers just assuming they would fall completely head over heels in love with her and didn’t mind a strange dog intruding on their space. You know what dogs are like around food and I couldn’t be sure that she wouldn’t help herself but while I was still getting my head around that situation, she’d moved on.

I’m sure I’d only blinked but when I looked up. There she was up by the road jumping into a stranger’s car. I was absolutely mortified and I’m sure I almost stopped breathing. Thank goodness, she hadn’t strayed into a gang of dognappers. It was just a carload of backpackers who, like yours truly, had made the mistake of buying a Mitsubishi Magna and had broken down. Now, they had Lady leaping up into the car waging and wagging her tail. She just lapped up all the attention. Apparently, Lady just can’t get enough.

It’s great that she’s so friendly but we don’t want to lose her. Don’t know how I’m going to have the stranger-danger talk with a dog but I guess that’s what leads are for. However, it’s been almost beautiful watching her running free and she just loves jumping up and down the sea walls which are about 2 metres high. She’s a real little canine dynamo and such a happy, happy dog exuding such joy!!

When I give my overactive imagination just a little bit of scope, I reckon all it would take is a Superdog cape and Lady would actually fly! She’s an absolutely incredible dog!

I had just managed to extract Lady from the backpackers’ car when she jumped on top of a lady sleeping in another car with her door open. I was getting quite exasperated by this point. Not to mention embarrassed. Lady might be absolutely gorgeously irresistible but not everybody appreciates a strange dog giving them a big kiss in their sleep. Just when this poor sleeping stranger is dreaming about Mr Right, she opens her eyes. Oh no! It’s a dog!

So far we’ve only been walking for around 10 minutes and already Lady had invaded a picnic, jumped into two strangers’ cars and I haven’t mentioned how she’s meandered in and out of all the yards along the waterfront. Most of these houses aren’t occupied so it’s not a huge deal but watching her jump into strangers’ cars was alarming. I know it sounds like I’m not watching the dog but it’s a bit like when I’m out with the kids. One minute, I’m watching them and they’re right with me. Then I blink. By the time I unblink and we all know that only takes a micro millisecond, they’ve either vanished like magicians or they’re up to serious mischief.

However, while I blink and unblink this time, there was a noise in the traffic. The backpackers are calling out to me and Lady is running off towards the beach with something big and furry in her mouth.

What the???

OMG!!! When I finally catch up to her, Lady is eating a rabbit. I’m pretty sure she didn’t kill it herself and that it was road kill. That brought some relief but after watching Lady at work, I had no doubt that she’d had rabbit before and knows how to hunt. After all, in her past life she was a country dog living on a farm, not a city dog used to hanging out at the dog salon or even the local café.

That said, it’s obvious Lady needs a few lessons on how things are done around Palm Beach. I mean, it’s not the sort of place where you can just go and eat any old road kill…especially without a decent knife, fork and a crisp linen napkin. Such primitive behavior is completely unacceptable. Forget what the neighbours or the Joneses might think. At Palm Beach, we have the Murdochs, the Packers and enough paparazzi and do-gooders to really get busted. The last thing we need is Lady’s photo in the press along with the heading: “The Wild Savage of Palm Beach”. Or even worse, featured on the TV drama series Home & Away! Oh no! We don’t need that kind of publicity at all.

I have to admit that I was shocked and disgusted watching Lady at work and yet she was just following through on instinct. A dog is a dog. The rabbit was already dead and she was in effect just taking advantage of a free meal. Waste not want not. You could even say she was cleaning up and as much as rabbits might be cute, they are actually a serious environmental pest in Australia. They have devastated the Australian landscape. So as much as Lady’s behavior gave me the horrors, some would say she was being environmentally friendly.

Meanwhile, it’s been hard for me to reconcile the image of Lady eating that rabbit with the same gorgeous, little dog who crawls into my lap, loves being cuddled and stares at me with those gorgeously huge brown eyes. How can these two characters co-exist in the same dog: the affectionate lapdog and the savage? We seem to classify things into exclusive categories: good or evil. Yet, we know there is good and bad wrestling in all of us and that sometimes, even despite our best efforts, we succumb and require forgiveness… or at least a bit of compassionate understanding. Sadly, these days there’s no such thing as a chance. We’ve all got to get it right the first time or we’re out… at work or play. Clearly, in reacting so harshly, we are not playing fair. Everybody makes mistakes.

But there is such a thing as damage control.

Since the rabbit incident, Lady has been revisiting the road in search of fresh spoils and rather than coming back to me when I’ve desperately called her, I heard cars react. She was definitely on the road. As much as I want to give Lady her freedom, I don’t want her to pay the ultimate price. Now, as we approach the park and the road, she’s on the lead.

Better to be safe than sorry!

16 thoughts on “Portrait of a Lady.

  1. maxwellthedog

    You’re right – it’s impossible to look at that puppy and not want to scoop her up and take her home which I would do except the commute would really be tiring. Love the story which I can tell will forevemore be known at your household as “That Horrible Rabbit Incident of Which We Do Not Speak”.

  2. roweeee Post author

    She is the funniest dog. I am thinking of finding some kind of sheepdog trials for her to get involved in. The way she can jump is just incredible although she has a lot of trouble following instructions at this stage. She fits in very well with our kids and I have to admit, I’m very much the same. Thanks for listing your favourite sites onyour blog because I had been trying to find some good dog blogs and it made my search so much easier. It’s also good to hook up with people who are reading each other’s blogs so you get a bit of a community happening. I am looking forward to more stories. By the way, I had to laugh seeing your photo with all the Spam. We watched a big Mony Python anniversary show the other night and revisited all those Spma songs. I belonged to SPAM (the Sydney Python Appreciation Movement) when I was at Sydney University back in the early 90s. One of my mates walked around campus dressed as a viking with Spam hanging around his neck. I thought it was hialious at the time and signed up. Now, I’m not so sure. By the way, my Dad is a dead ringer for John Cleese in Faulty Towers. I couldn’t understand why people kept coming up to us and laughing saying: “Nudge Nudge Wink Wink Say no more!” We also drove an old station wagon with EGO as a number plate. People laughed at that too and upon reflection it must have been quite a sight seeing this John Cleese look alike driving a car called EGO…even John Cleese himself would be im[pressed with that one!!

  3. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    On the same wavelength and harking back to my previous comment about adopting a collie and black cat…. meet Lady a new addition who has all the collie attributes including introducing herself to strangers with the greeting ‘hi I am a collie and I know that you want to be my friend!” Something to enjoy with your coffee – I am just off to have mine and will be back later to continue my stroll through the blog lanes…

  4. roweeee Post author

    So much for not speaking about the rabbit incident, this morning after Lady tried to go inside a beautiful house on the waterfront which was open for inspection, a wicked thought crossed my mind: just imagine if Lady had turned up there with her prize rabbit?!! These people all looked very smartly dressed and as my daughter would say “posh”. She would certainly have given herself quite a reputation.

  5. Pingback: My Dog Post: Lady at Palm Beach, Sydney. | beyondtheflow

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  8. roweeee Post author

    Yes. The idea is to have everyone write about compassion on the same day. It’s well worth following the links on my post. They have also set up a page on wordpress where people who don’t have a blog especially children can contribute. I’ll find the link and add it to my post. Thank you so much for the reblog by the way. I’d love to see thing idea really take off xx Rowena

  9. Zander Zen-Dog

    Hello Rowena, I was tickled by your story of Lady. I think we may have her cousin or distantish relative, at least. Zander our Border Collie x Cavalier. Rehomed to us four years ago. A wonderful dog that is super smart, gentle, kind and loves to leap high like a kelpie (although it is forbidden). I hope I can post a photo here. Cheers, Julie

    Ahh … sad. It seems I am not able to post a photo of our boy, so very similar in appearance to Lady.

  10. Rowena Post author

    Hi Julie,
    What a shame you couldn’t post the photo. I gather you don’t have a blog yourself. Lady was an incredible jumper and escapee. I see a few look-alikes around but I do wonder whether their heritage is similar with a small Ruby Cavalier Dad and a border collie mum.
    Best wishes,

  11. Zander Zen-Dog

    Hello Rowena,

    Thanks for your reply. No I don’t have a blog, but Zander does have an Instagram account if you would like to see what he looks like. I will also try and attach a photo here too. https://www.instagram.com/zander_zendog/

    I haven’t actually seen any other dog like our Zander, although there is a little Dachshund/Cavalier on Instagram who could be his little bro. Lady is the closest I’ve seen. He was rehomed to us four years ago when he was five. His previous owner said that he is Cavalier x Border Collie. He is a dear boy and a wonderful companion for my husband and myself.

    Cheers, Julie

  12. Rowena Post author

    Hi Julie,
    Zander seems identical to Lady. She originally came from Tenterfield and her previous owner might’ve had a few litters. I’m going to see if I can trick my kids and they mix them up. This is going to be great fun. If you put Lady into the search field you can bring up some further photos. Lady is about 9 I think.
    Anyway, I’d better get to bed.
    Best wishes,

  13. Rowena Post author

    I just checked up and Lady was born in 2012 and is 9 which could put her in the same age framework as Zander. Lady’s previous owner who bred her comes from Victoria. I’m sending her an email with a link to Zander’s Instagram page. I’ve had a few people contact me about my family history through my blog, but the dog’s family history is a new development.
    Best wishes,

  14. Zander Zen-Dog

    Oh wow! Hello Rowena,

    Zander was born on Aug 16, 2012 in Macedon, Victoria. His original owner/guardian lived there at the time

    How exciting! I love the way dogs create connections! Through Instagram we discovered Peanut the Dashing Collie, a shorter version of Zander. He lives in Brisbane. They have become Insta buddies. 🤣

    I can’t wait to find out what you unearth.

    Cheers, Julie

  15. Rowena Post author

    I’ve emailed Lady’s breeder so it will be interesting to see what pans out. Even if they’re not genetically related, they’re very, very similar.

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