Good Friends, Old Age and Birthdays

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Brutus and Rocky patiently wait for the ‘cake’ for Rocky’s 10th birthday

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

It was the morning of Rocky’s 10th birthday and Rocky well and truly had his ‘grump on’. He does this every year and complains that none of his friends send him birthday cards, I purposely remind him that he doesn’t have many friends as he has insulted or barked at them. That was until he met the Iggies – especially Pippin and Bronte.

‘Do you know what day it is?’ Rocky asked Brutus.

Without looking up, Brutus continued to read his newspaper – except that he can’t read because he is dyslexic, but he does enjoy looking at the pictures instead while shaking his head at frequent intervals to make Rocky believe that he can understand them.

‘I said do you know what day it is today?’ Rocky repeated in a louder voice.

Shaking his newspaper and peeking over the top, Brutus muttered ‘It’s Friday’. Nothing more was said and Rocky was left bristling with hurt and anger that Brutus was not engaging in him.

‘I’ll tell you what day it is….’ Kevin the kitten shouted from his bed.

Rocky sighed impatiently ‘Go on, surprise me!’

‘It’s a day for wall climbing!’ Kev laughed and then did a bit of his ‘Kitten Parkour’ and took a leap up the wall before walking off and giving Rocky a good eyeful of his ‘floofy’ tail and ginger pantaloons.

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Too much disrespect from Kevin the ‘floof’

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Bastards, nobody cares, how can there be so much disrespect in one house?’ Rocky growled to himself and limped off towards his bed. His hips were so sore in the damp weather, comes with old age I guess.

Later on

Rocky was slamming around in the kitchen doing the typical making as much noise as possible to get attention and then saying ‘Nothing!’ when Brutus asked what was wrong.

‘If you can’t remember what day it is then I can’t be bothered to tell you!’ Rocky barked at Brutus. Brutus remained calm which was surprising for him as when Rocky shouts at him he usually cries like a baby because he hates being shouted at.

Brutus shrugged ‘I can’t help it if I don’t know, I am not a mind reader’.

Kevin the kitten was busy washing his anus and trying to tidy up his floof (all long haired cats have a ‘floof’ although I don’t quite know what a floof is, I think it just describes their fluffiness).

Feeling decidedly unloved, Rocky stiffly walked into the garden and tried to cock his leg on the plant pot to take a piss but nearly fell over in the process. This old age was a bastard and Rocky was beginning to think that nobody loves you when you get old.

Suddenly Brutus’s mobile phone rang, grabbing it he whispered ‘Hi Pippin, yes I can talk…..’

Rocky was busy marking his territory, he did that every day until he ran out of urine and was forced to do invisible pees up everything and on everything. Invisible pees are highly important to any dog, they don’t know they are invisible – it’s only us humans that get hung up on such matters.

‘Bastards, I hate everyone!’ Rocky sighed and kicked up some soil which hit the fence and made someones dog bark. ‘And you can be quiet as well!’ Rocky growled back and climbed into his kennel. Resting his head on his front paws, he gave a couple of sighs and fell asleep next to his beloved tennis ball.

Two hours later Rocky heard Brutus’s deep voice shouting his name from the living room asking him to come inside.

‘What now? What is the matter? Can’t a dog get some peace and quiet!’ Rocky shouted.

Grumbling under his breath, Rocky slowly walked into the house where Brutus and Kev were waiting for him.

He barely got the chance to open his mouth when he spotted Pippin the Italian greyhound plus the other Iggies Rocco, Gigi, Nica, Zara, Bronte, Dash and Vader the boxer in the living room.

Rocky and Pippin

Nothing like good friends to make a birthday special

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Surprise! Happy birthday Rocky!’ Shouted the Iggies in their high pitched voices sounding as though they had taken in vast amounts of helium. Each Iggy held a part of a huge banner with ‘Happy 10th Birthday’ written on it.

Brutus stood next to Rocco and in front of Vader, Kevin was sitting on top of the fridge with his own banner saying ‘Bollocks’, but please don’t be offended at that because Kevin like my old cat Gordon, is a potty mouth and prone to these outbursts.

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Kevin makes most of his judgements from the top of the fridge

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Rocky didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or shout ‘bastard’ – we all know what a grumpy bugger he is and he still hadn’t forgiven Rocco and Brutus for was now known as the ‘wheelchair incident’ with the boy band – and if you want to read about that story then you will have to buy my book Planet Iggy as that particular story is in there along with others detailing their adventures.

Rocky stared at the group of pointy snouts smiling back at him. Their little ears sticking out like bicycle handlebars, the Iggies waited nervously for Rocky to say something.

Vader the boxer had drool hanging from his mouth in festoons, his oversized tongue flopped out of his mouth like a Christmas ham as he sat there doing the odd nervous fart and receiving dirty looks from Gigi, Bronte and Nica.

Brutus was wagging his tail so hard that he smacked Rocco round the face. Rocco thinking it was his invisible friend that attacked him, started to bite his own legs and made himself cry.

Rocky felt a pang of guilt as he hadn’t seen his friends in ages, but there they were, proudly standing there in his own house for his 10th birthday.

‘Don’t just say something, have a drink!’ Brutus barked and handed Rocky a can of dog beer.

‘Happy birthday old chap!’ Pippin nodded at Rocky and handed him a large card with some sheep on the front and a red cloud kelpie. ‘Sorry we couldn’t find one with a black kelpie on it’ Pippin added and pointed to the card.

Rocky couldn’t trust himself to speak. His paws shook as he opened the card to see what was written on it.

‘Happy birthday my friend – Love Pippin Potter’
‘Happy birthday old chap – from Dash’
‘Happy birthday Rockstar – from Zara’
‘Happy birthday to my favourite kelpie – love Nica’
‘Happy birthday old boy – Love Gigi’
‘To my oldest and only friend and farting partner – Love Vader’
‘Happy birthday gorgeous – Lots of love Bronte’
‘Old bastard – Love Rocco’
‘Happy birthday you ginger kittens plaything – Kevin’

The final signature on the card was barely legible and simply read ‘Hapy birfday Rockee, Luv Bwutas’ and was signed with a huge paw print dipped in chicken gravy.

Rocky read each and every signature several times over. He had been quite upset at reaching 10 years old, knowing that his once jet black face was now covered in grey, his eyes opaque and cloudy from age and more worrying, he had started to have an old dogs bum where his anus looked like a smashed peach (I am not kidding either). He had also been worried about not keeping up with Brutus in the garden, although he could still dig a big hole in less than 10 minutes which is something to be proud of in the kelpie world.

Not trusting himself to speak, he took a swig of his dog beer as he tried to compose himself.

‘Do you like your card Rocky?’ Pippin asked him.

Rocky looked at Pippin and nodded vigorously, then wiping the beer froth from his snout, he said ‘I love it, and thank you’.

‘You know I wrote my own message in the card – with a bit of help from Bronte of course’ Brutus whispered to Rocky.

‘I know you did and it’s just perfect’ Rocky nudged Brutus on the ribs.

‘You will always be my big brother and I will always need you for guidance’ Brutus said to Rocky.

‘Do you mean that?’ Rocky bit his lip.

‘Of course, how else am I meant to learn?’ Brutus shrugged.

Wiping his eyes, Rocky caught Pippin looking at him.

‘Allergies, terrible allergies’, Rocky said to Pippin.

‘Yeah, we all get those from time to time don’t we old boy!’ Pippin handed Rocky his handkerchief to dab his eyes.

‘Let’s put some music on!’ Zara squeaked.

‘Oh god no’ Nica shook her head and muttered to Gigi about ‘the youth of today’ and couldn’t they listen to some Italian Opera or something.

As ‘Who let the dogs out’ blasted out from the stereo, the gang raised their cans of dog beer to do a toast to their elderly grumpy kelpie friend. Well Kevin didn’t raise a can as he doesn’t drink dog beer, but he did sneak in a drink of milk when nobody was looking.

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Happy birthday Rocky

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Birthdays – you are never too old to celebrate them, just ask Rocky.

The End.

*This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and coincidental – except for my own animals and we all know that they can talk*

Samantha Rose – Copyright (C) June 2018

 

Dogs, Owners and Look-alikes

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Free stock photo provided by Pexels

We have all heard the saying that some owners look like their dogs and as I write this, I alternate my gaze between Rocky and Brutus wondering which one I resemble. I do have to agree though, because I have seen lots of people in my life that do a fabulous ‘look-a-like’ when it comes to their pets and I don’t mean that in a bad way, after all I think that our pets are perfect in their own individual way. I just find it amusing that some people really can pull it off.

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Rocky is not amused at being compared to me

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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Schnauzer – I love these dogs, such characters

(Free Stock Photo Provided by Pexels)

For instance I have seen some elderly men that actually look like their Schnauzer, complete with grey bushy/tufty eyebrows and grey beards and I am not even joking. Next time you see an old man with an abundance of grey wiry facial and eyebrow hair, think Schnauzer and I bet he has one at home if he isn’t out walking it.

When it comes to giving the standard description of a person, I am pretty rubbish and the best I can come up with is ‘Short/tall, fat/thin, grey hair’ kind of thing. But I do wonder if I said ‘Elderly Schnauzer looking man’, if that would that cut it with the cops when describing a suspect? Maybe the cops could introduce a doggy comparison chart for us dog lovers that see a breed of dog in everyone. (Well I find it amusing but then I am a bit wierd like that).

Can you just imagine it in a police line up where there is a GSD, a greyhound, a pug and an Airedale terrier, ‘Officer he looked like number three’, you say firmly as you point to the pug.  God that would make life so much easier.

The Afghan Incident

I still hold the mental scars and embarrassment over this, it is so raw that I blush at the mere mention of it so please be patient with me as I relive the shame.

We were living in Devon in the UK at the time and I was walking in to town when I spotted a car parked on the side of the road by the pathway. The window was completely down and partially sticking out was the glistening golden head of a gloriously well-kept Afghan hound.

Now in those days I could never resist a dog, especially when it is so tantalizingly close to me like this one was. Stretching out my arm, I stupidly went to pat the dog on the head (I say stupidly because now I would never touch a dog without the owners consent – ever). ‘Aren’t you gorgeous!’ I sighed and patted the dogs silky fur.

‘Excuse me, do you mind!’ A furious voice piped up and the glorious ‘Afghan’ that I had touched, moved its head, looked up and revealed an obvious human face instead of a canine one as a pissed off looking female glared at me.

Feeling my cheeks burning with embarrassment, I muttered something about being sorry and poor eyesight and needing new glasses. This was and still is true, as I do recall when we were on holiday in Namibia in 2007, I mistook a pile of black rubbish sacks in the distance for a group of ostriches and wanted to go and take photos – but let’s not discuss that as my husband still reminds me of that one.

I quickly walked off and left the ‘Afghan’ woman with her lips pursed tightly like a cats anus and a look of disbelief at what had just happened and as for me, well I just pretended that it never happened. She should be flattered really, does she have any idea that goes into making an Afghan hounds coat stand out like that? I think not.

I thought I had put all this behind me I really did but only this week as I was driving to work I saw a guy walking his greyhound. Well of course I had to have a good look at the dog, you all know I am a sucker for a pointy snout brigade (whippet/greyhound/Iggy).

Unable to believe my eyes, I blinked a few times and looked again – well it was at a red traffic light so I could get a few glances in. This man had a nose just like his greyhound, he had sharp chiselled features and I could have sworn he was walking in sync with his dog with that delightful bounce that greyhounds sometimes have when they walk. The only thing missing was that the guy wasn’t brindle and shiny like his dog but then you can’t have everything.

As for me…

I definitely don’t look like my kelpie Rocky and I don’t think I look like Brutus either. My hair which is a huge mop, could possibly do Afghan when I straighten it or Briard if I go wavy – who knows, but the next time I go to my hairdresser I might just ask her to ‘Do an Afghan’ and just enjoy the moment, providing nobody ruffles my hair through my car window of course.

 

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright April 2018

 

Brutus and the Pigaloo Tree

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From little things planted, mighty dogs do grow – according to Brutus

Photograph by Samantha Rose

It was a beautiful sunny day and Brutus was round his good friend Pippin Potter’s house for lunch and a long overdue catch up. Brutus always feels very grown up when he hangs out with Pippin. He looks up to the little dog and even puts on a pair of spectacles (with no lenses) and a bow tie to give the impression of being a university educated dog like his brother Rocky.

Rocky University

Rocky teaches Maths in his spare time

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Today was no different because Brutus was sat at the table pretending to read a copy of ‘The Daily Dog’ newspaper which is a publication for all educated canines and has lists of doggy universities and stuff in it. Except that Brutus can’t read as he is dyslexic and has to use colours, symbols and photos on paper to help him understand. Don’t feel too sorry for him though as he manages very well with the help of Pippin’s sister – Bronte who has endless patience when she gives him lessons.

Brutus sat there with his big boofy head buried in the newspaper while Pippin sat opposite him reading a book on ‘Showing for the Neuter Champion’. He kept sneaking quick glances of Pippin to watch him reading and felt envious at how quickly Pippin could scan a page.

Pippin Reading

Pippin has always been an avid reader

(Photograph by Denise Pringle)

You know what it’s like when you want to be like someone, sometimes you copy their mannerisms or perhaps how they dress and generally try and mimic the qualities that you admire, well dogs do the same and like us, they all have their hero to look up to.

Pippin looked up at Brutus and smiled at him and then removed his half rimmed spectacles, huffed on them and cleaned them with his silk handkerchief.

Brutus stared at Pippin and then removed his own spectacles to clean them. As he gave giving them a big huff, he nearly sent Pippin off his chair – Brutus is a big dog you know and has enough ‘huff’ in him for several dogs. He suddenly remembered that he didn’t have any lenses in them, feeling embarrassed, he quickly put them back on his face.

‘Oh I know what I meant to tell you’, Pippin nodded in Brutus’s direction as he picked up a dog biscuit, took a delicate bite and then dabbed the crumbs off his snout afterwards.

‘What’s that Pip?’ Brutus replied and folded up his newspaper, pretending that he had read it even though he had been holding it upside down without realising.

‘Mum has pulled a big tree from the garden for you to put in your garden, I think they are dropping it round this week’, Pippin grinned, ‘But tell Rocky that he must not dig it up or your Mum won’t be happy’.

Brutus looked thoughtful but said nothing, he didn’t really know anything about trees and unlike his brother Rocky, was always far too lazy to dig anything in the garden. He did have a habit of claiming Rocky’s garden holes as his own and for years we actually believed that the holes in the garden were Brutus’s. That was until we found Rocky looking breathless with dirty paws, short stubby nails and a shelf of soil on his snout.

‘Pippin?’ Brutus asked him.

‘Yes Brutus?’ Pippin took a sip of his drink.

‘Can I give my tree a name?’ Brutus wagged his tail in excitement, he always gets excited when anything new is brought to the house. Brutus has such a good imagination, that he had already convinced himself of all kinds of magical stuff about the new tree.

‘Well you can give it a name, I don’t see the point myself but whatever makes you happy’, Pippin smiled, ‘Fancy a pigs snout? Mum bought some the other day and they are rather delicious’.

The two dogs said nothing further about the tree or whether or not Brutus was going to name it but knowing Brutus, he probably would give it a name and fabricate an entire story to go with it.

The Next Day….

‘What did you say?’ Frugal McGuff the boxer snorted with laughter, ‘The Pigaloo Tree? What the hell is a Pigaloo Tree?’

Brutus stood next to a group of dogs in the park. Unable to stop himself, he blurted out ‘It’s a special tree that grows friends when you need them’.

Frugal McGuff looked at a chunky pug sat next to him. The pug shook his head and wiped the skin folds in his neck with his paws and stared at Brutus, ‘Run this by me again lad, you have a tree called Pigaloo; that grows new friends?’.

Brutus had been backed into a corner, he really didn’t know why he had just made that up but he couldn’t back down now. Besides, he had always wanted an Iggy brother or sister to live with and how marvellous would it be to have a tree that actually grew Iggies and as his nickname had always been ‘Brutus Pigaloo’, then it kind of made sense that his new tree should be named after him.

‘Yes’, Brutus faltered, ‘And I have wished for an Italian greyhound (Iggy) brother or sister and my Pigaloo tree will grow exactly that’.

Frugal McGuff wiped the snot off his face and smirked in the direction of a couple of Maltese terriers who were busy laughing and taking the piss out of Brutus.

‘Well, if we don’t see it then it didn’t happen, so we shall be at your house at 11am tomorrow morning then?’ Frugal replied – it wasn’t a request either.

Shrugging, Brutus looked stubborn, ‘You can see my Pigaloo tree but you are in for a shock!’.

‘Catch ya later loser!’ Frugal yelled as he waddled off – he was a big overweight you see and couldn’t move as quickly as some boxer dogs. He was followed by the pug and the two Maltese terriers, the other dogs had quickly dispersed a few minutes earlier.

‘Oh god, what have I done?’ Brutus said to himself, perhaps if he wished it hard enough it would happen but if it didn’t then he would never live it down.

At Pippin’s house

You know how I have told you about Pippin knowing everything? Well he honestly does and he really does carry several mobile phones and two iPads as well as a Filofax with ‘stuff’ in it. Pippin is in fact a canine Oracle and has been known to mark the papers for the local universities.

Anyway, let’s get back to the story. Pippin was on his phone talking to someone, I don’t know who it was but what I do know is that he looked troubled and it was something to do with Brutus and his Pigaloo tree.

‘Oh dear, well of course it could all go very wrong once Frugal McGuff and his mob find out that Brutus has a fertile imagination and his precious Pigaloo tree is the Frangipani that my family have given him’, Pippin sighed and rubbed his paw along the desk to remove some crumbs.

Bronte was curled up on the sofa reading her monthly magazine. She was half halfheartedly listening to the conversation and felt quite sick at the thought of Frugal the boxer and his mates bullying Brutus. Having fiercely defended the giant dog in the past and assisted him with his dyslexia, she simply could not stand it if he was bullied again.

Pip was now off the phone and looking concerned. ‘Pippin, we must be able to help him, we can’t let Frugual McGuff find out that Brutus’s Pigaloo tree isn’t magic, it would simply destroy him’. Bronte said anxiously.

‘Yes, I was thinking the same’. Pippin agreed.

‘So what are we going to do about it?’ Bronte demanded.

Grabbing his car keys, Pippin picked up his mobile phone and called Rocco, ‘Hi Rocco, I need your help – round up the boys and I will meet you in the park in 10 mins’, Pippin said in a gruff voice – well gruff for an Iggy anyway.

The next day

‘So, is this the so called Pigaloo tree then?’ Frugal McGuff barked.

‘Doesn’t look much to me, looks like the same sort of thing that my Mum has in her garden’, shrugged a pug in a leather jacket (Pugs always wear either leather or denim jackets and chew gum to give them more attitude).

The two Maltese terriers were there and there was also some dogs that Brutus didn’t recognise but was too scared to ask them to leave. In fact he didn’t want any of them there but he had to prove to them that his precious Pigaloo tree was real and Brutus felt that perhaps if he believed in magic hard enough then surely something had to happen?

Brutus stood by his tree while Frugal McGuff, the two Maltese Terriers, the pug and a GSD checked out the garden and in particular, Brutus’s toy box. ‘I say, that’s a shitty selection of toys in here!’ Sniggered the GSD as the other dogs joined in laughing.

Brutus looked upset, he was proud of his toy box and generous with it too and was known to share his toys around to dogs less fortunate than himself and it upset him to hear of his toy box being disrespected in such a way. Too scared to argue back, Brutus stared at his toys and in particular his new honking pig and hoped that Frugal wouldn’t puncture it out of spite which he had been known to do in the past.

But Frugal was busy making a point by urinating up every tree in the garden and kicking up the soil which is a total insult to any dog – having a strange dog piss up your tree is second only to stealing ones bones in terms of doggy crimes or in Brutus’s case – insulting his toy box.

Brutus felt nauseous, his nerves were building up and the more Frugal strutted around his garden, the worse he felt and the more he wanted to cry.

‘Well come on, show us what your tree can do!’ Shouted the pug. The other dogs all nodded in agreement.

‘Don’t dare me, you will be sorry!’ Brutus barked defiantly but inwardly wishing that this blasted Pigaloo tree would eat him up. He wanted so badly to believe that his tree could grow friends that he had almost convinced himself and had Frugal and his mates not been in the garden, he could have carried on believing it as well and just made up invisible friends like Rocco the Iggy who regularly fights with his pretend mates.

‘Looks like we are wasting our time guys’, Frugal laughed and beckoned his mates to leave the garden while Brutus sat hunched up by his precious tree with his bottom lip trembling. He would never live this down – ever.

Suddenly there were sounds of squeaking, high pitched voices, spluttering and muffled barks coming from the ground.

Frugal turned round with the other dogs and saw that the soil by the tree was moving. ‘What the hell……?’ Frugal gasped, ‘Hey you lot come and check this out!’.

The other dogs gathered round and stared at the soil as tiny little paws frantically dug their way out of it.

One by one four little Iggies popped out of the ground, coughing and sneezing and wiping the soil from their faces. Brutus didn’t recognise any of them and it was at that point he truly believed that his Pigaloo tree had grown him some friends.

Little did he know that Pippin had rounded up some young pups that Frugal had never seen so could not recognise and it was an easy task to correspond with Rocky who is a champion digger, to dig holes big enough to accommodate four baby Italian greyhounds.

Brutus stared open mouthed at the Iggies as they emerged fighting their way through the soil barking loudly.

‘Well I’ll be damned! He wasn’t lying after all’, Frugal McGuff shook his head in disbelief, ‘Am I dreaming? I said AM I DREAMING?’ Frugal repeated to the pug who assured him that no, he wasn’t dreaming.

Once the four Iggies had dug their way out of the soil and had wiped the mess from their faces, they wagged their tail at Brutus and grinned at him.

‘Wow! My Pigaloo Tree really does grow Iggies!’ Brutus said happily, his tail wagging so hard that he knocked the pug over, ‘Now do you believe me Frugal?’ Brutus barked with a sudden display of confidence.

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Brutus does ‘confused’ so well

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Frugal looked boot-faced and decided that he had been seen quite enough and it was time to go. Signalling to his mates to leave, they all turned round and left the garden with the pug being last in line, farting with each step as he waddled off down the driveway.

‘Well I have never seen anything like it….’ Frugal McGuff muttered to nobody in particular.

Rocky and Pippin

Rocky and Pippin

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Brutus was so overwhelmed with the Iggies that had seemingly sprouted from his tree, that he farted which of course caused the pups to giggle and let a few off themselves.

‘Got to admit Pippin, you were right’, Rocky whispered to Pippin from their hiding place at the side of the house.

‘I usually am Rocky, I usually am’, Pippin said smugly, ‘Now let’s get out of here before Brutus spots us’.

That evening..

Brutus and Rocky were curled up on the sofa with Kevin the kitten. They were discussing their day and what they had got up to, Rocky could see that Brutus was bursting to tell him about his Pigaloo Tree.

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Discussing The Pigaloo Tree

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Rocky you will never guess what happened today?’ said Brutus.

Kevin the kitten nearly gave the game away had it not been for Rocky giving him a sharp nip on his bum.

‘What’s that Brutus?’ Rocky asked with feigned innocence – pretending that he knew nothing. Except Rocky does actually know everything as he has been to kelpie university and is very smart indeed.

‘You know my Pigaloo Tree?’ Brutus nodded in the direction of the garden.

‘Yes Brutus, I know your Pigaloo Tree’, Rocky glared at Kevin daring him to ruin the moment while Kevin made rude gestures with his paws.

‘We all know about your Pigaloo Tree, it’s all you have spoken about since it was planted!’ Kevin growled threateningly. He is such a naughty bastard and has no verbal filter – ask anyone. I got out of the shower the other day and he actually laughed at my bum, he is so rude for a kitten.

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Kevin – so much disrespect in that ginger body!

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Ignoring Kevin, Brutus said ‘Well it grew four Iggy puppies, I saw it with my own eyes and so did Frugal McGuff and his mates, you can ask them!’ Brutus nodded a few times to reaffirm his big announcement.

‘Bloody hell Brutus, that is jolly impressive!’ Rocky smiled at his brother and when Brutus wasn’t looking, he quickly sent a text to Pippin to tell him that ‘operation Pigaloo Tree’ had been a success.

Later when the dogs were in bed, Brutus was curled up with his toys thinking about his day. ‘Rocky?’

‘Yes Brutus?’ Rocky signed – Brutus always has his million questions at bed time.

‘Now I know that friends can grow on trees, does that mean all the dogs with no friends can grow them as well so they never have to be lonely?’ Brutus nudged his toys in order on his bed.

Rocky remained silent, he had no answer to that question but it certainly got him thinking, how nice would it be if everyone had their own Pigaloo Tree to grow friends from.

I mean, can you just imagine it….

The End

Copyright © 2018 Samantha Rose

All rights reserved.

 

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and coincidental – except for my own animals and we all know that they talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adrenal Insufficiency (My Old Friend)

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Photo – Stock Image

Where do I start with this subject? No really, I am not even joking – I am confused by the whole thing and if you have been following my blog, you are probably face-palming or shuddering at the mere thought of me re-visiting the subject of my adrenal insufficiency and who could blame you? Not me that’s for sure, hell – the subject even makes me cry like a baby.

I have spent over five years trying to wean down from 5mgs, I thought it was less but it turns out that I have been on 5mgs since the beginning of 2012 and have spent since the end of 2012 trying to wean. Now that is a long time to wean, a very long time and many people would not have stuck at it for so long, but go me for trying anyway (repeatedly trying).

Basically I am THE champion supreme at attempting to wean off steroids and although I am proud to own that title, I will have to admit that my body now hates me for all the shit I have put it through and who can blame it?

Messing with my head

Whilst I admire – if not inwardly weep, at the determination of my doctors for attempting to wean me off the preds, I do actually feel frustrated because I go from living in denial that my adrenals don’t work, to finding some level of acceptance (I believe I did a blog on that once) and getting on with life as a steroid dependent person.

Then you can bet your life that once an Endo says ‘Let’s get you off the steroids’, I suddenly become full of hope and forgetting all about acceptance and go through that awful stage of being cruel to my body by reducing the preds and being thrown straight back into the denial stage that always seems to be waiting to jump out at me when I least expect it.

This is followed by the overwhelming sense of desperation when I realise that not only have I lost the best part of 5 years by repeatedly doing this process, I also continue to grasp at fragments of hope thrown to me by Endocrinologists.

What makes it worse is that there is no end in sight because I have been told that the wean could take a couple of years – yes, I said years. Let us not forget the previous five years of multiple failed attempts and poor quality of life because of steroid withdrawal symptoms.

So what happens when I try to wean?

My level of health slowly deteriorates and I find myself in what I call a ‘steroid debt’ where the bad days outweigh the good days and I just can’t catch a break. I wake up at 5am every morning wondering if I am actually alive or not or if I have entered the world of dry retching, dizziness and weak muscles and someone has kicked the shit out of me for good measure.

Does it depend on how much you can tolerate? Is it just a case of ‘toughen up Princess’ and ride it out? Or is it a case of getting to the point where you accept that your adrenals are not going to work properly ever again and you will have to stay on the steroids?

I can go a good few months before I think ‘Stuff this, I have had enough’ and go back to the Endo and tell them as such. By this point they usually agree that despite their promises of ‘We WILL get you off them and SAI from steroid use is nearly always reversible’ to saying ‘I don’t think you are going to be able to do this’ which is what happened last month.

And so the cycle starts again. Only this time it really does end here, well it actually ended the beginning of March when I decided that wasting 5 years of my life to crap health from futile steroid weaning along with placing my body under enormous stress was no longer an option – EVER AGAIN.

Where am I at now?

I am back up to 5mgs of preds which have to have the doses spread through the day because I appear to be metabolizing them too quickly which is rather annoying and somewhat debilitating.

My life begins about 11:00pm every evening because by then I feel almost ‘normal’ compared to during the day where I sleep an awful lot and struggle with things that healthy people can do easily. At 5am I wake up feeling as though I have gone to hell with Cliff Richard singing Millennium Prayer. I then spend the rest of the day trying to get my timing right with taking my pills and not doing too much because my friends, that 5mgs allows me to coast along but not much else in terms of energy expenditure.

I have been told by a doctor that preds are meant to be taken once a day and they ‘should last’ most of the day. Well in my case I can assure you they don’t, I get maybe 3 hours out of them but even then I still get exhausted and sleep as soon as I get home from work.

I know when my cortisol is low because I have very specific symptoms, the worst one was when I woke up at 4am with a sharp pain in my groin, it wasn’t unbearable but it was enough to make me say words like ‘shit’ and ‘Bloody hell’. It was also enough to make me reach for the HC. This happened when I was on 4mgs of preds per day (last month) and I took 4mgs of HC which helped, although I had to endure that pain while waiting for the pill to work which seemed like an eternity even though it wasn’t.

So I can officially confirm that there will be NO more grasping at straws and there will be no more weaning either because I think five years of doing that is long enough, don’t you? Enough is enough.

Thanks to Des Rolph for her unwavering support and phone chats when I was at my lowest with this illness.

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright April 2018

 

 

 

And After Four Years – or something like that….

iggy banner final

Illustration by Art by Dejana Louise

Banner Design by Mac Bros Book Stuff

After four years (give or take) my book ‘Planet Iggy’ has just been published on Kindle, paperback and hardback will be available soon.

It has been a long uphill slog writing this as my health has been one huge challenge but on Thursday night I hit the ‘publish’ button on Kindle. Right up until the last minute I was contemplating delaying it, getting it checked again, reading it again, paying someone else to check it – again and feeling sick with nerves about errors.

Then came the worry about whether or not people would like a book about talking dogs that have adult social lives, swear, drink dog beer and do human type things. Then came the moment that was somewhat liberating which I will call the ‘Stuff it moment’ which is when you realise that no, not everyone is going to like it and may not like the adult content or the fact that it is a ‘children’s book for adults’ and it is not the end of the world if they don’t either.

I will say that I was at the stage of never wanting to read the damn thing again and when I did hit ‘publish’, I cried – solidly for a couple of hours. I cried because my Mum will never read it.

I cried because the nights spent feeling shit going through steroid withdrawal (going through that again now!) and needing to take painkillers in order to type, and now it had all paid off and it was time to hand it over to Amazon and ultimately out of my control.

The pressure is on for the paperback to get it out for Christmas as I have orders ready to be placed but for tonight, it is going to be the first Sunday where I am not going to hang out with my characters or worry about stuff – aside from the book cover which needs to be adjusted for the manuscript.

The book is for adults or older teens only and ten percent of every book sold will be donated to the Italian Greyhound Club of Western Australia.

Anyway, if you would like to download your copy from Kindle, the link is as follows:

Planet Iggy – Kindle Version

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The Day We Walked With Gordon

Gordon

Gordon

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Wednesday 23rd August 2017

‘Will you walk with me Mum? You promised?’ Gordon asked me as we both sat on the sofa. His beautiful green eyes now speckled with age, his once 7kg frame now barely touching 4kgs.

His eyes bore into mine, searching for my response – almost pleading for it.

I bit my lip and hesitated. He was right, I had always promised him that I would walk with him right by his side and I was not about to let him down now.

‘We will both walk with you, one of us either side and will be proud to do it Gordon’ I reassured him, ‘Even if you did put your teeth through my finger that time causing me to have tetanus’.

‘Yeah, about that…….’ Gordon laughed.

Suddenly Brutus came running into the living room with his gingerbread man in his mouth. ‘What are you talking about? Is it me? Everyone always talks about me because I am nice!’

‘Not everything is about you Brutus,’ Rocky snapped at him and went back to reading his newspaper – ‘The Kelpie Times’.

‘Well I heard you saying about walking with Gordon so thought I might be invited’ Brutus wagged his tail and cleared the table of its contents in the process.

Gordon stared at him ‘No Brutus’ he said firmly, ‘Just no’.

Saturday 26th August 2017

‘Mum! Mum! Why is Gordon wearing a tweed suit?’ Brutus yelled.

Rocky glanced up and saw Gordon standing there looking rather odd and if not out of place, wearing a tatty tweed suit – the type old people wear.

‘It is a day for tweed and I am dressed for that occasion’ Gordon replied as Brutus tried to clean his bum, ‘and one day my friend, you too will wear tweed’.

‘What occasion? I have never noticed that suit before either?’ Rocky looked puzzled and then after a few minutes, he realized what it was about and said nothing further.

Brutus stood there with his gingerbread man in his mouth, his tail had stopped wagging, ‘I don’t understand’ was all he said and then dropped gingerbread man on the floor and walked back to his bedroom looking confused muttering something about tweed suits, old men and mothballs.

A short while later

 ‘Where are you going? Can I come’ Brutus pleaded. ‘Are you are taking Gordon to the vet? You always take us when he goes, shall we get in the car now?’

‘Brutus, come and sit with me’ Rocky said firmly and patted the mattress on his bed to gesture for Brutus to sit down.

‘But we always make these trips as a family!’ Brutus started to bark and then realizing it wasn’t going to have any effect, he jumped on the bed beside Rocky.

‘I don’t understand’ Brutus repeated and nudged Rocky in the ribs for reassurance.

Gordon looked at Abdel and myself, he stared up at each of us ‘Will you walk with me now?’

‘Of course’ I replied and we took him to the car leaving Brutus with his face pressed up against the window wondering why he had been left behind. Rocky sat upright on his bed rigid like a bookend staring at us through the glass, as the car pulled out of the garage while Brutus repeatedly mouthed ‘I don’t understand’.

In the car

‘What are you doing?’ Abdel asked me as I grappled with my phone while trying to balance Gordon in his basket on my knee in the front seat.

‘Lion King – The Circle of Life’ I replied simply, ‘It reminds me of Gordon’. I turned the radio down and put Lion King on full blast on my phone.

‘Now that’s more like it’, Gordon laughed.

‘Do you remember when I got tickets to Lion King and held you above my head like Simba?’ I reminded him.

LionKing

Gordon – my very own Lion King

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Remember? How could I forget!’ Gordon replied. ‘I believe that this song was written for me’.

‘Yes Gordon, I believe it was’. I agreed and turned up the volume on my phone.

Feeling his ginger fur stick out through the wire squares in his cat basket, I smoothed him down and touched him, memorizing every single part of him.

‘How about the time in London when we had a guy round to measure up for blinds and he didn’t like animals. You jumped into his over sized laundry bag and all I saw was it shifting across the living room with you inside it.

‘I had to grab you and throw you across the living room before he saw you, and I managed it as well. He never did notice that you had damaged some of the stuff in his bag’. (This is actually true, it was in our flat in London)

Gordon laughed.

‘It’s not been a bad 15 years has it?’ Gordon looked up at Abdel and myself.

‘It’s been the best my friend, it’s been the best’. Abdel said quietly and carried on driving.

And in that journey to the vets we laughed, we talked, we played ‘Circle of Life’ as loud as we could while knowing that our very own Lion King was on the front seat of our car in his basket.

And so we walked….

‘Are we there yet?’ Gordon asked Abdel.

‘Nearly Gordon, nearly’ Abdel replied.

‘How will I know when I am there?’ Gordon looked at me.

‘Because you just will’ I patted his head.

‘Hold on a minute, I can see something, look at that over there – I can see towels hanging on the trees!’ Gordon shouted excitedly. His long slender ginger legs with pink toes like little beans, his nails gripped on to my jumper.

The finaltowel

The final towel – the night before Gordon left us, he didn’t eat it

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon looked at Abdel and myself and then looked ahead of him. As if conflicted, he kept alternating his gaze between us, and what he could see in front of him.

As we got closer I could see a large white greyhound waiting at the gate. He wore a glamorous soft red martingale collar with a golden disk around his neck saying ‘Bowie’ on one side and ‘Gate Keeper’ on the other. Clutching a clipboard he was ticking names off and greeting various animals that were lined up to go in.

‘Hello there, you must be Gordon – I have heard all about you. You look very smart in your suit; it’s the perfect day for tweed! These must be your humans who I must say are jolly privileged to see this’, Bowie greeted him affectionately.

‘Will you come and make my bed?’ Gordon asked Abdel hopefully, ‘And put sardines in my bowl and smooth my head down?’

Abdel looked down at Gordon, not quite believing what he was seeing or what was happening. He rubbed Gordon’s ears and stroked his back over the tatty tweed suit.

Abdel.1

He promised he would ‘walk’ with him to Rainbow Bridge – and walk with him he did

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Sorry Gordon, your humans can’t go beyond this point, it’s not their time’ the greyhound said gently to Gordon who looked panic stricken at the thought of not being with us.

‘But they need me, and I need them’ Gordon protested, his long nails defiantly gripped my arms.

Bowie smiled, ‘I know my friend but they and you, are going to be just fine, I promise’.

‘Well I guess this is it then, you said you would walk with me and I guess you did’, Gordon said after a few minutes.

‘What do I do now?’ Gordon asked Bowie the greyhound.

‘There are some towels hanging on the washing line and they have your name on them’ Bowie encouraged him.

‘Maybe tomorrow, I am a bit sore today and tired, I am so very tired’ Gordon yawned.

‘Try it, you never know it might be OK’ Bowie nudged him with his long white snout.

Gordon nervously walked ahead and was surprised that his joints didn’t hurt him. There were several brightly coloured towels all clipped on a washing line and blowing in the breeze as though they were enticing Gordon to get closer and shred them.

Cats were scattered around on chairs, trees or just chasing butterflies. Some were playing with dogs, some were eating and some were having a catnip party and were off their faces on catnip while playing a game of poker.

I stepped forward to get a better look at him but Bowie blocked my way. ‘No further for you my friend, this is our world now and your place is with your boys at home. We have got this covered’, Bowie winked at me and wagged his tail.

‘Oh and Samantha?’ Bowie asked, ‘Don’t you tell the other humans what you have seen today, they will get jealous and we can’t have that now can we!’

Abdel and I took one last look at Gordon who started running towards the towels, he then looked back at us as if to get permission to chew them. The next minute he pulled a towel off the line and was bicycling furiously with his hind legs kicking the fabric, while shouting ‘bollocks’ and his tweed old-man-suit had been replaced by a luxurious silky ginger coat that tends to be worn by the young, fit and healthy cats.

I looked round at Abdel and then back towards Bowie and in that split second of looking away, Bowie was gone as was Gordon.

Back to reality

Abdel and I kept our promise to walk with him to Rainbow Bridge and that is exactly what we did.

Gordon had a cannula placed in his arm and then he was handed back to us all cuddled up in his blue blanket. I sat in a chair and he sat on my lap while my husband stroked his head and the vet crouched down to my level and told Gordon just how loved he was.

He went quickly, so very quickly – I knew he would, he was so frail and the moment he was removed from his basket it was like his illness and years had caught up with him. Gordon looked exhausted, he looked sick and had been holding it together in the home but once at the vets, there was no further need to do that because he was ready to go.

Once out of his basket it was like someone had turned the lights on and we could clearly see how tired and sick he was. It was no longer about our selfish needs to keep him, it was about his need to go on the final journey of sleep that he so rightly deserved.

me and Gordon

Goodbye my darling cat

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

His huge personality left with his little heartbeat, leaving behind his old body on the vet’s table. I cried that embarrassing sobbing that you can’t control that vets and nurses have seen so many times before.

Since when did he get so tiny, so thin and so frail? How did such a big cat with a huge personality get so small? I held him in my arms, we both did – he felt so small but still warm like he was asleep. Where did he go, where did you go Gordon, did we do the right thing? Why does it hurt so much and why do we feel so guilty?

Our hearts were breaking as we cradled our little cat of 15 years who we had brought over to Perth from the Motherland over 9 years ago. The cat that had seen us through the toughest times, the death of my Mum, some serious health problems, a few house moves, moving to Australia and when my husband was nearly killed in a car accident. Gordon was the one constant in our lives and whatever happened, he was there at home ready to bite us and shred the towels and say ‘bollox’ whenever we told him off.

Baby Gordon

Gordon aged 9 weeks old

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon doing his time at Byford Quarantine in 2008

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon and Brutus

A very special bond between Gordon and Brutus

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Empty Basket

We walked out clutching our empty white wire basket that we have had for years, in fact it belonged to our old cats Bruno and Juniper and I walked out of the vets with it empty when they crossed to Rainbow Bridge as well.

It was a painful drive back home; I kept the basket on my knee as though Gordon were still in it. He always travelled in the front and it didn’t seem right to put the basket in the back. I remember thinking that the basket would probably never get used again because no way could I ever face getting another cat – ever.

Rocky and Brutus

‘I still don’t understand?’ Brutus said to Rocky.

‘Brutus, when an animal goes to Rainbow Bridge it is customary for them to wear a tatty tweed suit and once they pass over, they regain their beautiful coat again along with their health’ Rocky explained.

‘Tweed suit? But Gordon was wearing a tweed suit this morning’ Brutus gasped, his eyes looking around the room for his brother.

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Photo taken the day after Gordon died – the quietest they had ever been

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Gordon! Gordon! Stop hiding, it’s not funny any more, come on Gordon, where are you?’ Brutus was frantic as he ran into Gordon’s bedroom to check for his brother.

Gordon’s grey plastic bed with his brown fluffy blanket and his stuffed reindeer in it remained untouched with all his other toys lying around plus a bowl of cat chow and a bowl of water from that morning. Although the room was full of Gordon’s stuff, it was empty of Gordon. I had to clean that room when we got back which was hard.

empty room

The empty room, too clean, too tidy and not right

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘He’s gone Rocky, he’s gone!’ Brutus cried and when the realization hit him, he kept howling even the calming influence of Rocky couldn’t console him.

Back home

Once we were back home I took the basket in to Gordon’s room and placed it on the floor and started crying again. There was a Gordon sized gap that had been left in our home and I knew that the animal dynamics were going to change because of it. I didn’t know how they would change, just that they would.

I suddenly felt a wet nose on my face as both of my boys came into Gordon’s room. They pressed themselves up against me and both tried to wash my face.

‘Don’t cry Mum, I don’t like it when you cry’ Brutus kept swallowing which he always does when he is nervous. Rocky rested his head on my knee, he said nothing but kept pressing his head into me and licking whatever bit of me he could reach.

My house was quieter, the dogs were out of sorts and I could now leave the bathroom door open without my towels getting chewed. Did I like it? No I didn’t, nice towels are overrated and nice towels are shit.

I missed my little cat, I couldn’t bring myself to throw his stuff away or even give it away; I just couldn’t do it. I bagged it up and put it in the spare room.

We had Gordon privately cremated – something I never thought that I would do or would even consider. For some reason I changed my mind and I am glad that I did because we get comfort in knowing that Gordon is still with us in his own way (he is on the bookcase).

In my stories Gordon swears a bit (as many of you that follow my animal stories will know), his favourite word in my stories is ‘Bollox’ – and that is how he spells it as well. So it seemed only fitting that we would have that engraved on the brass plaque on his box.

The vets also took some paw prints for us which is a nice keepsake as well and when keepsakes are all you have left, they suddenly become very important.

LionKing2

Gordon’s ashes – and that is just what he would say as well

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Pawprints

The vets took a paw print for us and gave us this lovely card with a handwritten message

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Pet Bereavement

I have been through this before many years ago but was hoping that at 50 years old, I would be older and wiser and how wrong I was, how very wrong.

I had also underestimated how hard this would be on Brutus as it hit him so hard that his grief was tangible. Just after Gordon died Brutus started to curl up outside his bedroom while holding his fluffy turkey in his mouth. He had started to vocalize and howl the loneliest howl I have ever heard a dog make, it was heartbreaking to witness.

You will have noticed that I have taken photographs of anything out of the ordinary in terms of my pets behaviour. You may not see what I see in the photos but it was there and I promise you that.

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Brutus curled up outside Gordon’s room

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Rocky is a sensitive little kelpie dog and that night we lost Gordon, he lay in the spare room with me while I made myself ill from crying. His slim black paws gripping round my arm and he had pressed his solid little black body up close to me, so close that I could feel his heartbeat. That is unusual for Rocky, as he normally likes to lie by my feet, but that night he patiently let me cry into his fur until I fell asleep.

I woke up at 5am and Rocky was sitting by the door to go out and he went straight to his bed and went to catch up on his own sleep. Animals are so special and I often think that some humans don’t deserve such loyalty and love that we get from our pets.

Getting used to things

When your animal grows older with you, you have your routine and you just ‘get’ each other. Your cat knows what you do and vice versa but once the cat (or dog) has left you, the gap is enormous and getting used to not having to care for that pet, hear or see it around is hard – very hard.

It was the longest week of our lives dealing with our own grief and by now Rocky, who had been sensitive to our own feelings, was now starting to exhibit distress from Gordon not being there.

It took several trips into Gordon’s room to get Rocky to settle and realize that Gordon wasn’t coming home. Brutus has taken even longer and still checks for Gordon to this day.

Brutus had a habit of stealing Gordon’s toys, in particular his fluffy reindeer. He always pinched it and would suckle on it and walk around with it proudly presenting the toy to whoever was around. The day Gordon died, Brutus stole this reindeer and brought it to my husband.

‘Don’t let him have that, we can give it to the new kitten’, my husband blurted out, looking protectively over Gordon’s beloved reindeer.

‘What new kitten?’ I asked him, he shrugged and walked away without saying anything further. New kitten? I don’t bloody well think so.

Never say never

It was on the Friday after we had said goodbye to Gordon and a colleague at work and myself had been looking on a pet rescue site, just looking of course.

‘My house is so empty without a cat’, I said to my colleague. We had always had a cat in our 26 years of marriage and have never once been without one.

‘That’s cute’, I pointed out at this tiny 7 week old rescue ginger tuxedo kitten from a pet rescue website. My colleague agreed and we continued to look at cats but I kept going back to this little kitten.

Later that night I showed my husband a picture of this kitten and to my surprise, he told me to email the cat rescue place to see if he was still available. Not expecting to hear anything back, I sent the email and didn’t think any more of it.

The words ‘We will never have another cat’ were fading fast in our heads, the ‘Gordon’ sized gap in the house was enormous and it wasn’t just a Gordon sized gap, it was a cat-sized gap as well.

The next morning Abdel and I had gone out for lunch when I decided to check my email. To my surprise the kitten was still available, asking my husband what he wanted to do, I left the decision to him but something inside told me that this was meant to happen.

‘Let’s go now and view him’, Abdel said with a flicker of excitement in his eyes. And after speaking to the rescue lady, it was organized that we could drive to her house to view the kitten and to see if we would be suitable as owners.

Seven weeks old and full of attitude

The first thing we saw when we were taken into the kitten room were several kittens but one in particular stood out and that was the unmistakable orange semi long haired tuxedo kitten that we had seen on the pet rescue site.

This tiny little chunky boy marched across the floor totally ‘owning’ it while shouting to his siblings, ‘Move out of the way you bastards, this family has my name on it’. Then walking up to my husband, he gazed up at him and said ‘Pick me up then!’

And in that split second, we knew our decision had been made and it was certainly not the ‘Never again’ type of decision either.

‘The name is Kuma, pleased to meet you’, the kitten said to me when it was my turn to hold him.

Kevin2

Kuma – now known as ‘Kevin’

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Hello Kuma, how would you like to be called Kevin?’ I asked the furious bundle of ginger who was trying to gnaw on my knuckles.

‘That’s fine, but my middle name is Bastard’, Kevin replied.

‘What do you think?’ The rescue lady asked me.

Abdel and I looked at each other and then looked at Kevin, ‘We will take him’. Then opening his wallet, my husband handed over the cash and we completed our adoption papers.

‘Catch ya later losers, see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!’ Kevin yelled to his siblings and his Mum, who did a phone gesture with her paws saying ‘Call me!’

Fast Forward to now

Rocky has accepted the new baby and is also terrified of him, he won’t give Kevin eye contact but sits protectively outside the cat room when he hears Kevin crying. I have warned him that by being scared of him that Kevin will exploit that and launch a takeover of his bed and his food bowl. Rocky said he knows who is going to wear the trousers in this house and those trousers will be ginger so resistance is futile.

Brutus is on a very slow introduction as Kevin still looks like lunch/prey but each day Brutus gets to sniff Kevins bum while Kevin is in my arms and gets rewarded with food as we are working on a positive association with the kitten.

We always give Brutus choices and when Kevin is in my arms, there is usually chicken or some treats on the work counter in the kitchen that Brutus can have as a reward for choosing food over being over excited and too focused with the kitten.

Kevin got an ear clean from Brutus the other day which was cute but Kevin is far too small to be left alone with Brutus as Brutus is so big and clumsy, we are just being cautious.

Brutus still has to check Kevin’s room for Gordon and sniff the litter tray and we are slowly getting there but it will be a long while before Kevin is allowed to play in the same room as Brutus. We are lucky that we do have a cat room with lots of toys and we are so glad that we kept Gordon’s stuff.

Kevin’s cat basket belonged to our first cat Bruno, we bought that basket in 1994. The cat bowls are about 20 years old, we just pass them down from cat to cat and in its own bizarre way, we pass down the stories as well.

Kevin

 babykevin

The day Kevin came to us – note Gordon’s fluffy reindeer

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

At the time of writing this (19th Sept 2017) Kevin is 9 weeks old, he is a sweet little kitten who has started to shin up our legs and use our torso as a cat scratch pole.

He is in to absolutely everything, chewing, trashing his crate in his room if he isn’t fed on time or fed enough. He will tip his entire bowl of food over if you upset him and dabs his paw in his water bowl and flicks it.

Yesterday I could hear the sounds of his bedroom being trashed and tiny paws skidding along the floor and a ginger voice shouting ‘Yeah, bollocks to everything!’ and ‘Gingers have rights too’.

Kevin3

Gingers rock! – according to Kev

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

A large bowl of meat and biscuit had been consumed, there were toys everywhere and Kevin was trying to convince me that every time I leave him alone in his room, a large ginger Tom cat appears and teaches him what to say and what naughty stuff to get up to.

The conversation went something like this – ‘Don’t be silly Kevin, I can’t see any ginger cat, you must be imagining it’ I tried to reason with him and told him that it is quite common for baby cats to pretend to see things.

‘But Mum, I am not I swear, there really is a ginger cat that appears on the clothes drier each time you leave me alone. It was him that taught me to chew the blinds and said you would like it’. Kevin protested.

Sighing, I shut the door – I had no time for this, I am finalising my book before it gets sent to the typesetters in two weeks. Large ginger cats in the spare bedroom – whatever next?

‘Told you she wouldn’t believe me!’ Kevin muttered after I had left, ‘Why doesn’t she believe me?’

A large orange tabby cat sat on the clothes drier, his coat luxurious and plush, his eyes a beautiful green colour, his puffy mouth that was begging to be kissed.

The ginger cat looked at Kevin who at 9 weeks old was tiny compared to him. ‘Don’t worry lad, she will soon believe you. Now, are you ready for tonight’s lesson – because I am going to teach you how to chew some towels’.

‘Towels? Really? That sounds fun!’ Kevin grinned, ‘By the way, what is your name?’

‘You can call me Gordon’ The ginger cat replied simply, ‘Now – about those towels…..’

Kevin and Gordon

Gordon lives on in the naughtiness of Kevin

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Thank you

Thank you to the veterinary staff at Spearwood Veterinary Hospital, Perth Australia for looking after Gordon for the past nine years since we arrived in Australia, he could not have been better looked after.

Losing a pet is hard enough but how their final journey ends in the vet surgery and how it is dealt with can leave a lasting impression on the owners – either good or bad.

To be given the time to chat, to cry, to say goodbye and have the vets and nursing staff show such genuine compassion and emotion, is not a skill, it is a gift because you simply cannot make that up, it has to come from the heart.

Dr George Jackson – you have an amazing and incredible team working for you. Your staff made that awful day for us so much more bearable.

And while we said ‘never again’ to another cat, you had better get yourselves prepared for Kevin and before you say anything, yes he is a bit tubby because if I don’t feed him when he wants, he trashes his bedroom and shreds my ankles.

These ginger cats can be so demanding you know.

Samantha

If you need help

Pet bereavement and grief is real and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is never ‘just a cat/dog/pet’, it is YOUR pet so don’t let anyone tell you what to love or how much to love it either.

We have can’t believe how much losing Gordon has affected us, both my husband and I are still picking up the pieces and having intense moments of missing our cat and it is almost 3.5 weeks on.

All I can say is you have to acknowledge your feelings and ignore anyone that tries to dismiss what you are going through. Please be kind to yourself if you are going through this and if you do find yourself struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Help for Pet Bereavement

Never again or how soon is too soon?

I can’t believe that a week after losing my precious Gordon that we have another kitten. I was adamant that no cat would come into my home and take Gordon’s place and that I could not put myself through that ever again.

Then I had a word with myself and made myself face up to a few things. Firstly, when you lose a pet and you get another one, you are not replacing them in any shape or form. Each animal that you bring to your house is not replacing your old pet, it is creating a new space, new memories, it is a new personality that is going to make you laugh, cry, spend money on toys and treats – it is going to be different. No guilt needed, just giving another pet a chance of a loving home.

I realise that we as pet owners don’t want to put ourselves through that pain again, my goodness the thought of it still scares me, the pain that I am still going through and choosing to do it all again with another animal? I must have rocks in my head.

But on the other side of the coin, wouldn’t life be harsh if we only limited ourselves to loving only one animal and never allowing ourselves to have another? I don’t regret any of my animals that I have owned in the past, they have all given me love and memories to treasure and for that I am grateful.

Anyway, that is my update and I guess writing it all down and documenting the whole thing is more for my benefit really. I always express myself through my writing and this is no different.

If you are interested then you can check out this five minute micro doc about how we got Gordon to Australia.

Gordon’s Story – Get Gordon Down Under

 

Samantha Rose (c) Copyright September 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The changing thoughts of a steroid dependent person

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A nice pretty photo to brighten your day – Denmark, WA

(Photography Sam Rose)

It’s been ages since I last blogged for a variety of reasons.  I have been working on my book which will be out for publication next month.

Plus I have been feeling utter rubbish with my health and adrenal insufficiency. Honestly, if I thought having Sjogrens was hard then I was sadly mistaken because having your adrenal glands behave so badly is ten times worse.

It was pretty much decided last year that my adrenal insufficiency was for life and not just for Christmas and after a couple of years of trying to wean off by just 0.5mg of preds every 3 months and feeling like I was going to die – twice, that it was time to call it quits.

Anyway, that is where I am at the moment, living with this horrible imposter that makes me feel rubbish for most of my day and live for my next dose of steroids.  There has to be a better way, another way or surely this is all a big fat mistake – right? Who knows, not me that’s for sure. But here is my daily diary of the thoughts that frequent my head every day without fail.

My 5mgs of preds used to last all day, but now they don’t – I have to split them up and despite what you might have read or heard, some of us absorb drugs quicker than others or just have absorption problems.

5am – Briefly aware of my hands and feet having an altered sensation, the small bones in my hands and feet hurt, the tops of my thighs hurt.  Am I awake? No I am not, I am trying to hang on to the nice dream that my adrenal symptoms are dragging me away from. I refuse to wake because life doesn’t hurt so much when you are asleep. Yes it would be prudent to wake and take my steroids but no, I won’t – let me sleep please and take your dizziness and nausea with you.

7am – I am awake, the alarm has told me it is time to get up, except that I can’t. I feel really dizzy and want to vomit and the tops of my thighs hurt with a period pain type pain. Sometimes the pain is in my lower back as well and it is sharp, but not always.

I sit up and take my 2mgs of preds and then lie back down until 7.30am, not because the steroids have worked because they haven’t by then as they take at least an hour, but because I simply cannot get up. I lie in bed and wait until I feel a bit better.

I briefly flirt with the idea of going to the gym but my leg muscles feel too weak and as I can only just get in and out of the car early in the morning, I think the leg press is out of action, don’t you?

7.30am – I am up, go me! Top Queen for getting out of bed like a champion when I feel so shit, I deserve a medal.

9am – I feel human – almost and enjoy my breakfast, actually I feel pretty good and ‘normal’ whatever that is. I have a confident walk, I can have a laugh and everything is just perfect – until someone decides to put something in the microwave that smells too strong and then my stomach wants to punish me and make me vomit.

But that is OK, I still feel normal like everyone else – except for the cooking smells, but I can ignore them.

10am – This is good, perhaps I don’t need these steroids – think I can ask the doctor to wean me off them. I hate steroids, I hate them more than Celine Dion, I hate them more than celery – I just hate them. Yes that is what I will do, I will ask my doctor to wean me off, I don’t need them and if I am strong then I can get off them – easy!

10.30am – I have been super busy, my face feels like it is being squished in a vice, my head is hurting and I have brain fog. I feel sick and if anyone puts curry in that microwave then I will cry or vomit or even both – a bit like the Exorcist.

And while you are at it, you can turn those lights out and stop talking and laughing because quite frankly it is too noisy and too bright. My muscles are starting to ache and it hurts to get off the chair. But I reckon I can still ask my doctor to wean me off the preds, even though I know I have tried before, this time it will be different.

I feel sick, who in the name of fluffy kittens is heating food up – any food, stop it and stop it right now! Does anyone have any salt or pickles? I will sell my soul for salty goodness, come on, someone must have salty goodness and no, I do not care about my blood pressure.

11am – It’s steroid time! Give me my 1mg of preds and give it to me right now. Come to Samantha you beautiful pretty little white tablet, I love you so much, how could I have ever thought of talking about you so badly and asking my doctor to wean me off you. Do you forgive me Mr Prednisone? Get.In.My.Belly!

12noon – Come on preds, do your magic and I will love you forever.

1pm – What a beautiful day, let’s go for a walk – my goodness I can march like a champ, check me out, I am normal! Who needs the preds, surely not me because I feel normal! Go me, check me out walking like a healthy thing looking all normal and showing off. Adrenal glands, you don’t rule me, I rule you so take that  and stuff it with garlic.

2.30pm – I am dying, no really I am. I am going to sleep so don’t try to stop me. Stop squishing my facial muscles, it is not funny. Shut up everyone, just shut up – don’t eat smelly food, stop teasing me with your salt and just stop everything. Did I say that I wanted to wean off the preds? Really? Are you sure? You are such a liar.

3pm – Hello Mr Prednisone, get in my belly and do your magic, how has your day been? No, I never said wean off, we are mates aren’t we?

3.30pm – Please work quickly, I am nodding off and dribbling down my own cheeks and I feel sick.

5pm – Feeling good sister! I think I can conquer the world, I am wide awake – this is brilliant. Check me out walking up and down those stairs, even when I don’t need to – purely to prove that I can. Actually, Preds – I don’t need you, I am going to ask my doctor to wean me off you because I don’t do dependency my friend so please go and find someone else to invade.

I am going to walk my dogs, work on my book, hug my husband, have a shower, make some tea and feel thankful for my health.

6pm – Don’t mind me, I am just going to fall in the bath, we can walk the dogs and watch a DVD later – I am going to ask the doctor to wean me off the preds. My husband who has been patiently waiting at home for me, nods knowingly – knowing that none of it will happen.

After a soak in the bath, I sit on the edge of the bath because my muscles are refusing to let me stand up. Perhaps I will work on the book tomorrow and just watch a DVD with my husband.

7pm – What a brilliant DVD, I can’t stop yawning this compulsive desire to yawn is taking over. Sorry I haven’t seen you today, haven’t seen the dogs – you are all so lovely and I love you so much, maybe tomorrow?

11pm – Has the DVD finished? How can that be, I only stopped for a snooze. My dogs look at me accusingly and Gordon the cat looks mortally wounded while my husband has resigned himself to that is just how it is. As for me, I feel crap and all I can think about is yes, you have guessed it – steroids.

Accusing looks from my pets

(Photography by Sam Rose)

I take my last 1mg of preds and go to bed. I promise myself that when I see my doctor, I will ask to wean off. Steroid dependency is something that happens to someone else and I am too strong to let it happen to me.

Until I realise that it HAS happened to me and how strong I must be for living this crap day in and day out. In fact, I am going to award myself the title of ‘Champion’ just to make me feel better.

Steroids – our only defense against adrenal insufficiency and the drug we love to hate, The real strength comes from acceptance and learning to cope with the condition which is something that I am still coming to grips with.

I am getting there though, slowly but surely.

Talking of which, I have 90 minutes until my last dose, but whose counting……

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright August 2017

 

 

For the Love of Books…

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My Peter Kay book – goes down well with a cup of tea

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Every so often I come across someone that for whatever reason, makes a part of my day worthwhile and today was one of those days.

My husband was off today so we had been making the most of our day off and went shopping.  I had been planning on getting buying a Kindle for quite some time and today we went in to one shop to have a look as I had seen them advertised there for $110.

As we went to the section where the Kindles were, a young guy asked if he could help us, he looked a bit geeky and had a huge friendly grin and gave us a warm welcome.

‘Can you help me with buying a Kindle please?’ I smiled at him, it was hard not to you see – smile at him, he just radiated something that I could not quite put my finger on.

‘I love actual books personally and have a huge collection’ He said in a fretful voice to nobody in particular – almost as though each Kindle he sold would destroy the lives of the precious paperbacks (who knows, that might happen).

I laughed and agreed that there is nothing like holding a book in your hands, the touch and the smell and losing yourself in the work that someone else has poured their heart, life, soul and imagination in to.

‘You like books too?’ He gasped as though he had come across the key to the ‘secret club’ and then checking to see that no-one was watching, he pulled his phone from his pocket and showed me a picture of his home ‘library’ which I will have to admit, was bloody impressive.

We both stood there and admired the pictures of books neatly organised in Author order, standing to attention waiting for someone to grab them off the shelf and enter their secret world.

‘My God that is awesome, you have heaps of them’ I gasped enviably and felt quite embarrassed at my somewhat poor in comparison pile of books on my bookshelf.

‘And that is just on my book case, you haven’t seen what is on my floor’ He nodded proudly causing my husband to laugh. It was like I had unlocked the key to something but I don’t quite know what, because this guy suddenly became animated and had stepped out of his sales assistant role.

I told him how cheap it is to order second hand books from Amazon UK and even with shipping, still beats the books in the charity shops and how I am currently reading a book on criminal psychology.

‘Oh my God I LOVE stuff like that’ he said looking like he was going to burst and then went on to tell me he loves to imagine what life would be like living centuries ago as in some of the books he has read.

‘I have a book about Jack the Ripper – I haven’t read it yet though.  I would have loved to have taken a peak into those times’ I told him, he nodded happily in agreement.

I explained to him that Facebook has destroyed my ability to focus and read a book and how I was trying to cut down on how much time I spend on social media.

‘I don’t have Facebook or social media’ He said firmly.  I will admit to staring at him as though he had two heads – or even three, I mean NO social media????

He went on to say that for every hour he could spend on Facebook he could be learning something constructive, like last week he learned to make excellent coffee and next week he would learn something else so why waste all that time on Facebook when he could be doing things to better himself? He had a good point, a very good point.

I mentioned that I am writing a book and was on the second draft, I didn’t dare tell him what it was about though – that would just be embarrassing, I mean how can you describe a world of talking dogs that have adult social lives and drink dog beer?  That takes a special person to understand that not to mention a certain sense of humour to ‘get it’.

Meanwhile customers were asking us if we could move as we were blocking their way and I still didn’t have my Kindle – but that didn’t matter because this guy was far more interesting than any Kindle I could have bought or any book I could have read.

‘I wish that I could find a book club local to me’ I said wistfully.  I secretly wondered if he was in a book club of some sort, but saying; that he had so many books that he could probably run his own book club and I most certainly would have liked to become a member of it as well.

Never have I seen someone so young have such a passion for books and reading.  All I will say is that wherever that guy will end up working, I hope it is doing something that makes his face light up like it did today.

After searching in various places, he told us that the Kindle we wanted was sold out and then offered to knock some money off the next (more expensive) model (with a back light which I don’t need – or perhaps I do as my eyesight is crap).

I didn’t take him up on the offer but we thanked him for his help and went somewhere else where it was on sale for $90 and I managed to get a protective case for $24 which was a bargain and you can’t beat a good bargain.

My books are now all downloaded on to my Kindle which is in its new case and is charging in the bedroom and is almost good to go. It takes a bit of getting used to not having a back light but as each time I read a book on my phone I end up on Facebook or chatting on my phone which I am trying to cut down on, that can only be a good thing.

But how glad I was to have met someone like him, a young guy (student?) and obviously very creative. To witness someone become so passionate and animated about something was love was comparable to taking a brief step into their world.

When my book is published I shall go back to the store and drop him off a copy, he may read it, he may not but just to have a place on that book shelf of his would be quite a privilege.

As for my Kindle, well it is nice and all that and modern technology has allowed me to store hundreds of books on to one device which I can carry with me without the weight of actual books.

But if I am honest, if I am really honest, there is nothing like the beautifully designed cover of an actual book, with the promise of a whole new world inside it where the characters are waiting to show you what is happening once you turn that first page.

I love books, the smell of them, the feel of them and especially how something so small can be so powerful to the imagination.

Whether or not Kindle will eventually replace actual books remains to be seen but as long as there are people like the sales assistant I met today, there will always be a secret library somewhere in the world.

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright May 2017

Birthdays, Old Age and Pink Salmon

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Gordon reaches the grand age of 15 years old
(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Today is Sunday 9th April – just an ordinary day for Brutus and Rocky, nothing special about it except for plans to take Rocky for a drive to chat to the sheep.

The boys were up at 7.30am ready to go into the garden for the first pee of the day which as any dog will vouch is the best one. Rocky always checks the garden for intruders – invisible or otherwise while Brutus goes to what is now known as ‘The Brutus Tree’ to check to see if any more rats have appeared.

‘Good morning Gordy, how’s it going?’ Brutus grinned at Gordon as he lay curled up on the sofa.

Brutus adores Gordon you see, cleans his ears and his bum and despite Gordon having hardly any teeth, allows the ginger cat to get him in a ‘death-grip’ when he pretends he is an African lion hunting springbok in Namibia.

 

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Brutus and Gordon – brothers from another mother

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Gordon, did you hear me?’ Brutus shouted to his brother. Gordon ignored him and stared boot-faced towards the window and then began to pointedly wash his anus with his hind leg held high in the air.

Looking somewhat hurt and confused, Brutus trotted up to Rocky who was now crossing his legs and muttering something about ‘being desperate for a piss’.

‘Gordon won’t talk to me’ Brutus whispered to the black kelpie.

Rocky shrugged and said something about him getting moody in his old age.

Both boys were let out into the garden and nothing more was said.

‘He looks smaller these days don’t you think, like really skinny?’ Rocky said to Brutus.

Brutus was busy gazing into his tree checking for rats, ‘He is still my big brother and can hunt things in Africa he told me so, I don’t think he is smaller because then he wouldn’t be able to hunt’ Brutus growled without taking his eyes off the tree, ‘Bloody rats – they are hiding from me on purpose’ he added fretfully.

Rocky shrugged his shoulders and trotted back to the patio door to be let back in as it was breakfast time.

As he pressed his snout against the window he spotted the frail cat sitting on the kitchen work surface talking to himself. ‘Everyone is a wanker, I hate everyone, nobody loves me, nobody cares and I am going to puke on the floor’.

Slowly and somewhat unsteadily on his feet, Gordon went to the floor and started making the unmistakable and dramatic sounds of vomiting and trust me, nothing and I mean nothing will make a cat owner sit up and take notice quicker than the violent sounds of a cat throwing up.

He barely puked anything but it was enough to get my attention. Clearing up the tiny bit of sick that I swear he had forced out to be noticed, I petted him and told him how marvellous he was and good on him for sicking up that furball.

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Gordon demands attention by puking

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Yeah right, I don’t believe you love me and I am going to bite you later with my gums and shit in your clean laundry’ Gordon snapped at me and then wobbled off looking like a doddery old man that has lost confidence in his walking stick.

Rocky continued to stare through the window racking his brains to see what could have possible upset Gordon. It didn’t take long to find out either because just ten minutes later my husband came into the kitchen clutching a tin of pink salmon.

‘Happy 15th birthday Gordon’ My husband walked into the kitchen and kissed Gordon on the head and gently lifted him on to the kitchen workbench to have his salmon, which yes I know is unhygienic and all that stuff but I don’t really care.

‘I thought you had forgotten’ Gordon stuttered in his old man voice – a bit like Winston Churchill if you know what I mean.

‘As if we would forget’ I cuddled him – feeling his bones creak.

‘I love you Mum’ Gordon grinned and then promptly bit my hand with his remaining two canine teeth and called me a ‘bitch’.

It was a King that tucked into his salmon this morning, despite having very few teeth he made light work of it and even tolerated me putting on a tie for his birthday photo shoot.

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Gordon – hunting his salmon (in Africa of course!)

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Can I tell my friends that I hunted that salmon in Africa?’ Gordon asked me.

I didn’t dare tell him that he didn’t really have any friends except for Tess and Pippin, but I agreed anyway and it was enough to make him happy. After all, a good imagination and an ability to dream never hurt anyone.

Meanwhile Rocky was outside looking mortified. How on earth did he forget his brothers birthday. Turning round he quickly ran over to where Brutus was to let him know they had some serious making up to do and plenty of arse licking (literally in Brutus’s case).

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Rocky is such a thoughtful little dog

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

After breakfast the boys sat hovering by Gordon watching him eat the rest of his salmon.

‘Gordon we are SO sorry we forgot your 15th birthday, we didn’t mean to honestly we didn’t’ Brutus sobbed. He was totally distressed that he had forgotten and couldn’t stop crying as festoons of snot dripped from his nose and his eyes all red and puffy from being so upset.

Rocky was a bit more dignified but not too proud to admit that he was sorry and tried to bring Gordon his fluffy penguin.

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Gordon is well loved by both of his brothers as you can see

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Gordon carried on eating and after a few seconds stared down at the boys. His eyes showing every year of his 15 years, the once 7kg cat did actually look quite frail and tiny.

His grumpy old face softened and he replied to his brothers ‘That’s OK, you have remembered now and that is what matters’.

‘I love you Gordon’ Brutus sighed, wiping his eyes and nose as he had been crying that much – guilt does that to Brutus you see. Brutus feels guilty even when he has done nothing wrong. Rocky dug a 3 foot hole in the garden and Brutus cried for days and apologized for it and even went to the police station to insist he be arrested for a crime that he didn’t commit.

‘I love you right back Brutus’ Gordon replied.

Licking his lips Brutus said hopefully ‘I can help you eat some of that salmon if you like, just as a favour of course’.

‘Bollocks’ Gordon replied, ‘Don’t push your luck’ and with a flick of his tail, Gordon turned round and flashed Brutus his bum.

‘He still loves us then!’ Rocky said sounding ever so relieved.

‘Yeah, I reckon’ Brutus barked happily, ‘And Rocky?’

‘Yes Brutus?’ growled Rocky.

‘He is still our big brother’ Brutus nodded firmly, ‘No matter how small he is’ – and there was no arguing with that.

 

Happy 15th birthday Gordon.

 

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright April 2017