Tag Archives: border collie

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.

DSC_5800

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.

DSC_5804

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 proably wasn’t impressed when I tied her up outside the butcher’s the other day. She just told me that sniffing amb 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.

crocodile.jpg

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.

If Only A Dog Coat Had A Zip!

When you are afraid, even a few simple steps can turn into the journey of a thousand miles.

That’s what happened when it came to getting Bilbo, our mature-aged, introverted Border Collie clipped today. What could have all been very Simple Simon, turned into a drawn out ordeal…not just for him but also for all the humans involved.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were getting Bilbo’s woolly coat belatedly clipped for summer. Or, as it turned out in the end, clipped to free him of his badly tangled coat. His aversion to being brushed while his winter coat was moulting as well as standing out in the rain, had caused serious matting and getting it all shorn off was the only way to go. The last time we had him shorn, I was grieving as the poor mutt faded from black to smoky grey as his coat disappeared.

This post covers Bilbo’s last encounter with the shears: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/summer-loving-a-dogs-perspective/

However, this time I was cheering. At least, I would be cheering if we could actually get him inside the mobile dog salon so operations could begin.

The dog salon pulls up.

The dog salon pulls up.

So the Dog Salon pulls up and we took Bilbo out the front on the lead. I felt like an absolute cad taking the dog out there to be “tortured” when he thinks he’s off for a walk. His demeanor quickly changed and he curled up inside himself on the front lawn and wasn’t coming out.

As I’ve said before, Bilbo is not good with strangers at our place  at the best of times. He is usually withdrawn and reticent in social situations and what you’d describe as an introverted introvert. He is very much our dog and he loves my Mum as well but he keeps close. Even when it comes to people who come to the house regularly, he’s apprehensive and I usually hold him back for about 10 minutes so he settles down. Then, he’s fine. I think people don’t always realise that some dogs like their space and need time to warm up just like some people. They also really don’t like being smothered with affection by strangers, which through their eyes, might simply be a pat. These are the sort of dogs who would enjoy sitting in the corner at a party if they were human and be quite content simply observing the proceedings. That said, he can be quite friendly and isn’t a risk.

At this early stage, now that Bilbo knows he’s not going for a walk and something strange is afoot, he is not in a good way. He is refusing to let the dog groomer pat him and he is looking quite frightened and skittish. I know what he was like when I bathed him and I am concerned about how the clip is going to proceed…or even if. Naturally, we are concerned about the dog groomer’s safety which is why Geoff is going with him but she also has to have enough faith to know she’ll be safe. She has been bitten before and working with dogs day in day out, Bilbo’s withdrawn fear has her on alert. An old hand, she senses serious trouble.

This whole battle of wills just confirmed my belief that dog coats should all come with a zipper so they can be conveniently removed for cleaning and seasonal adjustments.

However, that isn’t going to happen so it’s a case of smooth talking. Reassuring the dog he’ll be okay and also reassuring the groomer, which also involves having Geoff in there with Bilbo. The dog is afraid and no doubt can sense what is at least my concern. Not that I was afraid but I was  stressed about how Bilbo would respond. What’s more, given the state of his coat and some underlying skin irritation, all that fur urgently needed to go!!

There are advantages of having helicopter parents. We keep our offspring both of the two-legged and four-legged variety under some kind of control…or at least we try!! Bilbo was needing close-range helicopter hovering at this point. He really wasn’t happy!! However, our support and the groomers’ patience slowly won Bilbo over enough.

The groomer noticed the fur balls behind Lady’s ears and so we decide to give them a quick clip and hope that Bilbo settles down when he sees Lady “survive”. Lady wasn’t too keen to go in either. I think she remembered the last time she jumped into a car with a stranger and she never saw home again. That was when we picked her up. However, she emerged unscathed and was her usual sociable, tail-wagging self. Unlike Bilbo, she’s quite the extrovert and social butterfly! She loves people and any attention she can muster.

While Lady is being fixed up, the male husband groomer is sitting down with Bilbo and building a rapport. Bilbo is warming up a bit and he’s now deemed a reasonable risk but as I said, Geoff was still going in the float with him. No one was taking any chances.

Bilbo has been clipped once before and really was a lot happier after that. Once he was in there and the clip had got started, he was relatively calm. I think he might have remembered that losing his coat was going to be a relief  and started to settle. He was still a wound up spring but he was somewhat compliant.

The clip gets underway. Look at all that fur coming off. As I said, it was like shearing a sheep!

The clip gets underway. Look at all that fur coming off. As I said, it was like shearing a sheep!

The dog groomers were excellent and worked well with him. He wasn’t comfortable but he was clipped.

The clip is almost over...

The clip is almost over…

Then, it was time for his bath. Our poor boy. He really doesn’t like new experiences all that much and getting a bath is definitely something he files under “torture” and “over my dead body”. However, although there was initially a serious scuttle of claws, the bath went relatively well.

A shorn Bilbo having his bath. Looks like he much prefers the salon treatment to the hose.

A shorn Bilbo having his bath. Looks like he much prefers the salon treatment to the hose.

We knew from last time there would be no blow dry. Definitely no blow dry!! That sound was too much like the vacuum cleaner…his usual nemesis!

Suddenly, after all that kerfuffle, it was over. Bilbo was clipped and working as a very good team, we had all succeeded.

Bilbo's even starting to look like a happy camper!

Bilbo’s even starting to look like a happy camper!

“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.”
Zig Ziglar

It was funny when his whole ordeal was over, you could see such a sense of relief. A burden had been lifted. He’s been freed, liberated. Vive la liberte. He was trotting back inside and when Lady saw him, she really did a double take: “What’s happened to you , mate?!! Had a fight with the lawn mower?”

You bet!

We also had a surprise after all that fur had come off. Bilbo has actually lost some weight. I had suspected he’d lost a bit and transferred it to Lady but the shorn coat doesn’t lie. It shows every single ripple and bulge and is just as  unforgiving as a human wearing a wet suit.

Bilbo is now trotting around the house with a real spring in his step. Grumpy dog is almost happy with a new zest for life.

Yes, he really has been set free!!

xx Rowena