Every Donkey has his ‘day’

ImageGood morning! – Donkey surveys his new home in Perth

Donkey’s side of the story

Who is Donkey?

Donkey sat in his cage at Perth airport in the Australian Air Express depot, he could feel his SAFE scarf tied around his neck, his thin canvas collar with a small SAFE tag containing his animal number – that was it, the sum total of his identity.

Even he was beginning to question who he was, all he knew was that he was Donkey, his first owner had died, his second one was unable to keep him, neither had de-sexed him so his burning desire to mate with every female dog in Karratha had blighted his life somewhat.

He knew he had stayed at a couple of foster homes that had cared for him very well, he knew that some things were just too tempting – like Pad Thai noodles and rummaging through everyone’s bins and he knew that Sue’s dog Malcolm was ‘top dog’ and there was only room for one top dog and it couldn’t be him.

He knew that he was going on a plane to Perth where a lady called Samantha had her heart set on adopting him to share her life with a black kelpie dog called Rocky and a ginger cat from the UK called Gordon – and although he didn’t know it yet, he wasn’t going to like Gordon.

So who is Donkey? What does Donkey have to his name?  Well ALL Donkey has to his name is in fact, his name – and his collar, scarf and SAFE tag.

Donkey’s arrival

Donkey was met with hugs and kisses from Samantha, he wagged his tail – he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to but he did it anyway, it was sort of obligatory.  He was sure his previous ‘crimes’ were written all over his head – bin rummaging, being cheeky to alpha male Malcolm dog, escaping, mating with the local bitches, Samantha could see his naughty crimes and he was sure of it.

He wanted to smarten himself up, he wanted to straighten his thin canvas collar and polish his tag and smooth his prickly beard but he looked scruffy, he looked tatty and really at the end of the day, you cant polish a turd.

Suddenly his collar and SAFE tag seemed the most important thing in the world to him, they ware all he had aside from his name, his history was a sad one and hardly something he could brag about and he dare not tell anyone that he was a food thief and a bin raider.  So all he had to his name, was his collar, his scarf and his SAFE tag and of course, his name – Donkey.

The journey home made him feel sick, how long would he be in this home for, how long could he behave himself for – could he resist the bins and the rubbish?  He felt himself being hugged by Samantha and kept giving her a somewhat grateful lick on her face and he enjoyed listening to Tori’s high pitched girly voice as she drove them towards his new home.

Home sweet home!

Donkey was greeted by a sleek black kelpie wearing a nice red collar and a dog tag.  Instantly he felt envious, this dogs collar had a history, it was covered in mud, his tags chewed and scratched – yes, Rocky had a history, he had his name, his collar, his tags and a history.

After that initial walk and introduction on neutral ground, Rocky and Donkey were finally allowed to meet off the leash in the garden.  Donkey had found a squeaky purple bone – that he wanted to claim it for his own, it could be his and the start of his new life would revolve around the purple bone. Unbeknown to him, Abdel had bought him that bone just for him.

Watching the curious young kelpie come towards him, Donkey let out a growl that said ‘bugger off, it’s mine’ – Rocky not being used to sharing his garden and toys and generally being rubbish at ‘speaking dog’, did not read the signals and continued to try and take the bone.

In a flash, Donkey attacked him – he had to, it was survival for this little desert dog to defend what he felt was rightfully his, his primal instincts kicked in and he fought with Rocky who was shocked, surprised and not sure how to react – a bit like a street kid fighting with a posh kid over a train set.

Samantha sat back and let it happen, why did she do that? Because it HAD to happen, boundaries had to be established, both dogs made noise, both dogs were ‘mouthed’ and both dogs had saliva over them and both dogs were visibly shaken after their altercation and stood looking confused as it was over as quickly as it started.

Donkey left the bone, Rocky left Donkey and Samantha checked to see that neither of them were hurt – they weren’t (except for their pride).

Convinced that was it, second crime committed (first was trying to attack Gordon the cat), his copybook was blotted, he just knew he would be sent away, he could feel his thin canvas collar on his neck, he could feel his SAFE scarf and the tag and he knew he still had his name – he was Donkey, ‘they’ could send him anywhere and he would still be Donkey and more to the point, his ‘crime sheet’ was growing and would follow him wherever he went.

New ‘clothes’

Samantha called him over and he felt her hands on his neck, he heard the ‘click’ of his collar and felt it loosen as it was removed from him, he had already removed his SAFE scarf earlier and buried it in the mud so he could pretend that he never was a rescue dog and he could start afresh, providing he wasn’t sent away for being naughty.

In its place, Samantha clipped on a smart thin green camouflage collar on his neck and on that collar was a huge silver heavy tag with the Australian flag on one side and his details on the other and the biggest thing engraved on the collar was his name ‘Donkey’.

Quivering with excitement, Donkey wanted to cry – his very own proper collar with his name on it.  He wanted to stare at it, to touch it, he liked to hear it ‘jingle’ as he shook his head but more to the point, he was also aware of the little kelpie staring at him, confused – why was HIS owner making a fuss of the NEW dog that had already bashed him for trying to take a toy?

The little dog was only too aware of the pressure to try and behave so he could keep his home – the stakes were high and he knew it.

That night

Donkey had his own area – the BBQ area as it was too early to leave Rocky and Donkey together.  He had also been given his own kennel – he had never had his own kennel before, what did he do with this large plastic house with a blanket in it? Did he sleep in it or chew it?

Beside the kennel was a camp bed with a quilt on it and next to that a large shiny silver food bowl and an even larger bowl of water and next to the kennel, a giant hide chew – was that really for him, was he still a foster dog or was this his home?

That night he was allowed in the laundry room, he could see Gordon the cat staring at him through the baby gate, he wanted to chase Gordon – the large fat ginger rat/cat but something about Samantha’s face told him he couldn’t, self control on this issue posed a big problem and Donkey had in fact built his own ‘fence’ to stop him going in to the living room to sit with his family, because quite simply – he could not be trusted.

He could feel his tummy rumbling, he was hungry, he glanced round looking for bins to empty and food cupboards to look through and wondered if there were any tasty morsels he could find?

Samantha came into the laundry room, she looked upset as though she had been crying.  What had he done aside from fight Rocky and go to attack the cat?  Surely his naughty thoughts could not have been discovered by Samantha, he was terrified to move, he was scared to be a normal dog so he did the typical rescue dog thing, where they don’t know what to do or how to behave so they do nothing.

Donkey sat down and wagged the tip of his tail, he wasn’t sure whether or not he should wag it, but he did anyway.  Samantha sat beside him and she was crying – what had he done, had he upset her? He licked her face frantically to say ‘sorry’ for whatever it was he had done since he arrived.

He felt her arm go around him and he wriggled his small tan and white body and pressed it against hers and washed her face – it tasted salty, he would say ‘sorry’ anyway as he may have been naughty and not realized it.

‘We have a rule in this house’ Samantha said in between wiping her eyes, ‘And that rule is that no animal should ever go hungry, so do you know what I am going to do now?’

Donkey didn’t know, so he licked her face again.

‘I am going to feed you again’ and with that she placed some biscuits in his bowl. Samantha had heard of Donkey’s habit of bin raiding and knew of his food issues.

Should he eat them? Was it a trick? Was he meant to eat them? And more to the point, were they Pad Thai noodles?

Temptation got the better of him as he sniffed the gravy dust from the large dog biscuits and within a few seconds, the bowl of biscuits were gone and the bowl was clean.  He licked her face again, his beard brown from gravy dust and damp from drooling.

Bedtime

Donkey sat on his camp bed, not sure whether or not to go in this kennel that was supposedly now his, he had decided to sleep on the camp bed instead.  Rocky was kept inside that night to allow Donkey to relax in his new environment.

The kookaburras made their noisy call, the last call of the magpies and the odd Carnaby’s cockatoo could be heard and then aside from the cars going up/down the main road, it was silent – just Donkey – and his collar, tag and the purple bone which had magically reappeared by his kennel.

Donkey curled up to make himself as small as possible, it wasn’t cold but he shivered anyway.  You see dogs that have gone from home to home including foster homes become unsettled and separation anxiety can set in, it is nobodies fault, just one of those things and each new home can add to the issues and Donkey had some issues.

He could feel his collar around his neck, his SAFE scarf had gone – buried in the mud somewhere, but he could feel the weight of his new tag and that weight was heavy, he had to be on his best behavior.  This place was cold compared to Karratha, it was new, it smelt different, even the dogs looked different and whom, I ask, gave a cat THAT many rights that it could live in the whole house and not be confined like Donkey?

The little/big dog did a loud sigh, his purple squeaky bone was held tightly between his paws, and even in his sleep, Samantha could periodically hear him squeaking that bone as if to remind him where he was, or was it to remind him it was his toy, or that he was in his new home?  Donkey – he now not only had his name, his new collar, his tag and his new home – he had a new toy as well, his identity was growing.

Donkey’s story – to be continued

Samantha’s Story – Donkey Diaries

Image

Donkey and I get acquainted

Tori and I were at Perth airport, waiting to be seen by AAE, we stood outside and peered through the gates to see if we could see Donkey.

‘There he is!’ I yelled to Tori as I spotted this little/big dog sitting in his cage, appearing as chilled out as can be, with his paws crossed and a bottle of water between them.He wagged his tail and then just stared at us, did he want to come home with me – he barely showed a reaction.

We were taken through to the holding pen where I had to remove him from his cage, his whole body wriggled and his tail wagged and I felt him lick my neck as though I were his long lost owner.  He smelt of bones, meat and ‘dog’ if you know what I mean, we all have our own smell and that was Donkey’s smell.

He wore a thin black canvas collar, a blue SAFE scarf tied neatly round his neck and he had a SAFE dog tag on with his animal number.  This was my new dog – Donkey.

I won’t bore you with the journey home, I am sure Donkey has told you his version and that will do for me.

Gordon

Gordon was sitting on the sofa as we walked in and although Donkey was on a tight leash, he made a very quick grab for Gordon, no growling – nothing, just opened his mouth and lunged at him, tapping him on the snout and saying ‘No!’ in a loud voice, I removed him from the living room, feeling shaken – I mean everyone loves Gordon and now I had brought in an animal that wanted to eat him.

‘That is not a good reaction’ I said to Tori, feeling upset, Gordon however had refused to run away and stared Donkey straight in the eye and told him to ‘piss off’ but I think even Gordon was rattled at how quickly Donkey went for him, basically had Donkey been off the leash he would have killed him.  Trouble is, Gordon was right by the door when we walked in – but anyway, it’s over and done with.

Now as many of you know or if you read my ‘Sjogrens Diaries’, you will now that I am quite sick with an auto immune disease and I take steroids, anti malarials and a low dose chemo drug to suppress my immune system so I am not that best equipped to deal with stress really.

The build up to getting Donkey had been so intense and picking him up the day after my methotrexate injection (which always leaves me tired), had sort of brought things to a head. As you can imagine the reaction with Gordon had left me shaken with feelings of ‘what the fuck have I done’ – how could I keep them separate, I had even worked through the scenario of Donkey killing Gordon and what would I do as it would all be my fault.  I had lived and played out every possible scenario and to be quite frank, I was exhausted.

With regards to Rocky, I had expected a fight to break out, it is normal canine behavior to establish boundaries but I never realized how much it would effect me seeing my kelpie have to defend his patch, when in fact I should have also realized that Rocky is not a dominant male and one of them has to be and really, Donkey is the better candidate for the role.  The only thing that Rocky dominates is his rubber chicken and even now, the head has been bitten off that (thank you Donkey).

So seeing my new dog go for my cat and establish himself as new pack leader in my garden all in the space of two hours was not only upsetting, but exhausting as well for me.  Normally the day after my Methotrexate injection I usually rest, not act as referee between animals and the whole day had left me feeling drained, both mentally and physically.

What have I done?

I don’t know about any of you that have rescued animals but have you ever had the ‘what the fuck have I done?’ moments when you have got your new pet home?  The excitement of actually acquiring the cat/dog has worn off – he/she is home, it is now down to you to iron out bad habits, raise them, discipline them and get them to blend in with your family.

It is also worth remembering that when someone is in your home or you in theirs, you are all on best behavior because you know how to behave.  Well a rescue dog doesn’t know how to behave and just because he/she is in your home, bad and undesirable habits can often be displayed quite early on in the relationship and instead of earning your trust and respect, you have to earn theirs – despite the naughty stuff that incidentally, falls down to you to sort out.

I fell asleep on the sofa and woke up some hours later, my mouth was so dry, my eyes itchy and burning, my joints swollen as I had some sun exposure that day and it was typical Sjogrens syndrome symptoms of waking up feeling shit.  Then I had that moment of realization – there was an extra dog in my garden, my new dog and he had a tag with his name and my address on it, he had an identichip that linked back to me and his council rego papers had been paid for – Donkey my new dog that had already tried to eat the cat and fight Rocky.  What the fuck had I done?

And with those thoughts, I burst into tears (well I don’t produce tears but you get my drift) and I cried like a baby until my ribs ached, my throat hurt and my arms went numb – the past few weeks had caught up with me and let’s just say those emotions – well they well and truly kicked my arse.

I crept to the laundry room where Donkey was lying down with his hind legs splayed out in a frog like pose behind him, he looked up at me nervously – let me tell you now that dogs pick up ALL of our feelings, our own behavior and emotions, even our bad moods.

Donkey’s tail wagged a little and as I looked into his eyes, he sat up and washed his empty food bowl and then looked at me.  I felt this overwhelming feeling of sadness that I was not up to the job of giving this little guy a good home and that he had already been through so much, he was better off somewhere else.

Donkey looked down at his bowl, licked it and looked up at me again.

Image

Please Sir, I want some more

I went in to the laundry room and sat on the floor and started crying again, I felt ill, I felt exhausted, I felt tired from the Methotrexate injection, I was tired of all the medication I had to pump into myself in order to function and now I had adopted a problem dog that hated my cat and had ousted my kelpie from his position in the household.

And with those thoughts I carried on crying for some time until I felt Donkey washing my face frantically and giving me one of his huge, chunky and rather deformed paws.  ‘What the fuck have I done?’ I kept repeating in between Donkey face licks.

What did we both have – I had a problem dog, my ill health, my home, my husband, my kelpie and my cat and my temp job, Donkey had his name, his tag, his collar and at the moment – his new home, everything and I mean everything seemed so damned fragile.

Trying to compose myself, I stared at Donkey and told him that in our house no animal ever goes hungry and then placed some biscuits in his bowl, as I watched him hesitate and then hunger get the better of him (rescue dogs often have food issues if they haven’t had a regular mealtime or have been in a few homes, it does NOT always mean they have been made to go hungry), he wolfed down his biscuits and then said thank you with a damp and smelly kiss and wiping his gravy dust beard on my face.

Later that night Abdel came home and met Donkey and it was agreed that he was cute and also agreed that he must be kept away from Gordon at all costs.

Donkey was put to bed in the BBQ area with a few more biscuit and his hide chew and his new purple squeaky bone, Rocky was cuddled and reassured that he was the ‘Number one boy’ and I had a shower and cried some more because I felt so ill from medication, and emotional from the entire day.

It was 2am when I heard it – the squeaking of a toy, every half an hour or so that purple bone would squeak – not very loudly but enough to hear it.  And even I knew that it was probably Donkey using it to comfort himself and tell himself that he was still here – in a strange place that was meant to be his home.

6am the next morning

I woke up feeling better, heaps better, I had a mouth full of ulcers and my eyes were sore but that is the nature of my illness.  Then it hit me – shit, I had a new dog that hated my cat and those awful visions of potential problems that had not occurred yet were still haunting me.

Creeping out to the garden to let Rocky out, I nervously peered over the BBQ area and was shocked to see Donkey still fast asleep on his camp bed, he had made himself so small it wasn’t true and in between his paws held quite tightly, was his purple rubber bone.

‘Donkey’ I said calmly, and then repeated it a little louder ‘Donkey’

He opened his eyes, looked somewhat confused and then jumped up to greet me, I opened the gate and he ran out to the lawn to play with Rocky, both dogs seemed to forget that I was there and proceeded to play for a few minutes, chewing on each other, posturing and sparring together.  Donkey glanced up at me, then ran over and licked my hand and went back to playing with Rocky.

Image

And from that very moment I decided to take one day at a time, Donkey was here living in our house, Gordon was still OK and it was down to us to protect him, Rocky had accepted Donkey as the alpha male and we were all about to go on a steep learning curve.

I stared at Donkey for some time after he had finished playing, do we look like his owners, are we up to the job and does he look like ‘our dog’?

ImageDonkey, with his collar and his tag (and his name)

Who knows, but it is a case of one day at a time and friendships are not built in a day, nothing becomes ‘home’ in a day and everything worth having takes time and effort.  Besides, if I am honest, the only thing that Rocky was in charge of was his rubber chicken and was never ‘top dog’ material so perhaps it is me that is more upset at him being ‘ousted’ as top dog and not Rocky who admittedly was in dire need of canine guidance.

And you know what? I think we just might be OK – baby steps and all that.

Until next time..

Note: I am not asking for opinions on dog training – I am taking advice from my vet regarding this.   I am just writing this diary to express what I am feeling and how I am finding this process as I am sure I am not alone in the roller coaster that is involved in adopting a new pet.

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright 2013

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