The Road to Recovery.

A few days ago, I had no intention of revisiting the death of our beloved dog, Bilbo.He passed away three years ago, and my ongoing grief was nicely contained and locked away inside its protective coating (aside getting emotional on occasional Border Collie sightings). However, after reading a few dog posts and starting to write about Bilbo again, it soon became clear that my grief was still there and almost just as raw.

Newton Family & bilbo

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

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Bilbo had been our family dog since our youngest was a baby until she was on the cusp of becoming a teenager. Yet, in that time, Bilbo aged with his paw stuck firmly on the accelerator and he whooshed through life like a speeding bullet. All too soon, he was old and passed away.

As you might recall, Bilbo appeared in quite a few posts at Beyond the Flow, and he’d even jumped on a few times himself and put in his own two-bob’s worth. All that writing forged an incredibly intimate connection between us, where I’d all but crawled inside his fur and walked on four legs (even if I wasn’t quite sure how to operate his tail).

However, all that writing’s remained untouched sitting on my blog in the same way someone leaves a loved one’s room completely untouched after they pass away. It’s not that I was in denial. It’s been more of an avoidance thing. When it comes to going through all of that and reliving all these stories, I know it’s going to hurt, and I won’t be able to rip the band aid off quickly. Sorting these stories out is going to take quite a lot of time and meticulous attention to detail seen through an emotional lens. So,we’re talking about diving straight into the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench without a snorkel and crawling into a cave until it’s done. You don’t need to be Einstein to understand why that hasn’t happened.

Or, why my mother, hasn’t finished sorting out her parents’ belongings after they passed away either. Who wants to pack someone you love away? Or, worse still, throw them out?

It hurts.

It’s also such a travesty.

However, I didn’t come here to condone, or even encourage avoidance. Rather, I wanted to share what helped us cope a little better.

Amelia & Lady

Lady & Miss NYE 2015

The first thing we did was turn to Lady, our surviving dog. However, the poor thing was grieving for Bilbo herself, and there we were desperately passing her round from lap to lap like pass the parcel expecting intensive therapy. The worst of it was, that while Lady was a very happy little dog and I’ve never seen another dog wave their tail with such gusto, she doesn’t fetch. With Bilbo being ball obsessed and having two active kids, that became a major short coming. She did come across a bit faulty, especially being part Border Collie.

Lady kids coffee

Kids and dogs are often perfect partners in crime.

Meanwhile, I started looking for toy Border Collies online. I thought this might help. However, I actually managed to stumble across a fully weighted almost life-sized Border Collie and needless to say, he found his way home. He simply became: “Fake Bilbo”. He helped for a little while, although he was clearly less interactive than Lady. (You can read about how that went HERE)

Fake Bilbo & Lady

Spot the real dog.

Of course, this all started pointing towards getting a second dog. However, our finances weren’t great, and we thought we’d wait a year. Give ourselves a chance to grieve.

However, fate soon intervened. There’s nothing like “the hair of the dog”.

Lady & pups sleeping

Lady with Zac and Rosie while the going was good. Zac is down the front.

You see, a close friend was part of a dog fostering group and she’d heard that a litter of Border Collie x Kelpie pups had come into care and they were looking for foster families. She thought fostering would allow us to see how we liked the dogs and whether we wanted to keep one, or foster them both out. We headed off to a local pet shop car park on a cold Winter’s night about 10.00 pm until a car with dog trailer pulled up and there he was… our beautiful puppy, Zac. I’d already chosen him from a photo online and my heart fluttered as soon as I saw him. Our daughter picked out the second pup, Rosie, due to the white stripe on her head “like Bilbo” and her black spots. They were micro-chipped, vaccinated and loaded into the car – never to return.

Amelia & Dobby

Our daughter with Dobby in her hoody..

That’s how we ended up with three dogs. The two pups bonded so closely together that they’re like a single dog split in two. That meant we couldn’t separate them and we couldn’t make up our minds either and had a 50-50 split.

However, wait! There’s more.

Now, that we’d become part of this animal rescue network,  we got wind that they needed carers for a litter of kelpie pups and we put our hands up to take two. They were supposedly “4 weeks old and had been weaned”. However, they were closer to three weeks old and were still being bottle fed. They could barely walk, and it looked like they hadn’t been outside on the grass before. They were absolutely adorable… our two little rolly pollies. I still remember when Zac, who was still a pup himself, helped one of the micro-pups up the back steps. He was so good with them.

Zac & Dobbie

Zac with little Dobby.

Unfortunately, Lady didn’t share his enthusiasm, and must’ve been really confused about where all these puppies were coming from! She’d gone from living with and losing Bilbo, to having our two pups turn up out of nowhere. As if that wasn’t enough to get used to,  two more pups turned up. Lady went from being an only dog, to being an instant mother of four. Where was it going to end? She didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all! There was a lot of deep throated growling telling those wretched pups who was boss. Needless to say, Lady wasn’t about to win any awards for being: “Mother of the Year”.

 

Rosie Zac & Dobby

Rosie on the left while little Dobby gives no thought to size and plays tug of war with Zac fighting over the stuffed sheep.

That left us with five dogs for a few months, which was a bit full-on, but we loved them all. All these puppies sure made us laugh, and rekindled our appreciation of the little things, as they bumbled along in their puppyish ways exploring the world through fresh eyes.

Moreover, it reminds me of what happens at the office when that completely over-worked person finally leaves. It takes two new people to do their job. For awhile there, it took five dogs to fill Bilbo’s paws. Yet, by immersing ourselves in dogs during that time of grief, it certainly helped us get through. Indeed, it reminds me of an old saying: “If you can’t have the one you love, love the one you’re with. If you can’t love the one you’re with, switch off the light.”

D9obby & Jonathon

That’s a piece of wisdom which must be applied with caution. However, there is no one way of dealing with grief, and not everyone wants to move on. They don’t want to fill that empty chair, and that’s fine too. It’s just about ultimately reaching a point, where we’re okay.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Having added the photographs of the puppies to the text, it really brought home to me how uplifting it was to have the puppies in the house. I don’t like to harp on about my health issues and the impact they have on our family and the omnipresent cloud hanging overhead. It’s been no accident that we’ve had dogs in the house. They’ve been there for emotional and comic relief, and I remember how close I was to my dog growing up and that there may come a time when they really need to call on the dog for some pretty hard core support. Fortunately, so far so good.

Maybe, one day our kids will read this and come to realise how much thought and action’s gone on behind the scenes…mother duck gliding along looking like she’s doing nothing, but paddling like a maniac under the surface and particularly late at night.

 

8 thoughts on “The Road to Recovery.

  1. lindamaycurry

    So many puppies! It must have been such fun! We had many dogs when I was young but they rarely died of old age. They were usually killed on the Hume Highway or the railway. There were many tears. Still I would love to have one now.

  2. Rowena Post author

    Hi Linda,
    It was fun having all those puppies. One of the Kelpie pups, Dobby who was in most of those photos, used to howl when I played my violin and I’ve recorded it. He was incredibly cute.
    I’m sorry your lost your beloved pets in such a brutal way. My sister-in-law lives at Nureybar inland from Byron Bay and they’ve lost a few dogs to ticks over the years. Their last dog died of old age and they thought they’d be travelling and didn’t get another dog but I know the tick factor came into it. It was heartbreaking.
    I asked my Mum if she knew your husband and she said she knew of a Dr John Curry at school who was a year above or below. I don’t think I mentioned to you that the old school magazines are available online. I think it was through the school. I found them a few years ago.
    How have you and your husband been keeping? I’m thinking of getting the Ancestry DNA test done soon. I’ve managed to save a bit during lock down. I’ve done pretty well with my research but there are a few gaps.

  3. lindamaycurry

    Dr John Currie was a different person. He was a world renowned brain surgeon! He was a bit younger than my John and was school captain and a champion athlete. A bit hard to live up to!

  4. Tails Around the Ranch

    Those extra special dogs never really leave us-they just take up residence in the deepest parts of our heart. It was probably poetic the pups came along when they did. Seems like it was the universe answering the call for comfort.

  5. Rowena Post author

    It so was. We really needed them. They were little bundles of love.
    BTW I’ve put together a rather lengthy post about Acknowledgement and Gratitude and found this picture of Bilbo sitting on the edge of my parent’ jetty looking out at the water looking very philosophical and reflective. I’m sure he was a deep thinker.

  6. Tazzie

    My two dogs grieved so much when we lost the oldest eighteen months ago. Even seeing him buried( I was so fortunate he died at home in his sleep) they checked on me to make sure he was buried well. I too fostered puppies..love it, I also did kittens. Helped us all to live better, though of course he is missed, as is Bilbo.. loving our dogs or cats birds rats what ever pet is love

  7. Gary A Wilson

    oh wow!
    From such a loss to a canine family of 5.
    There is a case of puppy love overdosing here looking for a heart to overflow.
    All that and great imagery along the way.
    Fun read Rowena

  8. New Journey

    Oh my, I want a puppy!! LOL I have picture of my first border collie I had for 13 years sitting on the shelf. She was also named Chika, lol Chika Una, and now we have Chika Dos. LOL I miss my old girl. I got her at a time in my life when I needed the love and kindness a dog can give. She was my bestfriend, my confidant and always by my side. She even went to work with me sometimes. LOL All in all she was one of my kids. It was so nice to get to say hello in person the other night. I enjoyed seeing you. Lets do it again soon, XXkat

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