Tag Archives: border collie

Love is… A Dog In Uniform.

Last night, I found out that my dog Lady has an online boyfriend. So, today I’ve been processing the ramifications, and am going into what’s known in professional circles as “Harm minimisation”, but in the real world as “going into damage control”.  Just like parenting your own kids, there’s no manual advising you on how to parent your dog either. Only an educated guess, gut feel and prayer.

While conventional wisdom recommends to “let sleeping dogs lie”, I’m discovering that these so-called “sleeping dogs”, aren’t sleeping after all. Rather, they’re like those enchanted toys. They come to life while we’re asleep, and then there’s mischief. Pure mischief.

While food theft has always been high on their list of misdemeanors, the most recent survey conducted by Naughty Dogs Research, shows clandestine cyber activity is rife.  Indeed, many dogs have become so tech savvy, that they’re accessing our lap tops while we sleep. Not only have they taken to writing on their parents’ blogs and posting selfies and vlogs, they’ve also turned to online dating. So, while I thought Lady was little more that a sleeping ball of black fluff curled up in her bed, she’s beeen hooking up with Gavel, the Queensland Governor’s dog. No longer content with Maltese Max, she’s punching well above her weight. Gavel’s official title is: “Vice-Regal Dog”.

Lady & Max

Lady chatting with Max online.

Obviously, like any responsible dog owner, I’m taking steps to reign Lady in. I’ve changed my password, and now keep my laptop in with us overnight. She has to be stopped. As I said, zero tolernace. I’m even thinking that I might need to catch up with the Governor over coffee, and just set up a few ground rules. After all, I doubt Gavel will be able to perform his Vice-Regal duties after staying up all night.

Anyway, this all came to light last night when I caught Lady in the act. A simple trip to the bathroom, and she quickly tried to do that alt-tab manoevre you do when the boss turns up. You know, how it works. You’re on Facebook, and quickly bring up some spreadsheet to cover your tracks. However, she wasn’t fast enough. So, thats’ when Lady being Lady, looks up at me with her ginormous puppy dog eyes and says: “But Mum! I couldn’t resist a dog in uniform! AND… like me, he’s ALMOST part of the Royal family.”

By this point, I was well and over all of her blue-blood talk. Indeed, I was sorely tempted to remind her that she’s a “Working Dog”, and that her grandmother was apparently a Blue Heeler. Nothing but a farm dog. That indeed, she is a mix, and NOT a pedigree.

BUT, as usual, I said nothing. I could hear my husband telling me that I’d catastrophized AGAIN. What’s so bad about two dogs talking over the net anyway? She’s desexed, and they can’t even share their fleas.

But, what would he know? Just because he’s an IT guru for a university, doesn’t mean he knows everything there is to know about the dangers of dogs talking over the Internet. While this Gavel seems squeaky clean, he could be TROUBLE. He could be one of these dangerous stalker types and he could arrange to meet up with her at a park or the beach and we’d never see her again. Not that I’m catastrophising. I’m troubleshotting instead. Forewarned is forearmed.

Anyway, not unsurprisingly, Lady wasn’t happy when I took away the laptop.  Like a fuming, exploding teen, she errupted: “You just don’t want me to have any friends. I hate you!”

Then, she delivered this dramatic monologue with all of Hamlet’s gravitas:

“Gavel and I met in an online chat room for dogs in distress. While you humans seem to think you’re the only ones who miss Bilbo (our Border collie who passed away a month ago), I miss him too. However, instead of being able to express my grief and talk things over with my mates at Dog Beach, I’m having to look after you lot, feeling like I’m about to snap in four, what with each of you fighting over who’s going to have me on their lap. That’s hard on a dog, especially one who’s spent her entire like wagging her tail, making people happy and having to disprove all those stereotypes of black dogs being the bearers of depression, anguish and angst.

“Gavel understands me. He was recently sacked from the Police force for being “too friendly”. While he now tells me that it’s worked out for the best, like me, he needed to grieve. Ooze out all the nasties and learn how to enjoy life again. Of course, he’s grateful that the Queensland Governor kept him on, and has recruited him as the Vice-Regal dog. However, he’s still coming to terms with the knock-back and was concerned that the Gov had only kept him to be nice. Anyway, he’s had time to get his head around it all now, and knows he’s better off. That it’s more of a case of dogs for different jobs, than being a dud. That he’s the master of the meet & greet, not concentration. Indeed, since they interviewed him online, “his story’s gone viral. He’s a star  and he’s promised to light up my star as well…just for a very affordable $1000 per month. I’m going to be famous.”

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What do you think? Am I wrong to be concerned, and take pre-emptive action?  Surely, that doesn’t mean I’m controlling? Treating her like she’s putty in my hands, which I can mould in any particular shape I like?

I don’t think so,  but clearly I have doubts!

Anyway, I almost forgot to mention that Lady’s been sending him postcards on our walks, sneaking them into the post box while she’s seemingly sniffing and I caught her posting this photo of herself, which she’d labelled as “My bed”.

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Lady caught sleeping on my son’s bed while he was at school. 

Who does she think she is? Soon, she’ll be angling for her own TV show. Or, better still he own movie: Love Is…A Dog In Uniform.

Meanwhile, I’m heading off to yoga, following my a massage and a huge piece of chocolate cake.

That’s what’s known as “self care”.

If your  dog has been up to any mischief lately, please dob them into the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

 

Our Surrogate Dog.

When you lose someone you love, it’s only natural to look for some way of blocking out the grief and relieving the pain, even at the risk of looking silly or finally confirming that you’re weird, bonkers, and totally insane. However, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else and it gets you through a tough time without turning to drugs and other harmful things, I’m all for it.

That’s why I bought a surrogate Bilbo, who we’ve called FB or Fake Bilbo.

As you probably know by now, we lost our beloved dog Bilbo a few weeks ago, and our grief has been raw and painful. Although we have another dog, Lady is very different to Bilbo and not a surrogate…and she’s had to spread herself quite thin getting around four laps now that she’s the only dog.

We’ve also become used to having two dogs and Lady has never been an only dog. So, there’s been quite a lot of “adjusting” all round.

Not unsurprisingly, there’s been quite a lot of talk about getting another dog. In my last post, I mentioned how we’d resisted cute little Stella, and are waiting to get a Border Collie pup down the track.

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However, all my resistance melted when I spotted this Border Collie in a shop. I had to have him. He looked so much like Bilbo. Moreover, when I picked him up, there was that immediate mix of longing and connection. I could bury my face in his fur and hold onto his paw, and it felt real. There was more than a lump in my throat, but I felt happy and that a layer of grief had fallen away and I could smile.

It reminded 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, turn out the light.”

What’s special about FB is that he’s not just an ordinary soft toy. Rather, he’s a “weighted toy” and weighs about 5 kilos. Weighted therapy is used by occupational therapists for people with Sensory Processing Disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s, but it also helps people who are grieving by providing something to hold onto during a time of loss. That added weight makes the dog feel real and the pressure I guess also acts a bit like a massage. While having a weighted dog to ease the grief of losing Bilbo is one application, my friend who had a still born baby was given a white teddy by the hospital to take home. Of course, nothing could compensate. However, that teddy is so much more than a memory, a something and has a place in her heart beyond words.

So, while I might feel a bit silly having a stuffed Bilbo, it works. AND, I can always say he belongs to the kids. Mind you, as we walked a long along the full length of town carrying FB, my daughter wasn’t carrying him. No! She was too embarrassed. It was me.

When I arrived home with the “new dog”, I made sure I warned the rest of the family. From a distance, FB really does look very lifelike and I didn’t want him to have the reverse effect and make them sad.

However, we couldn’t warn our other dog, Lady, who really has been missing her canine companion. When she saw him, she came running up wagging her tail. She was sooo excited and sniffed it all over for what seemed like eternity, before she gave up on it. Her mother was also a Border Collie, and she came here when she was two. So, it probably wasn’t just Bilbo she was thinking of.

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Fake Dog and Real Dog.

By the way, Fake Bilbo has certain advantages over the real thing. He doesn’t need to be fed or walked and doesn’t poop or bark. Doesn’t steal your food off your plate or dig holes under fences to escape. He has very pat-able fur. FB doesn’t lick either, which depending on your point of view, could be a positive or a negative.

However, the bottom line is that Fake Bilbo can’t love you back like a real dog. As much he might look and even feel the same, he can’t look at you with those empathic, puppy dog eyes. He can’t see right through you with such compassionate understanding, that you know he can see straight through to the bottom of your soul. Humans rarely have such vision. Most are only waiting to tell you their own stories. Or, maybe I’m just being cynical. Of course, not every dog is capable of such understanding, but Bilbo certainly was. Mind you, he lived through some pretty intense times with our family and he went through all that as well. So, it’s not surprising that he understood difficult emotions. While Lady is a very loving dog and incredibly warm and friendly, she doesn’t have Bilbo’s intensity, his insight. At the same time, he never had her joie de vivre. I’ve never seen such a happy dog!!

bilbo & Lady friends

Bilbo and Lady when she first arrived.

Meanwhile, Lady is enjoying walks to the shops, although she probably wasn’t impressed when I tied her up outside the butcher’s the other day. She just told me that sniffing lamb chops all the way home wasn’t much joy either.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend and it’s about time I head out into that beautiful Winter sunshine.

xx Rowena

More About Weighted Therapy

Weighted therapy is the use of weighted products to apply weight and deep touch pressure (surface pressure) to the body stimulating the proprioceptive sense enabling those who are “sensory seeking” to relax, focus and have a greater awareness of their body.

The proprioceptive sense gives us information about our body’s position and movement via receptors on the skin, in the muscles, joints and ligaments. Those with a poor proprioceptive sense have difficulty interpreting these sensations often resulting in behaviour that gives them sensory feedback – for example jumping on a trampoline, chewing, spinning, running etc with seemingly limitless reserves of energy! They have great difficulty switching off and usually do not sleep well at night. This “sensory seeking” behaviour can be calmed and controlled by the use of weighted therapy and the application of deep pressure.

http://www.sensorydirect.com/about-weighted-therapy

 

 

Puppies Together.

There is something so profound about this photo taken when Bilbo first joined our family in January, 2010. Our daughter was still crawling at the time and they were like puppies together.

Although Bilbo is about 9 months younger than our daughter, he will be turning 70 in dog years later this year. He is elderly before she’s ever grown up. Compared to the super-charged dog who’d rocket down to the beach as soon as the front door opened, he’s slowed down and is showing some signs of arthritis in his hind legs. Meanwhile, Miss still has a lot of growing up to do.

Newton Family & bilbo

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

“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

For all dog lovers, this “insynchronicity”, is a hard pill to swallow. Why can’t dogs age alongside us and spare us the pain that comes with losing a succession of canine companions? It’s just not right!

Bilbo

If only we could fiddle with time.

The only trouble is that we wouldn’t want to botch it up and suddenly find ourselves aging seven times as fast!

Now, that would be tragic!

xx Rowena

When Dogs Fly…

While life as a backyard dog can get a bit boring, Bilbo and Lady are thanking their lucky stars that they’re not outback dogs living along the flooded Daly River in Australia’s Northern Territory.

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Not only are they battling raging flood waters, they’re also contending with crocodiles patrolling the swollen floodwaters.

http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/breaking-your-heart–dogs-rescued-from-floods/news-story/ba0eafa3b143e468bda985a0451a2269

The latest news is that 60 animals including dogs have been airlifted in a crocodile cage to safety. I saw footage on TV and believe me, I’d be terrified and I’m not even scared of heights. You can click on the film footage in the story above.

So, if you had to conduct a Dog Poll, I don’t know whether our canine companions would rate flying in a helicopter better or worse than getting their paws wet. However, with dog-eating crocodiles cruising the floodwaters, there would be no debate. All paws would vote for evacuation.

For the rescued animals, the helicopter ride took just 10 minutes and they were taken to temporary kennels at Five Mile. Half a tonne of dog food was also airlifted in to ensure all remaining animals have enough feed while the town is evacuated.

I’ve never really considered what happens to pets during a State of Emergency. However, it’s comforting to hear that pets are being cared for so compassionately. Knowing that their pets are safe must be such a comfort when locals could well have lost all but the shirt on their back.

Personally, I suspect these outback dogs are made of tougher stuff than ours. I don’t know how our dogs would cope with such contingencies.

Fetching Bilbos Ball

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

While Lady is a bit more daring, Bilbo’s even refused to dip his precious paws in the water to rescue his much loved tennis ball as it drifted downstream. There was no doubt he was in anguish, questioning would he or wouldn’t he…However, he ultimately succumbed to his fear and was mighty lucky to fetch his ball later at low tide.

Obviously, you’ll find no hero there!

Amelia & Lady

A rather pampered Lady!

Lady is marginally more audacious but generally prefers a pampered existence…sleeping on her quilt and even on the sofa as long as she doesn’t get sprung. Even though she comes from a farm and is actually registered as a Working Dog, she wouldn’t know work if she tripped over it. After all, she’s a lady! She might not be quite royalty but don’t tell her that! She tells the world she has blue blood!

We pray for all those affected by flood, bush fires and tornadoes around the world. While the plight of animals being flown to safety makes for an interesting story, I don’t for a moment forget the heartache and devastation experienced by people and animals. I hope you’re okay.

Thinking about rescuing pets, I’ve had to save Bilbo a couple of times when he’s fallen in the swimming pool and couldn’t get out. He also tried to climb on board Mister’s kayak and up-ended the lot and they both ended up in the water. The dog became quite distressed and tried pulling him under. I ended up picking Bilbo up in my kayak. Fortunately. it was shallow water.

Lady was also rescued from the main road after hunting rabbits and nearly being hit by a bus. I received a phone call from the local vet to come and pick her up. That was quite a relief because she just vanished on our walk and being such a black dog, she blends in with the road, which obvious dangers.

Have you ever had to rescue your pet? Do tell!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Pet Share: Introducing Aussie Dogs Bilbo & Lady.

Bilbo and Lady have been a bit cranky lately as they haven’t been getting a lot of air time on my blog.Of course, I’ve explained that they’re not the centre of the entire universe. That I do have other things going on. That said, much of the time, there’s just the three of us at home and so I can sort of understand their misplaced sense of importance.

Since we are new to Pet Share, I thought I’d better introduce the dogs who really are quite the odd couple. Firstly, I should point out that we’re Australian and live right near the beach just North of Sydney.

Bilbo appropriating another dog's ball.

Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

While Bilbo is more of an introvert, a quiet, older Gentleman dog who takes awhile to warm to strangers, Lady is an effervescent extrovert who loves strangers and will even jump in their cars. She obviously hasn’t taken the stranger danger message onboard, even though she got in a stranger’s car (ours) and ended up with a new home.

We’ve had Bilbo for almost 9 years now since he was a pup. He’s a beautiful boy inside and out but can be fiercely protective and his fluffy coat can be a bit misleading. He’s also the ball chasing champion of the universe. Or, at least he was until a younger dog appeared at the beach who outruns him every time, reminding him that he’s not so young after all.Bilbo has had a severe flea allergy lately and has lost about 15 kilos, which was a good thing except he’s been quite sick. He’s just finished a course of antibiotics and is still on a tapering dose of cortisone. He’s been incredibly hungry and all that sheepdog obsessiveness has been focused on food. His nose, for example, is currently parked on my lap even though I’ve3 finished my lunch. He is desperate poor boy.

Lady at Ocean Beach, NSW.

Lady at Ocean Beach, NSW.

Lady is 3 years old Border Collie x Cavalier and we adopted her a year ago. She came from a farm in Tenterfield, in Northern NSW where she still lived with her dog parents and brother. So, moving here must have been quite a shock. She was exceptionally friendly for awhile and I think this was her way of saying: “Where is everyone? It’s been a wonderful holiday but could you please take me home!!!” She’s settled down much and pretty much gained the weight Bilbo lost but we’re not sure how. She has been known to help herself. Being from a farm, she is actually registered as a “Working Dog” but she doesn’t know the meaning of the word and likes sleeping on a blanket and a more regal way of life.

It took a few weeks for the dogs to connect but they’re now happy to share the big kennel and look out for each other when we go to the beach.

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

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

Speaking of the beach, I generally walk the dogs off-leash at the beach. This is quite social and I’ve got to know many other walkers. Taking the dog to the beach is a great opportunity, particularly for older locals, to meet up and get to know people.

Well, that a bit of an intro to our furry family and I look forward to meeting yours too!

By the way, if you are interested in finding out about Pet Share, please click here https://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com/michelles-weekly-pet-challenge/ and here is the linky. http://www.blenza.com/linkies/links.php?owner=Hopethehappyhugger&postid=31Oct2015

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share: 25th October, 2015

If we were having coffee or indeed decaf something because it’s getting late, I’d be offering you one of my home-made Choc Chip & Macadamia Nut Cookies. They’re not long out of the oven and they’re absolutely scrumptious…much better than the Vegemite toast I offered you last week and was almost universally rejected.

My husband isn’t much of a Vegemite lover either and disapprovingly calls it “axle grease”. However, he’s become a bit of a convert this week as that infamous Aussie Vegemite sandwich makes a great decoy for the dog’s tablets.

In case you haven’t met our dogs, we have two dogs, Bilbo and Lady. Bilbo is a 9 year old Border Collie who is completely and utterly ball obsessed and I must say a little on the anxious side. The crazy mutt with go and stand outside in the rain until he’s completely and utterly soaked but traditionally wouldn’t get his paws wet at the beach let alone go for a swim. With increased exposure and watching more than a couple of his cherished balls float away, he’ll now go about paw deep but that’s it. He certainly wouldn’t make a good Lifesaver.

Lady being quite the "dog hog" taking up both the huge woolen blanket and dog bed, leaving Bilbo shivering on the door mat before I intervened. I'm sure many blokes who've lost the doona mid-winter would say: "typical woman". I do think Lady also tries to live up to her name and sometimes even Bilbo is treated like the "Tramp".

Lady being quite the “dog hog” taking up both the huge woolen blanket and dog bed, leaving Bilbo shivering on the door mat before I intervened. I’m sure many blokes who’ve lost the doona mid-winter would say: “typical woman”. I do think Lady also tries to live up to her name and sometimes even Bilbo is treated like the “Tramp”.

Lady is a 3 year old Border Collie x Cavalier. She’s basically black with patches of white on her chest and paws. We’ve only had her for a year and she comes from a farm up around Tenterfield. Her paperwork says that she’s a “working dog” but to be perfectly honest, that dog hasn’t done a day’s work in her life…unless it involves hunting rabbits. At the time we found Lady, Bilbo was slowing down and really wasn’t looking great. We’d lost our last Border Collie when he was 8 and so we decided to get a cross-over dog. However, it seemed that Bilbo perked up with Lady around and has lost about 15 kilos and while he’s not moving around like a pup, he really has had a new lease of life.

However, the downside of Lady’s arrival was that she introduced the most indestructible fleas on the planet to poor Bilbo, who’s never had a flea allergy before in his life and suddenly his skin went ultra berserk. Thursday night, he seemed to have a temperature and his eyes were a bit bloodshot and he was clearly unwell.

Friday, he was off to the vet and I was really becoming concerned. I was thinking back to when I’d taken our last Border Collie to the vet simply because he wasn’t eating and it turned out that he had a tumour. I asked how long he had left and I was thinking 6 months but then she said a few days and even suggested putting him to sleep. I just couldn’t grasp that he was that sick and took him home. Emotionally, I felt like I’d been shot in the heart but as I said, the news really hadn’t sunk in.

Fortunately, the news for Bilbo was nowhere near as grim and he’s been given cortisone and antibiotics…and the Vegemite sandwiches.

Bilbo appropriating another dog's ball.

Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

I can’t help wondering what he thinks about all of this. Cortizone is a powerful drug and he’s on 40mg per day. I was told that he’d feel hungry and thirsty but I’m also wondering whether he’s getting any of the side-effects I’ve had on prednisone and whether he’s euphoric, angry and even though I didn’t think his ball obsession could get any worse, an addict on steriods is a very scary prospect indeed.

He’s a smart dog and I can just imagine him thinking: “Hey they don’t make those Vegemite sandwiches quite like they used to!

He’s starting to look a bit better but it’s going to take awhile for his crowning glory to get back into shape. He currently looks dreadful.

Aside from looking after the dog this week, I’ve been coughing badly again and it’s been driving me nuts. Seems that I don’t have an infection and it’s viral and so no point with the antibiotics but I’ve gone back on the nebuliser which helped…along with the fruit smoothies. I am feeling a bit better.

Prime Minister John Curtin

Prime Minister John Curtin

In between falling apart, we’ve been working on my son’s assignment on Australian Prime Minister John Curtin. John Curtin was in office 1941-1945 but died roughly six months before the end of the Pacific War after the stress undermined his health. I am a Curtin and all my life people have asked me whether I’m related to that John Curtin. Well, it now turns out that I’m not but we do have a few other John Curtin’s in our family so all wasn’t lost.

I became quite engrossed in his assignment so rather than completely taking over and undermining what he was doing, I wrote a post about how much a parent should be helping their child with their homework and am working on a post going into a brief overview of his time in office.

Here’s the first post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/australia-during-wwii-what-i-learned-from-my-sons-homework/

If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you have been reading any good books lately.

This week I made a decent start of Stephen King’s writing memoir: On Writing (Scribner, 2000). I’ve never read any of his fiction but I am really enjoying his writing style in this book and it has some great tips including:

“If you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far.”

Anyway, I have to head off now as I have an early start.

I hope you’ve had a great week and I ;look forward to catching up on your news tomorrow when I drop in for coffee at your place.

Here’s the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=575563

xx Rowena

PS: Have you ever considered the irony that people who love animals want to be vets and yet aside from the posty, who do animals fear most? The Vet is like the canine equivalent of us going to the dentist!

Portraits of A Bald Dog.

Free at last: Bilbo relieved after losing his bulky fur coat.

Free at last: Bilbo relieved after losing his bulky fur coat.

Just wanted to share Bilbo’s new look. It’s not exactly pretty or indeed handsome but it’s definitely more functional. That said, losing the fluffy coat has exposed each and every little bulge and what Miss unkindly refers to as his “blubber”.

After having such a fluffy dog, I am intrigued by the new geometric patterns in his new coat.

After having such a fluffy dog, I am intrigued by the new geometric patterns in his new coat.

 

Lady and Bilbo posing for the paparazzi

Lady and Bilbo posing for the paparazzi

Miss and Lady along the waterfront.

Miss and Lady along the waterfront.