Sunday, July 31, 2016

Moving House

With the passing of both Fred and Elsie, this blog will be moving to a new address.

If you would like to continue following the shenanigans of Ginger and my wolfhound pack, please go here:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Walking through the property

I decided to take Ginger for an extra long walk today, and we headed down to check out the dam. I figured after 4 days at a boarding kennel, she'd be thrilled with the extra time with her bosses. She was running so fast when I let her out of the pen.

Currently still on lead, which I was grateful for, as she seemed to spot something in the distance a few times. But with the lead curbing her, she didn't go very far.

She's so much better on lead these days. No more dragging you along with her. I've found that if I loop the lead around my back it keeps her closer, and I have a bit more control.

I have my hands full, as I usually have Ginger on one side, wolfiepup on the other, and my camera at the same time.

I'm not 100% sure how walking is going to work with the new dog as well. I've told wolfiepup she'll have to walk on her own. Or I could just let Ginger walk on her own, which is what wolfieboy does.

Decisions, decisions..

Hrmpff. What, don't you trust me, Boss?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Picnicking Ginger

Wolfiepup took out all the picnic gear this evening and Ginger decided to join in on the fun.

So what's on the picnic menu today?

Unfortunately it seems that nothing was to her liking..

C'mon, where's the real food?! Stop pulling my chain..

So Ginger decided she'd just go back to sleep.

I know, I'm sorry, Ginge. Wolfiepup just doesn't understand..

Meeting the new puppy

We drove out this morning to meet the new puppy dog. Half and half about it all. Not 100% convinced yet also super excited at the possibility of adding to the pack.
And as per usual, was pleasantly surprised. I think my hesitation over getting any dog is par for the course. I.e. if I'm not super nervous and worried, then it's not the right dog. Lol
And proving yet again that you can't rely on photos alone to make decisions and that sometimes photos can unfortunately make or break opportunities for potential dog suitors.
We go back tomorrow to bring ginger for a meet and greet.
I'm excited.
He's calmer than ginger. Seems super sweet and isn't as small as I had worried about.
Looks like a changing of the guard is imminent.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Reminisces and Revelations

I have been telling people about Fred, and I usually choked up before I could finish the sentence.

Yesterday was the first time I could get it out without tearing up.

We are away for a holiday this week. Down to the snow. I had to call up the boarding kennels to let them know that Fred wouldn't be joining Ginger for the week.

Ginger has been ok - if possibly slightly more neurotic. She's always been affectionate, but her submissive side is getting a little out of control. She slinks out and in through the door now, practically on her belly. I think she's hanging onto the little routine that we have as tightly as possible. She also keeps on jumping or escaping the pen.

Last week I watched in awe and horror as she leapt over the gate, then onto the buffet before dropping down onto the verandah. It was like watching a mountain goat. Wolfieboy put up some 'spikes' to try and deter her. I think it worked, but she has managed to find another gap somewhere that I need to go find.

She's keeping herself relatively entertained during the day, but there was one day when I came home to see her outside the pen.

After Fred passed, wolfieboy said point blank we'd need to get Ginger another companion.

It feels slightly wrong to Fred's memory to get another so soon.

Ginger's cellmate from the time she was in rescue was in fact still available and struggling in the kennels while he waited for his furever home. I was half and half about it, as I'd always loved the look of him. But I uhmmed and ahhed between getting another dog that looked so like Fred.

I did however put my hat in the ring to let them know we were interested. Wolfieboy wanted to get the dog after we came back from the snow (after this week), as it wouldn't be fair to a new dog for us to take him in and then put him in kennels for 4 days. So I decided to let Fate decide and see if after 4 months he was in fact meant for us after all.

At the end of the day, it turned out it wasn't - he finally found a new home with another couple and dog companion, a week earlier than I could get him out. He looked super happy though, so I can't begrudge him his luck. And to be honest, I'm not sure we'd be the right family for him either. He was the right size, but he was younger than Ginger, completely untrained and boisterous to boot.

4 days ago, another wolfhound x dog turned up on petrescue. He looks just like Ginger. I bookmarked him to think about, and when I showed him to wolfieboy the answer wasn't a 'no.' I think both of us are still hurting from Fred. If it wasn't because we believed Ginger really needed a companion and perhaps wouldn't really cope on her own (the escape artistry is getting really old, really fast), I think we wouldn't even bother getting another for at least a year.

Fred's been with us for over 9 years. 9 years is a big gap to fill.

I was at the zoo the other day and saw some spotted African dogs fast asleep, and my eyes filled with tears as I looked over the big furry tummy exposed to the world. All I wanted was to curl up in that fur and give it a hug. Even as I knew that if I did that, I'd probably get my head bitten off. I miss my big woofer so much.

So back to this other dog - he looks to be slight of build. I contacted the rescue group who gave me a lot more information. On paper he looks like the right kind of dog for us - other than the fact that he's 2 (and i know wolfieboy prefers younger), and isn't completely toilet trained. He jumps up a bit - but Ginger did that too, and she's a lot better now than before. My main concern at the moment is his size. He doesn't seem as big as Ginger. He comes in around 32 kilos. But I've been told that most likely he was abused in a former life, and was in really bad shape when he arrived at rescue. He also has his tail docked. For such a big dog, and from the joy I see that Ginger expresses through her tail, it breaks my heart to see this dog's tail merely a stump.

Apparently he was left at a rescue group's door at 8.30 at night. Timid and scared, from some of the photos I've seen it looks like he was pretty skeletal too.

But he looks the exact match of Ginger, despite one full frontal shot where he looks like a mean convict. Having said that, there's also a number of photos where he looks like a sweetie like Ginger and Els. Sometimes dogs just have 'good sides' and not so good sides... lol. I always had my doubts about Ginger, you gotta admit, she's a little funny looking...  but she's a sweetheart. And i saw that in her photos in spite of some dodgy photos.

Apparently this new doggy originally came from either Wagga Wagga or Gundagai. If it was Wagga, there is a chance that he could be related to Ginger. I know that usually with crosses the chances of a litter with the exact same markings are slim. But it's nice to think that if it was possible, that these two were siblings that got separated and had a chance to grow old together after all. Maybe that's what Fate has in store for us. Or maybe I'm just daydreaming. They're a similar age. If he is as small as I think he is, he could have been the runt of the litter. Or perhaps he just had bad luck after he left his family.

I remember the sad story behind Elsie's arrival. She was also dumped at the pound, flea ridden, skinny as a rake at 20 odd kilos. Skittish, but still affectionate. She settled in quickly with us, and eventually got up to a healthy 35 kilos. We used to joke about her being fat before she started to decline.

So it'd be nice to know if I would be able to save another dog and provide it a life that was so far removed from abuse.

We're going to meet him on Friday to see his size. His temperament so far sounds right. It's also nice that he's in Canberra, rather than the crazy 5 hour drive we took to see/get Ginger. So if it doesn't work out, I don't feel as obliged to take him or feel like I'm wasting everyone's time.

However, if we do decide to get him, it will mean a complete changing of the guard.

My wolfie faced grey brindle wolfhound crossed pair will be replaced by two blonde/fawn tipped sable wolfhounds with slight bodies, whiskerless faces with a whisper of black around the muzzles and a wolfie coat and white socks.

My precious Fred and Elsie will be no more.

Yes, they'll live in my heart forever. But they will no longer help define who I am, and be a living breathing part of my life.

I miss Fred with an ache that I often try to bury. But there are moments when I stop. When things remind me of him and how our life was. It is still hard to believe that he is gone, and that all the memories we have are now in the past and there are no more to be made in the future. And yesterday, I realised how hard I'd been suppressing my sadness. And that if I was honest with myself, in spite of Life going on, deep down I was still very, very sad. Very sad that he has gone.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Walking without you

We went for a walk today, Ginger and I.

And it wasn't the same without you.

As we walked back to the house, I could almost imagine you plodding along beside us. Ginger on her lead, and you free ranging, marking your territory to protect us all.

I still felt the ghost of you. 

Sometimes I feel like this is all a bad dream. A nightmare that I can't seem to wake up from.

You are no longer here.

One minute you were. And the next minute, you weren't. Your body was still warm when the Vets checked your eyes and said "he's gone." And all I could do was touch you. Hold you. Tell myself they were wrong and that you were still there.

I miss you with an ache I cannot describe.

Ginger misses you too. She's on extra good behaviour to try and make up for your absence. Is this how you felt when Elsie left?

She stuck close to me and did not pull as we took our walk. And when I let her off lead at the house she didn't know what to do with herself and kept on checking in. No more running off to the other side of the fence to go find some new carcass to munch on, or poo to eat.

We found her escape hatch too. I was clever today. You'd be proud of me.

She ran out, so I went through the front door, and then went round the back and called her. She hesitated when she saw me, almost like she knew she was in trouble and wasn't sure she should go through. But a bit of encouragement from me and she showed me where it was.

It's patched up now.

I know you never cared whether she stayed or ran off. But I thought you'd like to know that we fixed it, all the same.

Wolfiepup went up yesterday to give you a rock, and today I went up and did the same. Ginger came along, and quietly sat when prompted, and I stopped to stay and think of you.

I think you'll be proud of wolfieboy's go. Your cairn is definitely bigger and more impressive than Els'.

You are so deeply missed, Fred. I'm glad you are no longer hurting and suffering. But we're still here and hurting and missing you. Even though there's nothing that anyone can do. We had a good run, you and I, didn't we?

In case I haven't told you, you were missed today.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Fred, My Love.

My Fred. My Love. My Dog. He is gone.

My boy is never coming home again.

He didn't eat his dinner for the first time in his life, last night. I checked on him and his tummy seemed bloated and his gums were pale. His face was cold to touch and he was struggling to breathe.

I rang up the emergency vet and was warned it might be Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). It would be a $170 consultation to go in on top of any work to be done, but it would an hour's drive to a different Vet, as the one I was speaking to didn't have the equipment available.

I tried a second Vet who said if it was GDV, Fred would have been gone already, as he'd had his breakfast. And I was noticing these symptoms at 9pm at night. He suggested perhaps it was gas or water, as Fred had drank an entire bowl of water the night before. He said keep an eye on him, and see how I go in the morning, as chances were if it was something like GDV, it would sometimes work itself out on its own.

This morning he seemed a little better, his face was warmer, but the bloat was still there and his gums still pale. We drove him in to see another Vet who opened earlier than the one I spoke to last night, who then sent us onto another Vet, as they said Fred would need an x-ray and warned that Fred was sick. The tell-tale sign being the white gums.

The next Vet suggested a variety of reasons and was keen on doing blood tests. But after checking his bloat suddenly said, no, we'll do the x-rays first. 

Fifteen minutes later we were called back in and told that his spleen had burst and blood was seeping into his abdomen - hence the bloat. We had the option to operate and remove the burst spleen but was warned that it was a messy affair, and the last time they did this operation, it was not a success. Based on Fred's age, it was going to make things even more complicated. So the smart choice was to put him to sleep.

I stood there in that consultation room, shocked and devastated to hear the news. It was not what I was expecting. 4 months after getting Ginger, I have to say goodbye to Fred.

It was not what I was expecting when the Vet had given Fred his annual check up and told me that he was doing well for his age and seemed to be in fine health.

This vet tells me that it's very hard to see a tumour on a spleen as it's buried within other organs in the middle of the dog, and in wolfhound crosses with deep chests, it's almost impossible to feel it. The only chance we would have had was if we'd done CAT scans on a regular basis. Which is not something you would regularly do on a dog.

We said goodbye to Fred in the consultation room. We had time to say goodbye, and he came up for cuddles. He even gave me a lick as the tears rolled down my face.

We sat on the floor as the Vet and nurses arranged him for his needles. I watched as he slowly slumped down as if to sleep, and as the second needle went in, I knew he was going. I stayed with him, my hand resting on the bridge of his nose, after he passed, and eventually lay on his side. His body was still warm to the touch, 5 mins after he had passed.

Wolfieboy has buried him up on the hill beside Elsie. He has a lovely view of the mountains and valley, and wolfiepup and I helped lay down rocks on his cairn.

It is still taking time to hit me. I keep on seeing things in the corner of my eye, and I turn around expecting to see Fred only to be reminded that he is gone.

As I told wolfiepup, "We only have one dog now. Fred is gone." She is repeating what I'm saying to her, but I don't think she feels the emotional impact. She just takes the words as they come and accept them. Ah, to be 3 and innocent of all of this.

I am sad that she will not be old enough to truly remember what a sweetheart Fred is.

But I am more sad that I can no longer spend time with my heart. My love. From the moment we brought him home, as he sat in the back seat with me, his head on my lap, to the first few nights when he followed me around the house, even pushing his nose through the toilet door to stay near me, Fred has had my heart. I was always his Boss, and he was always My Dog. 

My big woofer. 

The last few nights he's been coming up to me after dinner, pushing his big boofy head and wet nose into my stomach and asking for cuddles and love. I obliged but didn't spend that much time. I was touched by his affection, but didn't think anything of it. If I had known, perhaps I would have spent more time and thought. It is so easy to fall into complacency and take them for granted.

And then, one day you turn around, and they are gone.

No longer will I come home to a waggy tail and a wet nose making a beeline for me as I get out of the car. No longer will I get the thump of a tail as I walk by. No longer will I have big round brown eyes staring at me in love. No longer will I simply have to raise my eyebrow in order to have Fred obediently sit. No longer will I get the sandpapery foot licks and the big shaggy footrest at nights. The big thwump as his body hits the floor and he turns around for a tummy rub and scratch. The frustrated whuff as he moves his head from side to side to get a better angle on his neck and head scratches, or in protestation as the scratch on the bridge of his nose stops.

I miss my boy with an ache that is unspeakable. Indescribable. 

He's been with me for 9 years and it's hard to say goodbye. It's so heartwrenchingly hard to say goodbye. 

He's had his moments. 

The icy morning I was awoken to the stench as he vomited out god knows what on the floor beside me. I still remember the icy shards of cold that went up the soles of my feet from the slate floor as I dragged him outside. 

The morning he went wandering chasing down a roo or wombat, and I came to collect him from my new neighbour, to discover the gashes down his chest where whatever had got him, had nearly cut through skin - but didn't. I remember the horror as I uncovered those marks.

The night he threw up what was possibly aged sheep intenstines across the living room floor.

The first few months, when he was still small enough to squash himself into a deck chair.

I remember when he was at the in-laws and found a hard bone, and helped himself to it, only to somehow lose a tooth in the process. It never bothered him though.

And all the snuggles we had. The cuddles beside each other.

He was the first real dog that I had on my own. I was there when we adopted him, and I was there when he left 9 years later.

I loved that he had 3 white socks and one plain. I loved the tiger stripes he had before we desexed him. The stripes we named him for - Fred Flintstone. I loved the white tip on his tail, and the shaggy eyebrows and the white stripe down the the bridge of his nose.

I wish we could have had more time together. But I also know that he had a good life. For a boy who found himself at 6 months or younger on death row, he landed pretty much on his feet. 

As wolfieboy would say, he ended up living a life of love, with 3 wives (Rosie, Elsie and now Ginger), and had his share of car rides, beach visits, and wanders through bush, chasing kangaroos and all manner of wildlife.

He had a love of tissues that I never understood. He'd pick them up delicately before plonking himself down and happily tearing into it between his paws before munching on them and swallowing.

He was a quiet boy never prone to bark. The few times you heard him, it came deep and low from the chest. A big baritone wooooooooooof. 

He was Bottom Dog. Always. 

40+ kilos of mass, who dragged me across the street in an attempt to get away from a barking maltese terrier that he could have squashed flat with his paw. He ran behind me when a small Jack Russell Terrier tried to show some dominance. He whined and made a grand palavar when Elsie joined us, and whimpered and circled the coffee table 3 times before retreating to under the coffee table when wolfiepup arrived on the scene. 

He was a big pillow with feet who was friendly with everyone. Dogs and people alike, and was gentle with wolfiepup, suffering no complaint no matter what she did. But given the chance, he would simply remove himself from her presence.

In the last year since Elsie passed he seemed more withdrawn. Refused to walk off without us. Whereas he used to range while Elsie stayed home and close. He now waited for us and wouldn't go far without us. There'd be afternoons when he'd only go for a walk when I came along, and he'd hang close.

He had his moments with Ginger, but I think the dog love of his life was Elsie, and he was never quite the same after she left. They were mates, and he seemed a bit lost and sad without her.

Fred, my boy, my love. I'm going to miss you. I feel your absence like an ache in my heart. My house, my life, my heart is out of balance without you in it.

I love you, Fred.

I miss you.

You were my Good Boy.