Our granddaughter called. “I probably shouldn’t ask this, but I’m going to ask anyway. I’ve got friends who have to find a home for their dog. How do you feel about another dog?” “Male? Female? How big? House broken? How old?” I think she knew she had a sale because I wasn’t flat-out saying “no.” […]
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.
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.”
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
Engulfed by a grief which knew no bounds, Bernadette refused to light the candle for Jim. No point. Whether God was dead or asleep, he wasn’t there. Otherwise, he would’ve stepped in. Plucked her husband right off the road before the truck hit. He came to rest on the banks of a creek…too late for the kiss of life, let alone a goodbye. She could still feel his arms wrapped around her in an unbroken chain.
The candle stood as still as a statue, while an owl peered through the window, eyes glowing in the moonlight.
This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. This week’s photo prompt © Janet Webb.
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 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”.
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.
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.”
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.”
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,
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.
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.