The Day Brutus Found His Bark

Brutus finds his bark

You may remember a story that I wrote about the garbage truck and how Rocky would start the ‘Dog Choir’ in notifying the dogs on our street that the evil garbage truck was out to eat all the dogs and their families.

Brutus would wait for Rocky to start and as soon as that pesky truck came from round the corner, Brutus would dance and prance around the garden and give his best bark to assist Rocky in the warning that everyone would be eaten and turned into recycling material.

It was serious stuff and it didn’t matter how well the dogs knew and recognised that this was a weekly thing, each and every time it happened, they would treat it like a new event.

Well since my darling Rocky has crossed over to Rainbow Bridge, Brutus has been lost in a way I have never seen him lost before. Even worse than he was with Gordon, my big brown gentle giant doesn’t quite know what to do with himself.

On the Tuesday after Rocky died, we heard the garbage truck coming and wondered if Brutus would bark at it. But no, Brutus tucked himself away in the kennel and you could just see the tips of his paws sticking out as he pretended that he was anywhere but the garden that provided him with so many memories of his kelpie brother.

The boys

Brutus and Rocky in happier times

Well a couple of weeks ago something happened and I am not going to kid you, it brought a tear to my eye and trust me there have been quite a few of those happening to me lately let me tell you.

Brutus was out in the garden just before the garbage truck was due. He really didn’t want to go out at all and I had to force him, after all there is only so long one can hold ones urine for.

‘Let him out, it’s for his own good’, my husband insisted as I was getting dressed.

Brutus looked so pitiful curled up on the sofa – which has now become his bed. Yes I know, it’s a new sofa and slowly getting wrecked by Brutus and Kevin but hey ho, this sofa isn’t a patch on my Rocky dog who will hold far more fond memories and love than any leather sofa ever could.

Brutus alone

Brutus in his chair

Anyway, I digress.

Forcing Brutus to go out into the garden for his morning pee, I left him standing outside for a few mins before he walked to his kennel, climbed in and went straight back to sleep (without taking a pee I might add).

You could see his little black eye tufts covering the slits of his eyes as he tried to imagine what his brother would be up to at Rainbow Bridge – playing with Gordon probably, or tennis balls because Rocky’s life always involved tennis balls as you well know.

‘Pssst, Brutus! It’s time!’ Vader the boxer’s voice came from behind the fence.

Brutus ignored him, sighed and tucked his snout up against his bottom.

‘Pssst, Brutus – the truck is on its way, you have to start the dog choir off! We can’t do it without you, it’s the position you see – you are first in line!’ Vader barked firmly.

‘I am scared of that truck, I only barked at it because Rocky did, I can’t do it Vader, just get someone else to do it – you can do it, you have a good bark on you’, Brutus replied just quietly enough so that Vader could hear him.

Sounds of frustrated snout snuffling could be heard at the fence from Vader, ‘Brutus we depend on you bro, you have to sort this garbage truck out, for all of us. Remember what Rocky said about them eating our families and stealing our toys?’

Brutus buried his head between his paws, ‘I can’t hear you so there is no point in asking me!’.

Vader growled in frustration, it was no good, he had to do something.

A few seconds later several parrots jumped on to the fence, a lorikeet landed just by Brutus’s kennel but not quite close enough for Brutus to eat him as a snack which was quite possible.

‘Brutus my friend, you have to defend your garden and start off the suburban dog choir. Our lives depend on it’, the lorikeet said gently.

‘Go away, I could eat you if I wanted to’, Brutus said in a sad voice and he was sad, so very sad.

The brightly coloured bird stretched out his wings and admired his wing span. The lorikeet suggested to Brutus that if he was too scared to start the dog choir and bark at the garbage truck then it was highly unlikely he would be brave enough to eat a small parrot such as himself.

‘If you must know, I am scared to start it off. What if I am not up to the job, in case you haven’t noticed I am not Rocky you know!’

The lorikeet hopped on to Brutus’s paw and stared at him straight in the eyes, ‘We know you are not Rocky, nobody is saying otherwise but this is YOUR home and this is YOUR family, this is YOUR garden and now Rocky is not here, you have to defend it all and by defending your garden, you remind us to defend our gardens!’.

‘I mean how on earth are we all meant to know about everything if you don’t start the dog choir off and protect us from the garbage truck?’

‘Come on Brutus, you can do it!’ Vader shouted from his garden.

‘Come on lad, we are all going to be eaten at this rate, don’t you love your Mum and Dad and Kevin the cat enough to defend them?’ Another dog piped up from a house opposite – he had moved in a few months ago.

The sounds of the garbage truck grew closer and it would have been about this time that Rocky would have gone running round his garden while yelling ‘Save us all, save your souls and save your family! The garbage truck is here!’

This of course would have escalated the whole thing and set Vader off and dogs in the surrounding areas and a whole domino effect would have occurred and all the dogs in the suburb would be singing the songs of their people.

‘I can’t, I just can’t! I am scared! I want my brother, I want Rocky, he always knew what to do!’ Brutus sobbed.

The lorikeet flapped his wings just as a wagtail bird landed by Brutus’s kennel. ‘Well do it for Rocky, if you can’t do it for any of us, do it for Rocky’, the wagtail butted in as he hopped from one foot to the other.

‘Yes, do it for Rocky!’ Vader snorted and one by one, the dogs of the street echoed one another until all you could hear in various doggy voices was ‘Do it for Rocky!’.

Brutus stepped out of his kennel and slowly stretched his hind legs. He glanced around and could hear the dogs barking ‘Do it for Rocky’, he could now see several wagtails, about ten lorikeets, a few black cockatoos plus some doves, three galahs and two Corellas cockatoos in his garden – something Rocky would have gone ballistic over. Birds always did make Rocky furious because they had a tendency to gossip and exclude Rocky from it all.

‘Do you think he can do it?’ Vader asked the dog opposite.

‘Not sure, he seems to have fallen apart since Rocky went!’ the dog shrugged.

And as the garbage truck went past the house, the dogs waited with baited breath for Brutus to take over the warning signal which would in turn, tell them that the awful garbage truck had come to eat them and their loved ones plus steal their bones and toys like a thief in the night.

Suddenly a quiet ‘woof’ sounded, so quiet that you could barely hear it, followed by a slightly louder ‘woof’.

‘Did you hear that?’ Vader cocked his head to the side.

‘No, I don’t think so’, the dog opposite replied.

But before he got chance to say anything else, the ‘woof’ got louder and louder until there was no mistaking it.

‘Come on Brutus, you can do this my friend!’ one of the galahs encouraged him.

‘Is that Brutus?’ Vader demanded and tried to peak through the fence.

For there standing behind the wall for protection, but peaking out just enough to see the garbage truck, was Brutus. He was shaking so badly that he had urinated himself.

The ridge was up on his back as he forced himself to let out a series of barks aimed at the garbage truck.

‘They are here to kill our families, eat us all, take our toys and steal our bones, tell everyone you love, warn them so it doesn’t happen!’ Brutus’s bark got deeper as the truck got closer.

‘The truck is here! It’s going to take us all!’ Vader yelled, ‘Save yourselves and your owners, take your toys and your treats!’.

‘Save our souls! It’s a thing of evil!’ shouted the birds.

Before long every single dog and bird was shouting and chanting about the dangerous truck in the vicinity.

Meanwhile I was inside sorting some stuff out. ‘Did you hear that? I think he has found his voice!’ I said to my husband while trying not to cry. Because believe me when I say that Brutus really has lost himself since Rocky died and in so many ways.

‘Yep, it sounds like he is barking again’, my husband smiled.

‘Well done lad, well done! We all get to live another week thanks to you!’ the dog opposite barked approvingly through the fence.

‘Do you really think so?’ Brutus asked him.

‘Totally!’ Vader wagged his tail and looked absurdly proud and somewhat emotional, ‘You rock Brutus, you are our new hero!’

‘Same time next week?’ the wagtail grinned at him.

Brutus took a deep breath and nodded firmly, ‘Same time next week it is’. Then without saying another word, Brutus got back into his kennel and curled up in a tiny ball – almost as though his sudden burst of bravery had exhausted him.

‘I did it Rocky, I saved everyone and I wished you could have seen me do it’, Brutus whispered to himself.

Brutus Oct

Brutus the brave

But what Brutus didn’t see was Rocky standing behind ‘The Brutus’ tree (Brutus’s favourite Conifer tree) and wagging his tail. He didn’t appear to have any pain his hips, he looked young, fresh and full of vitality and health and judging by the proud look on his face, he had seen everything.

Picking up his beloved tennis ball from the limestone wall, Rocky gave Brutus one more glance before trotting off and disappearing as quickly as he appeared.

Our wonderful pets never leave us, their habits and behaviours can live on in so many ways and more importantly, our memories.

Dedicated to dogs everywhere – especially those that defend their families against garbage trucks.

Rocky Farm

Rocky – forever watching from wherever he is

 

Samantha Rose Copyright © October 2018

Where Did You Go My Friend….

Rocky Farm

My Best Friend – Rocky

It was Friday evening on 7th September, Rocky and I were curled up on the sofa on one end, Brutus and Kev were on the other. I was ruffling Rocky’s neck and tickling his ears when I felt a lump that I had not noticed before, my first thought was a cyst and I had seen many of those in my career as a vet nurse when I lived in the UK. ‘What’s that on your neck?’ I asked him. Staring back at me with his beautiful brown eyes now so cloudy with age, he shrugged ‘You know, I am a lumpy old dog – comes with age’.

With just the minimal pressure I had applied to the lump, I felt warm blood trickle down my hands, feeling somewhat concerned, I cleaned it up and made a mental note to book the vet the next day to get it looked at.

The next day at the vet

‘That’s not a cyst, I don’t know what that is but it’s not a cyst and it needs to be removed’, the vet looked concerned as she told me and after a discussion, Rocky was booked in for the following Tuesday for surgery to get the lump removed and biopsied to see what it was. The vet asked me to check him that evening for any other lumps and bumps so that they could investigate those while he was asleep.

We were both off on annual leave that week so at least we could be at home to look after him, we had plans to go on holiday but had shelved them – thank goodness and that was a decision that was a blessing in disguise because I shudder to think what might have happened had we gone to our usual ‘middle of nowhere’ type of trip.

Either way, it was a strange moment and even stranger feeling that I can’t explain in my usual way as you will probably gather from reading this.

We were in the car park at the vets and I was about to get in the car. Rocky looked at the car and sighed, he looked exhausted as though life had just got too much all of a sudden, or perhaps it had been a while and maybe I hadn’t noticed it. Gently lifting him on to the back seat, I kissed his head, smoothed his erect triangular ears and buckled his safety belt to his collar.

Rocky and I have always enjoyed music in the car so I turned on my Usher CD and made a face at Rocky to warn him that I would probably start singing – badly. He gave a ‘Must you Mum?’ kind of look and we both laughed.

Reversing out of the car park, I was about to indicate right but at the last minute, indicated left and engaged to go.

‘Shall we take the long way home, by the coastal route?’ I asked Rocky. It added about 15 mins on to the journey but I knew he liked it, I liked it too – the ocean always looked so spectacular at that time of the morning, well at any time of the morning really.

‘Lovely day for it’, Rocky said as he pressed his snout on the window adding to the vast selection of ‘nose art’ that I simply could not be bothered to wash off.

‘Lovely day for what?’ I said, not taking my eyes off the road but tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the music.

Rocky shrugged, ‘I love this stretch of coastline, my favourite beaches and everything. How lucky we are to live here. Do you remember when I was on South Beach as a pup and started barking at that German man’s dog for not giving me his ball and the German man told you to stop me from shouting?’

We both laughed at the memory, it was hilarious and I could still here that miserable bastard saying ‘Your dog is shouting, you must stop him now!’ in his German accent. Of course I didn’t help matters by laughing which made him go bright red with anger, we actually thought that he might explode.

Then after the German guy had gone, Rocky managed to herd up a few other dogs and cause a canine uprising on the beach where all the dogs had refused to go back to their owners, preferring to run into the ocean in an act of rebellion instead.

Happy days they were, naughty days but happy all the same.

‘My favourite beaches!’ Rocky repeated with a smile on his face as he wistfully stared at the beautiful ocean as we drove past.

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Rocky’s pained expression at me singing along to Usher

We arrived home about twenty minutes later and I opened the car door for him to get out. ‘Come on Rocky, Brutus is waiting for you and you know how he likes to hear about your car journeys’, I said to him.

He went to stand up in the car that he so easily got into an hour or so ago, he couldn’t get out.

Rocky looked at me all confused as though he wasn’t quite sure where he was. ‘Sorry Mum, if I could just have a few minutes that would be great’.

I could see Brutus’s anxious face pressed against the living room window, his tail which was initially wagging at high speed, slowly dwindled down to a swish. His brown forehead creased with concern at why his brother hadn’t jumped out of the car with the same enthusiasm that he had got in to it.

Initially I had thought he may have wrenched his hip as he has bad hips and so carefully lifted the senior kelpie out of the car where he just stood on the ground and looked at me. He wasn’t really there, it was like part of him had suddenly left me. I grabbed his tennis ball and threw it at him, he half bent down to pick it up and then looked back up at me and said ‘No thank you’ and stood there looking confused in an ‘Are we there yet dear?’ sort of way.

That was when it hit me, he had started to shut down and I shall explain more about that later.

I took him in to the living room where he managed to get himself on the sofa and settle down. He didn’t want his tea which was a first – ever, there was no vomiting, no drinking, no salivating, no diarrhoea, but no appetite either (he did have his breakfast that morning though).

Later that evening

We were all curled up on the sofa – me, Rocky, Brutus and Kevin, all snuggled up under a blanket. As the vet had shaved round the lump on his neck near his gland, I was able to get a good look at it and it looked nasty, it did not look innocent by any stretch of the imagination. It looked as though a hard piece of meat had erupted through his skin and I could see why the vet was concerned.

Now a few months back, Rocky presented with rapid respiration and fast heartbeat and as an ex veterinary nurse, I was quick to ask for Xrays and bloods – all were normal except for an ever so slightly enlarged liver and spleen (as reported by a radiographer), which was listed as unremarkable as that can happen in older animals having general anesthesia. His breathing settled down again and everything was fine – until now.

And it was now that Rocky’s belly looked swollen – not bloat swollen, but like it was ‘full of something’ swollen and it had only just happened on the journey home. He couldn’t really get comfortable. But in hindsight though and in recent months Rocky had started to adopt a strange position on the sofa where he would lie on his chest with his head propped up on the back of the chair, funny to look at but just another Rocky type quirk we put it down to – a bit like him barking at the stars at night for daring to shine in his garden.

‘Mum, what’s up with Rocky?’ Brutus asked me. He looked concerned and confused.

Rocky looked at me and I looked at him, his eyes were changing, it was like he was packing to leave his body, to leave me, to leave us.

Rocky’s eyes starting to glaze over

‘You’re leaving me aren’t you?’ I blurted out at him and then burst into noisy sobs as I clung on to his little body. In between my sobs, I could feel Brutus trying to lick my arms while saying ‘Mum, is Rocky going to wear tweed?’ (animals do tend to wear tweed when they cross over to Rainbow Bridge).

When my husband arrived home later that night, he was visibly shocked at the sight of our little kelpie dog who appeared to be shrinking in front of our eyes.

‘Tomorrow we book him in at the vets’, I said to my husband. ‘I shall sleep in the spare room with him tonight in case he needs me’, I added.

As for Rocky, he gave a tired smile and mouthed the words ‘Thank you’ to both of us.

That night my little ‘beetle dog’ (as I called him), snuggled up to me in the spare bedroom, he felt cold so I covered him with my duvet. As he slept and relaxed a little, I stroked him over his abdomen where to my horror, I could feel a firm lump and the surrounding area did not feel right either. No wonder this dog had been uncomfortable and no wonder he had tensed up on examination but one thing was certain, whatever had happened, had occurred quickly.

Sunday Morning – 9th March

It was my husbands birthday and we had planned to go out for breakfast and then take the boys out. Obviously that had been cancelled and we were now at the vets.

The waiting room was empty except for us and a small dog and his human. The little dog was doing rude gestures at Rocky and barking at various things that had upset him. Normally this would have been enough to set Rocky in to a full on aggression frenzy of rude words and insults, but today Rocky just ignored him which surprised both us and the vet.

I won’t go into the full conversation between us and the vet, it is too painful for me to talk about let alone even think about and go over. But I will tell you that when Rocky had his chest X-rays all those months ago, I made a comment saying to the vet that it wouldn’t surprise me if Rocky had cancer and there was something nasty going on.

Don’t ask me what made me think it, it was a feeling that I had and I have always been intuitive with my animals and those in my care when I worked as a veterinary nurse. Rocky’s gums were a bit pale but his bloods came back normal.

We even paid extra to have the X-rays reported on by a radiographer and as I mentioned earlier – they came back ‘unremarkable’ – normal, except for a slightly enlarged liver/spleen which can happen when old dogs have anaesthetics. Yet despite those normal findings, my gut instinct and the way in which Rocky was looking at me, told me that something was seriously wrong. We just couldn’t put our finger on it and believe me it wasn’t for the lack of trying and veterinary check ups/tests either.

The tumour on Rocky’s neck looked nasty, his belly was now firm and very sore and when the vet went to palpate it, my husband said his face showed tremendous pain and discomfort.

His eyes had started to glaze over – well they had actually started doing that the day before as the vet had noticed something wasn’t right but again, things had escalated overnight.

Suddenly things had started to make sense, in recent weeks Rocky would go from trotting around to walking oh-so-slowly past the window, looking visibly uncomfortable and I had assumed it was his hips bothering him. His breath had started to smell foul – it wasn’t his teeth because they were excellent for a ten year old kelpie that had 4 monthly checks at the vet for his hip injections, his yearly boosters/health checks – we were on top of that stuff and always had been.

The vet had noticed that Rocky for the first time ever, had ignored a dog in the waiting room and shown no interest in it and more concerning, it was a dog that was barking and growling at him. Rocky usually has to be taken to a separate room when there are other dogs around, but on that day it was like that other dog did not exist, he simply did not see him.

How did we miss it? How did we not see his suffering? Perhaps we did but as the vet said, kelpies are excellent at hiding their illness/injuries until by the time they are showing signs and symptoms, they are at crisis point.

This was a different vet to the one we saw on Saturday but she quickly agreed that the growth on Rocky’s neck (by his lymph glands) had appeared quickly and seemingly at an alarming rate and on closer inspection, did not look harmless.

I will never as long as I live, forget Rocky’s tired expression as he sat in that consult room, how bad his eyes were, his face, his pain when his abdomen was palpated, but most of all, his face the day before when I threw his tennis ball to him and he had decided that enough was enough, no more ball, no more fluffy penguin, no more games – he was done.

My Rocky

My Rocky – ready to cross that bridge

I swore blind that I would be more observant with my pets after letting Gordon go on for longer than was fair to him, I swore and promised that it would never happen again. But my Rocky was so good at hiding stuff and I certainly recall asking my husband last week if we were being cruel with Rocky as lately even since his last vet visit, he seemed to be uncomfortable and his breathing was at times, becoming a struggle again and had started to not want to get off his bed to go out for a game in the garden.

‘Are you coming for a game of ball Rocky?’ I would say to him, he would just blink at me and remain where he was and I would make a joke about him preferring his bed to our company. Why did I not pick up on that?

My head could not grasp how well he could be one moment and then the next, barely be able to walk and look so unwell.

The hardest decision for us but the kindest for Rocky

After an in depth discussion with the vet, we made the heartbreaking decision to let him go. The tumour on his neck was most likely to be cancerous and I think that was just the tip of the iceberg to be truthful. The enlarged spleen/liver although reported as normal, the tender abdomen and the lumps that had been felt, his whole appearance, behaviour and eyes completing the bigger picture. The fact that he had stopped eating, no longer wanted his ball and no longer gave a stuff about a dog having a go at him in the waiting room.

The vet was honest enough and said they could go out to investigate and open him up, remove his tumours – test them, and if required or appropriate, give him chemo – we were insured and even if we were not, we were going to pull money from our house (we have done that before).

I made a point of asking the vet that if she thought it was the wrong decision, would she tell me, be honest with me because although I am an ex veterinary nurse, the boundaries often become blurred when it comes to letting go of your pets when the right time comes and the decision has to be the best one because it is not something you can take back.

The vet agreed that it was the kindest thing to do and she would not even contemplate it had she not believed in it. And looking at Rocky at that precise point, we decided to let him go with what dignity he had left rather than put him through surgery, scans and treatment to extend his life for what? And more to the point, for whose benefit?

Goodbye my beautiful, special darling dog – Rocky

Rocky was taken out the back to have his IV line put in, he willingly went off with the vet, he has known the staff for ten years, they know him well and vice versa. He is more than comfortable with them.

He walked back in albeit a little stiffly, you could see his abdomen was uncomfortable, his eyes were tired, the bald patch where his neck had been clipped to show the tumour from the day before.

My last kiss

Right to the end he comforted me

If you looked ever so carefully and had my kind of imagination, you could see Rocky wearing an old tweed suit, while clutching a tatty brown briefcase and a peaked tweed cap.

My heart was pounding in my chest, I wanted to vomit – dear God what was I doing? Should I put him through surgery, chemo, could I continue to turn a blind eye to his discomfort, how much more should I or could I put him through? I didn’t want him to leave but I knew he couldn’t stay.

The vet had the two syringes in her hand, these syringes contained ‘Rainbow Juice’ which is what I call the drug that sends our pets to Rainbow Bridge. Rocky sat on some comfy soft blankets on the floor and I sat beside him and my husband sat in front of him. This was so we could be the last people he saw, felt and heard.

‘So, this is it then, I must admit that I am looking forward to not feeling quite so rubbish’, Rocky gave a half smile to me. His kelpie spectacles were neatly perched on the end of his nose, his peaked cap and tweed suit looking quite dapper but smelling of mothballs.

‘I am so sorry Rocky, I am so very very sorry I didn’t realise how sick you were’, I cried into his fur, memorizing every single part of him. I had taken photos earlier but now I wanted more memories because in a second they would be all I had.

‘Yeah well, these things tend to creep up on us, tumours are a bugger like that’, Rocky shrugged and licked my face as I cried (see photo above).

‘I love you so much, I don’t know what I am going to do without you, how will I manage without you?’ I stared at him – oh my god, how the hell did I miss not realising how sick this dog was?

‘You are going to have to keep Kevin in line, he is a bully and he walks all over you!’ Rocky laughed. Actually there was no love lost between him and Kevin to be honest. Rocky had gone for Kev a few times and Kev had given as good as he got but that very morning we took Rocky to his final journey, Kevin sat close to Rocky and Rocky allowed him to.

Kev and Rocky

The way Kevin looked at Rocky that morning, he knew he was sick.

I felt his little body start to relax against mine – the ‘Rainbow Juice’ had started it’s journey into Rocky’s body and in turn, Rocky had started his journey over the bridge with the people that he loved the most right beside him – his human family.

‘Oh Mum, look at that – tennis balls and sheep! They are everywhere, can you see them? Oh my god, it’s Gordon, can I go to him? This is fantastic, I feel fantastic! Can you see it all?’ Rocky said sleepily, ‘Can’t you see it?’

But before I had the chance to answer, Rocky had left me and was running over the bridge to where Bowie the white greyhound and ‘Gatekeeper’ of the bridge was waiting to welcome him to a new life of where pain and illness do not exist and animals can have a life that only you and I can dream about.

The last thing I saw before it all disappeared, was my old cat Gordon gazing up at Rocky as they both trotted across the bridge to where a group of sheep were cheering at Rocky’s arrival.

R and B

Rocky and Gordon together again

I pleaded with him not to leave me – long after he went. I cradled his little body and broke down. I cried until I thought my heart would break and three weeks on as I write this, I am crying now.

‘Please don’t leave me Rocky, I love you so very much’ I sobbed, but he had gone and it was looking at his worn out and sick body lying on the blankets, that I knew my little old kelpie deserved better than biopsies and chemo/invasive surgery and bad hips.

I don’t know how long I remained on the floor holding my boy, but I do know it was for a while as I repeatedly said sorry to him. I don’t even remember getting up to leave either, but as I did, I glanced round and I swear to God I could imagine that old tweed suit crumpled up on the ground, with the peaked cap and kelpie spectacles on the floor next to the tatty briefcase.

Pippin Potter the Italian Greyhound’s house

Pippin Potter the Iggy – Brutus’s good friend had taken a telephone call. Bronte and her new sister Latte were having coffee in the garden while discussing puppies and stuff.

Suddenly Pippin’s phone rang, picking it up and dabbing his pointy snout, he replied ‘Pippin Potter here’.

Bronte looked up at her brother through the window and saw Pippin take a deep breath and compose himself.

‘I see, yes, we shall be right there’, Pippin said curtly and without saying a word, he and his Mum Denise quickly got into the car and drove off.

My House

We arrived home from the vet and I cannot even begin to explain to you how hard it was to drive back into my garden and see Rocky’s kennel and toys where we left them. The tennis ball that I threw to him the other night when he refused it was exactly where I left it, the garden looked so empty.

Brutus’s face pressed against the sliding door, he looked as anxious as when we had left him. His tail no longer wagging, his eyes frantically darted round to find his brother.

‘Mum, where is Rocky? Where is Rocky?’ Brutus barked loudly again and again.

Getting on to the sofa with Brutus, I clutched my big brown dog as I explained that Rocky had gone to Rainbow Bridge.

For some time afterwards, Brutus searched for Rocky, getting quite distressed when he saw Rocky’s collar and leash. My poor sensitive and gentle dog could not and would not settle and to this very day, he appears lost without Rocky.

Brutus toy

Brutus the day after Rocky died with his toy that our friend bought him.

Pippin Potter

Pippin is the head of the Iggy Club, he runs pretty much everything in it really and if you have followed my stories about the Italian greyhounds, you will know him very well.

Pippin arrived at my house with his Mum, I opened the door to let them in and Pippin took Brutus aside to talk to him.

‘I don’t think I know what to do without my brother?’ What do I do Pippin?’ Brutus said to his little friend. He tried so hard to be a brave dog but a life with Rocky was the only life he had ever known, he did not know how to ‘dog’ without him.

Placing a paw on Brutus’s head, Pippin then bent down and gently licked Brutus’s face, ‘You take charge of your garden and house, you put one paw in front of the other and you slowly but surely carry on. Your Mum needs you’. Pippin said firmly, ‘You’ve got this Brutus, you’ve got this’.

Brutus said nothing, Pippin said nothing but both dogs just sat there quietly while the tiny Italian greyhound frequently touched Brutus with his paw just to let him know he was there.

Pip and Brutus 1

I’ve got you buddy, I’ve got you

The kiss

This was taken a couple of hours after Rocky went, Pippin cleaned Brutus’s snout

‘Pippin?’ Brutus asked him a few minutes later.

‘Yes Brutus?’ Pippin replied.

‘How will I know how to protect my house without Rocky?’ Brutus sniffed and wiped his eyes.

Pippin looked at him thoughtfully before responding, ‘One day it will come to you and one day when that time is right, you will do it’.

Nothing more was said between the two boys but Pippin managed to send a group message to the Iggy club saying ‘Rainbow Bridge update – the Kelpie has landed’, while discreetly dabbing his eyes with his silk handkerchief.

Rockyfarmdog

The Kelpie has landed

So what now?

The house is different, Kevin seems to have taken over everything and I mean everything. He initially was unsettled, unhappy and more aggressive than normal but is getting better.

He and Brutus play fight more now, they chase each other round the house, Brutus has started to pounce like a cat which is a bit ridiculous and Kevin is back to humping his blankets with his toys in his mouth which is even more so.

Will we get a second dog? No, I don’t think we will. But I would be lying if I said that I miss having a kelpie because that is my favourite breed of dog ever. My health isn’t good enough for two dogs but if (and it’s a massive ‘if), we were to get another dog, we would look at a middle aged rescue kelpie in need of a loving home rather than a pup.

The harsh realities of pet bereavement

Losing Rocky has broken me and I don’t mind admitting it. Now I don’t give a stuff if someone thinks it is an over reaction or it is ‘just a dog’ because it is dogs that give us companionship, loyalty, service (as working dogs), and trust, and they expect nothing in return. So I make no excuses or apologies for the grief that I am showing for my kelpie because he was my dog, my mate and I was lucky to have had him in my life.

Thanks to…

Thank you to Spearwood Vets (once again), for their kindness, care and compassion that was shown to Rocky, my husband and myself on that day and thank you for the beautiful flowers as well.

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Flowers from our lovely vets

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Sent to us by our vets – a lasting memory

Samantha Rose © Copyright September 2018

All rights reserved.

Never too old for some magic

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Kevin – he has carved his own place into our home, hearts and legs/hands/feet

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

The Brutus Tree

Brutus asks Rocky to stand by The Brutus Tree

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Today Brutus and Rocky were in the garden by ‘The Brutus Tree’ – which is Brutus’s favourite tree, the one he likes to stand under and gaze at for hours on end, especially when it is a full moon.

It all happens under this tree, doggy meetings, trying to pull next doors cat out of it, chasing rats up the tree, catching rats, staring at the tree because invisible dogs might come out of it. You name it, it happens under The Brutus Tree. Rocky doesn’t quite get the magic of it all but does enjoy chatting over a dog beer with Brutus under the tree while putting the world to rights.

It was a beautiful sunny morning in the garden, there was that smell of freshly cut grass mixed with warm sun and fresh air that makes you think that Spring is on its way along with excitement, rabbits, smelly bones, fox shit and opportunities.

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

Without even turning round, Brutus cocked his head to the side, ‘Why yes, it’s Mum’s day off of course’, he said happily and carried on staring at his tree.

Rocky rolled his eyes, ‘Have another think about it!’.

Brutus slowly turned to face Rocky, ‘Yes of course I know, I just don’t want to talk about it.’ then shrugging, Brutus walked to his water bowl where he could be heard slurping up his water in messy great big gulps while Rocky looked on trying to decide whether or not to play with his tennis ball or chase the invisible dogs that frequented our garden.

‘Rocky?’ Brutus asked the little kelpie.

‘Yes Brutus?’

‘Come and sit by the tree with me.’ Brutus said firmly.

‘Why?’ Rocky frowned, ‘You are obsessed with that tree!’

‘Special things happen under that tree, you mark my words.’ Brutus said knowingly.

Rocky got up and went to join his brother where they both sat upright and focused on the top of the tree.

‘Why are we doing this, what will happen?’ Rocky asked him.

‘You will have to trust me on this one….’ Brutus growled. And with that, Rocky had to do just that.

Inside the house

I was making myself a coffee while taking frequent glances at Kevin to see what he was up to. His solid fluffy ginger body was wrapped around Rockys blanket. His back legs bicycling furiously as they kicked, Kevin repeatedly muttered stuff such as ‘Bollocks’ and ‘Death to all humans’ as he fought and won a nasty battle with the red blanket on Rocky’s bed.

Basically everyone was going about their business, it was a typical Sunday morning with nothing unusual about it.

I walked into the spare room which is meant to be an office but kind of looks a bit messy as other stuff has migrated into it. You know what it’s like, put it out of sight and it’s out of mind and your spare room fast becomes a home for things that have no other home but still gets called ‘the office’.

I took in the sight of the room and its clutter and remembered how it used to be. The grey plastic bed on the floor, the litter tray, the food bowls, the toys but most importantly, Gordon.

This was Gordon’s room, or at least it used to be. He loved that room as well, where as Kevin just didn’t like to be in it which is why we moved him to the front room so he could see the parrots and the dogs. But Gordon really loved his room.

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Gordon’s room after he crossed over to Rainbow Bridge – oh so empty!

Photograph by Samantha Rose)

I felt a lump in my throat, it was exactly a year ago today that we sent our precious Gordon to Rainbow Bridge and I remember it clearly as though it were yesterday. Driving along to the vets while playing Lion King – Circle of Life in the car as we drove our 15 year old majestic ginger cat to complete his final journey from London to Perth.

You can read about that here.

I still miss him and while it sounds daft to some, the gap he left in our house was and still is enormous. Kevin has not replaced Gordon by any stretch, but he has carved out his own place – both in our house, in our hearts, on our leather sofa and on my legs/hands/arms (with his nails).

‘I miss you Gordon, I miss you so much it hurts,’ I said out loud to nobody in particular. Biting my lip to stop myself crying, I walked into the dining room to see what Kev was up to. Spotting him playing with the blinds and shredding the shit out of the dining room chair, I smiled and went back towards the kitchen.

‘Well he’s a handful isn’t he? In my day we had more respect’ A ginger voice piped up from out of nowhere. A familiar ginger well spoken English ginger voice and one that could simply not be mistaken.

‘I said in my day we had more respect!’ The voice repeated loudly.

I felt my heart racing, taking a deep breath I turned round – Kev was still playing, oblivious to everything, he had heard nothing. I could no longer hear him swearing (Kev has Tourettes and swears like a trooper as you can gather). Kev’s mouth was opening and closing, I could see him mouthing the word ‘Bollocks’ but no sound was coming out.

‘Your eyesight is failing you, we shall need to get you a Labrador to guide you,’ The ginger voice laughed.

I quickly looked into the dining room again and there sitting on the orange sofa that was once his, was Gordon looking young, fit and handsome with his ginger coat looking thick and plush.

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Gordon – making a guest appearance in my imagination

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Gordon, no way! I thought only animals could see each other once they have crossed over, I must be dreaming!’ I babbled and then promptly burst into tears.

‘Yes, well you always have been a bit special. What is it with you talking to the parrots in the morning, such a traitor – you can’t trust those galahs you know!’ Gordon grinned at me and then looked at Kevin who did not appear to see myself or Gordon.

‘You have been through the wars haven’t you,’ Gordon said as he weaved himself in and out of my ankles, ‘I have been watching you.’

I wiped my eyes and sniffed, ‘It’s been a tough year and Kev is hard work.’

Gordon laughed, ‘I could eat that for breakfast!’ he nodded at Kevin who continued to fight with himself on the floor.

‘I am so sorry, so very very sorry!’ I blurted out, and I was as well. Sorry for keeping him longer than was good for him, sorry for not doing what was right for him sooner and just, well sorry for anything I may not have done right.

‘You did what was right in the end and life is pretty good now you know,’ Gordon replied. ‘In fact, it’s rather marvellous, besides – I couldn’t have done it without that final cuddle.’

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That final cuddle to send him on his way

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Sitting beside him on the orange sofa, I pleaded inside my head that Kevin would notice us – but he didn’t or couldn’t.

‘He can’t see me you know, his time for seeing me is done and it is also his time to become the cat of the house. He has no need to see me.

‘This is your turn and you are exceedingly lucky to have it,’ Gordon explained and snuggled into me and added, ‘Not all humans get that chance.’

He had the same delicious ‘cat smell’ that I remembered, he felt so plush and soft, yet solid in build. His purr was loud and comforting it and his health was as it used to be when he was young.

We sat for what seemed ages chatting about Rainbow Bridge, about Rocky and Brutus, about Kevin and our lives as they are now.

‘Well I had better go now, I have a mouse meeting at Rainbow Bridge shortly and I don’t want that tabby down the road getting the upper hand,’ Gordon stood up, shook his tail and had a good stretch.

Oh no, it was going to hurt all over again and I simply could not stand it. ‘Do you have to go, can’t you stay long enough for the dogs to see you? Please, I will do anything!’ I pleaded with him.

Gordon yawned, his eyes focused on me while Kev still played and swore silently on his own and in his own world. As though an invisible yet unbreakable barrier separated us. I actually do not know who was in their own world, myself and Gordon or Kevin.

‘One last hug?’ I asked him.

‘Go on then!’ Gordon relented and allowed me to pick him up.

Gasping at his weight, he must have weighed over 7kgs, ‘I am in my prime don’t forget,’ Gordon laughed.

I closed my eyes and breathed in his scent, cradled his solid body, smoothed his fur and felt his purr as it rattled out of his throat.

(you will often find your cats/dogs will smell unique to you and have their own wonderful smell and if you don’t believe me, go and sniff them).

‘Goodbye my darling boy and thank you!’ I cried quietly into his fur.

‘No, thank YOU!’ Gordon whispered back.

My moment was rudely interrupted when a voice yelled, ‘What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing? Have you got some kind of death wish?’ Kevin’s voice ripped through my ears like a child with a sinus problems (Kev sounds like a kid with bad adenoids when he meows).

What the heck? – Ouch that hurt!’ I opened my eyes just in time to feel Kev latch on to my arm and kick the shit out of it. I had been cuddling Kevin all along.

‘I do not DO cuddles – ever!’ Kev said looking absolutely furious. Then jumping out of my arms, he walked off taking his floofy arse with him and went into his litter tray.

‘No, I guess you don’t….’ I half laughed, half cried and wiped my eyes. Kev was in his litter tray muttering something about ‘shitting for Australia’.

‘Don’t know what you are looking so happy about, I’ve got turd in my pantaloons and you will have to brush it out!’ Kev hissed at me and took a swipe at my leg.

I walked over to the window and saw Rocky and Brutus under the Brutus Tree, still staring at it without moving or even blinking.

Outside in the garden

‘Are we done yet? Can we stop staring at the tree?’ Rocky said impatiently.

Brutus turned round and saw me looking at him through the patio door. I smiled at him, he looked so cute with his huge ears and big brown bum.

Brutus wagged his tail, ‘Yeah, I think we are done now!’

‘I still don’t get what is so special about that tree?’ Rocky shook his head.

‘It’s magic that’s all, it just makes things happen,’ Brutus replied as he admired his tree.

Later on

We were all curled up on the sofa – well we had given Kevin had a wide berth as he likes to attack feet but other than that, we were snuggled up about as much as you can with a ginger ‘kitten shark’.

‘Mum, can you believe that it’s a year today that Gordon left us,’ Rocky nudged me with his snout.

I smoothed Rocky’s ears down and told him that yes, I knew that and it is also coming up for a year that we bought Kevin home.

‘And don’t you forget it either! I could eat you all if I wanted to!’ Kev growled and then bit my foot hard (no really he did bite me and I have the scar to prove it).

‘Yeah and don’t we know it! I heard that you tried to eat the vet and the nurse yesterday when they tried to cut your nails!’ Brutus said to Kev before looking at Rocky and saying ‘He did you know and rumours have it, he tied them both up and cooked them for tea with nachos!’

Kev said nothing and looked somewhat smug curled up on his blanket with his beloved squeaky squirrel between his paws. He had found his place in our little family and he knew it.

‘Brutus?’ Kevin asked him.

‘Yes Kev,’ Brutus said hesitantly while trying to tuck his legs under him to stop Kev savaging them.

‘Can I ask you about that tree in the garden…..?’ Kevin replied.

Brutus looked at Kev with a surprisingly wise look for such a young dog, ‘It’s a magic tree Kevin and one day when you are old enough, I shall tell you all about it.’

And with that Kevin had to be content.

Magic – we all need a bit of it in our lives, it just helps the world go round.

 

The End

 

Samantha Rose Copyright © August 2018

Dogs Do Denmark – The Adventures of Rocky and Brutus

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Brutus and Rocky love their road trips

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

This is a story that I wrote a couple of years ago when Brutus was only a young dog and Gordon was still alive. So much has happened since I wrote it that it forgot about it on my hard drive and I never bothered finishing it.

After going through my computer last night, I found this story and read through it again. It brought back so many memories of that trip that I had to finish it as it seems a waste not to.

It’s about when we took Brutus on his first ever holiday with Rocky down South to Denmark, WA and of course it is about their adventures and what they got up to.

Like many of my talking animals stories, this contains adult humour and some adult language – nothing too bad but it isn’t really be suitable for children. No offence is intended and all characters except for my boys, are fictitious and any resemblance to any talking cattle, dogs, horses etc either living or dead is purely coincidental. Unless of course, you know of a few horses that can talk – in which case send them to me as I would like to interview them.

This is a long read of nearly 15,000 words so you may as well put your feet up, grab a drink and some snacks, shut the door and take your time. If anyone asks you what you are reading, don’t tell them it’s about talking animals – they will think you are nuts.

Hope you like the story.

We’re all going on a Summer holiday! – Packing for the trip

Brutus was busy packing his bags for his first ever holiday trip away with his family.

Having decided that at two years old he was quite old enough to go on a trip away, we were still concerned as to how Brutus would take being away from his home comforts. And although Tony Abbott was coming, none of us knew how it would pan out.

‘Right, are you ready Turd Legs?’ Rocky grinned to Brutus. Rocky was totally a ‘country dog’ and actually the perfect dog to take travelling. Coming from a working farm, there was little if anything that Rocky didn’t know about the country and was a seasoned traveller/camper and expert of all things cows, pigs, goats, horses and sheep.

‘Do they speak English down South?’ Brutus asked Rocky, he had packed his own English dictionary just in case they didn’t.

Giving Brutus a withering look, Rocky smirked ‘Of course they speak English, even the sheep’.

‘What’s a sheep?’ Brutus asked Rocky looking totally confused.

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‘What’s a Sheep?’ says Brutus

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

But before Rocky had chance to answer, it was time to get loaded up into the car with Gordon who was going to be dropped off at the vets.

‘I am so excited, are you excited Gordon? I am so excited I might shit myself.’ Brutus said nervously.

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Gordon was not amused at going to the vet

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘From the smell of it you already have. No I am not excited because unlike you, I have to stay at the vets for the week and Mum has warned them about me so I suspect they will hide all the towels from me.’ Gordon said fretfully.

‘You mean you are not coming away with us?’ Brutus asked looking upset.

‘Nope, I always stay at the vets when Mum and Dad go away on their holidays.’ Gordon sighed.

Twenty minutes later we had arrived at the vets and Gordon was handed over to the capable hands of the nurses to be taken to the cattery where he would spend the next week in the company of other cats, where they would discuss the tactics of carpet shredding, anus washing and dietary habits.

‘Love you Gordon!’ Brutus yelled out to him as the nurse carried him off in his cage.

But Gordon didn’t answer him and the last Brutus saw of him was his fat ginger bum squishing through the squares in his wire cat basket.

‘I love my brother Gordon.’ Brutus said quietly to himself and strained his eyes at the vet surgery until we had turned the corner to take the road to ‘holiday’.

On the road

‘Are we there yet?’ Brutus asked impatiently. Totally unused to being in the car for anything longer than a trip to the polo grounds for lure coursing, 90 minutes in the car seemed like days to him.

Raising his eyebrows, Rocky shook his head and wished that he were an only child for once. He loved his road trips and this was his third time in Denmark.

A totally self-sufficient kelpie, he had also been to Cervantes, Margaret River, Pinjarra and twice to Dwellingup and could even put up the tent himself and set up the BBQ for everyone.

‘If you need me to take a turn with the driving I am quite happy to’ Rocky said obligingly. And he could as well; Rocky was well-known for his driving skills and used to be a regular feature in Fremantle driving my Yaris when I had it.

‘Are we there yet?’ Brutus asked again and then promptly farted.

 

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Rocky – a well-travelled kelpie

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Disgusting bastard, you are so uncouth!’ Rocky growled and turned around to face the window to do the ‘I am an only dog’ thing that he did when Brutus shamed him.

We stopped about 2 hours into the journey for a coffee and the boys had a drink of water and a leg stretch before we got back in the car for the next session of the journey.

It was all getting rather messy and by messy I mean the car. Having carefully placed the (brand new) seat protector cover on the back of the car seat to protect it from dog hairs, Brutus spent just seconds roughing it up, lifting it off and generally making the back of the (new) car look like a ‘rug of Brutus’ with his fur.

‘Vader taught me how to remove car seat covers; Vader said that seat covers are for girls and guinea pigs.’ He said proudly.

Sighing impatiently his exuberant young brother, Rocky pressed his snout on the window – it was going to be a long journey.

‘I know, let’s play a game! I spy with my brown eyes, something beginning with ‘G’ and you will never guess what it is!’ Brutus squeaked in a high-pitched voice, which indicated that he was already over excited.

‘I give up.’ Rocky growled as he was in no mood for this game.

After several failed guesses and threats to throw Brutus from the window for being annoying, Rocky really did give up and I could not be bothered to enter into the spirit of things either and just let the boys squabble and argue in the back of the car.

‘Can’t you guess?’ Brutus barked.

‘No, I can’t – you will have to tell me.’ Rocky said firmly. Rocky being a peaceful kind of road-tripper, liked to alternate between sleep and looking out of the window on his car trips, not making small talk.

‘Genitals, as in look at the size of mine and you thought I never had any!’ Brutus laughed raucously.

Glancing down at Brutus’s, Rocky looked part horrified and part jealous as Rocky is not blessed in the genital department and never has been. Up until now, he had always thought that Brutus had no penis because one would never guess otherwise by looking at him.

‘Brutus, that is disgusting! Mum, Brutus is being so disgusting that he is THE most disgusting dog ever!’ Rocky shouted to me sounding so offended that I thought he might vomit and trust me nobody does ‘offended’ quite like Rocky.

‘Oh Rocky, it can’t be that bad’ I soothed the furious little black kelpie dog who had now pursed his lips together and looked the epitome of disgust, disapproval and envy.

I looked at Brutus to see what Rocky was so upset about and I saw it for myself and had I not seen it, I would not have believed it because I sure as hell don’t know where he has been hiding such a thing all this time.

There on the back seat sat Brutus with his legs apart, looking absurdly proud of himself with his genitals on full display and without going in to too much detail, Brutus’s manhood was hanging out in all its glory.

Rocky is a bit of a prude as you will have gathered, he goes to Church on a Sunday, is friends with the Vicar, subscribes to ‘Your Cattle Monthly’ and ‘How to herd sheep in twenty minutes’, so you can imagine how offended Rocky was to see such a thing with Brutus looking proud as punch in to the bargain.

‘I am not talking to you, you are just showing off.’ Rocky said looking as though Brutus had shit on his monthly sheep magazine.

But Brutus said nothing, he didn’t need to really – his genitals had spoken loudly enough for everyone.

The Stopover

We had hoped to stop at a cafe somewhere, but drove straight past where we wanted to go and couldn’t be bothered to turn round, so we pulled into a side turning and found a decent secluded bush to let the boys cock their leg or in Brutus’s case, squat and urinate down himself.

‘Brutus, can you go for a pee please?’ I said firmly as he hadn’t urinated since we had left the house that morning.

‘Don’t need to go because I have a bladder like the size of a watermelon.’ Brutus barked proudly (don’t know where he got that saying from), ‘Oh my god, this smells good – let me roll in it!’  Frantically circling a patch on the grass, Brutus attempted to lower his head to smother himself in whatever delightfully disgusting scent he had found.

I didn’t immediately see it but by God I could smell it and when I looked at the direction of the smell, I saw a large kangaroo carcass at the side of the bush and Brutus was joyously about to roll in it.

‘Oh Pippin would love this, come on Rocky – fancy a go, we can roll together!’ Brutus shouted to Rocky who threw him a dirty look.

‘What do you think you are doing?’ Rocky growled, ‘Stop it right now, you will rot the car out.’

‘I am getting back to nature, this is what dogs do in the wild, I am getting in touch with my wild side and we are having roo tails tonight for tea so I thought I would roll in what we will be eating.’ Brutus tried to reason.

‘Pippin would indeed be proud of you Brutus but no, you are NOT going to roll in this kangaroo.’ I insisted and tried not to breathe in as it smelt vile as you can imagine but I did marvel at the skeletal system of the animal.

After Brutus’s non-existent pee, we got the dogs back in the car and safely strapped in for the last part of the journey.

‘Are we there yet?’ Brutus asked Rocky.

‘No, Brutus, but we are nearly there.’ Rocky replied.

‘How do you know?’ Brutus demanded.

‘How? Because I can smell it, that is how.’ Rocky said smugly and being a country dog at heart and viewing Denmark as his second home, I totally believed that he could ‘smell it’ as well.

‘The only thing I can smell is my farts.’ Brutus said impatiently as Rocky shook his head and pressed his snout on the glass.

Rocky wasn’t sensible for the entire journey I might add because by the time we took our turning to Denmark, he had de-thawed his frosty attitude somewhat and both boys were happily singing ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday’ in between Rocky telling Brutus about the wonderful time he would have and if he was a good boy, he would even show him how to herd sheep.

Denmark (Home Sweet Home)

 The only time I see my little black kelpie show emotion is when he gets to places that he loves – the beach or the countryside. For me personally, I love the countryside and the forest.

As we pulled into the road that led to our Chalet, Rocky started to cry and Brutus not knowing why his brother was crying, decided to join him. I can’t actually fault him on that because whenever any of my friends cry, I also cry with them without even knowing the reason.

‘Where are we?’ Brutus demanded in between howling, sobbing and twitching his snout trying to pick up the scent of the area.

‘Home, is where we are my friend – home.’ Rocky said wistfully.

The house

‘Can I have this bedroom?’ Brutus shouted as he ran from room to room.

‘No Brutus, your bed will be in the corridor – no way would I trust you to be left alone in here.’ I had visions of waking up the next morning to see Brutus cooking breakfast after draining the bottles of wine that we had bought with us.

I have to say that the house had a beautiful big garden, like so enormous it could have had a few goats in it and probably a sheep as well.

Rocky who has hip dysplasia and has a limiting life as he cannot go off leash and have his beloved tennis balls thrown for him, was thrilled to have such a large garden to trot around.

‘Mum! Mum! We have sheep, we have cows, we have alpacas, we have chickens and we have ponies and it is MY job to look after them!’ Rocky barked with excitement. Trotting around and full of his own self-importance, he took in the sights, sounds and smells of the livestock.

Looking up at me with the biggest smile on his kelpie face, Rocky nodded towards the livestock and said ‘Give me ten minutes and I will just bring this lot in for you.’

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Rocky checking out the garden

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Running up to the fence to try to intimidate a cow and its friends, Rocky sized up the enormous beast and her mates and quivered at the challenge of herding them up.

‘Who the hell are you?’ yelled the cow from the other side of the fence, ‘And what do you think you are doing?’

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Cows can be so judgemental

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘I am what is known as discipline that is WHO I am and I am here to show you some!’ Rocky said confidently and then proceeded to trot around the perimeter of the fence  while the other cows just looked on and laughed at the little kelpie who had been on their farm for just ten minutes and had tried to take over in true kelpie fashion.

‘Oh god, another one who thinks he is in charge.’ giggled a group of chickens in high-pitched gossipy voices. Rocky glared at them and had a particular grudge against the hens from that day on and they became known as “the gossiping chickens”.

There is nothing more powerful than a gang of farm animals when an intruder comes on to their property and it really is like the movie ‘Babe’ in terms of clique.  Sheep will laugh, cows and ponies will snigger and as for the chickens, they will make you feel very small with their shrill voices.

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Alpacas – They can be bullies you know

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

But the worst of them all, the absolute worst ever are the alpacas and if you don’t believe me, I shall elaborate.

On this farm were herds of alpacas, black ones, white ones, dirty looking ones, brown ones – there were heaps of them.

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‘The Julies’ – now visualise them with pearl necklaces and woolen jumpers, or doing their cardio in the mornings while wearing leotards and leg warmers

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

We had decided to take both boys on a long walk on the farm as the owner had shown us the paths we could take. It was a good walk with livestock either side of the path behind their fences and of course, our boys were on the leash at all times (you will have to use your imagination for some parts of the story).

The alpacas on this farm were in their own gang called ‘The Julies’. Now I don’t know if they were male or female but I am going on the assumption that they were female.

In my eyes and imagination ‘The Julies’ on this farm all wore sensible woolly jumpers, pearl necklaces and had haircuts from the early 80s with a tight poodle perm on top of their heads between their erect ears that were not unlike Rocky’s kelpie ones.

They followed each sentence with a giggle and a snort and chewed gum in insolent fashion as they blew large bubbles and popped them from their mouths and if you upset them would spit at you and call you a ‘loser’.

Brutus had never seen farm animals before and especially had never come across a group like ‘The Julies’.

I do need to stress that there is actually a stark difference between Brutus and Rocky in terms of how they perceive farm animals. Rocky looks at any farm animal and thinks ‘Let’s get this lot in order’ and has a burning ingrained desire to herd them up, tidy them up and bring them in.

Brutus on the other hand sees farm animals and thinks ‘lunch’.   So you can imagine his face when he saw ‘The Julies’ who glared back at him accusingly.

‘What on earth is that meant to be – a dog or a kangaroo?’ One of ‘The Julies’ gasped to the rest of the herd as they stared at Brutus who was trying to work out if these strange animals tasted as good as dog chow.

‘God knows but I think it could be a mix of both.’ said another Julie in the group.

‘Whatever it is, it’s a Townie.’ a large cow said to a black horse who sniggered in response.

‘How can you tell?’ One of the Julies asked the cow, ‘That it’s a Townie?’

‘How? Because no self-respecting farm dog would be seen dead in one of those head collars!’ The cow grinned which made The Julies giggle loudly.

‘Now THAT however, is a proper farm dog.’ said the black horse to the other animals who all nodded appreciatively at the sight of Rocky who was proudly wearing his Australian flag neckerchief while fixing his gaze on the Julies, cows and horses in the field and trying to do a head count.

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Rocky – the perfect farm dog

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Kelpie!’ The cow yelled to Rocky who looked up and gave a ‘thumbs up’ signal back to the cow.

‘Any sheep for me to back-in or shall I concentrate on you lot?’ Rocky asked confidently and he meant it too. Rocky is a proper farm dog and would totally live on a farm if he could.

‘No Kelpie, no working dogs here but if it makes you happy you can herd us from your side of the fence’ shouted the black horse back to Rocky who looked thrilled with being given such a task.

‘Who is the Townie?’ One of The Julies shouted out to Rocky.

‘That is my brother Brutus, he isn’t a farm dog.’ Rocky said apologetically to The Julies.

‘Oh we have gathered that.’ one of the cows said firmly.

‘How can you tell?’ Rocky laughed.

‘How can we tell? THAT is how we can tell!’ yelled the black horse to Rocky and nodded over to Brutus who was chasing some of The Julies from his side of the fence while clutching a knife, fork and plate and shouting ‘Don’t panic, I just want to see what you taste like!’

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Brutus – not a farm dog

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

The Julies were making high-pitched squeals and were scattering in all directions while clutching their pearl necklaces around their necks and pulling ‘Queen Elizabeth’ pouts with their lips as Brutus ran from the other side holding his cutlery and plate and shouting something about ‘Rump or breast?’

Shaking his head apologetically, a somewhat mortified and embarrassed Rocky shouted ‘Sorry about my brother!’

Anyway, it all ended quite abruptly when one of the cows said to Brutus that he was totally embarrassing himself and if the word got out in Perth about what had just happened, he would make sure that he never lived it down.

‘Get back to the house now!’ Rocky growled at Brutus who looked upset at not being allowed to catch a Julie for supper and for his brother reprimanding him so publicly. I know how that feels as well because if my Mum reprimanded me in public, I would blush and cringe with embarrassment.

As the boys walked back to the house, the cows had gathered by the fence and glared at them, and trust me on this one; nothing gives a dirtier more judgmental look quite like a cow.

The Julies were mortally offended at being chased by Brutus; were busy straightening their pearls and pushing their hair back between their ears. ‘Bloody Townie, we shall make him pay for that!’ One of The Julies muttered to the others.

‘Let us teach him a thing or two about herding.’ the brown shaggy looking Julie squeaked back.

‘Yes – lets!’ The Julies all responded together in robotic fashion until enough momentum had been gained to make the entire herd of cows nod in agreement.

‘Revenge like a boss!’ A huge bull shouted in his deep voice, which sort of finalized the fact that Brutus was going to pay – big time.

But what form that revenge would take would not only shock you and I, but it would totally backfire on them as well.

Grumbles and Rocky

Rocky is not good with other dogs at all as he has been attacked on several occasions not to mention about the amount of un-desexed male dogs allowed to ‘free-range’ in our suburb and charge at him through his own fence and shout obscenities at him which never goes down well as you can imagine.

The farm that we stayed on has a dog called ‘Grumbles’ who looked something like a Labrador/Border collie mix of some sort, Grumbles is like many farm dogs whose bark is worse than his bite and gives out a ‘token guard dog bark’ to look the part when it counts when really it cannot be bothered to do anything other than gossip with visitors and the farm animals.

One day Rocky saw him through the fence and Grumbles stood up with the fur on his back erect. ‘Intruders, they have guns, they have weapons, and they are going to kill us all!’ Grumbles barked furiously towards the farmhouse to tell his owners of the impending danger in the form of a black kelpie dog.

Some hostile barking took place, Grumbles did the warning bark that heralded danger which is a bit like Rocky’s warning bark that he does when the garbage truck comes on a Tuesday but at the end of the day they both meant the same thing ‘Danger – but not really’.

Rocky’s fur also went up on his back and he barked back but straight away, he noticed Grumbles was different from the dogs in our suburb. He was actually very chilled out and although he barked to warn his owners of invisible intruders, both he and Rocky had something in common – they were farm dogs.

The hostilities that would normally have resulted in a fight back at home, ended up with urinating on each others heads, tails held high in a delightful display of high-speed tail wagging, sniffing of each others bums through the fence and a wonderful introduction.

‘So Kelpie, what’s your name?’ Grumbles asked Rocky and then shouted towards his owners cottage ‘Intruder in the garden, don’t worry Mum, I’ve got this covered.’

‘The name is Rocky, what’s your name?’ Rocky smiled back and then cocked his leg to do an invisible piss as he had run out of urine from peeing so much earlier.

‘Grumbles, my name is Grumbles and this is my farm.’ The old dog barked back and in those few moments, my normally dog aggressive kelpie who was suspicious of every dog that he meets, had finally found a friend to talk to that he had something in common with – the world of livestock and farming territory.

‘Tell me Rocky, where are you from? Tell me all about yourself, tell me everything because my world begins and ends on this farm.’ Grumbles stared at Rocky while digging the soil with his arthritic paws.

‘I am from Perth and my life begins and ends in my suburb. In the Summer I go swimming both in the ocean and a special swimming pool for dogs.

‘Every week I protect my street from the garbage truck that threatens to eat us and our families.’ Rocky washed his paws as he told his story.

‘Those garbage trucks are dreadful for eating our families aren’t they? And who is that?’ Grumbles asked nodding in the direction of Brutus who was in his own little world bouncing around the garden trying to catch flies, butterflies and invisible fairies – oblivious to everything around him.

‘That is my brother Brutus’ Rocky growled firmly, ‘He is not a sheep dog but he is very good at lure coursing providing no corners are involved and Mum is at the end to tell  him that he is a good boy and hug him.’

‘That’s very nice indeed. We are all good at something and having a Mum that loves you makes it all rather perfect doesn’t it?’ Grumbles smiled and then pulled out two doggy catnip cigarettes from his pocket and offered one to Rocky.

Rocky took a cigarette and Grumbles lit it for him, it was a private moment between farm dogs, where they didn’t need to say much because they just didn’t need to.

Blowing smoke out of their nostrils in the ‘shape of dog’, Rocky and Grumbles stood either side of the fence and compared their lives – a suburban kelpie and a farm dog.

‘Rocky are you happy where you live?’ Grumbles asked Rocky who was staring wistfully at the cows in the field.

Rocky didn’t answer for a moment as he pondered on his answer. Taking a deep breath he replied ‘I am happy if I am with my family, but……’ his voice tailed off.

‘But what? It is an easy enough question, are you happy in the suburbs?’ Grumbles asked again, his greying face stared at Rocky, his eyes opaque from ageing but still with a marvelous ability to ‘soul search’ if he stared at you hard enough.

‘My heart belongs to the farm – and I share my heart with my family because I love them – does that make sense?’ Rocky shrugged.

Rocky2

Rocky pretends the countryside belongs to him

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Perfectly’ Grumbles replied and then spotting his owner come out of the cottage, he said quickly ‘Better go and do my guard dog thing, catch you later.’ Stubbing his cigarette on the floor with his paws, he then started his obligatory guard dog bark.

‘Intruders, there are intruders in the garden, I shall kill them if you like!’ Grumbles barked loudly at nothing in particular until his Mum called him inside to acknowledge his ‘guard doggy-ness’ and stop him being a nuisance and shattering the peace and quiet of the farm.

Rocky remained outside for a bit and took in the sights and the smells. Oh how he wished he could have his own place like this, he would sure show The Julies a thing or two about respect and as for those chickens, they wouldn’t laugh at him and threaten him with a good pecking, they would respect him.

Still, he was there for a week and for that week he could share the farm with Grumbles, he was sure of that and in his own mind, Rocky could pretend the farm was his.

‘Rocky, Mum is calling us in for tea and we have some kangaroo tail waiting for us, are you coming?’ Brutus barked.

Rocky stared at Brutus who looked so out-of-place on the farm, a cross between Scooby Doo and a kangaroo with a bark that could be heard in the next town and a nature as gentle as any dog owner could wish for in their dog.

Smiling at his brown brother, Rocky shouted ‘Coming, I will race you to the door and the winner gets the biggest bit of roo tail.’

Knowing that Brutus was exceptionally fast and would win paws down, Rocky delighted in watching the clumsy Brutus run to the door and almost smack his snout on the fly screen in order to ‘win’ his supper.

‘I won, I won!’ Brutus said happily as the door was opened for him and both boys waited patiently for their bit of roo tail – Brutus having the bigger bit of course.

Five minutes later all you could hear were the contented sounds of the dogs crunching on their food. Half an hour after that they were fast asleep on the verandah, the only time they moved was to swish their tails to swat the flies.

Rockyrootail

Rocky enjoys his roo tail

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Eau de ca dog (manure)

Grumbles and Rocky were in the barn discussing how to win the girls over using doggy type aftershave.

‘Are you serious, do you prefer that one?’ Rocky gasped as Grumbles rubbed some cow shit on his wrists and stuffed it under Rocky’s nose for him to smell.

‘Yep, you have no idea – the bitches love it!’ Grumbles said in a matter-of-fact voice.

‘How about this one?’ Rocky asked as he smeared some alpaca manure (from The Julies) behind his ears.

‘I have tried theirs before but it is a bit of a specialized scent, I have heard that dogs in London would pay handsomely for some turd from The Julies.’ said Grumbles.

‘Now this, is my favourite of all time and reminds me of my farm days in Bunbury.’ Rocky said happily and then proceeded to rub some good old horse shit all over his neck.

‘You can’t beat a bit of horse shit that’s true.’ said Grumbles who then added ‘Have you ever tried turd from a Highland cow?’

Rocky shook his head ‘No I haven’t but I know dogs in London roll in fox shit and that is said to be rather marvelous. Mum’s old whippet bitch Rema almost turned green from rolling in fox so often.’

‘Now fox, that is something I would like to try.’ Grumbles looked jealous.

‘I will try the Highland cow tomorrow if that is OK?’ Rocky asked Grumbles who was busy sniffing different sections of his own body to see which bit of turd worked best.

‘Yes, that will be fine. I shall stick with horse turd for now – you just can’t beat tradition’ Grumbles finalized and then he and Rocky inhaled deeply to enjoy the scent of ‘Eau de Ca horse shit’.

One of The Julies who had been listening in on the boys conversation; peered over the fence and shook her head. She had never understood why dogs enjoyed rolling in turd of various kinds and actually found it all quite uncouth really.

But then again, dogs like Rocky didn’t really see the point in The Julies because they would not be herded up and would be up at stupid times of the morning wearing leotards and leg warmers to do their cardio workout.

That evening Rocky came inside and curled up next to Brutus. ‘Oh my god you smell of horses, Mum! Rocky smells of horses!’ Brutus barked at me.

He did as well and I am not even joking, he smelt like a stable and looked ridiculously proud of it as well. ‘That my friend, is the finest aftershave a dog can have and will guarantee to get you the bitches.’ Rocky said confidently.

‘I think I prefer the dead kangaroo that we saw on the way down.’ Brutus replied but made a mental note to go and see Grumbles in the morning to get some to take home and so he and Vader the boxer could attract the girls in the local park.

Brutus – a country dog in the making

Brutus as I have mentioned is not a farm dog and he is not a country dog. Brutus is in fact a home-comfort-loving dog, a suburban dog that loves his routine, his toys, his family, his bed and his best friends Vader the boxer and Pippin the Iggy.

The only other thing that Brutus loves as much as the above, is lure coursing with his Italian greyhound gang that he hangs around with. But don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t tried to fit in with the country life and despite wanting a taste of The Julies, he had gone to extraordinary lengths to be a country dog.

On one particular morning Rocky had woken up and had planned to go and spend some time with Grumbles.

Rocky noticed that Brutus was not on his bed, which was unusual for him as he is notoriously lazy for getting out of bed in the morning. Perhaps he had gone for a pee or something, who knows but either way Rocky needed to find out where his brother was.

Walking in to the yard, Rocky said good morning to the two Shetland ponies and told the chickens to ‘piss off’ and made comments about ‘roast chicken dinner on Sunday’ causing them to shake their heads and gossip because chickens are excellent at gossiping.

These chickens really bothered Rocky, especially since ‘Dad’ (my husband) was going in to see them every morning to get their fresh eggs and had declared a liking for ‘his girls’ and said that they had a ‘mutual understanding and respect’ for each other.

The girls

Gossiping chickens wearing (imaginary) frilly aprons

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

On hearing sounds of giggling and raucous laughter, Rocky walked to the next field to see what was going on, only to be greeted by The Julies, some cows, the Highland cow, some goats and the black horse.

‘What is going on guys, have you seen my brother?’ Rocky asked the others.

The Julies were in the paddock doing their morning cardio workout to music while wearing their leg warmers and leotards, sweat bands around their heads and their tight curly fringes completing the look. Giggling loudly, they pointed towards a large brown figure in the distance – the unmistakable shape of Brutus.

‘Is that Brutus?’ Rocky strained his eyes.

Grumbles nodded his head and looked embarrassed and replied ‘Yes, I am afraid it is.’

There was Brutus looking larger than life and twice as clumsy, wearing one of those English ‘Deerstalker’ outfits and doing his very best to look like an English country gentleman out on a hunt.

‘Come on you cows, who would like to be tonight’s supper?’ Brutus shouted in his best English accent, which of course he doesn’t have. Brutus has a strong Australian accent but thought an English accent would go with the deerstalker outfit.

Watching him march along the field like an eccentric Englishman, the cows in the field laughed and made rude gestures with their hooves.

‘Brutus, what the hell are you doing?’ Rocky shouted, ‘You are totally embarrassing yourself!’

‘I am trying to fit in with the countryside and blend in, that is what you wanted wasn’t it?’ Brutus barked back looking upset and then shouted ‘Come on, jolly good effort my good man!’ to a fat black cow with a white bow tie mark on its head.

‘You are not blending in Brutus, quite the opposite!’ Rocky hissed at his brother who was blushing at being told off in front of the cows.

‘You look like an idiot’ The Julies all shouted and started giggling loudly while some of them even took out mobile phones to take a video. One can’t even make a fool of oneself these days without someone recording it on their phone.

‘Who asked you? And you are a fine one to talk, look at the state of your fringes!’ Brutus squealed back at them and flash his arse off at them all making them purse their lips in a ‘cat bum’ shape because they were so offended.

‘Did you hear that? Did he say that? He insulted our fringes!’ Several of The Julies all cried together.

‘How disgusting, that is SO rude.’ One of the cows whispered to the elderly Highland cow who was totally in a world of her own and was busy admiring her horns that she was sure would make good coat hooks.

HighlandCow

‘Did you say something dear?’

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Did you say something dear?’ The cow said absent mindedly in her soft Scottish accent.

‘Well technically he is right, your hair is a bit ridiculous, like something out of the eighties with those perms.’ Grumbles butted in the conversation causing them all to shut their mouths as Grumbles never gets involved unless he is really angry.

‘Does my hair look like a poodle perm?’ The head of The Julies asked the horse who was trying not to snort with laughter.

‘Well now you have come to mention it, yes it does.’ the horse replied and then whinnied at his own daring while the bull in the next field started laughing and shouted ‘Nice one my friend!’

And the talk of poodle perms continued long after Brutus was dragged back home by Rocky and Grumbles to get him out of the Deerstalker outfit before anyone else could laugh at him.

As for The Julies and their fringes, well suffice to say that they never wore their hair down to do their cardio ever again.

Beginners Guide to Backing Sheep

One evening Rocky and Brutus were on their beds while we were watching TV. Brutus had his head buried in a book, which automatically got Rocky’s attention as Brutus never normally read books – he usually ate them instead.

‘What are you reading?’ Rocky asked his brother.

‘Beginners Guide to Backing Sheep.’ Brutus said without even looking up. He looked rather engrossed with his book as well.

Boysinbed

The boys often had bedtime discussions

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘You what? Are you serious?’ Rocky laughed.

Clutching his book close to his chest, Brutus blushed ‘You are not the only one that can be a sheep dog you know, my Dad is a kelpie so technically that makes me half a sheep dog.’

Trying to keep a straight face, Rocky raised his eyebrows and fought back the urge to laugh.

‘OK, tell me what you have learned so far then?’ Rocky insisted.

Brutus stuttered and tried to think of something to say but instead held the book even closer to his body to stop Rocky from reading it.

‘Give me that book!’ Rocky growled and snatched the book from Brutus’s paws and as he did so, another book fell out of the middle on to the floor.

‘Ten ways to cook beef’ Rocky read the cover of the second book and then looked at Brutus ‘are you for real?’

‘I can’t help it, I only have to look at those cows and my mouth waters and I don’t want to herd them up, I want to bite chunks off their bottoms and eat them!’ Brutus burst into tears with shame and embarrassment.

Rocky sat down next to his brother and closed the book up. ‘Look, it is all very well wanting to eat beef, I mean I love beef as much as the next dog but it is not appropriate to stay on a farm and secretly plot recipes on eating the cows that are not ours to eat.’

Brutus said nothing but wiped his eyes and hung his head in shame, ‘You won’t tell them that I wanted to eat them will you?’

Brutusthegoodboy

But why can’t I eat the cows Mum?

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Rocky nudged him affectionately with his snout and said ‘No, of course not but please put those recipe books away as if this gets out they will make your life hell.’

‘Rocky, have you ever wanted to eat anything from the farm?’ Brutus asked his brother.

Thinking how much he would like to eat all of those chickens purely to shut them up, Rocky responded simply ‘Let’s just say that sometimes I would like roast chicken, do you get my drift?’

Brutus laughed and went to the bookcase, a few minutes later he handed Rocky a recipe book titled ‘Ten ways to stuff a chicken.’

‘Where did you get that from?’ Rocky checked out the book.

‘That was my plan B in case the beef recipes didn’t work out’ Brutus laughed, ‘I have one for goats as well.’

And with that both boys snuggled up on their beds to study chicken recipes.

The Revenge of The Julies

Nothing harbours a grudge as much as a pissed off alpaca and The Julies were no exception with this. The rude comments about their fringes plus threats to eat their bottoms had really upset them and the day had come for them to get their revenge on Brutus.

One morning Rocky and Brutus were playing in the garden together when one of the chickens shouted ‘Brutus, you are going to learn how to herd up cattle, I hope you are ready for it!’

‘Who me? Really?’ Brutus gasped with a big smile on his face.

‘Are you sure?’ Rocky asked looking puzzled, after all – trying to teach Brutus to herd up cattle was like trying to polish a turd.

‘Yep, meet us in the far paddock in ten minutes.’ The hen said firmly and then waddled off gossiping to herself because that is what hens do and if they have nobody to gossip with, then they do it with themselves.

‘Gosh I am really going to learn how to herd up cattle like my father – he is a kelpie you know.’ Brutus said to Rocky. Whenever Brutus needed validation of his parentage or to try to reassure himself of his breeding, he would say ‘My father is a kelpie you know’.

Rocky was puzzled, ‘Yes you are and God knows why though, they must be mad.’

While waiting for the livestock to get ready for Brutus, Rocky busied himself around the garden while lifting his leg to take a pee up every single tree and then kicking back with his hind legs to spread the ‘love’, he was enjoying his freedom on the farm and being able to get back to his roots as well as piss on them.

When they got to the field where Brutus was to have his herding lesson, a gang of cows and The Julies were standing around smoking cigarettes and chatting. They had such an air of menace about them that Rocky could not help feel a bit uneasy about what might happen to his brother.

‘Rocky, you can blindfold Brutus and spin him round 300 times and then remove the blindfold and he has to come and find us and herd us up’. One of The Julie’s asked him.

‘That is not how I learned to herd but hey ho, I am used to sheep and not cows and Julies.’ Rocky replied uneasily.

‘Well, this is how we do it on this farm’ A large cow reassured him while The Julies all giggled in high-pitched voices in between puffing on their cigarettes and chewing gum.

‘Are you sure this is right? It is highly irregular and I have never seen this before.’ Rocky barked.

‘Are you a PROPER farm dog or a city dweller?’ One of The Julies snapped bitchily as she noisily popped her bubblegum and checked her manicured hooves.

Rocky snapped that he was a ‘proper farm kelpie and was not a city dweller’ as being referred to as that is a huge insult to any farm dog.

But inwardly this felt wrong to Rocky and in hindsight he should have listened to his gut instincts. He wished that Grumbles was around to ask but so far the farm dog was nowhere to be seen.

So against his better judgment, Rocky blindfolded Brutus and spun him around 300 times. Brutus giggled in his innocent and trusting puppy voice but after a while he squealed ‘I might actually vomit up my dinner if you keep doing that.’

‘Right, let’s hide.’ The Julies whispered and before Rocky could do anything, he was dragged roughly by his collar and hidden behind a tree to watch Brutus try to find his way around in the field.

The Julies and cows scattered far and wide across the field and hid behind suitable trees to watch Brutus. I say ‘suitable’ trees, some of those cows were so fat that a tank could not have disguised them but hey, I am just pissed off with them that they did that to my Brutus.

‘Can I take my blindfold off now?’ Brutus patted his eyes gently with his paws. The sound of silence greeted him and not getting any reply, Brutus pulled off his blindfold and looked around for The Julies and the cows to herd up.

‘We need to tell him where we are.’ Rocky insisted to the cows who did a ‘hush’ gesture with their hooves to make Rocky be quiet as one of The Julies gripped Rocky’s snout firmly so that he couldn’t make any noise.

‘Where are you all?’ Brutus started to panic when he realized that he had been left alone in this field, and then it dawned on him that he was actually quite terrified.

‘Rocky? Where are you? Are you there?’ Brutus looked around for evidence of The Julies or the cows and his brother Rocky.

‘Mum? Are you there? Dad – come and get me, can I go home now? I need a to go for a pee, can you clean my eyes?’ (Brutus always presents his face to me when he wants his eyes cleaning)

‘Where is my Tony Abbott – can I have my Tony Abbott, what about a carrot? I like carrots.’ Brutus rushed his words as he became more frightened.

‘I am a good boy, Brutus is a good boy!’ Brutus kept saying loudly to himself, ‘I won the Good Boy Award at the Iggy club, I know I am a good boy – Denise said I am’ Brutus recited to himself in reassurance that he was in fact a good boy.

He was getting upset now as he kept thinking that he could see some of The Julies behind trees but his eyesight was not brilliant so he couldn’t be sure. Although he was right and it was some of The Julies hiding behind trees but they were just stealth-like in disguise and looked like branches with leg warmers.

‘Guys, this is not funny – he is my brother!’ Rocky snapped when he finally managed to get his snout free from one of The Julies grip. He was getting angry now and as much as Rocky could take the piss out of his brother, nobody else could.

‘Mum? Where are you? Is anyone there? I want my Mum, I want my brother!’ Brutus squealed and then quite suddenly he started to cry.

A loud and very deep voice echoed across the land that morning as Brutus curled up on the floor in a submissive position and howled like a baby – his whole was body rigid and his hind legs twitching and Brutus could not have moved even if he had wanted to.

The farm animals looked uncomfortable as they watched the gentle giant lying on the floor howling and shaking, thinking that he had been abandoned hundreds of kilometers from his home.

The Julies fiddled with their pearl necklaces, bit their lips and looked pretty guilty, the cows had the grace to blush and even the black horse in the next field shook his head at the practical joke that had gone wrong and twitched his back angrily in response and swished his tail.

‘That is my brother in that field and this has gone far enough.’ Rocky growled at a fat cow that at least had some common decency and hung its head in shame.

Grumbles who had just appeared on the scene, had no idea as to what had happened but judging by how distressed Brutus was and how angry Rocky was, it was not good. Leaping over the fence and then limping with his bad hips from the effort, Rocky ran over to Brutus and washed his ears to reassure the brown dog that no, his family had not left him.

‘I thought you had gone, I thought I was going to learn to herd sheep, I thought I had been a bad boy, I don’t think I will make a farm dog, I am so sorry to let you down!’ Brutus sobbed. He was so distraught and upset that he had actually wet himself.

‘Sheep are so overrated Brutus and you are my brother and I would never leave you’ Rocky whispered in his ear, while inwardly seething at The Julies and the cows for their cruel trick but also angry and embarrassed at himself for allowing it to happen.

‘Sorry Brutus, sorry – we can teach you next time about herding. It was only a joke – no harm done mate.’ Stuttered the fattest of cows who was shocked at how upset Brutus was and quite scared of the angry little black kelpie who was ready to not only nip their hooves but bite their bums as well.

‘Back off right now!’ Grumbles shouted to the cows and then growled to The Julies ‘how dare you do that to him, how dare you!’

‘It was a joke.’ The Julies giggled nervously but suffice to say that they felt pretty darned ashamed of themselves.

‘Can we go back to the house?’ Brutus asked Rocky, his voice coming out in loud howls and sobs as Rocky placed a firm black paw on his shoulders to comfort his brother.

‘Yes, we will go back to the house and if you like, we can play with your Tony Abbott doll together.’ Rocky smiled at Brutus who managed a little grin in response.

‘That would be nice.’ Brutus sniffed and wiped his eyes.

TugofTony

Nothing like a game of ‘Tug-of-Tony’

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Rocky?’ Brutus asked – his voice still trembling from all the crying, he had literally run out of ‘sobs’ and his voice was husky from shouting.

‘Yes Brutus?’

‘I wasn’t really scared in that field.’ Brutus whispered.

‘Of course you weren’t, I know that.’ Rocky playfully nudged Brutus with his snout.

Nothing more was said that evening about that incident until both boys were in bed snuggled up. Brutus was wearing his purple spotted pyjamas and was curled up on his bed and Rocky lay on his own bed next to him.

Brutuspyjama

Brutus in his purple pyjamas

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Rocky?’ Brutus asked him.

‘Yes Brutus?’

‘I know I can’t be a farm dog but I am good at some things aren’t I?’ Brutus whispered to his brother.

Rocky didn’t reply straight away but tried to rack his brains as to what Brutus was good at.

‘You are an excellent brother and that is what counts – not sheep herding.’ Rocky replied truthfully.

And that was all Brutus needed to hear, after all it was far better to be a good brother than a sheep herder – according to Rocky and his opinion is what mattered.

Grumbles dealt with the cows and The Julies in his own way and nobody ever knew what he said to them but the shame that they felt for what they did to Brutus was never ever forgotten.

Those darned chickens!

 If I have led you to believe that Rocky had a perfectly harmonious relationship with all the farm animals then I am sorry because although Rocky is a farm dog living in the suburbs and is very good with livestock, he does actually harbor a deep resentment towards chickens as you may have gathered.

The chickens on this farm were like a bunch of old women and would gossip about everything and anything and they would all interrupt each other and discuss their day, which was always the same a bit like ‘Groundhog Day’– except for chickens.

They would dust down the guinea pigs and tidy them up even though they never actually needed to be tidied up. Those poor pigs would make guinea pig noises in protest, as the chickens would organize them like china ornaments.

‘Someone took my eggs this morning, they stole them from my bed and ate them and now I will never have babies of my own and will have to lay more.’ One of the chickens would say every single day without fail, sometimes several times a day in boring repetition.

The other chickens would burst into tears and say in a shrill voice ‘Oh my goodness, that is dreadful – they ate your babies, that is murder!’

Then would come the mammoth egg laying session and each chicken would be highly competitive and see who could push out the largest most fattest egg from wherever they push their eggs out of.

‘Hold on girls, I have a big one here, it is a dinosaur egg, call the Guinness Book of Records!’ one of the girls would shout and the others would all start yelling encouragement.

‘Oh my god, how I pushed this baby out is a miracle I am still alive!’ The chickens would cry and then the others would all stare at the eggs to see which was the largest.

Other stuff like ‘Push that mo-fo out sister!’ or ‘Oh my days you are SO loose down there, you could push out an ostrich egg’ could be heard in the barn as the chickens got over excited by the egg laying process.

Then someone (in this instance my husband) would come along and take the eggs and we would cook them for breakfast and the whole thing would start again with accusations of stealing and eating babies and who could push out the biggest egg or had the ‘widest lady-garden’ (genitals).

Rocky brutally reminding the chickens that as there was no rooster in the pen to give them babies and that the best use of the eggs was in the frying pan and in our bellies. This of course would send the entire gang of chickens into noisy sobs, chickens fainting over the guinea pigs and cries of murder and baby-snatchers.

Why did this bother Rocky? Well because Rocky is a respectable kelpie and cannot stand noise and disorder with chickens. They also never respect the working kelpie and on some farms have even been known to give rude gestures to the most senior of working farm dogs. So that my friends, is why Rocky has no time for them.

‘Do they ever shut up?’ Rocky asked Grumbles the farm dog one evening.

Staring at the group of chickens who were yet again screaming that someone had stolen and eaten their children, Grumbles shook his head and replied simply ‘Nope, and even when I threatened to eat them, that didn’t work either.’

‘Chickens, I just can’t understand them.’ Rocky growled.

‘But they sure taste good roasted.’ Grumbles added and both dogs burst out laughing.

Brutus has his day

The boys

Brothers – through thick and thin

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

It was the day before we were due to go home and Brutus and Rocky were outside. Brutus was in the garden chasing butterflies oblivious to everything else except ‘Planet Brutus’, while Rocky sat on the verandah and kept an eye out for the resident brown snake that lived under the house.

‘Oi, Rocky – you and Brutus have to come to the barn now!’ squawked a green parrot that had just landed on our verandah.

‘Why? Who is asking?’ Rocky replied without even looking up.

‘The bull in the next field and if you know what is good for you, you will get down there quick’ said the parrot and then quickly flew off.

Rocky looked at his brother who was still chasing butterflies and staring up at the sky with his reddish-brown eyes shining, his red-tanned body shining beautifully in the sun, his ears erect, his black snout like well nourished leather, he looked very handsome. Rocky hoped that the farm animals had no more cruel tricks planned for Brutus.

‘But I don’t want to see them, last time they made me cry and I don’t like crying as it makes my heart hurt.’ Brutus stuttered when Rocky told him.

‘I won’t let them do that to you again, I think they have something to say to you.’ Rocky barked.

‘Promise you won’t let them hurt me?’ Brutus’s voice wobbled.

Staring at Brutus who was visibly shaking with nerves, Rocky vowed then and there that it would be over his dead body that anyone would ever hurt him again.

‘I promise, now come on we can’t keep them waiting.’ Rocky held out a slim black paw and placed it on Brutus’s shoulder.

The little kelpie and his giant brown brother walked slowly to the field. ‘I will be OK won’t I?’ Brutus asked Rocky.

Taking a deep breath, Rocky stood next to his brother and growled softly but firmly – ‘I will make sure of it’.

Trusting his brother, Brutus walked with Rocky and took slow steps towards the field where The Julies, the cows, the black horse and Grumbles were waiting for them.

The Julies were huddled together. Looking strangely naked without their leg warmers/sportswear and pearl necklaces or knitted sweaters they stomped their legs in anticipation.

The cows looked pretty serious as well, no horrible comments from them either and even the black horse gave a nod of respect to Brutus who looked back at Rocky for reassurance that everything was OK.

‘So what is this about then?’ Rocky asked Grumbles who was staring hard at The Julies giving them a look that said ‘Don’t stuff this up’.

The biggest of The Julies stepped forward and spoke for the group. ‘As a way of an apology for making you cry the other day, we would like to offer you the opportunity to herd us up so that you can have the experience of being a proper farm dog.’

‘Cry? I did not cry, my eyes just leaked a bit that was all!’ Brutus protested and  whispered to Rocky ‘I SO did not cry, I didn’t you know, my eyes just got wet that was all.’

‘Are you serious, you are going to let Brutus heard you up – YOU – The Julies?’ Rocky asked and then stifled a snigger because it could only end badly.

The Julies all nodded as did the cows, the black horse and Grumbles the farm dog.

‘Oh my god, what do I do? How do I herd them up?’ Brutus panicked when he asked Rocky.

That was a question that Rocky had also asked himself but knew The Julies and the gang were up to something and this time, he totally had to trust him because he trusted Grumbles and he knew Grumbles wanted to make amends on behalf of his livestock.

‘Right, everyone except for The Julies must gather at the end of the paddock and Rocky can give the signal for Brutus to do his bit.’ Grumbles instructed.

It was big news let me tell you now, even the gossiping chickens had stopped talking about their stolen eggs and were hanging round by the fence to see what was happening and the Highland cow had stopped talking about square sausages and other Scottish stuff to have watch the event because that was exactly what it was – an event.

‘He will never do it, he won’t be able to resist wanting to eat them.’ One of the young cows in the field opposite said to its friend who agreed.

A group of green parrots had gathered on the fence to have a look and even the goats in the next field had tried to stuff their heads through the fence to get a good view.

‘Go on lad, this is your time and you can trust me, you can trust them – there will be no tricks.’ Rocky said solemnly to his brother.

‘I am a good boy, Mum said I am a good boy, Rocky am I a good boy? I won the Good Boy Award at the Iggy club that was made for me didn’t I?’ Brutus asked Rocky and in turn tried to reassure himself.

Rocky smiled at the large clumsy young dog and remember the times that he had to hump him to put him in his place, the times that he pissed on his head or bit him to tell him off and made him cry. Yes, he most certainly was a good boy and a good brother.

‘I know you are a good boy, now go and show The Julies how good you are.’ Rocky said and taking a big breath, gently pushed Brutus towards The Julies who were taking deep breaths to calm themselves.

‘I am scared, I hope he doesn’t eat my bum, I quite like my bum.’ one of The Julies whispered to the other.

‘Come on girls, you know what you have to do.’ Grumbles said to them and at that point, all the other animals stepped back leaving Brutus to have his day.

‘After a count of three, I want you to scatter’ Grumbles shouted, ‘One, Two, Three – Scatter!’

The Julies scattered and ran in different directions round the field like a bunch of woolly jumpers on legs.

‘Brutus – off you go lad – round them up now and do your best.’ Grumbles said to Brutus and then winked at him.

Brutus froze on the spot, his huge eyes darting around for an escape and torn between being half kelpie and half Rhodesian ridgeback, he didn’t know whether to herd them up or eat them.

‘He can’t do it, he is too scared – he has lost it now, I knew he would but hoped he wouldn’t fall apart.’ the black horse sighed and shook his head at such a lost opportunity.

‘Come on Brutus, you can do it’ Rocky said under his breath and willed the big fella to snap out of his fear and prove the others wrong.

Brutus could see the top of Rocky’s huge ears that all kelpies had and even Brutus had inherited his fathers kelpie ears, so surely that meant he could be as good as anyone in herding?

‘I am a good boy, I am a GOOD boy, I AM a good boy!’ Brutus repeated to himself and as he glanced up, he could see the faces of The Julies, the cows, the black horse, the parrots, the goats, the cows in the other field, Grumbles the farm dog and most importantly – Rocky, his brother who loved him no matter what.

The other animals looked almost resigned to the fact that Brutus would waste this opportunity and let fear and nerves get the better of him and were about to walk away and give up on the big brown dog.

As they slowly started to walk back to their trees in the paddock, only Rocky remained firm. Staring at Brutus so hard that he could have almost bore holes into him; Rocky willed the dog to act.

‘I think it is time to go and I must say I am quite relieved’ one of The Julies said gratefully and patted her curly hair between her ears just like some elderly women pat their curls.

‘Come on Rocky, it’s not going to happen – he simply is not cut out for it.’ Grumbles the farm dog said quietly to Rocky.

But the little black kelpie totally believed in his brother and refused to move until Brutus proved him right.

‘Jesus Christ, he is coming!’ said another one of The Julies.

‘I don’t know what to do, do you think now would be a good time to pray?’ asked the smallest of The Julies as she gripped her bum in anticipation of it being bitten.

Slowly but surely, there was Brutus trying so hard to remember what Rocky had taught him when he showed him to herd up tennis balls and toys in the garden.

‘Hold on a minute Grumbles, didn’t you tell The Julies to herd themselves up and let Brutus think it was him? I thought you said the big brown fella was as good a herder as a chocolate fireguard?’ The black horse demanded.

‘Yes I did tell them to herd themselves as he hasn’t a clue about herding.’ Grumbles said in a shocked voice.

‘Well he has had you fooled, because he looks like he has done this before.’ a green parrot piped up from the fence.

‘Well I will be damned, you are right, here he comes!’ Grumbles said triumphantly and one by one the other farm animals turned back round to see Brutus and what he was capable of.

‘Go round the outside, bring them in tight, make the circle small and always watch out for the outsider.’ Brutus said loudly to himself.

‘Bugger me, he has remembered, I never thought he even listened, let alone remembered.’ Rocky barked.

‘Well I thought The Julies were going to herd themselves in, I never thought that Brutus could do it either!’ Grumbles looked shocked.

The gossiping chickens were so taken aback by what they were watching, they stopped accusing people of stealing and eating their babies and were now talking about Brutus who would no doubt, provide them with enough to chat about for months to come – or at least until their eggs were removed the next day.

‘That is my butt, you leave my butt alone!’ The Julies all squealed, as Brutus got a bit over enthusiastic about nipping their bums.

‘You are meant to nip their feet not their arses!’ Rocky shouted to Brutus who yelled something back about him being too tall to bend down and get their feet plus their bums tasted quite nice thank you.

‘One has got away!’ Grumbles shouted to Brutus who clearly didn’t hear him, ‘I wonder if he will notice?’

Rocky’s heart was beating so fast that he thought it might stop, ‘Please notice Brutus, The Julie is behind the tree.’

As if reading his mind, Brutus looked round to see one of The Julies trying the stealth trick of hiding behind a tree and immediately recognized it as the one that was really horrible to him and made him cry the other day.

‘Move and I will eat your bum and use your wool as a cat blanket for my brother Gordon!’ Brutus hissed to The Julies that were already in a tight circle from where Brutus had herded them up.

Disgusted at such language and terrified of the threats, The Julies remained in their circle, too scared to move or talk as he meant business and they knew it. Then running up to the tree Brutus walked purposely to The Julie that was hiding from him.

‘What you did to me was nasty and cruel and I did not deserve it. If I wanted to eat you right now, then I could do so quite easily.

‘And whilst I know I am not a pedigree farm dog, I will have you know that I can run in a straight line in lure coursing and I have also won The Good Boy Award and if you don’t believe me, you can ask Pippin’s Mum.

‘So you can jolly well respect me and get your fat woolly butt back to the others and do it now please.’ Brutus growled at The Julie.

Without saying a word The Julie immediately ran off to the rest of the group but not before Brutus took a good nip at her bottom, purely as payback for making him cry.

‘Did I just see that? He has only gone and done it.’ Rocky gasped as Grumbles wagged his tail furiously.

‘He has done it! He has brought in The Julies!’ shouted the black horse to the Highland cow who had fallen asleep and missed it all (old ladies do that you see – fall asleep at critical moments and they also fart as they walk along to the toilet and smell of wet bum).

The cows were all cheering, the goats, the two Shetland ponies and the sheep in fact everything including the green parrots on the side of the fence. Brutus ran back towards Rocky as the other farm animals clapped for him. Rocky who has bad hips and can’t walk very fast let alone run, had started to run towards Brutus to meet him halfway.

Limping and with stiff gait, Rocky didn’t care about his own discomfort, he cared about nothing except getting to his brother – HIS brother and he was proud of him. He hobbled up to Brutus and greeted him by cleaning his ears, wagging of tails and urinating on his head.

‘This is my brother Brutus!’ Rocky shouted to everyone as he fought back the tears and stood as close to Brutus as he could. Their tails wagged fast and high and just for one second, they were oblivious to every farm animal around them and only had eyes for each other and what Brutus had achieved.

‘Am I a sheepdog now?’ Brutus asked Rocky.

‘Well you can herd up The Julies and that is close enough.’ Rocky laughed, ‘and what is more you should be very proud of yourself’.

The Julies remained in the tight herded circle in the field, too scared to move after Brutus had threatened to eat them.

‘Are you OK?’ one Julie said to another.

‘I think so, I have some wool taken off my bottom, and does my bottom look bald?’ The Julie asked the rest of the group.

‘It just looks like you have been Brutus-fied!’ Snorted the black horse as the other animals all burst out laughing at the new term ‘Brutus-fied’.

‘He’s not bad your brother.’ Grumbles admitted to Rocky.

‘Yes, he is a good lad is Brutus.’ Rocky agreed.

The chickens who were still hanging out by the edge of their chicken run, rather reminded me of old ladies wearing feather aprons while gossiping at church about the evils of unmarried mothers.

‘Someone stole my babies.’ one of the chickens clucked loudly causing the others to shout in sympathy that their babies had also been stolen and eaten.

Rocky walked past just as the chickens were about to launch into a meltdown and growled at them ‘Two words – roast chicken!’

‘Did he just say roast chicken?’ one chicken screeched to another who fanned her beak with her wing feathers and pretended to faint.

Rocky didn’t wait to see or hear the aftermath about his ‘roast chicken’ comment but from what Grumbles told him, it kept them busy for a few days until they got back on the topic of egg-theft again.

And just as it all ended, the Highland cow decided to wake up. Looking confused and sleepy, she said in her gentle Scottish accent ‘what have I missed my dear, is it time for tea?’

Later that night

 Brutus and Rocky were in bed – both of them full of the excitement from the day. Brutus could not wait to see his beloved friend Vader the boxer to tell him about everything.

‘Rocky do you think I could turn professional and do herding for a living, The Julies loved me I am sure.’

Rocky remembering that several of The Julies had gone back to the stable with bald bottoms after being ‘Brutus-fied’, thought that the word ‘love’ was perhaps too strong a description for Brutus’s herding skills.

‘Oh you don’t want to be professional, it is too much like hard work and you would have to work sheep in the rain and you would have to be up super early and you know how much you hate early starts.’ Rocky said convincingly.

‘Oh I don’t mind that, no pain no gain as they say.’

‘You can’t take Tony Abbott herding you know, they would laugh at you.’ Rocky added quickly.

Brutus frowned ‘Yeah you are right, but I guess it is a skill I can always fall back on.’

And with that Rocky had to be satisfied as every alpaca in Western Australia would also be grateful at that decision.

Going home

 ‘Have you got everything?’ Rocky asked Brutus as the bags were packed to go home.

‘I think so, hold on – where is my Tony Abbott doll?’ Brutus panicked.

‘It is in the bag, Mum packed it ages ago along with my gingerbread man.’ said Rocky.

Brutus nodded gratefully and then glanced around the house to see that nothing had been forgotten.

‘Right then boys, come to the car as we have a long drive ahead of us.’ Brutus’s Dad said firmly.

‘I don’t want to wear my harness.’ Brutus cried as he was strapped in. ‘Rocky doesn’t wear a harness, he has a seat belt clip – can I have a seat belt clip?’

‘That is because Rocky sits nicely in the car and you don’t and as the journey is 5.5 hours, we can’t have you fidgeting around in the car.’ I replied and made sure his harness was secure.

Doing his usual pout, Brutus looked sulky as he stared out of the car window while making doggy ‘nose art’ on the windows. As he stared longingly at the vast expanse of farm land, he spotted Grumbles the farm dog, the gossipy chickens, The Julies, the black horse, the cows, the Highland cow (with horns you could hang a coat on), the bull, the Shetland ponies, some sheep, some goats and several green parrots all lined up outside the house to wave goodbye.

‘Rocky look at this!’ Brutus poked Rocky in the ribs to get his attention.

‘Don’t push your luck by poking me Turd Legs; you know I don’t like it. What do you want me to look at?’ Rocky growled. He always hated it when he had to go back home for any of his holidays.

‘The animals!’ Brutus pointed to the fields and the yard.

‘What animals?’ Rocky barked.

‘THOSE animals!’ Brutus banged on the window to show Rocky.

As the car slowed down, Brutus and Rocky stuck their heads out of the windows and strained their necks to get a good look.

Grumbles the farm dog fronted up the gang and walked up to the car and said ‘It’s been good having you on our farm lads, you are welcome any time.’ and then nodded his head firmly as a mark of respect.

One by one the animals all nodded in agreement and started to cheer their support. Even The Julies were joining in except for occasionally grabbing their bottoms at the sight of Brutus.

‘Even me Grumbles? Am I welcome back here?’ Brutus asked Grumbles.

Grumbles looked long and hard at Brutus, remembering how hard he tried to fit in, how he stood up to The Julies and how he had such faith in his brother Rocky, he tried his best and managed to herd The Julies in the field.

‘Especially you Brutus.’ Grumbles smiled.

Looking embarrassed as he always does when someone pays him a compliment, Brutus put his head down in the car so the others couldn’t see him blushing.

‘Watch those hips kelpie boy, they are your only mobility so don’t you go mad chasing those tennis balls.’ Grumbles waved at Rocky.

Rocky grinned ‘I will be back next year and I will have those cows organized in no time.’

‘Catch ya later Julies’ Rocky laughed at The Julies, ‘And keep up the cardio work!’

Waving so vigorously that their leg warmers slipped down, The Julies giggled at Rocky ‘It’s been lovely having you!’

Brutus and Rocky kept their snouts stuffed out of the window as we drove the car out of the driveway away from the farm.

Several of the animals trotted after it until they reached the fence until it was only Grumbles and a couple of parrots that followed us until the end of the driveway as the car rattled along the unsealed path to the main road and eventually disappeared.

‘Back to normal I guess.’ sighed Grumbles.

‘Yep, let’s go and wait for the next lot of visitors – I wonder what they will be like?’ one of the parrots asked.

‘Not like Brutus, that’s for sure.’ Grumbles replied.

And that was something they all agreed upon.

Back home

 After the five-hour drive back home, the boys had run straight out into the garden to check that nothing had been moved and no invisible dogs had pissed on their favourite trees.

‘That invisible GSD has been digging again!’ Rocky looked accusingly at the hole he had completely forgotten digging before we went.

‘Brutus is that you? Are you back?’ A voice came from behind the fence – it was Brutus’s friend Vader the boxer who spoke with a fat tongue which has been compared to a Christmas ham.

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Brutus and his friend Vader

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Vader! Yes, we had a marvelous time. You will never guess what I did?’ Brutus blurted out, unable to contain himself. You know what it is like when you come back from holiday, you can’t wait to relive every single detail several times until your friends have virtually relived the experience in your stories.

Brutus chattered away to Vader through a gap in the fence, telling him all about his time with The Julies, the cows, the horses and Grumbles the farm dog. Vader of course hung on to Brutus’s every single word.

By the time Brutus had told his story, he had convinced both himself and Vader that he was a fully trained up farm dog with an ability to herd up anything on the farm and was now in demand for the ‘Herding Championships’ (Brutus invented that).

Rocky briefly thought about correcting him, but only briefly as he already had plans to tell Gordon that he had driven the tractor and had conquered the chickens.

Dreams – they are free and we can all have them, especially our pets.

Rockytractor

Rocky driving a rusty old tractor – so he believes

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

The End.

Samantha Rose – Copyright August 2018 ©

 

Adrenal Insufficiency and Kissing Frogs to Find that Prince

doctor pointing at tablet laptop

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

As some of you may be aware, I have seen a couple of endocrinologists to date for my adrenal insufficiency and I have not connected with either of them. Some may call it ‘Doctor Shopping’, some may say that it is me with the problem because shock horror, every doctor is the right doctor aren’t they and how dare we question them?

Well the answer to that is no, and not all endocrinologists are equal when it comes to adrenal insufficiency – or any endocrine problem for that matter. Because at the end of the day, medical knowledge on any specialty does not begin and end at medical school. It extends to continuing professional development, an open mind and a belief that not all patients fit the standard.

So no, I do not call it ‘Doctor Shopping’, I call it exercising the right to a medical consultation while being treated with understanding, belief and respect.

My Journey

If you have read my previous blogs you will know that my journey with adrenal insufficiency has been a bumpy one and one that was frequently dipping to the area of denial and an intense love-hate relationship with my steroids. If you haven’t read these blogs, here is the link if you fancy reading them. Mind you, they don’t make for exciting reading and you could end up sobbing into your coffee and eating custard creams.

My Blogs on Adrenal Insufficiency

I have had years (and I mean almost six years) of attempts to wean, 1mg every month, 1mg every 2 months, 0.5mg every month, every two months and more recently 0.5mgs every three months. It has been tiring, draining and more to the point it has taken its toll on me mentally as you can probably imagine.

Adrenal insufficiency can give some very specific symptoms when it comes to low cortisol. Symptoms that many doctors disregard because they may not have been listed or studies done to prove them. Now that is fair enough, one can only go on what knowledge one has acquired but then again, the patient should not be dismissed when they report what is happening to them either.

I recall telling one doctor how I was (still am) highly sensitive to bright lights and loud noises and smells. The smell of coffee beans is overpowering to me and everything that I smell is exaggerated. I told him how I get an ache in the tops of my thighs (usually when I would try and reduce my steroids), I told him how I was easily startled with sudden loud noises if they woke me up at night.

‘Those symptoms are not caused by adrenal insufficiency’, was his somewhat blunt response.

It was only when I confided with some people in a support group that I realised that I was not the only one to be hypersensitive to things, or get that awful ache in the tops of my thighs. More to the point, I was not the only one that had my symptoms disregarded and been made to feel like an idiot by the very professionals that were meant to assist me.

Another specialist suggested in the nicest possible way that perhaps I took the odd 4mgs of hydrocortisone for ‘euphoria’ and no, I am not joking about that either. Believe me on this one, if I wanted euphoria then my book reaching the bestseller list on Amazon would do that, or perhaps a ticket to Namibia or even meeting the singer Usher (I love Usher, like proper fan-girl crush) – but 4mgs of hydrocortisone for shits and giggles? I don’t think so.

Promising myself that I would never see another Endocrinologist again, I continued to try and manage my condition while holding down a full time job and waking up at 5am each and every morning thinking that I had gone to Hell in a basket.

What makes this whole thing even harder to deal with is the fact that there is no end in sight. No respite from symptoms, no patient education and support, no protocols in place and no clear cut treatment pathway to assist me other than instructions of taking my preds once a day and everything should be fine (once a day would be fabulous but I have to split my doses into four times a day as they only last a few hours).

So what now?

A few months back I was given a name of a specialist who is reportedly very good. I sat on that info for a couple of months, wondering if I could muster the courage and energy to make contact – you can’t blame me for being cautious.

But as the old saying goes ‘You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince’ – not that I am planning on kissing any endocrinologists of course. I will just settle for an open minded, compassionate doctor, a treatment plan and a way of making my prednisone doses last longer than three hours.

Wish me luck.

Samantha Rose Copyright August 2018 ©

 

 

 

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.

Kev May 18

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