The view from Dogueville

I love dogs.  I have always managed to be accompanied by a furball or two at different stages of my life.  As far as I am concerned life just doesn’t feel complete without a dog in tow.

They have all had different personalities with innumerable peculiarities and I have loved them all equally.  I have mourned their losses terribly and gone out and fallen in love again with another precious bundle of unconditional love – which is probably the point really.  Unconditional love is priceless.  You can put up with almost any doggy personality when unconditional love is on offer all day every day.  I am probably prepared to put up with more doggy quirks than I would tolerate in any human being – related or otherwise –  or so my loving and long-suffering husband has told me on more than one occasion.  In his defence I do have more photos on my iPhone of my dogs than I do of him.

My latest furry personalities are two Bichons named Ruby and Angus.  From the same litter, they have been together all of their eight years but are as different as chalk and cheese.

Angus likes to think he is a little bigger than he actually is and has often suffered the consequences of his short-dog shortcomings when confronted by larger and sometimes lucky for him, slightly more tolerant counterparts.  At best he has gotten off lightly as he is sniffed and swatted out of the way.  At worst he cost me well over $500 in vet bills for stitches and antibiotics when he got out of the yard and decided that a large bull-terrier cross tyrannosaurus rex was fair game.  Lucky for him his short legs got him as far as our front gate and under my legs before he became a snappy happy meal.

Still, that hasn’t stopped him from constantly testing the limits of our four-foot front gate as he blazes a trail from left to right and back again when supposed interlopers get too close to his patch.  I wonder where he gets it from as his sister, Ruby, is placid and gets tired just watching him.  The only time I have seen her blaze any kind of trail is at the mention of food and the sound of a packet of crisps opening in another part of the house.

Ruby wrote the book on not sweating the small stuff.  I find myself watching her at times just to make sure her chest is still moving.  She knows she is on a good thing in Dogueville and she isn’t going anywhere at any great speed anytime in the foreseeable future.  Nothing phases her.  She can sleep through gale-force winds, a sonic boom and a near-miss lightning strike recently that sent Angus and myself scurrying under the nearest bed together.  Braveheart, as he was so named thereafter, wouldn’t come out for hours while Ruby sat by the fridge in hopes of getting his share of the dinner that night.

For all their antics and foibles, I love them dearly and will continue to love them even when they are no longer with me.  My dogs are not only my companions, they are my friends.  They offer me love and make me laugh.  They make me cry when they are gone.  I wouldn’t change one moment of it.

 

Tattoo me

I’m a tattoo lover.  I’ve had tattoos for quite a while and most of them have been placed in covert places to avoid the scrutiny of stuffy co-workers and management lest they have a conniption.

In the last few years, however, I have come out of the tattoo closet in a big way and decided that it is okay to display tasteful body art in places that can actually be seen all of the time by every freaking person on the planet.  I have decided that I really don’t need to please anybody but myself and can be an eccentric nonconformist if I want to be regardless of that woman in the corner store’s worry that I’m going to steal something from her shelves.

I now sport an expression of creativity and of love for my pets, past and present, intertwined with roses down my right arm.  Some people like them but others behave as if I am going to rob them at gun point.  This isn’t a real problem for me as it sorts out the cheese from the crackers as far as I’m concerned and I am left with those who actually like me for what I am regardless of a bit of extra colour on my skin.

My mother came around eventually.  She is stuck with me regardless and she knows it.  The same goes for my husband.

One day when I am old I might regret having had them done but I doubt it.  When my memory fades a little all I will have to do is look at my beautiful body art and be reminded of my life and the happiness those furry little souls gave me when they were around and I will almost certainly smile.

Dogs and me

I’ve been lucky enough to have had the company of a few dogs over the years.  Each and every one of them has enriched my life in some way and taught me a thing or two about loyalty and love.  Whoever said that dogs have neither feelings nor  souls has never owned a dog and therefore does not matter, in my opinion.

My first foray into dog companionship kicked off when my grandmother came to live with us when I was seven.  She brought along her little terrier and I got to pretend that I finally had a dog for the next eight years.  That little dog put up with dress ups, my questionable dog grooming skills, posing for ‘portraits’, sharing her mat and was my first port of call when life sucked and I needed a unbiased ear.  I was hooked on the dog-bug for the rest of my life.

After I left home I decided on a larger ‘real-dog’ travelling companion.  I purchased a beautiful black German Shepherd pup and she became my copilot for my many adventures as I navigated up and down the coast working and generally having a good time.   Company aside, as she grew she was a marvellous deterrent for any would-be lotharios that were inclined to think that I was up for it.  I have one spectacular memory of her sitting on top of some unlucky sod after she ran him down because he swiped my ice cream cone.  To this day I am still not sure if she was after the ice cream or the thief.

I was companion to a beautiful silky terrier a few years later.  She became the perfect match to my grandmother when I had to move and I couldn’t take her with me.  She was as silly as a wheel but she suited my grandmother perfectly and I got to see her on weekends.  So began my love for the smaller lap dog when I met my future husband and talked him into purchasing my next dog.

Jackson came into my life just before serious illness struck me down.  He was a white ball of fluff that my husband took one look at and asked where the batteries went.  He was the perfect foil of patience, loyalty and love that would get me through the tough times ahead.  He was a gentlemanly dog, preferring to mind his manners at dinner time and always ask for permission before he did something.  Aside from his one grand adventure when he disappeared for hours only to be found curled up under the recliner chair bay sleeping and oblivious to the mayhem that surrounded him – he never put a paw wrong.  He was the light in my life when I needed it most and a joy to be around.  The day I lost him I lost a part of myself that I still haven’t found.

Jackson’s offspring, Dylan, was a completely different fluff ball.  He was brash at mealtimes and would barge in to get his share before somebody else got it.  He thought he was a giant but was scared of the budgie.  He loved to sleep on anything soft that was higher than the floor.  He loved attention and would sulk when anybody else got it.  He would show off to get an extra treat.  We lost him to cancer a few years ago after many operations and no hope.  I still grieve for my funny little soul who snored in his sleep.

These days I am entertained by my two Bichons, Angus and Ruby.  I love them dearly and I laugh often at their funny little ways and different personalities.  Angus is fearless and will bark at anything that moves until he gets outside his home turf.  He owns the world and has a strut to prove it.  His retrieval skills are unmatched and he can play until my arm has gone numb.  He is king of his domain, a bright little button in my life that simply must have his head elevated when he sleeps.  He has taken to carrying his own mini-pillow around with him for portable comfort whenever the mood suits.  Ruby is my lovely little fluffy girlie girl.  She knows her place in the household which is mostly wherever the food is at.  She will hear the fridge open from out in the front yard.  She will be at my side in moments when she hears the crackle of paper – just in case.  She is affectionate and soulful.  She loves nothing more than to lie on her back in my lap for a belly rub and will drop to the floor flat on her back at the hint of a possible spare hand doing nothing.

There is no question that my dogs have been spoilt.  I am probably over the top and am considered a little eccentric by some when it comes to my furry companions.  I would much rather be this way and experience all that a dog has to give and lose them one day than never to have had the opportunity to experience it at all.  Dogs enrich my life, they lighten my heart and they offer solace when I am feeling sad.  They are my constant companions, loyal to a fault and dependent on me to live their lives in the best way they can.  I can offer them a good home and a good life.  At the end of the day and of my life if this has been my only purpose then it will have been a magnificent calling.

 

The week from hell…

I’m recovering slowly from the week-that-shat-itself with a minor migraine and a stiff drink of diet coke.

I managed to sail a little too close to the metaphorical mind snap this week and it is a testament to my resilience and chocolate that the week-that-was is now at an end and the dust has almost settled.

I say almost because I’m still waiting for the wicked witch from the back blocks to send me another defamatory email telling me that I’m a lewd, disgusting watcher of pornography of which  she managed to view on my 21-inch bedroom television screen a few weeks ago.  The fact that her house is about 40 metres away from my bedroom window and it would be impossible to see unless she had a pair of binoculars or is right up against the back fence is not lost on me – and a little creepy.  The fact that the closest I have come to watching pornography would be Chris Hemsworth’s bare chest in ‘Thor’ recently is even more disturbing if she considers that pornography.

In between my viewing of so-called pornography I’ve managed to steal all the lemons off her lemon tree in her backyard.  She apparently is going to install security cameras to catch me in the act – of what I couldn’t say – but good luck to her.  I would like to know who is stealing lemons and watching pornography, too.

The crux of the problem is that we sent this evil toad a letter a few weeks ago asking her if she would do something about her trees, as they were causing us a few problems.  Discussion of the problem and a solution nutted out would have been a nice option and one I would have expected.  There are obviously a few roos loose in her top paddock and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I fired off a rebuttal-type email to let her know I wasn’t a viewer of pornography, wasn’t a lemon thief and wasn’t a pushover.  I wasn’t the captain of the debating team in university for nothing but  I’m pretty sure she is  throwing an eye of a newt into her cauldron and damning me to hell as I type.

Two hours after that unfortunate email I found myself stranded on the island because of high winds with an impending all-important specialist appointment to pick up my all-important medications and my travel letter for my impending all-important overseas trip.  I managed a phone consultation and then I managed to receive the wrong prescriptions in the mail two days later.  I have a 15-year medical relationship with this rather lovely endocrinologist but he has the organisational skills of a mud skipper.  I’m living in hope that when and if I receive my growth hormone prescription in the mail next week it will be the correct company and the correct dosage.

My shat-o-meter was in fourth gear by the time I had spent the fourth day this week trying to work out what I could do to keep my meds cool on my all-important pending flight with various airline representatives and I’m still none the wiser.  Can I buy a special battery-powered container to carry on board to keep my meds cool?  ‘No you can’t’  or  ‘You might be able to if the battery size has less than 100 WH but you will have to switch it off for lift off and landing but we aren’t sure’  or  ‘No, you can’t but we can give you an ice bucket on board to keep your meds cold’  or  ‘No, we can’t give you an ice bucket.  That is not our policy’  or  ‘No, you can’t use our fridges’.   WHAT THE?  I will have another go next week but I can’t guarantee I won’t insult somebody’s intelligence.

A couple of other random events at the end of the week like my father going into hospital and my son flying under my trouble radar – which in itself means trouble  and my shit-o-metre flies into overdrive.

And of course it’s raining.  Not the pleasant pattering-on-the-roof, walking or singing-in-the-rain type.  No.  The hammering, torrential, cyclone-velocity-howling-wind type of rain.  I can’t get my dogs out to pee.  They will get their delicate paws wet and that’s not on, oh no.  I’m on pee watch right now.  My dogs don’t discriminate.  A shag pile rug is as good as dry grass and the wetter it gets the more hiding places they find.

Just as well I’m a nice person.

Photomania

me angus and rubyWell the day finally came recently for our photo shoot.

I’d had this organised for ages and my husband wasn’t getting out of it, despite his aversion to any type of recording or digital photographic device.  I hadn’t had any decent photos done since our wedding and even those weren’t done by professionals – just family members who were pretty slick with a camera click.

I was determined I was getting a few nice shots before I got too old and wrinkly to have something nice to look back on when I was too old and wrinkly, so the date was set in stone for when I could organise the photographer around my husband’s work schedule.

He grumbled a bit about it all but he grumbled even more when I told him that our dogs were going to be included in the shots, as I had missed getting my last two much-loved dogs in any good photos and I wasn’t prepared to let this happen again.

A bit of preparation was involved in getting myself ready for the photo shoot, ie, makeup, hair, the right clothes and clean teeth but that was nothing compared to the preparation that was involved in getting my precious dogs ready.  My husband ‘volunteered’ for the grooming  job, as I was working  but he was ready to spit more than dog hair out of his mouth by the time they were finished.  I decided to keep a low profile, as the stakes were high and I just wanted us to make it to the photographer’s looking like we all loved each other to create a bit of ambiance.  I could come out swinging later.

I was feeling very pleased with our presentation despite the hair-raising, teeth-grinding ride into hell with my cranky man.  He’d even spruced himself up with a clean, buttoned shirt and a shave which was a good sign, so I let it go.  Just after we got through the studio door Ruby, my Bichon female, threw up all over the floor – no doubt the result of her hair-raising roll in the back seat on the way here.  We were off to a great start.

We got a few good shots in with us and the dogs, me and the dogs, my husband and the dogs and the dogs on their own before my husband began to get a bit twitchy.  He doesn’t like to stray too far away from his environment when he is home from sea and this was a foreign country as far as he was concerned.  I had paid for a two-hour session but he managed to get back out of the photographer’s door to the car in under 68 minutes with the dogs in hot pursuit.

Thankfully, the photographer was fantastic and she had actually managed to fit in some great shots in that frenetic time period – enough to get a few favourites to frame for our walls.

We made the ferry in record time and I dropped him and the dogs off and left him to it.  I wasn’t speaking to him and I was up for a bit of retail therapy to pacify myself.

He’s not off the hook yet though.  I liked the photos so much I am booking in another session with the photographer in a few months’ time with my whole family, including my husband and the dogs.  Let him throw a time-tantrum in front of my mother and see what happens to him.

The vet lament 2

vetpayMy dog is back from the vet’s.  Not the million-dollar dog.. the other dog, the healthy one – but he’s fast racking up points to take the crown for the-most-money-I’ve-ever-spent-at-the-vet’s award in the foreseeable future.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my dogs and I would spend a small fortune to ensure their quality of life was probably better than mine but I’m starting to believe that some vets aren’t in it for the love of the job any more.

It’s been a long time since I have seen a vet give a freebie to a heart-broken, penniless dog lover who couldn’t afford even the smallest of comforts for their sick or dying companion. This is one of the many reasons that I absconded from the last veterinarian’s establishment a few years ago. They had grown too big for their own good and the almighty dollar was like the holy grail enshrined in the back room of the practice.

Anyway, back to the dog at hand and the fees and charges.  Apart from the arm and leg that was extracted from my wallet, I was charged two consultation fees for two ongoing days, extra charges for extra blood tests and fungus scrapings and two overnight stays with food when my dog was only there for one night. Good thing we caught the last one on the long itemised printout before we left and managed to get a refund.

Once again, my only consolations were the love of my dog and a good pet insurance plan. We will get a good portion of that back in the coming weeks, which is a good thing because he is being booked back in for ongoing consultations and weekly injections for a skin irritation that can’t be cured with a couple of drops and a few tablets.

I haven’t told him yet as he is busy milking the woe-is-me song for all it’s worth and enjoying all the attention.

Dog days

vet2I took my dog to the vet today. Again.

I take my dogs to the vet more than I go to my general practitioner.  And they cost a whole lot more than a general consultation.

Ruby, my beautiful Bichon Frise, has a regular appointment for a urinalysis and an anal gland check. Yes I know, too much information, so I will just call it a wee and a bum squeeze and leave the rest to the imagination.

I’m on a first-name basis with my vet these days. Considering that I probably paid a good portion of her mortgage in the first half of last year, it is not surprising but she still insists that I collect the urine sample myself.  The logic of this escapes me, as the end result is the same and she’s the one getting paid.

For the privilege of the do-it-yourself urine collection, I have to follow my poor dog around with a small tray for days before I can catch her in the act.  She’s become so paranoid lately that not even her favourite treat can coax her ‘to go’ when I am within a twenty-metre range of her back end.  A recent attempt resulted in urine everywhere but in the designated receptacle and a spooked dog who wouldn’t come near me for 24 hours.

I’m surprised that I haven’t been asked to perform the ‘bum squeeze’ myself but there’s a surcharge for that one so I guess I won’t be standing in the way of a profit anytime in the near future – for which I am extremely grateful.

My dog, for her part, conducts herself reasonably well, although she does try to crawl under the table and hide the moment she walks in the door.  She’s seen enough bum action in the last few months and she knows what’s coming, so I can’t blame her. It’s the aftermath that’s the problem.

She won’t talk to me for hours after we get home.  I guess she feels a bit ‘put out’ and wants to share it around. Whoever said that a dog can’t reason or understand has obviously never owned a dog.

She is off the hook next month. I have to take her brother, Angus, in for a teeth clean. As he is the drama queen of the pair, I can’t wait for the epilogue.