A Doggy New Year!

Today, I read a great letter by Monika from Tails Around the Ranch to her much-love Poodle, Sam. Realising that my dogs could also benefit from a bit of friendly advice, I’ve set the wheels in motion with a New Year’s letter  to Bilbo, our much-loved 9 year old Border Collie.

4th January, 2015

Dear Bilbo,

Happy New Year!

Although I understand there are seven dog years to one human year, I am talking about the new human year. I know you probably didn’t realise that another human year has come and gone. That’s what all those loud explosions and flashes of light were the other night. We were celebrating the beginning of a whole New Year!

Anyway, I know you weren’t particularly looking for a lecture on human society and culture. However, you’re a smart dog and it’s important to get an education. These days, it’s simply not enough to go to Puppy Training School and only learn to sit. You also need to learn about and understand people and what makes us tick.

Anyway, making New Year’s resolutions is an age-old humaman tradition . New Year’s resolutions are a list of things you’d like to change about yourself so you’re a better person. Or, in your case, you become a better dog.

Quite often, this list is put together after days or even weeks of deep and probing soul searching, which is a bit like going on a journey to the centre of your own universe. You explore, as it were, your very own command centre and decide what stays, what goes and what needs a bit of fine-tuning.

In other words, it’s all about exploring all those idiosyncrasies you usually keep well hidden under that thick, woollen coat.

Or, buried in the backyard!

I have it on good authority that there’s some kind of New Year’s Eve Fairy Godmother who flies around the world wiping the slate clean at midnight. So, when we wake up in the morning, we’re brand new.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?!!

A New Year = A New You!

Being unaccustomed as you are to making New Year’s resolutions, I thought I’d better give you a bit of a hand. It’s not that we don’t love you just the way you are but as I said, we could all use a bit of “fine-tuning”.

Bilbo with ball

Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

1) Tennis Balls

Bilbo, as much as I appreciate that chasing your ball might be good exercise and that particularly for an older dog, your ball chasing and catching abilities are worthy of the Canine Olympics, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

This is called addiction.

The trouble with addiction is that when you keep pestering the rest of the family, visitors, friends and even strangers at the beach to continuously throw your ball and then bark persistently while they’re trying to have a conversation, this is the sort of severe addiction which results in total withdrawal. In other words, no ball at all!

It could also result in therapy, hospitalisation or worse.

Please accept when “enough” is enough and retire gracefully.

Remember! Too much persistence can be a health hazard to both you and the humans!

2) Begging

My food is NOT your food.

Yes, I appreciate that I could lose a bit of weight and that perhaps I’d be better off if the food on my plate ended up in your tummy. However, this isn’t your decision to make. Having your head on my lap and staring at me with those huge, irresistible puppy dog eyes, isn’t going to help.

3) Food Theft.

Before Lady arrived on the scene, you used to be such a good dog and never used to steal any food at all. However, just because our new arrival was on Australia’s Most Wanted, you didn’t have to join her. Indeed, you were supposed to train the new dog…not the other way around!

You have since been spotted with paws up on the kitchen bench and have been found guilty of stealing meat pies, cakes and toast. Just because the little people are careless with their food, that does NOT entitle you to take it…even if it does look like you’re helping to clean the house!

4) Barking

You are an excellent watch dog and we really appreciate your efforts at protecting the house from intruders.

However, as evidenced with your tennis ball, again there has been a degree of over-zealousness.

People ARE allowed to walk their dogs and ride past our house without being barked at. Moreover, the posty and delivery people can drop off packages without you lunging at the screen door and barking like a rabid dog. They are bringing us things we’ve ordered and are definitely not stealing anything.

Moreover, the bus driver is not trying to kidnap the children. So, you don’t need to rip the bus to pieces either.

bilbo BW dog food

The trail of dog food Miss left for Bilbo.

5) Lying in the Way

For some strange reason, you insist on lying across walkways and generally getting in the way, making it difficult to walk around the house. You are actually quite a large dog and take up a considerable amount of space. So, you need to keep that in mind when lying down. While ambushing burglars is a wonderful thing, your human parents do not appreciate being tripped up.

By the way, I’ll just add that sticking your paw out from behind the couch isn’t appreciated either. Looks like you’re really determined to trip us over!

6)Standing in the Rain

Bilbo for some reason you seem to stand out in the rain, even though you have a perfectly good kennel to keep you dry. Moreover, despite being wet and incredibly stinky, you still think you should be allowed inside the house and stare daggers at us when we shut you out. Stinky wet doggy smells stay outside!

The Good News

Perhaps, I should have given you a bit of a thank you first and told you what a good dog you’ve been and how much we love you but let’s finish this off on a high note of what you’ve done well in the last twelve months.

Bilbo & Lady

Bilbo & Lady

1) Accepted Lady.

Lady’s arrival was a huge change for you after being an only dog all your life and not really having a lot of interaction with other dogs. Indeed, I’m not really sure you knew how to be a dog before she came, even though you had met the others dogs at the beach before.

Although it took about a month for you and Lady to become friends, you have shown that you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!

2) Can walk on the lead without tugging.

You might not remember back to when you were a younger dog, Bilbo but you were quite a terror on the lead and used to bolt off towards the beach with the poor human flying behind you like a kite. Now that you’re no longer a pup and have matured, you’ve become very well-behaved on the lead and we’ve even received compliments. Well done!

3) Dog Psychologist.

You somehow manage to cheer up everyone in the family and help us feel better, no matter what’s going on. Mind you, sometimes you do get your timing a bit wrong and in the midst of a crisis we hear your tennis ball “bounce, bounce, bounce” on the floor. That can be a little inappropriate and unappreciated but nobody’s perfect.

4) Doesn’t runaway with Lady.

As we know, Lady seems to like wandering off and has runaway a couple of times. We really appreciated how you’ve stayed home and were a good dog and didn’t join her. Good Boy!

Bilbo shadow Palm Beach

Bilbo is now a shadow of his former self pictured here!

5) Lost Weight.

Well done, Bilbo. Somehow, you’ve managed to lose about 14 kilos in the last 12 months. We have no idea how you’ve done it, although you were quite crook with a terrible flea allergy for awhile. I’ll have to come and ask you for some diet advice as I seem to have gained instead.

So, Bilbo, there’s a bit for you to work on and a lot to be proud of as well. All fully achievable!

I’m now off to write to Lady. Still being a bit of a whippersnapper, she might be needing a bit of assistance. We all need somebody to lean on!

Love & Best wishes for the New Year!

Love Mummy!

Newton Family & bilbo

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


23 thoughts on “A Doggy New Year!

  1. wallcat

    Love the photos. My cat use to do the same with always laying in the way. She’d walk right behind you too as if trying to trip you up. Very mischievous, but always made us laugh.

  2. roweeee Post author

    Gee, these dogs really are crazy, aren’t they?!! I didn’t mention this but Bilbo also hates closed doors. You’ll be sitting on the toilet but you haven’t quite closed the door and he barges in barely says hello and goes out again leaving the door wide open. He also does the same with the back door, which is okay in Summer but cool in Winter. I think all that sheepdog breeding has developed quite a few quirks!

  3. roweeee Post author

    Thank you very much. I’ve never had a cat but my brother, aided and abetted by my Mum, have befriended the cat from across the road, who is very particular about things. He gets very spoiled but still keeps his distance, remaining aloof. He is his own cat and can not be bought.

  4. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Ralph. It’s always good to find a partner in crime. If it wasn’t for Lady, I’d be feeling quite dejected. Something tells me that her list will be very extensive. She’s a lovely dog but she definitely has a real penchant for mischief!
    xx Bilbo!

  5. wallcat

    Hehe, that sounds like a lot of cats I know. They like to do their own thing mostly, but can also be very loving. My cat didn’t like being left alone and was always happy to see us, but was very shy around anybody else.

  6. roweeee Post author

    My daughter is staying there at the moment and they’ve even bought toys for the cat. However, the cat had a trip to the vet recently but the owners paid for that. I think Mum offered them some money but it’s a pretty comfortable area and they didn’t take it.

  7. Pingback: Mummy! Dogs Can’t Read! But… | beyondtheflow

  8. treerabold

    What a wonderful idea!
    I’m sure Blibo appreciated you taking the time to provide doggy self help tips. I laughed all the way through…and nodded many times because the behaviors look familiar 🙂
    Lovely family photo

  9. Tails Around the Ranch

    A well done letter to the dog! I hope you have better luck with achieving the desired results than I’ve had with Sam. That dog is just dim.
    At any rate, Bilbo is adorable and he can catch all the balls I toss his way! ღ

  10. Norah

    I don’t have a dog so I can’t really identify but do appreciate, especially the humour. Glad to see you got some growth mindset encouragement in there expecting some improvement in his behaviour throughout the year! I hope he is able to meet some of the resolutions you have made for him! 🙂

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  12. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Norah. I am not feeling terribly encouraged. Like us humans, dog resolutions are also those things which are almost impossible to shift.
    We were at the beach the other day and ran into someone I knew. They were throwing their dogs the ball and Bilbo took over and started barking for them to throw it for HIM! They ended up having to hide the ball and you should have seen the mystified look on Bilbo’s face. That wasn’t part of the game at all.
    I have written a few dog stories over the years which I’ve fully intended to be children’s books but haven’t been sure which age group to pitch them at and and been thinking of them as chapter books instead, which would require significant rework and I’ve been more focused on my adult writing.
    However, this could be a good project to pursue while I’m driving our daughter to and from school in Wyong and filling in those hours in between. No point going home.
    BTW, I’d appreciate your thoughts on my most recent post https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/dog-hijacks-weekend-coffee-time/
    I had real issues with feeling my mother loved me as a child and I know my son feels the same way at times. With Bilbo talking, I’ve addressed this fear right at its heart but most of the readers know, Mister is at camp. He’s fine. There’s no reason for the family to be looking for him or bringing him home. He’s fine right where he is. Indeed, that’s where he’s meant to be. It shows that you can look at someone else’s actions and draw a whole set of wrong conclusions, only things aren’t so clear cut when you’re the one feeling unloved.
    I didn’t intend to tackle this enormous area when I wrote the post. It was just intended to be a bit of humour.
    However, through humour, I think you can actually bear to look at some of those incredibly painful emotions, which is difficult when you address them head on.

  13. Norah

    I think you’ve got great material there for some books, Rowena. You are great at putting the humour into the stories. I think you could pitch them at the 8-12 age group, or to adult dog lovers. Both would enjoy them.
    I can’t believe you are going to be away from home all week, sitting waiting while your daughter is at school. You’ll have to find a nice quiet comfortable place to do you writing. At least the house won’t be nagging you to do chores so you might get some dedicated writing time in and get that project finished.
    I love your post and have left a comment over there. I think you are right about being able to bear looking at painful emotions through humour. You’ve done it well in that post. I’m sure there are many other situations you could tackle in similar vein. You’ve already begun to tackle parenting in this one.
    Best wishes for a successful writing year!

  14. Pingback: “Just Paint!” Says Dibber-Dobber Dog. | beyondtheflow

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