The bare facts?

Hmmm. As a ‘companion animal’ of a certain age, there are some things over which I prefer to draw a veil. Suffice to say that Paul has taken to describing me as a refugee from a hippie commune up Northern NSW.

I can disclose that I am happy to be ascribed parentage of an Alsatian and a Wolf Hound – the long nose and the rather nifty narrow hips generally being the indicators for the latter. I do have a sort of pouchy lump on my right side over the ribs, but it’s been checked out and poses no danger. I myself don’t remember what accident resulted in my left fore paw being somewhat flattened – no, I was NOT drunk at the time! Paul insists that I admit to being a shedder – he claims that he is going to stuff the teddy bear he is knitting with the quantities of fur that drift like wayward mice up and down the corridors hourly. Well, it IS SUMMER as I write this, so what can he expect!

I came to Sydney with my former human companion, Nicki with a view to spending quality time with her in a ground floor flat in Bronte that she shares with Paul’s daughter Mary’s boyf Chris (how Days of Our Lives is this becoming!). Pesky agent of course waived the lease in front of them and highlighted the NO PETS clause (yes, tragically the LAW lags behind in this area and still terms us PETS and not our preferred designation of companion animal or even companion species if necessary). Mary proposed to Paul that I have a short stay at the Petersham den until a decision was made about where I might more permanently lay my bones. The whole notion rather appealed to Paul’s oogy-boogy side – Maddie dies in May, and here I am 6 months later, not a day younger than her and looking for shelter. I came over, the boys of the pack treated my with the regard due my sex and years, the place is spacious, my incontinence is being managed by pills, I growled satisfactorily at dogs in the park who I decided I didn’t like coming near the PAP (potential adoptive pack), and voila – permanence is mine!

I have taken over the front seat of the ute where Maddie used to ride – no way am I going in the tray with the boys, even if I could actually climb into it! I came with a brown blanket for a bed but have abandoned that for the way more arthritically palliative cushion that had been bought for Daffyd but which he has never really cared for, preferring either the foot of the bed, under the bed, or out on his repro Mies ven der Rhoe chair in the pavilion. Then too there is the blue bodied, yellow-stilt-legged booby bird as I have come to think of it that started out as one of Slim’s many game birding substitutes, which he tends to abandon once he’s eaten the stuffing out, which I have been very happy to take over as a sort of tossable in the den. Daffyd and I have come to an understanding about the ball in the park. Gets to carry it around and I get to have a couple of pretend chasies of it when we get to the village green. Similarly, he has decided that it’s okay for me to have Paul throw sticks on the green for me to chase up to and chew – I am NOT a returner – and he has given up trying to get in on the stick chew which he has something of a yearning for.

I am developing some nice habits and routines that Paul can brag about to others – like how as we head off to the park I have taken to having a good squeak of the ball that has been exiled out to the garden after I took rather too fully to squeaking it in the bedroom in the early morn, sort of my little protest at the ball/bedroom ban. I have been known to be so lost to Morpheus in the tv room at nights that I have found myself locked in there after all the others have schlepped off to bed, which as far as am concerned is more of an embarrassment to them than to me, of course, but I look appropriately dopey when released. I have begun to channel Maddie, dawdling infuriatingly as we approach the car at the end of our walk, exaggerating my difficulty in climbing back into the car, standing on the driver’s seat when inside so that Paul has to urge me, nay at time even physically push me, back into the passenger seat – all things that Maddie used to do. I have yet to take up lying on the front seat with my head behind the floor shift gear stick making it difficult for Paul to change gears without whacking me in the jaw, but I may well take up this delightful tic in the future.

I am a hit with Arlo, Kloe and Fran, the three juniors in the human clan, which is probably a relief to Daffyd, particularly in Fran’s case where he now might actually have a little time to himself when she’s around rather than being the subject of her pilgrim like adoration which consists in large part of following him around patting him fervently.

I have tried not to have my picture taken – I’ve seen Sunset Boulevarde and I am definitely NOT ready for my close up Mr de Mille – so there may be a little time before I have a portfolio of the extent and quality of Daffyd and Slim.

July 2008

Okay, six months of paradise and fingers crossed, well, paws anyway, I will be enjoying this delightfully purple and blue doggie bed with the warmth coming up from the heated floor for many a winter yet. Well, why not, this place needed an old gal to be pampered and fussed over, and, if I do say so myself, to look decidedly elegant kind of sphinxing it up.

The boys seem to like the company, at least Slim does, and hey, a dame like moi from the wrong side of the tracks could do worse than to be kiddied by a country boy gone all citified but not. And Daffyd certainly doesn’t get angry when I decide to have a small play with his ball (no, stoopid, the tennis type) in the park. But he really is pretty much  in his own world and it’s sweet.

I decided pretty early on to be viscious pack bitch in the Park, given that neither of the boys would bother warning off other poochies from muscling in on the pack. Hey, I know when I am onto a good thing, and I have no sympathy for any other canine who thinks they might get a little of the lurve that so evidently enfolds us as we have a great time being absoluely self-sufficient, complete – yikes, I almost went all hippy trippy there! Down Girl!

The food here is doing me good – everyone in the Park comments on how shiny my coat is than when I first arrived. Thankfully, the goodness all seems to be going to the fur and not into the emboinpoint  – yes, my hips are still the envy of those fatties waddling around the ponds. Blood tests – hateful hateful – continue to give no cause for pause. The legs get a little trembly when I have to get into the car – just need that little jump of faith and let one paw follow the other as I take my seat next to Paul. And yes, there are times when I have been known to end up arse first as he brakes a tad permptorily. But what of it? I can get up a good canter when I want to and give the odd frisk and toss of the head to let all know there’s a lot of life in this gal yet.

June 2009

Life goes on and so do I. It’s been a year and a half now since I came to this sanctuary and apart from Daffyd hogging the cushion in the kitchen during the day and me having to go to the somewhat cooler den cushion, I have little to complain about, really. I have taken to ‘doing a Slim’ as Paul will have it, which is to say that I am qute of a mind these days to have a bit of a side wander as we walk around the Park, not too far, and certaily not after munchies like Fat Boy, just like mooching off into the shrubbery and having a smell and a poke.

The back legs are holding out fine though clambering into that bloody front seat of the ute is still not something I particularly like doing. Can’t Paul fix up some kind of ramp? I certainly find it most embarassing when he decides to give me a little bottom lift!

Haven’t quite got used to the crowds that come over here for parties and fundraisers; still sets me trembling and wanting to just stick close to Paul or Marilyn, but I am getting better.

June 2010

Highlights of the past year? Well, the in********ce remains mostly under control. Darlings, when you get to my age (don’t ask) that IS a highlight.

Quite enjoyed the Laurie Andeson concert. Paul was nervous that I would be nervous with such a large crowd and all, and so many dogs  – mmmm? oh probably a thousand – but it was like being back in Nimbin at the Mardi Grass, really – all very carnival in the open air – and it was after all my kind of music. Glad it wasn’t my birthday, tho, would have been embarassed to have had a ‘hallooo’ and disclosure of my age!

Summer was bearable – I do like the double brick Federation house – so cool and shaded.

Winter now, of course, and with the new doors on the hall it’s nice and toasty in there once the heater’s been on, but to tell the truth, it’s also HEAVEN to blob out on the day bed on the heated concrete floor of the kitchen – sort of a permanent heat massage, tres relaxing – and I am quite happy leaving the boys to fight over the couches in the top room.

Paul has taken to spending most of his time at home working in the kitchen, with all the light and space it gives, and it’s a pleasure to loll next to his chair proprietorily – well, Slim of course continues to take himself off to the den at every opportunity, and Daffyd still believes Mies van der Rohe created the Barcelona Couch just for him. It’s tres amusing to see Paul trying to get space for himself on the couch in the a.m. to read his paper and have his cuppa!

He has had to resort to chicken wire to keep me out of my favourite digging spot which coincidentally is where he is desperate to get some natives to grow. I’m not entirely taken with the spot to which I have been relegated  – it’s somewhat more claey and less giving and too apt to crack one’s nails.

My figure continues to be the admiration of all.

January 2012

Dooki was euthanased at 4pm, January 23. She had been becoming more and more frail, unsteady on her back legs to the extent of not being able to get up at times, showing signs of increasing canine dementia, and of increasing damage to her liver.

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© Paul van Reyk 2019.