Maddie

MaddieMy darling Maddie was euthanased on May 16th, 2007. It wasn’t an easy decision for Marilyn. I was away in Papua New Guinea at the time. She has been ill for a week or so and investigations showed that she had a growth in her guts. Marilyn and I had agreed that our girl had had too many invasive procedures over the last years as we tried to stabilise her leukemia and hypoglycaemia. She had recently started having fits similar to those that Blocker had. She had been in the specialist vet hospital on a drip for a couple of days and was pretty miserable. Marilyn brought her home and our dear vet Margaret released our girl to go run with her son Blocker through the parks and along the rivers in doggie heaven.

The bare facts first. I was born on February 14th, 1994, at Euralla in the New England Tablelands of New South Wale. I am a kelpie, but not pure bred. My mother was something of a cross. My father, Rocky, was a very well-known working dog Kelpie up at Euralla. He was also famous for being the dog pictured jumping through a dog food ring on the can of a product called Good-Os. I’ve never worked a day in my life and have absolutely no intention of ever doing so. Hence I am what’s known as a station dog.

I had a fling with a stud from Gladesville in Sydney when I was three years old, and gave birth to three boys and three girls, but one of the girls didn’t survive the night (mind you, there were moments there when I thought I wouldn’t either!).

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I used to be pretty healthy till I had a bad reaction to an antibiotic once. That’s left me with a lousy case on anaemia which has to be controlled through some pills the give humans – we get them on the sly from the vet.

My dog days – an occasional diary

August 2002

Sometimes late in the night I lie on the chair in front of him, lightly sleeping while he works. It’s the big chair he had made for himself. A sort of giraffe pattern, but you can’t tell under the blue sheet he covers it in for me. I spend most of the day there if he’s at home. I think I’ve spent more time in it than he ever has.

I can’t sleep too deeply because at any time he might get up and head for bed and I want to be sure I follow him pretty quickly. One time, I had really fallen asleep and he snuck out (he does that sometimes just to tease me). When I got to the bedroom, Blocker was already lying next to him on the pillow where I usually sleep. I made my usual moans of displeasure, but he said he couldn’t do anything about it. That it was my fault for not coming sooner. But I knew he would relent. He did, and ordered Blocker to the bottom of the bed. I jumped up and curled into place with my back to him like I usually sleep.

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I’m watching him now as he types this. The clicking of the keys is keeping me just awake enough to know when he moves. I hate it when he stops and rests. I don’t know if it means he’s finished or not.

Driving to and from the park for our walks is one of the few times in the day I have him all to myself. I sit in the front cabin with him while the boys travel in the tray – unless it’s raining, when we all travel in the cabin, fogging up the windows and falling over ourselves as we play musical seats. On the way to the park I’m usually too excited to enjoy our time together. But on the way back, after our walk, and hopefully after the swallows have come out and had a run with me, I’m a lot calmer and a little tired, so I often ride lying down with my head in his lap. I like it like that because he gives me a gentle scratch on my throat or plays with my ears. I don’t even mind getting interrupted when he has to shift gears.

He’s gotten so used to me being in the front seat and having to stop me flying into the windscreen when he brakes suddenly, that even when I’m not there he flings his left arm across the seat, which comes as a surprise to human passengers.

Everyone laughs at him because he lets me get away with EVERYTHING. But he says if he can’t have one person in his life who gets away with it all then life’s kinda not worth living.
This is Colleen, the ‘dog lady’ of Sydney Park, and the human I most love next to my family. As usual, she’s feeding every dog in sight. (Snapped by Marilyn at a doggies’ Christmas Colleen organises sometimes. I think that’s my tail you can see.) Iget to see her a lot cause she also cleans our den.
This is my mad best friend Gina. She and I have a terrific time at the Park in the mornings chasing her ball. I try to coach her but she ignores everything I have to say. I still love her, but. (Snapped by Marilyn at a doggies’ Christmas)
And this is Biddie. She used to live at Trafalgar St when I first came there. She decided to turn up her paws and leave us soon after the kids were born – I think she couldn’t stand the thought of being a grandmother!!! (Snapped by Marilyn at a doggies’ Christmas)

October 2002

He tries to sneak out of rooms sometimes – silly fool. He forgets that though I may look asleep, I’m pretty well alert to his every move until he actually goes to bed. Drives me crazy, of course, when he is up and down from one room to another during the day and night – as he is when he’s working from home. I can think he’s off to settle down for the night, head for bed myself, only to find he’s gone off to the computer for his nightcap – really, that’s what he has to do before sleeping! I’ve taken to lying in the corridor just beside the bedroom door, nose pointedly aimed into the room, but ready to get up and head into the office and onto my chair till he’s really ready for bed.

Sometimes he gets a bit frisky and hides somewhere in the house while Daffyd and I are out on our walks in the morning. Ridiculous behaviour for a 50 year old! He’ll go and hide behind the pantry door, or behind the bathroom door and Daffyd and I will have to pretend we don’t smell where he is the minute we come in the back. We patter around for a bit – well, I patter and Daffyd races madly as he is wont to, and then I usually let Daffyd be the one to ‘find’ him.

And when we do get to bed, I have to stay awake until he’s finished reading his book before I can really settle down. Inevitably he will want to yank more of the doona over him as he turns out the light. This means that I have to get off the bed and wait till he’s settled before I can curl back up on my pillow. Daffyd remains blissfully undisturbed at the foot of the bed.

October 9 2002

Not as enamoured of this bivouac bit as Daffyd is. It’s all very well for Paul and him to be boys camping out in the officer while Paul’s dad uses Paul’s bed. But the mattress on the floor is narrower than our usual nest and Daffyd and he take up about all the room there is. I have been spending the last few nights on my chair in the office – comfortable, yes, but not the same.

Mind you, I do like living in a den that has so many choices of nests. And now with the renovations underway again, hopefully by summer we’ll have a nice cool polished concrete floor to snooze on in the middle of the day – and Paul claims we will be sleeping out there on hot summer nights, too. Meanwhile it’s great to have the night nest, the office day nest, the evening tv room nest, and a couple of spares for when Paul’s not home, like Marilyn’s bed.

October 18 2002

What, me obsessive? Look, I just like being wherever he is, okay. And sometimes I get a bit uncertain of just what it is he is up to, and okay, I may well look startled, if not concerned, and okay, sometimes I get in a wee panic and run from room to room till I find where he is and get a sense of what on earth he is about to do so I can prepare myself for the possibility that he is about to abandon me yet again. Like at night. I mean, it’s reasonable to expect that once it’s dark we all ought to just head for the t.v. room, or the office, and settle in. I mean, that’s what my ancestors have been doing for years – dark equals sleep. So when he suddenly decides to have a shower, it throws me, and I got to follow him closely to see whether he just feels dirty and wants to get nice and clean for bed (like I do before I settle down for the night, giving myself a good licking before I curl up and go sleepy-byes) or whether he’s about to put his glad rags on and go out again. You can understand – I need to know whether to hang around the door and wait til we head off together to the t.v. room, or whether I ought to give up now and go lie in the office chair or on the bed and settle in to wait till he’s back home. And of course, there is always the possibility that we just might be heading off for a walk even if it’s just up the park on the corner.

No, the safest option is to lie near the bedroom door – it’s about mid-way to most other exists in the house, so I can keep all my bases covered.

October 21 2002

I lerve throwing myself onto the dry grass in the park, rolling onto my back and having a good old scratch. Love rubbing my face along it, too. It’s not that I have fleas, or anything – Paul’s good at keeping the cooties off us generally. I guess it’s just that I’m getting on in years a bit and my skin gets a little dry from time to time. Or maybe it’s just that I remain a good time gal who’s happy to have a roll in the hay anytime it’s on offer!

Now, about the shoes. Used to be I could tell what was coming up in the next couple of minutes by the shoes he was putting on. Mainly I could tell when we were going to the park cause he would put on the old Blundstone boots that he never bothers to clean (wasteful little bugger he is at times!). But lately he’s taken to wearing them as his gardening shoes, and sometimes when he isn’t thinking (and that’s getting more frequent!) he’s been wearing them up the street. So the shoes no longer are forensically significant. I think t-shirts in summer may mean walks, but then he also sometimes puts on a polo shirt. I wish he would get his signals straight – heaven knows I’ve been training him for 8 years now to understand mine.

March 2003

Well, it’s finally happened. I am now 8 years old which means converting it to human scale I am actually older than Paul! I admit, I am a bit slower on the birds these days, but Slim takes over and reminds them who’s in charge here. My skin’s been getting terribly dry of late and the vet’s got me onto a diet of having at least one can of sardines in oil a week – saves buying supplementary oil pills. The others get the benefit, too. As if that shiny arse Slim needs it! Actually, I like having him around. He and I have the kinds of rumbles Blocker and I used to. Daffys never has got the rumble thing happening. Mind you, I have to keep a sharp eye on Slim and have been known to give him a good growling at and the occasional nip. Well, that’s the privilege of age.

My good friend Gina moved up the mountains so morning walks aren’t as much fun anymore. Still, it’s good to catch up with the gang I’ve grown up with, though there have been a few that’ve carked it of late. I’ve cut my anaemia pills in half and seem to be going okay with that.

I have a new seat out in the new big kitchen. It’s the blue poof that used to be in the dining room. It’s just been sitting out there near where Paul cooks and one day I just decided that I had had it with lying around on the polished cement floor – lovely as it is – and hoisted myself up on to it. Just fits me, too. Can’t wait for winter to test out the new underfloor heating.

July 2003

Life kinda goes on with little hassle. I have cut down on my pills for my anaemia and there does not seem to have been much of a difference to my energy levels. There has been a good deal of difference with my weight, though, which is settling back nicely to my – well, perhaps not girlish days, but certainly early motherhood days. It’s helped somewhat by Paul’s new exercise plan (hah!) where we all now have walks AND runs, or at least we walk a bit then run a bit then walk a bit and so on. Feels good to be able to keep up with him at least!

Am seriously worried about the state of my elbows, however. You know how it gets when you spend a lot of time with elbows on the floor – the calluses are not attractive! I have toyed with the idea of having Paul rub some nice hydraderm or vitamin E cream into them, but then again, I’d probably lick it straight off as I seem unable to resist the taste of it when Paul uses it.

I am having quite a good time with Slim. He’s more fun than Daffyd as he quite likes to have a rumble a couple of times as day, and also enjoys a game with the old rag-pull toys around the place. Daffyd only ever cares about his bloody ball!

Tragic news that our favourite vet, Dominic, is leaving the practice after looking after me for the past 5 years! He was with us for the kids’ bornings and for Blocker’s death, so we will miss him heaps. Paul of course is distraught that his spunkbubble excuse for going to the clinic will be no longer!

November 2003

Okay, so I’m a jealous bitch! I just don’t see why I have to put up with that arriviste Slim cuddling up to Paul at EVERY opportunity! I am the queen here, buddy, so back off! Like, just cause I have decided to take up the option of sleeping on the nouveau bean bag that was bought for him and which he has spurned, and it happens to be placed next to Paul’s couch, and lying on it allows me to stretch out and ditto Paul, doesn’t mean that sneak can hop up onto MY end of the couch when it is vacant – it is MINE whether I am lying in it or not! And now at breakfast, the little slimeball snuggles up to the table when I’ve just closed my eyes and gets a quick stoke of the back and a pull around the ears. Look! He is here at MY GOOD WILL! I knew I should have turned him out the minute Paul brought him home, but Paul looked so stoopidly hang dog about having spent SOOOOO much time travelling around the country with the creep lying at his feet – snake!!! – I would have given him a bloody good bite on his arse and told him to just move on down the road. I mean, it’s bad enough having to keep on eye on that Daffyd as he sneaks up the bed at night. At least Slim continues to KNOW HIS PLACE and sleeps in the office.

Granted, he and I do have a good time chasing the swallows in the Park; he is not without speed and skill in rounding up. And granted, he does like the occasional rough house chew-each-other kinda game which Daffyd never has. But privileges are MINE TO GIVE and I have not given him permission to get the tickles and rubs that our MY DUE.

December 2003

Why do I still get so excited when it’s time for a walk? You’d think that after nearly 9 years the buzz of it would have abated somewhat, that I would have settled into routine. But I can’t help it. Morning and evening it’s the same; the minute I hear those keys picked up, or hear feet hit the floor from the bed, or Paul put his glasses away and stop clacking away at the keyboard, something goes fizz in me and I act like a krazy kid. Daffyd doesn’t help as he gets just as carried away. Soon the two of us are barking madly, snarling at each other for getting in each other’s way, tearing out the door and moaning madly to be let into the car. And for some reason once I’m in it gets worse. Every second we take seems a second too long to me. I want a teletransporter for dogs NOW! Maybe it’s the anticipation of there beings some birds for me to chase; maybe it’s the expectation of meeting up with Colleen in the other gals in the morning or one of the beaux in the afternoon. It’s not like I’m busting for a pee – I often have that BEFORE I get in the car at home. There is a wondrous world of smell in the park, too of course. But really, maybe it’s just that it means for the hour we are out Paul has nothing else to take his attention away from me – no phones, no housecleaning, no trips to the post – just me and he (and Daffyd and Slim, of course, but Slim wanders off on his own and Daffyd just wants his ball thrown) is all I think I really want.

March 2004

Paul wants us to write down the words of human speak that we understand. Pour qua? To show that we are, as we know ourselves to be, smarter than most humans give us credit for. I mean, a girl will get nowhere if all she knows is sit, stay, here. Come is a useful word to know just so you can disregard it and cause a bit of a fuss. Birds, or where’s the boidles, is terrifically important as it means some are probably around and I just haven’t seen them yet and need to have a look for the game is most decidedly afoot. Off the bed – well, that’s mostly said of course for Daffyd who will insist on standing on top of Paul in the mornings. Okay is good cause it means I can get up on the couch and squash him up into his half. As for our little familiarities – well, I’m happy to be addressed as princess, sweetie-pie, sweetums, darling one/girl, Maddie, Maddles, Miss M, and Mrs Wigglebottom for characteristic form of welcome. No cautionary or directive words are needed as I am always obedient.

April 2004

Am I getting more demanding in my old age? Why shouldn’t I? Daddy knows perfectly well that the big office chair is mine, and that the long day bed is his. Similarly, he knows when Paul is watching t.v. it is I who have the right to share the couch with him and get his full attention. I find nothing funny, though Paul does, in having to whine in my distress register when Daffyd infringes these rules, with the expectation that Paul will then order Daffyd off the chair or couch and reinstate me to my rightful position. Slim, on the other hand, takes no such liberties.

December 2005

My dears, hath missed moi? But of course tu has. I have certainly missed scribbling my pensees pour tu. And that’s about as far as my Francaise goes so back to good old Australian English.

Well, you will read elsewhere about poor Daffyd’s ills. For a mo there it looked like I might outlive both my homeboys! Mind you I still may, but my dears I too have not been well of late. No, no, nothing to dire – unless you think hyperglycaemia is dire. Yes, while Paul goes happily toward his genetically disposed diabetes, I seem to be going the other way. Cause – unknown. Symptom – I go quiet, then start getting wobbly in the back legs and if naught is done about it I will get around to fitting. The latter hasn’t happened as yet, but it’s come close. Treatment – we are avoiding pills at the mo and looking to control by diet. Means I have to be careful to remind P and M that if I get a whole bowl of just meat, or a bone (ah, tristesse, la bonne bone is denied moi) then I need to get a handful of bickies as well otherwise in around half an hour post munch I start to go funny. At which point the treatment is to get palmfuls of glucose and shove my nose into it – yes, exactly like certain other practices that I have seen but not partook. It’s something to do with my sugar being burned up too quickly or some such. If it gets worse, there will need to be a decision about something more intrusive, so my dears, drop into the chapel and say an Ave Maria for moi.

So glad Paul has become obsessive about cleaning up people’s rubbish in the Park. It means that we either have to walk around so he can pick things up or that when he does run he has to keep doubling back to do the same, which gives me the chance to catch up with him. The old trotters ain’t what they used to be when I would spring through the grass after bunnies. Most times it doesn’t matter; I know the general route he will take on any day by how we start out, but there have been a couple of occasions where the bugger has made a different choice and I have been a tad befuddled and rather too resembling someone with a touch of the Alzhemier’s. My failing eyesight isn’t much help. It’s nothing that much can be done about – ‘old lady’s eyes’ they call it, getting a little like aspic in the pupil, cloudy aspic that is.

Still, I’m up for a stick chase in the Park – at least two or three goes till I get bored with Slim trying to get the stick off me all the time. And my teeth are still all my own and I can still hang on to a stick well enough for Paul to give me a whirligig off the ground when both he and I have the energy.

I supposed to complete this picture of my increasing decrepitude I should also admit that my front paws are becoming a tad pigeon-toed-ish.

Well, there you have it – a typical conversation for one of my years – nothing but a pathetic listing of my faltering health! Oh, mon chers, is this then all there is!

Feb 2006

As the old song says, How can I leave you when you won’t go away! Here I am again, then for your delight. Although there is little new to report, other than the galumphing recovery of Daffyd for which I am tres thankful as it means he and Slim are once again relegated to the tray of the ute and I have my proper place next to Paul in the front passenger seat. Quel Bliss! Room to stretch out and get my chin just at the right height to be under his wrist as he changes gears with the floor shift so he has to take note of my suitably adoring and slightly hurt look and give me a pat or just let me change positions to rest my head on top of his wrist. Of course, it’s a bloody manual ute and these moments of pleasure are continually interrupted by his having to change gears! Wish he’d get a damned automatic – then he’d have little else to do with that hand apart from pat and scratch moi.

Mind you, Daffyd being well means r-u-n-n-i-n-g is back on the agenda. Mon soires, the heat! Happily he recognises that I know my way around the park well enough for him to charge on ahead with the boys while I drift like a dandelion ever in their slipstream.

Haven’t had a ‘turn’ in over a month and my hideous clump of fat doesn’t seem to get any bigger or worse. I have, somehow, managed to grow some rather lovely copper hair in odd spots this summer – and NO, I have not been near a dye bottle!!!

July 2006

Yes, despite a couple of very queer turns I am still in the land of the living. One of the turns was very peculiar – for some unaccountable reason as the hypo attack came on, I strolled out into the backyard in the dark and wound my way into the garden bed where Slim and I have dug a comfortable hole between a native finger lime and a lemongrass bush and curled up – in the middle of winter! Thank heaven Paul realised that I hadn’t followed him into the tv room and took to the flashlight, expecting to see me of course squatting somewhere for a pee or poo. He was as surprised as I was to find me in the hole, for all the world looking like I had decided to lie down in my grave – and, eeeeeeek! I now realise that that hole is dug in EXACTLY the spot that Biddie, the old girl who used to live her till she turned up her toes when I started dropping the babies, was buried by Paul in the middle of a rainstorm – had to do it as she actually had renal failure and the vet said that if she had been left unburied overnight she would have been stinking by morning. All too spooky – what’s Biddie thinking, inviting me to lie down in HER grave!

Actually, I am giving Paul somewhat of a hard time these nights. I have gotten into the habit of getting up and off the bed and standing there looking at him across the bed as if I want to go and have a pee, but when he walks me down the corridor I fail to head out the door and just follow him back to bed, get back on the bed, settle for a couple of minutes and do the whole thing over again. Again, I cannot account for my behaviour as I am certainly not in fear of incontinence, don’t recall having little neuro-bursts like Daffyd, nor wake up from bad dreams. The other night I did the same thing over and over for a good 15 minutes before finally going back to sleep. I’d say it was Alzheimer’s except I don’t know that we pooches get that.

I supposed you are fed up with the catalogue of my ageing aches and pains and general dottiness, but my dears, that’s a large part of my life these days. Let me see what else I can dredge up of interest to tus.

Well, Paul has become obsessed with recording every mushroom and fungi in Sydney Park. He went on a mushroom forage in Blackheath in May and met this mycologist from Melbourne who reignited his interest in things mycological. He tells me that when he was in his early teens he used to have a secret cache of twigs with fungus growing on them. Anyway, there’s this fungi map of Australia to which your average obsessive can contribute, and Paul’s decided he’s going track down every fungus that grows in Sydney Park. What with the rain we’ve been having lately, there has certainly been a good crop of them. Why do I bring this up, because it means that post rain rambles in the Park are delightful meanders off the asphalt paths and into the casuarina and eucalypt plantings in search of fungi for him, with the side benefit of giving us four footers a chance to wander through the most intoxicating smelliferous areas of the Park. And as he lies down among the leaf litter and props up his camera for his macros, I have the pleasure of nosing around among detritus, mud, faeces, rotting food – an absolute cornucopia for the zillion little sensors in my still exquisitely acute and beautifully formed nostrils.

The rain has also turned large parts of the Park to delicious chemically enhanced mud (this was an ex garbage dump after all) which I confess I cannot resist snuffling into and wolfing down. Paul had hoped I was after truffles! He is a sweet boy, but at times a little, how shall I say it, thick? Yes, there are native Australian truffles, but they ain’t likely to be growing in the middle of the village green at the Park where the soil is imported, top-dressed, lacking in any leaf mould etc etc etc. But if it keeps him off my back as I have a gorge on that intoxicating mix of chemicals in the soil, then let him dream on say I.

The other pleasure of life these days is the heater in the office. He’s sensibly invested in this sort of column thing that swivels and can have its temperature set at a blissful 18C. Tres comfortable to lie on what’s still a reasonably puffy doggie bed – ex-Daffyd who is doing very well this winter on his new drugs and hasn’t any need for the comfort of same bed for his arthritis – and have warm air wafted one’s way as the winds howl outside (okay, so winds rarely howl around here, but you know what I mean).

Paul’s going away for a month soon as is Marilyn and we canines are going to the Petersham Hilton, aka Jane and Julie’s place, for the duration. I shall be delighted to be fussed over and coddled. Though mind you, I could just as well stay home and be coddled by Kevin, one of the two boys who are going to house sit. He and Chris came over the other day to get minding instructions, and, what can I say, we were sympatico in extremis; it’s not every day one finds someone who is prepared to scratch one’s belly for hours (well, it seemed thus) rather than the somewhat perfunctory night-time scrub one gets from a certain P.

More to report post the hols.

Dec 2006

I fared better than Slim while Paul was away, though I decided he was getting too much attention with his Palsy (yeah, right, I’ve seen better Palsy on a candle!) so I threw a minor hypo turn just to let J & J know that they couldn’t take my health for granted – not that they would, I assure you, but…..

But I guess the major thing of late is that age does seem to be catching up to me in a big way. I still love the idea of going to the Park for a walk, but I have to confess that where the spirit is willing the flesh is only so so. To be frank, there are days when it all seems a ridiculous amount of bother to keep up with Paul and D & S. I mean, I have been coming to the Park for nigh on 12 years now, and know every bit of like, well, like I know the house, and that’s very well indeed (and no, P, putting up the new glass and doors and what not may have confused S and D for a mo but I have had no problems figuring out what’s what), and so I know just about every short cut that can be taken and am perfectly comfortable in taking them to catch up when I feel the need. And if i am inclined to bathe a tad more often it’s just that an old thang like moi gets un petit amount more hot and sweaty and I need to refresh my nethers just that more often. So, I amble along like the other old bitches – Panda has been at it for 2 years at least now, and Gina is not as sprightly as she used to be though the mountain air seems to be keeping her a bit fresher. I have had a couple of turns just as we have set out in to the Park and P has sensibly taken me right back to the car for a hit of glucose.

At least I can still jump onto the bed at night without assistance – tho P keeps saying to others that he is thinking about getting a lower bed for my comfort and perhaps I ought to start putting on more of a whinge and foot stamp to spur him on in this venture because it would frankly be a blessing to have less far to leap. ‘

February 2007

Maddie was euthanased after her liver collapsed. Much missed.

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