Category Archives: Photography

Lady Di…Once Upon a Fairytale.

Once upon a time, a little girl with her hair in plaits and eyes full of dreams, watched as a magical fairytale unfolded on TV. Prince Charles was engaged to Lady Diana Spencer. Indeed, there was Diana fever and every single magazine around the world flashed Lady Di’s face on the cover. Moreover, as photographers pursued “Lady Di” like a frightened deer, millions watched on, including the little girl, entranced by her beauty and even the fairytale itself. Consciously, and even unconsciously, millions were swept up into this unconventional fairytale, where the not-so-handsome, big-eared Prince, had fallen in love with the shy, young kindergarten teacher hiding behind her fringe.

Charles & Di Wedding collage.JPG

 

The Royal Wedding, with all its pomp and circumstance, was held on the 29th July, 1981 the day before the little girl’s 12th birthday, when she was delighted to receive the commemorative stamps. Indeed, in the lead up to the big day, the little girl had been cutting up magazines and newspapers and pasting them into an exercise book with her school logo of the front. She might’ve lived in Sydney on the opposite side of the world, but she lived and breathed Lady Di, and now had concrete proof fairytales really could come true. Meanwhile, thanks to “Gran”, her friend ended up with a Lady Diana haircut…

Rowena 1981

Here I am aged 12 back in 1981.

The little girl knew everything there was to know about Diana. Indeed, there was nothing she didn’t know about the Royal couple. It was all in her book.

Princess Diana and Charles carriage

So, it will come as no surprise, that the little girl was glued to the TV set when Lady Diana Spencer arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral in her magical horse-drawn carriage wearing “The Dress”. If you were there, as in parked in front of your own TV set, you’ll also remember that moment when Lady Diana turned to the crowds with her dazzling smile and waved. It was a moment frozen in time. Who could not but fall in love with the beautiful Princess?

As we now know, almost the entire world was in love with Lady Diana Spencer, except her Prince.

Indeed, an invisible worm had infiltrated the dreams of England’s Rose and William Blake’s famous poem almost seems prophetic:

The Sick Rose

O Rose thou art sick.

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night

In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy:

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

William Blake

Princess Diana engagement

Interesting body language here.

However, right from the beginning, the clues were there. Even while they were announcing their engagement, Charles let it slip in an interview. When he said he was “just delighted and happy”, the interviewer sought further clarification, “And I suppose in love?”Charles’s reply is now haunting:  “WHATEVER ‘in love’ means.” Diana instantly replied, “Of course,” with a grimace and an eye roll. “Yes,” she giggled. Then Charles added: “Put your own interpretation on it,” as a feeble attempt to cover himself.

Perhaps, he’d hoped that love would come. However, as we now know, the Prince wasn’t in love with the beautiful, kindergarten teacher. Rather, he was still in love with Camilla, who for better or worse, has often been cast as the Wicked Witch in this fractured fairytale. However, the little girl knew nothing about all of that back then, and neither did the shy kindergarten teacher. Rather, she had found her Prince.

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Twenty years after Diana’s death, it is hard to fathom that sense of Diana Fever which engulfed the world. It’s impossible for me to explain it to my kids, because there’s nothing like it. There’s no one like her either. She was omnipresent. There was the Lady Di hair cut, the Lady Di collar with the bow around the neck, THE Wedding Dress, I’m not doing to touch all the dirt that came up during the divorce and so much more. Then, there was her funeral. Two thousand people attended the ceremony in Westminster Abbey[1] , the British television audience peaked at 32.10 million (one of the United Kingdom’s highest viewing figures ever.[2]), and two billion people traced the event worldwide.[3] This makes Diana’s funeral one of the most watched events in history – Wikipaedia.

Somehow, the fairytale became so all-consuming, that it became one-size fits all. So many people wanted a piece of her, until there was almost nothing left for herself. Well, that’s how the theory goes. No one can keep giving and giving or even worse having themselves constantly taken away, particularly without their consent, without fading away and dying on the inside. Indeed, in some kind of reverse fairytale, couldn’t it be possible that every time the princess’s photo was taken and her image was stolen away, that her sparkle started to fade on some parallel portrait, just like Oscar Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Grey? That by the time of her death, that the Princess’s portrait had completely disappeared, with nothing left but the last veil?

diana and boys.JPG

Yet, that was not Diana. Rather, she rebuilt herself. While I don’t profess to be any kind of expert, it’s not difficult to infer that Diana found meaning and a zest for living through being “Mummy” to her boys. Recently, William and Harry have spoken out about losing their Mother, and shared her great sense of humour and how much fun they had with her. What losing her, has meant to them.

There was also her charity work, which was so much more than sipping cups of tea and attending cocktail parties. Indeed, she was quite a revolutionary and physically went to places angels feared to tread.

In April 1987, she shook hands with a man living with HIV/AIDS without gloves, while opening the UK’s first purpose built HIV/Aids unit at London’s Middlesex Hospital. While this might not seem a big deal now, at the time, AIDS was the new leprosy. Touching someone with AIDS, was a ground breaking act. With that single gesture, Diana showed that people living with HIV/AIDS needed compassion and understanding, not fear and ignorance. So it went, that if Princess Diana wasn’t afraid of shaking hands with someone living with HIV/AIDS or cuddling an affected child, we could do it too. It wasn’t going to kill us. She broke down some pretty major barriers on that front. As I said, her actions and deeds were revolutionary, making such a difference. It wasn’t just words and playing it safe.

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It was the same with her support for banning of landmines. While this remains an important issue, back in 1997, even the British army still kept land mines in its arsenal The Princess was a benefactor of the nongovernmental organization: the Hazardous Areas Life-Support Organization, or HALO.  On Jan. 15, 1997,  she walked through an active minefield in Angola, and detonated a mine in front of an audience of international reporters, with the help of a land mine removal expert. “I did not want to be on the front page of the news the next day,” that mine removal expert, Paul Heslop, recently told the BBC, “as the man who’d blown up Princess Diana.”

Although Diana died a few months later, her efforts saw the UK ratify the international convention banning land mines the following year. Today, 80 percent of the world’s countries have signed on to the treaty. Among the countries yet to ratify the international ban on land mines are China, Russia and the United States.

So, despite her divorce, it seems Diana still believed in fairytales and in trying to make the world a more loving, safer place. Not only that, she took action and worked hard towards those goals, to the point of risking her own safety. Indeed, she was the Queen of Hearts who worked with love, compassion, drive and wasn’t afraid of stepping out and challenging her own fears to make a difference. Moreover, you can see this legacy living on through Prince Harry’s work with the Invictus Games, which use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women.

That is the Diana I choose to celebrate and honour now. The survivor and trail blazing revolutionary, who truly carpe diem seized the day and changed the world around her using love and influence. Sure, she had issues, but I’m not about to cast the first stone. My house is well and truly made of glass.

Meanwhile, my precious exercise book with the school logo on the front and Diana inside, is somewhere up in the attic. Although it’s a bit cringy-worthy these days, especially as I am an  Australian Republican, it’s still precious. It took a lot of hard work reading, cutting out and pasting to produce that book, and it’s as much a tribute to that little girl. Moreover, I still believe in Princess Diana and all she’s left behind. That’s because when you put all the hoopla aside, Princess Diana remains a truly remarkable woman…an eternal inspiration.

Is there anything you would like to say about Diana? Any memories? Please share them in the comments. 

By the way, I just found this article which goes to show I wasn’t the only one with a Diana scrapbook: Royal Weddings

xx Rowena

Dog, that is NOT your bed!

You provide your dog with a comfy dog bed and blankets in the house, the choice of two kennels outside, not to mention a possie lying on the grass in the midday sun and what does she do, she sets up residence on my son’s bed as if she owns the place.

As you’re probably aware, our dog is called Lady. Being a dog, she doesn’t have Google access to nut out the difference between being a “Lady” and being a “Princess” or even, (heaven help us) “THE Queen”. However, there’s no doubt that she firmly believes she’s holds prime real estate in Burke’s Peerage.

Or, maybe, she’s just dyslexic and thinks she’s God.

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Lady is “simply irresistable”.

Knowing the presumptiousness of that dog, I wouldn’t be surprised. She’s definitely working towards world domination. Or, at least, domination of our world.

So, it was that I caught her sleeping on my son’s bed yesterday, and not for the first time either. However, this time I managed to secure photographic proof.

Caught her in the act.

“I don’t really understand that process called reincarnation but if there is such a thing I’d like to come back as my daughter’s dog.”

Leonard Cohen

Dogs are curious characters and I never tire of watching and loving them and forgiving their indiscretions in a way you’d never do for a person. No doubt, that’s the reason they have those huge puppy dog eyes. Master manipulators who fly under the radar, they know it only takes one look to be forgiven…or to receive a snack.

We are but putty in their paws.

Has your dog been up to any mischief or adventures lately? I’m thinking I should turn this into a regular feature…Dob in your dog. 

Hope you’re having a great week.

xx Rowena

PS In case you’re wondering, Lady is a Border Collie x Cavalier. She’s totally black aside from a little patch of white on her chest and on her paws. She has floppy cavalier ears and very silky cavalier fur. She’s a very pretty dog.

PPS: Lady has requested an upgrade after seeing this French mansion: https://wikr.com/rsyt-auyt-man-stumbled-upon-abandoned-mansion-countryside-blown-away-saw-inside/?utm_source=desc&utm_medium=bestbot1

Dog Walking in Winter.

Just when I was fully cocooned in my doona and vowing to stay put until Spring, a friend invited me to walk the dogs at the beach. Given the bitter cold, the rational part of my brain was telling me to defer a few months.

However, our friends have a new dog they’d adopted during the week. So, like the cluckiest of grandma’s swooping on the new baby, I was uber keen to meet “the new dog”.

That’s why Lady and I found ourselves braving the elements this morning at a bracing 11°C or 51°F. That’s like putting an Australian into the deep freeze and closing the door. I do not respond well to the cold!

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It was fun walking our dogs along the beach. While it wasn’t their first trip to the beach with their new dog, they’re still finding their feet and paws and getting to know each other and the elements. Dog didn’t disgrace herself too much. Well, at the beach. She loved chasing the waves and biting them. If you have any experience of dogs drinking sea water, you’ll know this didn’t end well. However, we are still mid story and she still had a huge run down the beach to get through. We were concerned that she wouldn’t turn back. After all, she’s still bonding and getting to know her new family and where she belongs.

Meanwhile, Lady was wandering all over the place sniffing in her usual form. I think she disowns me at the beach. I ran into my usual dogwalking friend and filled him in about Bilbo. I hadn’t seen him since Bilbo passed, although he wasn’t surprised by the news. He was still throwing tennis balls for his dogs and usually Bilbo would’ve been barking at him to throw the ball for him too. Bilbo was a great dog but he was utterly obsessed and could be extremely bossy and demanding. Lady is relatively mellow. She doesn’t even bark when we have visitors. This means we’re now needing to get our doorbell fixed. No one could come near our place without Bilbo heralding their arrival. So, he was a fantastic doorbell, even if he was rather over-zealous.

Do you have a favourite local place where you walk your dog? If so, feel free to add a link in the comments. 

xx Rowena

PS It is looking like we could well be minding a border collie x kelpie for a bit. Her owner is trying to find pet friendly accommodation and didn’t want to give her up. After losing Bilbo, I didn’t want her to lose her fur baby. Stay tuned.

 

Lady: On Becoming An Only Dog…

Greetings Friends,

This is Lady, Rowena’s dog. Mum’s ducked off for a cup of tea. So, I’m doing some fast typing before she gets back. If you’re lucky, I might even include a selfie or two. I’m getting very clever these days. Well, clever might be a bit of an exaggeration. At least, I’m getting high tech.

No doubt, you’ve heard our devastating news that my canine companion, Bilbo, passed away on Monday morning. It’s hit us all very hard.

That’s when I first realized how much Bilbo did around here. That he wasn’t just chasing his ball and barking at anything with wheels. Rather, he was responsible for emotional support, and now I’ve inherited the job.

Quite frankly, being a relatively little dog, trying to support the rest of the family is beyond my capabilities. Of course, I mean well and do my bit, wagging my tail like mad trying to cheer them up. I’ve also tried splitting myself four-ways and giving them a paw each. However, I was being seriously over-stretched and thought I might snap. Unfortunately, I’m not real good with this grieving business. The humans are wearing their brains out with all their questions, and all that’s beyond me. I follow the KISS Principle instead… Keep It Simple, Stupid. That works well for me.

Obviously, I am not Bilbo. Yet, I feel those expectations.

Bilbo shadow Palm Beach

Bilbo with his thoughts.

Bilbo was philosophical like the rest of the family and got caught up in his own questioning. I remember how he was forever trying to work out whether he was human or a dog. Indeed, he was so hung up about it, that his brain pumped enough steam out his ears to power a machine. I warned him that all this overthinking was going to kill him, but did he listen to me? Obviously, not!!

Then, as if that wasn’t enough stress to burn his brains out, he kept telling me, that he wanted to find his real Mum and Dad. Find out where he came from. As if I knew! We dogs don’t have Facebook or Google…only telegraph poles, but they only record scent. There’s no quick way of matching DNA. So, I told Bilbo to live in the now. Accept what is, but he couldn’t help himself. I guess that’s one of the downsides of having a turbo-charged brain. You can spend way too much time tying your thoughts up in knots, rather than letting them flow.

By now, you’ve probably gathered that Bilbo was the philosopher, not me. Indeed, I’ve been called “simple”, but I prefer “straightforward” or “uncomplicated”…even if they are big words I plucked out of the thesaurus. Once, I even caught Mum Googling about dogs with special needs. At first, I thought this was something to do with fussy eating. However, Bilbo explained that I was simple. That there was nothing wrong with being simple, just as long as I didn’t get any bright ideas about trying to rule the world or being the Boss. Indeed, Bilbo was the boss and just like I’ve been doing my entire life, I played second fiddle. I was the underdog. Bilbo made all the decisions and I just followed (That is, unless it involved numerous escapes, escape attempts and food thieving rampages. Bilbo was such a goody four paws. However, there were a few instances, where he did consume the proceeds of crime.)

So, after this rather exhausting preamble, I thought I’d share a bit on what it’s been like to be an only dog. Or, “THE dog”.

Lady kids coffee

I’m still getting my head around what it means to be an only dog. Like most kids, you always think you’re going to be better off on your own when your competition is “gone” (in whatever sense of the word). However, I hadn’t factored in the extra workload. Indeed, I hadn’t realized how needy humans can be, and how busy Bilbo must’ve been…a real unsung hero. Although he had what must’ve been a very heavy pat-load, he never complained. Even when he was fast asleep dreaming, he’d hear the call and climb up onto Mum’s lap. He was good like that. Never put himself first.

Anyway, I must confess that as much as I loved my original dog family and Bilbo, I’ve been dreaming of becoming an only dog. Not unsurprisingly, I’d envisioned some kind of dog utopia where I’d be getting double the treats, eat both our meals, and get twice as many pats. I also dreamed of having the warm, smugly dog bed all to myself, without needing to evict my snoring mate. I also thought I could chill out, without having to bark like a maniac all the time. I don’t mean to defame the recently departed, but I have wondered whether Bilbo just loved the sound of his own bark. After all, he was rather OTT. He went off at bikes, the posty and whenever we dropped the furless kids off anywhere. He also made a real nuisance of himself down at the beach. He was so obsessed with chasing the tennis ball, that he rounded up other dogs’ parents to throw the ball for him as well. If they dared to pause for any kind of breather, he got on their case and started barking, being incredibly pushy. I was so embarrassed that I sought camouflage, rolling in dead anything to hide my scent. I’d never seen him before.

dogs

We were a great team.

However, as annoying as Bilbo’s constant barking and ball addiction could be down at the beach, he had my back. We were a team. Of course, I still have Mum and she means well. She keeps an eye on us at the beach, and thinks she understands us dogs. Indeed, she’s even had the audacity to write stories from a dog’s perspective. However, that doesn’t make her a dog. It doesn’t mean she gets us from the inside out. No matter how hard she tries, she never will. That’s just how it is. After all, she doesn’t bark. She doesn’t have a tail and she never sniffs anyone’s bottom to get acquainted. That’s just the beginnings of being a dog.

However, I humour her. Let her believe she’s an expert and I’m a few planks short of the pile. You can achieve a lot more when you’ve been flagged as an under achiever. No one sees you coming…or going…especially when you’re a rather well-camouflaged little, black dog with only the barest touches of white fur.

Anyway, I digress. As you can see, Mum has taught me how to write. She’s the master of digression.

So, here I am writing about life after Bilbo and what it’s like to be an only dog. Unfortunately, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.

Firstly, I actually miss Bilbo. I miss having another dog around here. Not that I’ve had much chance to get lonely. Mum hasn’t left me home alone yet. Instead she’s taking me everywhere with her in the good car. Well, that’s everywhere except the beach. As much as I love running around dog beach and catching up with my friends, none of us are quite ready to go back without him yet. Bilbo loved the beach. Indeed, he loved the beach so much that when he was a young whippersnapper, he tugged so hard on the lead, that his walkers became airborne, flying along like kites.

Secondly, I am feeling rather overworked without Bilbo looking after the family. They’ve been terribly upset and have gone on a real pat-fest since Bilbo passed. Obviously, they’re missing him terribly and I’ve become something of a surrogate. While it’s great to be so popular, I’m feeling very overstretched with everybody wanting me on their lap. It’s not easy trying to be egalitarian. What with giving everyone a paw each, I’m starting to snap, especially when they’re not in the same room. So, for now, I’m retreating to my bed, trying to wean them off me a bit.

Apparently, that’s why they got me when they did. Not because they loved and wanted me, but because they loved Bilbo so much, that they needed a surrogate. They needed another dog here in advance so that when he passed away, they still had a dog. None of this cold turkey business and fully embracing their grief, I was their emotional plug.

Well, I guess many dogs have a vocation. There are sniffer dogs, rescue dogs, Guide dogs, cadaver dogs. So, being a psychological support for my family, isn’t much to complain about. Love is a wonderful thing.

“Diet is “die” with a “t.”

– Garfield

Then, I received quite an unexpected shock. Rather than receiving double the treats and Bilbo’s food as well as my own, Mum’s put me on a diet. It seems that without “Big Dog” to make me “Little Dog”, I’ve become “Fat Dog”. Mum even pointed out that they could pick me up when I first arrived here and now they can’t. Meanwhile, I’m grazing the kitchen floor in search of scraps like a mad cow. So, reluctantly, even I concede that I might be just a little food obsessed. But who doesn’t indulge in a bit of comfort eating, especially during such a difficult time.

“Odie, let’s talk effort versus return here. You know, you can still lead a pointless life without all that running around.”

– Garfield

So now Dad tells me it’s my job to protect the house. Yet, since Bilbo passed, I haven’t felt like barking or defending anything. I even heard Mum talk about me losing my bark. I guess it will come back. Well, it better come back, because I don’t want to be plagued by Bilbo’s ghost. He was relentless in life. Goodness knows what he’s going to be like in the after-life. I’d better watch out.

Before I head off, I just thought I’d ask you if you have any tips of how to perk up humans?   Obviously, I’m not an expert and I’d really appreciate your help.

Love & paw prints,

Lady

 

 

Over the Rainbow Bridge…

Yesterday morning, a wise old dog taught me a hard lesson. That as much as there is a time to be born, there is a time to die and no matter how hard we might try to fight or change the overall scheme of things, that is a hard and unrelenting fact.

It is what it is.

Yesterday morning, the kids came racing in while I was still asleep and trying to pretend it was Monday morning, crying that Bilbo our beloved Border Collie, was dead. Even though we’d taken Bilbo to the vet and knew the prognosis wasn’t good, he’d perked up a bit and we had reason to hope. Indeed, even as the news hit, I still hoped the kids had got it wrong. That he was just asleep.

As you can see, I can stretch hope beyond the bounds of reason, and well into the realms of imagination. I can even stretch it further…something I blame on being a poet.

Bilbo had died seemingly peacefully in the backyard near his beloved Jacaranda tree. He clearly didn’t suffer. That’s a relief. It should be relief enough. However, I’m human. Indeed, I’m more human than I thought, because far from being made of stone after all we’ve been through, I am emotionally distraught. I’ve cried, but I’ve also had the strength to be there for the kids and answer their questions and reassure them, as much as I could, that everyone around them isn’t about to pass away too.

Bilbo with ball

Bilbo with his ball. Actually, that’s another dog’s ball. Humph! Just call him obsessed!

We buried Bilbo in the backyard with one of his many tennis balls and I sprinkled rose petals into his grave. In other words, we gave him the same kind of send off we’d do for any family member, although his was more intimate…just Geoff and myself.

Meanwhile, I know this is going to hurt for awhile.

Another aspect to Bilbo, is that he has been quite a feature here on my blog and has even written a few posts himself and has his own extensive circle of human and dog friends. I am grateful to not only have these memories, but it means so much to have shared Bilbo with you and that you have at least come to know him in part. It is no exaggeration to say, he was a four-legged angel. He loved us so completely with every cell in his being. I have never had any doubt that he would die protecting us either, giving us such a sense of safety and security. Yet, he wasn’t your bounding extrovert. He was actually a deep-thinking, somewhat melancholy introvert. I always described him as that bloke standing in the corner of the pub keeping to himself and holding his beer. He never jumped up on anyone. That’s Lady.

Fortunately, we still have our other dog, Lady. She’s an incredibly happy dog, who is forever wagging her tail. Indeed, she was wagging her tail at Bilbo and I couldn’t help thinking that, just like me, she was telling Bilbo to wake up.

“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”

-Mark Twain: Letter to W.D. Howells, 2 April 1899.

So, when I think of Bilbo walking over the Rainbow Bridge, I hope that he’s found a fill in family with the kind of tireless energy required to keep throwing his tennis ball…time after time. With his new, revitalized energy, they’ve going to need it.

RIP Bilbo…19th November, 2006 – 26th June, 2017.

Love,

Rowena

 

Bilbo going home

Saturday’s visit to the beach turned out to be his last. He laboured up and down the beach like an aged warrior and only managed a few laboured attempts to chase his ball. Mostly, it just rolled into the water. Lady doesn’t chase balls or sticks, preferring  to roll in dead anything instead.

 

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”.

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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.

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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.

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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