Quite Simply – Menopause

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Just because the sun sets on one stage in our lives, it will always rise in another

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

There, I have said it – the very word that many women deny all involvement with or are embarrassed to even say, preferring the words ‘I am at that time of life’ or ‘a lady of a certain age’ but very few will say ‘Hey sweetie, I am in the menopause – let’s have an ovary party and celebrate the retirement of my reproductive organs’

I wonder if there is there an element of embarrassment associated with this time of a woman’s life?  Has society got some unwritten rule that it should not be discussed and to do so is like admitting that you are on the slippery slope down to old age, incontinence, big knickers and genitals like Wallace and Gromit’s mouth (letter box).

I recall once having a discussion about menopause (you know, just women’s talk) with a lady who I shall refer to as ‘Ethel’ in her mid 50s and she said to me in a guarded voice ‘Oh no, I am not there yet, nowhere near it in fact – years away’, then she nodded several times for good measure and self reassurance.

It was said with such ferocity and passion that I could imagine her as an 80 year old lady in a nursing home claiming that her ovaries still have the fertility capability of a nubile 20 year old while saying ‘Still a long way off yet, no menopause for me yet dear’.

Or perhaps when she has passed on, it will be on her grave stone ‘Ethel, died aged 100 years old but by God her ovaries went to the grave good as new’

Tales of Horror…

I am not going to lie though, the stories that I have heard about menopause have been pretty scary.  Things like light bladder weakness (LBL) and peeing yourself if you cough, laugh or don’t get to a toilet straight away are somewhat alarming.

Have you seen adverts showing pads for LBL that omit a pleasant perfumed odour if you ‘leak’, well who in the name of God invented those?  Imagine people get to recognise the perfume that is secreted on these pads and the minute they smell it, they point at you and yell ‘Oh my god, she has pissed herself!’  You may as well put a high viz vest on saying ‘LBL’.

Claims that pelvic floor exercises are next to Godliness obviously have some truth in it and up until now I have never paid much attention to it and why would I?  Clenching myself for counts of ten at bus stops have never been on my agenda, mind you I never get the bus so I suppose I could do it in Coles supermarket with the end result being a pelvic floor you could crack coconuts with.  Now that is something to aim for (cracking coconuts I mean and not urinating yourself).

Hot flushes, mood swings, weight gain – come on ladies, we know the score and have read all about the symptoms.  We have all heard about the Pandoras box of hormones that Mother Nature chucks at us when our time of life is nearing so let’s talk about it and those that don’t like it can turn around and put their fingers in their ears the way they do when Trump gives a speech or poverty adverts come on TV.

The Puzzle that is my Body

If you have read my previous blogs you will know that I have an auto immune disease and adrenal insufficiency.  My fight or flight hormones are not as they should be and sometimes I think that my hormones are having a party and I am not invited but that’s adrenals for you, they are a bit naughty like that.

Anyway, the other month I had my hormones checked for menopause because at 49 years old, surely it has to be on the way, I mean really it must.  My last test was negative and I was in the ‘Who me? I am nowhere near it, years away club’ because at that time I wasn’t anywhere near it and I wasn’t in that famous Egyptian river of ‘denial’ either – I still had the hormones of a non menopausal woman.

But this time I went to get my results from my doctor and I sat patiently waiting for her to read them to me.

She frowned at the results and said ‘You are in Peri-menopause, have you noticed any symptoms?’

Feeling a mixture of shock and ‘where the fuck has my youth gone?’ plus a good measure of happiness and ‘Yee ha, does this mean I am a grown up?’, I told her that no, I hadn’t had any symptoms and I certainly wasn’t peeing myself when I coughed/sneezed or sweating like joint of gammon in a butchers window.

‘Well you are there, your results show you are definitely in it (Peri-menopause)’. She confirmed and then as quickly as you like, she changed the subject on to something else leaving me wondering where my certificate of congratulations was.

Congratulations – I think….

After my consultation, I decided that after that news I should celebrate with a bacon roll and a lovely healthy can of coke plus a bag of chocolate covered peanuts (yes I know, crap food and all that stuff – not one gram of toss was given that day about that).

Nothing can prepare you for how you might feel for being told you are starting menopause.  It’s a normal healthy part of being a woman – even if the symptoms can be awful.  Suddenly you have left the ‘No not me, I’ve got years ahead of me yet’ club, and you have entered the ‘Shit, it’s actually happening’ club.

Whilst munching on my bacon roll, I digested the news and wondered how in the name of fluffy kittens did I not know such a significant process was taking place in my body? I mean really, how. did. I. not. know?

I had plans in my mind that when it happened, I would be greeted with some hot flushes and night sweats that would take the top off my head and blow steam out of my ears and nose while my face went bright red and hot enough to fry an egg on.

I had plans that I would be on the phone to my sister discussing my hot flushes and minge problems in true girly fashion and had I been living in the UK, we could have done that over a glass of wine or three and chocolate coated peanuts.  There are baby showers, hens parties so why not menopause parties, we could have a cake in the shape of a lady-garden and everyone could bless it or something.

And really, why should it not be celebrated when we have gone through so much to get that title of ‘Peri-menopausal’?

Because I actually believe that it should come with a ‘certificate of achievement’ and a trophy to make up for the years of periods, period pain, PMS, plus the vast amount of money spent on sanitary protection and painkillers, not to mention the hassles of birth control and a week of hating anything with penis.

I had plans that I would have sensible and respectable chats with other women at the same stage of life as myself, we could discuss and compare symptoms over a Chai Latte and a custard cream biscuit.  But most of all I had plans that I would know that it was happening, like a gentle tap on the shoulder and the ‘Menopause Fairy’ saying ‘Samantha, it is time – welcome to Peri-Menopause, take my hand and I shall show you the way’.

But no, not even a ‘Catch ya later flappy vag, Estrogen is now leaving the building! Hope you enjoyed the ovarian cyst we gave you last year bitch, enjoy the hot flushes when they arrive and god bless your lady garden because it’s sure gonna need it!’  Nothing, not a thing, no warning – I mean how disrespectful!

It was like some secret hormonal party was taking place in my body and until the doctor told me, I had not been privy to any part of it.  Any hopes that I had of that magical moment of realising something different was happening to me, had been cruelly dashed because I genuinely did not have a clue.

In fact I reckon my ovaries have blindfolded me in the night, kidnapped me and let me out in planet menopause wondering where the hell I am and how did I get there – like Back to the Future with Marty McFly but no chance of turning the clock back.

It was with some elation that I drove back to work that morning, once it had sunk in that is.  Because my body cannot do anything normally, I can’t get coughs or colds because of my overactive immune system.  Even my periods have never really been normal and only lasted 3 or 4 days if that and sometimes they never rocked up at all but then again, adrenal insufficiency can play a nice game of ‘hide and seek’ with your menstrual cycle so I have discovered.

So this news was actually very good to hear because for the first time in a long time, I was normal and that actually feels quite good.

On the way back to the office I sat waiting at the traffic lights in my car, blasting out ‘Rebel Yell’ and feeling very ‘rock chick’. I scoffed the rest of those damned chocolate peanuts like a starving person and rebelliously took swigs of coke from the bottle while waiting for the green light.  It was at that moment that I decided that I was more than entitled to my very own mid life crisis, but what form that will take remains to be seen as I am still planning that one.

At home

‘How did your appointment go?’ My husband asked me when I got home from work.

‘Great, I have started menopause!’ I beamed at him and then quite suddenly felt like a grown up for saying it out loud – did this mean I had to start acting like one?

‘Since when?’ husband asked looking surprised.

‘Doctor said judging by my hormone results it must have been a while, so I don’t know’ I shrugged my shoulders and poured myself a glass of wine.

‘How come you didn’t know? I thought all women knew this stuff?’ he asked.

‘I don’t know but I plan to call my sisters and discuss my hot flushes with them and talk about menopause symptoms’ I told him and then gulped my wine down rather too quickly because I was still thirsty from the bacon roll and the chocolate peanuts.

‘But you haven’t had any hot flushes or symptoms’ my husband started to say.

‘They are coming, I don’t know when but I have heard most women get them and I should think mine are on their way and then I will blow steam out of my ears and nose’ I said knowingly.  Like I would know, my hormones never tell me anything the bastards – but that is how I imagine it to be like and I am sure it will be.

Later that night

I stared at my reflection in the mirror from different angles wondering if I had changed, surely something like this happening means that you notice changes.  Shouldn’t the lady-garden suddenly look like a wizened prune or something, or grow a grey goatee beard just like Billy Connolly’s?

Or would it wear a pair of horn-rimmed old ladies spectacles and look at me with a newly acquired look of disapproval if I didn’t act my age.  But no, I still looked the same and there was no grey goatee panty beard, no horn rimmed glasses and no disapproving looks -nothing at all.

Conclusion

Well now I am officially in the Peri-menopause club, I shall at some point be discussing the hot flushes (when they start) with my sisters over the phone with a glass of wine and lets not forget those chocolate peanuts because I can wholly recommend stuffing a bag of those babies down in celebration when you get this kind of news.

How do I feel? I feel kind of mature, a bit like a grown up that has risen above any childish antics.  I have a kind of peaceful serenity about me to the point I may go and start listening to Cliff Richard and bake muffins (and if you believe that, you believe anything!)

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go and work on the book that I am writing about dogs that talk, do childish things and have social lives.

Peri-menopause – now wearing that badge and totally owning it.

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright October 2016

Useful Links

Menopause Support

Red Hot Mamas

Cliff Richard songs – in a crisis only Cliff will do

Chocolate covered peanuts – your life saver

God love Billy Connolly

 

 

Adrenal Insufficiency and steroid reduction

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One Step at a Time – can really take you places

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

It has been quite a while since I started to reduce my steroids in an attempt to ‘wake my adrenals up’ (my doctors words not mine) and so much has happened since I my last blog update about it.

Firstly I am now down to 3mgs of prednisolone which is a dose I never thought that I would get down to but it has been far from easy.

One of the things that happens when weaning off years of steroids aside from going through withdrawal (and something that nobody warns you about), is that the very disease/illness that you took them for in the first place will often flare up again.

I have had another Synacthen test which has shown quite a bit of recovery but still an inadequate result but hey, any recovery is recovery that I was told would not happen right?

I am also having regular morning blood cortisol tests and my last one which was taken 2 weeks ago; has shown adrenal function within normal ranges! Obviously I am thrilled about this but my specialist has told me that a normal morning cortisol is normal on my 3mgs of steroids and if I didn’t take them or had a particular stressful day before the blood test, it would be different.

So it has been decided that I stay on 3mgs for the sake of my auto immune disease and also because the Synacthen test still shows an inadequate response and that is the one that counts as in how my adrenals work under stress.

On the whole I am doing very well on 3mgs providing there is no stress at work, or I don’t engage in strenuous exercise or I don’t get sick.  The other week I had a high temperature and I felt dreadful and had to triple my dose for three days.

Sometimes at work if I am really busy then I have to stress dose because my 3mgs of preds is simply not enough.  This I will add is on the advice of my doctor.  With adrenal insufficiency I get very specific symptoms such as the feeling that inside my head has gone ‘dead’ – a bit like how your leg feels when you lie on it for too long, all heavy and you don’t want to put weight on it.  My muscles kind of feel like they are burning, like someone is pressing on them (press hard on your own shoulder muscles till it burns and that is the feeling that I get in various parts of my body).

I get a bad headache and it is normally over one eye and painkillers will not relieve it.  I suffer nausea as well, dizziness and the usual brain fog and that is when I have to take 4mgs of hydrocortisone otherwise it gets progressively worse and I am unable to drive home.  Still, it is positive that I recognize it even though it is frustrating that I can’t just stop the 3mgs like a normal person without adrenal insufficiency.

Sadly my joints are now hurting like a bitch and I am getting some pretty nasty AI symptoms back again so this has effectively been a ‘trade off’ because each morning I wake up so stiff in my joints plus pain in my hip joint that it takes about 2 hours to ‘warm up’ and get more mobile. Some days I ponder on my choices and from where I am looking, there are not that many to choose from.

The first choice is weaning off the steroids which is what I am trying to do because if I thought having Sjogrens is bad, I have discovered that adrenal insufficiency really is the work of the devil.  It has been like going to hell in a basket with Cliff Richard on replay and I cannot even begin to tell you how shit you can feel and only someone that has been there will understand.

The second choice is to remain on 3mgs for the time being and stress dose when needed which is what my doctor would like me to do.  This dose is not fabulous for a good quality of life in terms of joint pain, as well as the adrenal symptoms if I am having a bad day.  My specialist has increased my immune suppressants which have made a significant difference to my AI symptoms so I guess this is the choice I have made.

I still dream of stopping the steroids one day because some days I feel ‘normal’ but have been cruelly reminded that I am not when I have overslept and woken up late for my tablets and then I pay the price by feeling awful for the rest of the day like my body has gone into steroid-debt and punishes me heavily for it.

When things go well with my health and I feel OK, it is all too tempting to imagine if I could manage with the medication and I do have to remind myself that it is because of the medication that I get the good days and not in spite of it.

So that is my update and I think it is quite a good one.  A year ago I was in a pretty bad place with a refusal to accept this and advised it would probably be permanent and I have proved that diagnosis wrong and at the same time learned to accept ‘my lot’ so to speak.

I don’t know if my adrenals will get completely better as I find it quite hard to believe that 5mgs of preds shut my adrenal glands down in the first place – that is not what the asthma doctors tell you now is it!

I also don’t know if adrenals can have good days and bad days in terms of steroid production or if the damage to my adrenal glands has been halted by the immune suppressants that I take or if they can get worse again.

But for now I am happy and grateful for the recovery that I have made and if I can give one tip for anyone going through similar, I would say not to give up hope even if it takes years to get there.

Because the journey that is adrenal insufficiency is a long and painful one that needs to be taken slowly and while you may not notice it straight away, time and patience usually pays off in one way or another – either by acceptance of your disease or improvement in your overall condition and whichever one happens, you are a winner.

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright July 2016

 

 

A Forbidden Love (Bronte and Rocky)

It was Sunday afternoon and Rocky was in a bad mood as he hadn’t had a good walk in ages, he was also pissed off because he doesn’t have any friends because he hates everyone, including his invisible friends that all dogs have – just ask Rocco about that.

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Rocky in his Kelpie Spectacles

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘What are we doing today?’ Brutus demanded in a bored voice. Brutus always assumed things had been organised for him and kind of expected it.

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Brutus always expects stuff to be organised for him

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Rocky shook the absurdly large newspaper that he was reading, taking a deep breath he peered over the top of his kelpie spectacles which are just like Harry Potters spectacles except that they are for kelpies.

‘We are probably doing nothing, I hate everyone and I hate everyone even more today’ Rocky snapped and then bent down to chew his anal glands.

Brutus who is not good at ‘reading’ other dogs, shrugged his shoulders and trotted off to Rocky’s bed to steal his gingerbread man who had taken Tony Abbott’s place for suckling time when he needed a comforter.

Unknown to Rocky I had been messaging Denise Pringle asking if she fancied going to North Lake for a walk with Pippin and Bronte and I would bring Rocky.

Telling me that yes she would meet me in the car park I then set about breaking the good news to Rocky that he was to be meeting Pippin and Bronte and Brutus would be staying home with Dad to ‘help in the garden’ (dig the crap out of it).

‘What do you mean I can’t go? I always hang out with Pippin?’ Brutus protested with his bottom lip quivering.

‘What does she mean I can’t go?’ Brutus repeated to Rocky who grinned and replied simply ‘You go everywhere, it’s my turn now – catch ya later alligator!’ Rocky barked back at Brutus.

‘Come on Brutus, go to your room – I have put some treats in there’ I reassured him.

‘Not going, won’t go, can’t make me’ Brutus said in a high pitched voice and then promptly threw himself to the floor (I am not joking either)

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Brutus – an expert on sulking

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

The large brown dog buckled to the floor and started to howl. Now the reason for him not going was because I am working on Rocky’s behaviour and confidence around other dogs and he is far better when he is not with Brutus and Pippin has a calming influence on him.

Eventually I got Brutus to his bed and placated him with a carrot but not before he threatened to do rude things with it and the last I heard of him was him threatening to self harm as I drove off with Rocky in the car.

‘Yeah, this is so cool! Do you mind if I drive?’ Rocky grinned at me.

‘No, you are not driving’ I said firmly.

‘Oh well, I shall yell stuff out of the window then’ Rocky shrugged and before I could stop him; he was calling a Jack Russell terrier a ‘flea bitten stumpy legs’.

Soon we pulled up at North Lake and Denise, Pippin and Bronte arrived minutes after we did.

‘Hi Rocky!’ Pippin’s face beamed through the car window as he steamed it up trying to talk and greet Rocky.

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Rocky and Pippin – members of the Sensible Club

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Rocky who is so sensible and full of self control, tried to contain himself but as he doesn’t have any friends except for Lexie’s Tess and Pippin and Bronte, he was absurdly pleased to see the two little dogs. He was especially pleased to see Pippin as on the whole and when they are not being corrupted, are both very sensible dogs that wear spectacles and read large newspapers with big words and get on very well together.

‘Hi Rocky, do you think I have my figure back after my babies?’ Bronte said flirtatiously to Rocky who looked approvingly at her skinny bum.

‘Bronte, don’t be so forward!’ Pippin reprimanded her. Bronte looked boot-faced at Pippin and winked naughtily at Rocky causing him to blush and look away.

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Rocky and Bronte – a forbidden love

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Call me’ Bronte mouthed and did a phone gesture with her paws before running off ahead so that Rocky could get the full benefit of her svelte figure and pretty purple outfit.

‘Girls, I will never understand them’ Pippin sighed to Rocky, ‘Now – shall we discuss what has been happening in the UK as I understand they have voted out and I am not sure what that means for exporting dog collars and clothes’

Rocky pretended to listen but kept a beady eye on Bronte who kept turning round to see if he was looking and remaining in one place just long enough to catch his glance.

It was a very pleasant walk and aside from discussing politics, Rocky and Pippin had a jolly nice time that involved treats from Denise’s pocket, discussing the benefits of making ones bed explode and the glories of rolling in horse shit.

‘You see this is the equivalent to Facebook, if I pee on that post then you have to pee on where I have peed’ Bronte said confidently to Rocky as they trotted beside each other.

‘Oh I see, let me see if I can get a bit more out’ Rocky replied and then cocked his leg up a tree and was followed by Pippin who had enough pee for all three of them which made them all laugh.

Anyway the rest of the walk went very well, treats were given and eaten, bottoms were sniffed and the three dogs just enjoyed each others company.

At the End of the Walk

‘Oh I wish I didn’t have to go home I have had so much fun’ Rocky said to Pippin while looking longingly at Bronte who was smiling back at him and doing her ‘call me’ gestures again and was frantically sending Rocky a text. They always have had a bit of a forbidden crush on one another much to the horror of Nica, Zara and the rest of the girls.

‘We can meet up next time old chap’ Pippin patted Rocky reassuringly on the back. Knowing that Rocky had bad hips, Pippin always liked to do his bit for the disabled and felt that it was no trouble helping Rocky as the two had become quite good friends and members of the ‘sensible club’ – well we won’t count the time that Pippin ended up in a lap dancing club run by whippets as that is another story.

Rocky was reluctantly put in the back of the car. With his black snout pressed against the window, he yelled out through the gap ‘Catch ya later Pippin’ and before Pippin could see him, Rocky gave a cheeky wink to Bronte who waved back at him.

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Sweet Kelpie Dreams (of Bronte)

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

In Denise’s Car

‘What a lovely boy he is, so polite and handsome’ Bronte sighed as she settled into her bed.

‘Bronte!’ Pippin chastised her.

‘Well, he is jolly handsome’ Bronte barked back and then huffed some steam on the window and drew a love heart on it with her paws.

‘Rocky is too sensible to have flirtations with Italian greyhounds’ Pippin said firmly.

‘Yeah, I guess he is – but a girl can try….’ Bronte said quietly.

IMG_0639Bronte the pretty girl

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Back at Home

‘You are such a bastard, I hate you, I am never talking to you again!’ Brutus sobbed as Rocky jumped out of the car.

Ignoring him Rocky took a pee up the garden pot, well he had actually used his pee allocation while out with Pippin and Bronte and was now doing invisible pee, but even invisible pee counts when it comes to dogs.

‘I said I hate you and I am never talking to you again’ Brutus said loudly and as if to prove a point, he squatted down and pissed down his own legs. Brutus always looks as though life got a bit too much for him and when he gets upset he gets very loud and very cute.

‘You just did talk to me silly’ Rocky laughed.

‘I said I am never talking to you again, that’s it!’ Brutus started to cry and remained by my car as Rocky marked his spots around the garden to make sure that strange invisible dogs had not infiltrated our security system while we were out and my husband was in bed or whatever he did while we were out.

Later that afternoon

Having thawed out somewhat and deciding that he was totally unable to ignore or be ignored, Brutus decided to ask Rocky about how it went with Pippin and Bronte.

‘Well she is very nice isn’t she, she looked so beautiful in that purple outfit and she has lost so much weight – you wouldn’t believe she had not long had pups’ Rocky said as his face softened at the memory of the afternoon.

‘You fancy her don’t you?’ Brutus burst out and then catching Rocky blushing furiously, he stood up and farted with excitement. ‘You do, you fancy her, you fancy Bronte Pringle!’

‘You are SO childish, I don’t know why I bother with you’ Rocky growled and nipped Brutus smartly on his brown bum to shut him up and made him cry.

Curling up on his bed Rocky hid under his blanket and pretended to be asleep.

‘Rocky, are you asleep?’ Brutus whispered, ‘I am sorry, I didn’t mean to say you fancied Bronte, I know you prefer sheep to girl dogs, I was just joking’ Brutus who was mortified that he had upset his brother.

Rocky stayed silent and kept his eyes tightly shut until he was sure that Brutus had gone back to his own bed. But clutched tightly between his paws was a photo of Bronte that she had texted him plus her mobile number with a message saying ‘Call me’.

But the question is – will he?……

To be continued…..

 

Kicking the Butt of Cancer

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My Dad (right) – taken at his favorite Italian restaurant he visited when he came to Perth

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

*This update is told with the permission and blessing from my Dad and this is his story as he told it to me.

It was written in January 2015 when Dad was given the ‘all-clear’ from his prostate cancer.  I have chosen to publish his story one year later in the hope that it might help other men in this situation*.

As you may or may not know, in 2014 my Dad was diagnosed with Prostate cancer and thanks to the vigilance of his doctor and Dad not being afraid to have the relevant tests – it was caught in good time.

But please don’t think that for a man having prostate cancer is any less traumatic than other cancers because the treatment for this disease is exceptionally hard and anyone that has had radiotherapy can testify as such, not to mention the medication you have to take and the havoc it can wreak on your body and emotional well-being.

Dad told me that it is about time that more stories like his were told to give hope to others that have been diagnosed with cancer and like he was, are feeling overwhelmed with their diagnosis and the prospect of what lies ahead of them. In particular – prostate cancer, which so many men are too embarrassed to discuss let alone get checked for.

Anyway Dad called me tonight to tell me about his hospital visit to the cancer specialist on Friday and how the news was broken to him about the results of his prostate cancer.

My sister Terri had gone along with him to his appointment and Dad said the Doctor read his blood results and had a big grin on his face and Dad wondered why he (the doctor) was smiling.

He didn’t have to wait long to find out, he advised my Dad that his prostate PSA levels were barely traceable and that he had never seen them so low and that Dad does not have to go back for a year.

Dad said that the Doctor looked so pleased with giving this news, you can imagine that doctors give bad news all the time so this must have made his day.

Both he and my sister hugged each other when they left – oblivious to those around them, simply unable to believe the news that they had just been told. They quickly then told my other sister Julie (you can call her Me Julie and she has a fetish for firemen).

They made their way to the pub where Dad’s friends were there and the news was told and Dad said that people were congratulating him, some of them he knew, some he didn’t.

Someone bought him a bottle of champagne to celebrate and glasses were filled to raise a toast. Because what could be more fitting to raising a toast than to kicking cancers butt?

As everyone raised their glass, Dad told me that he picked up his glass and said quite suddenly and loudly ‘Fuck Cancer’ and one by one everyone raised their glass and repeated it so you could hear ‘Fuck Cancer’ being repeated several times at the bar.

Dad said he couldn’t stop smiling and he admitted to me on the phone tonight that he was still smiling and not quite believing the news.

He also emphasized that the moral of this update is to show that sometimes, just sometimes you can beat something that initially overwhelms you.

Prostate cancer is treatable – but you have to catch it in time. So many men have symptoms that they ignore and a simple blood test and check up can detect things early enough so that treatment can be started. The trouble is guys, embarrassment can literally be your worst enemy.

I will say that Dad has been through a tough time with his treatment and I remember him saying that it was the thought of having cancer in his body that really upset him – just the mere thought of it being there.

He came through the radiotherapy which was not pleasant, he is still on the medication which is also not pleasant but said that he doesn’t care ‘providing the cancer has gone’ because he is at a stage now where he could not have imagined being at 12 months ago.

Cancer is a bastard of a disease, it is a thief, an intruder, a heart-breaker and it does not deserve the power that it has and we need these ‘butt kicking’ stories.

So I want to dedicate this to my Dad and also to anyone that is going through this (or any kind of cancer).

‘Daddy Stocken Kicked Cancers Butt’ My Dad said to me on the phone tonight and you certainly did that Dad, and we are so proud of you.

FUCK CANCER

 

*Update for January 2016*

I am pleased to say that Dad remains free of cancer and is doing very well and we are all so very proud of him.

Love you Dad xx

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright Jan 2016

An Open Letter to Gordon – my cat

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Gordon – a face meant for smooching

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Old age, our pets and our attitude

Our pets age, they get old, they slow down and get more demanding – a bit like us really.  One minute they are young and before you know it, time has flown by and at a glance they have become old; leaving us wondering just when it all happened.

I have read so many stories about owners surrendering their pets once they become senior and there are too many photos of grey faced animals with opaque aging eyes staring back at us from pound rescue photographs.

I find it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth when a pet is given up purely and only for being old and then quickly replaced by a younger pet.  What kind of message does this send out and are we really so arrogant to think that old age does not apply to us and we as humans will never get old or demanding?

This blog is dedicated to my senior cat Gordon who is stepping in to his senior years which is also bringing with it a change of personality – he has no boundaries, he is demanding, he is naughty and even chews my hair when I sleep.  Could I surrender him for these reasons and swap him for a younger cat?  Absolutely not, I love him and I love every ginger hair on his head and I love the old cat he has become.

This story details how I see Gordon, his behaviour, his appearance and how it is all too easy to assume that he will always be around.  I have written this to him as an open letter – yes I know he is a cat and can’t read, but if he could then this is what I would tell him.

So treasure your senior pets, treasure every single grey hair on their face – they have earned it and if you have loved them properly then you have earned the right to have them in your lives and for that reason; you should count yourselves very lucky.

Gordon

At 9 weeks you came in to our lives.  I remember we had to choose between you and your twin brother Anthony and we picked you because you were not scared of our dog – a whippet bitch called ‘Rema’.

You marched right up to her and smacked her on the snout and I will never forget the look of horror on her face as you did that.  A tiny little ginger kitten taking on a 12kg whippet that quickly developed respect for you.

You were young, energetic, naughty and ‘full of beans’ as I would describe you. You would shred the carpet, eat our towels, fight with the dog and hang round her neck and swing from the curtains in a small ginger bundle of fury.

Gordon and my whippet ‘Rema’ – best friends

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

At a year old you had the look of a ‘teenage’ cat about you.  You had developed retrieving skills and would play ‘fetch’ with your beanie baby toy panther that you loved to carry around with you and bring to us if we asked you to.

Gradually you grew into a fat cat that seemed to go more orange the more mischief you got in to.  You had developed a habit of stealing things which included boxes of matches, inhalers, jewellery, cotton buds – anything that you could fit in your ginger mouth.  Your ‘spoils’ were hidden in your favourite spots that I soon found and then you would move them somewhere else and it would take me ages to find out where.

At six years old we took you to Australia where you flew by plane and landed in Perth a day before we did where you spent the next 30 days in quarantine.  On release from quarantine you quickly settled in as an Aussie cat and adapted to the heat, the noisy birds and life in general, your life in London was now a million miles away.

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Gordon at Byford Quarantine, WA

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

You spent the next seven years looking fabulous with a glossy coat and having an energetic zest for life.  Being an indoor cat you had no predators and none of the usual risks associated with being an outdoor cat and we marvelled at your health and vitality for a cat of your age.

The parrots taunted you and you argued back in your cat-like ‘chatter’ as you made ‘clicking’ noises with your mouth at the window, no doubt threatening what you would do to them if you ever got out.

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Gordon looking very ‘orange’ – note his eyes starting to look old

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Six months after arriving in Australia, we acquired our first ‘Aussie dog’ – a 4 month old kelpie called ‘Rocky’.  Within the first five minutes of meeting him, you had smacked him smartly on the snout and ‘boxed’ him with your huge padded ginger paws, making him pee himself because he was so scared of you.

The line was once again drawn with you and Rocky knew from that day on to never cross you and became and still is, your biggest protector to this very day.

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Then three years ago we fostered a 12 week old ridgeback/kelpie puppy called Brutus – which was meant to be a three day thing really, except that Brutus ended up staying.

You took to Brutus immediately and let him get away with a remarkable amount of rough-housing until a point was reached where you would get him into one of your ‘death-grips’ and pin him down by his throat (all 30kgs of him).

Brutus has adored you from the very first day he met you and enjoys washing you, cleaning your ears and following you around until he annoys you enough to get a biff on the snout (claws in of course).

A baby Brutus and Gordon and then a grown up Brutus and Gordon

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

At what point did I notice you got old

It kind of crept up on me really (probably like it did to you) but one day I was walking around the house getting various bits and pieces ready for work the next morning.  I happened to glance down to see your frail ginger body trotting after me as you struggled to keep up.

I laughed and thought it cute but on closer inspection you were like an old man trying to keep up with life as your joints hurt you and you stiffly tried to trot after me as I went from room to room to get things.

Your agility and balance has slowly declined over the years and last week you jumped up on to the sofa while I was sitting on it and as I looked round, all I saw was your ginger face appear full of panic as you lost your grip and fell backwards to the floor.

As if you were embarrassed, you sneezed, shook yourself and limped off as if to say ‘That didn’t hurt, I meant that to happen’.

Your stomach has become more sensitive as you have aged and whilst you have always been prone to vomiting – probably due to you grooming the dogs and ingesting their fur, your vomiting has become more frequent and now you can do it without warning whilst managing a somewhat splendid Exorcist style projectile vomit as you hit the blinds and the walls with the contents of your stomach.

Your bones have started to ‘crack’ when you are picked up and despite our attempts to treat you like a piece of fine bone china, the extent of your fragility is apparent.

It doesn’t stop you being naughty though and you still like to bite up and down our arms like you are chewing a corn on the cob, except that now your jaw kind of ‘clacks’ as you bite down, your bite is weak and your stiff legs somewhat feebly bicycle against my arm as you try and kick me.

Knock, Knock – who’s there? Gordon, that’s who!

A habit that you have had since you were a baby was to stand on your hind legs and use your front legs to scratch at the door.  You had the ability to do this for hours on end until we relented and would let you in the bedroom.

These days you still do it but I can barely hear you but I know you are there.  I can hear you meowing and crying and the oh-so-faint sounds of your paws weakly scratching at the door.  I let you in straight away, I always let you in because I don’t like the idea of you wanting to come in so bad that you will still use what energy you have to scratch at that door and I know how much it must hurt your arthritic paws.

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Still in charge – no matter how old you are

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Sometimes you have those mad half hours where you take a shit in your litter tray and then run around the house with a joyous expression on your face as you skid along the floor and bump into doors/windows while the dogs look at you as though you have gone mad.

Talking of dogs, you still have the power over Rocky and Brutus.  You can get Brutus on his back in submission in a matter of seconds as you try and get him in a ‘death grip’ by biting his throat and kicking him with your hind legs.  He could kill you with one bite but no, he has a healthy respect for you and is so protective of you.

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Brutus has your back Gordon

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Everyone needs a hug sometimes…

Every evening when I get home from work I sit on the sofa and relax with a cup of tea, just unwinding as people do.  Like clockwork you always jump on my knee and demand my attention.

In your younger years, you started off subtle and would never sit on my laptop or push drinks out of my hand but as you have aged, your boundaries have long gone and you are more than happy to shove my cup of tea right out of my hand or sit square on top of my laptop and ‘make puddings’ on my chest as you knead my boobs and go off into a trance of delight because you quite simply love your cuddles.

I have learned that resistance is futile and as soon as I see you march across the coffee table, I know that my cup of tea must be quickly finished, my laptop shut down, phone on the table and the blanket gets put on my lap so that you can get comfy.

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Gordon – simply cannot be ignored

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Then as quickly as you demanded to get on there, you decide that you have had enough and walk off with your tail held high in an act of defiance that says ‘I can do what I want’.

‘He won’t be around forever you know and one day you will miss all of this’ My husband warned me one day when I complained that you wouldn’t leave me alone.

I stared at you when he said that and tried to imagine life without you, life without Gordon – the cat that flew from the Motherland to Perth, the cat that had been with us through thick and thin and has seen us through our life stages.

I realised that he was right, that you wouldn’t be around forever and there would come a day that I would be regretting the day I chose my privacy, laptop and cup of Yorkshire tea over the cat that I loved so dearly.

Now when you want a cuddle; you get it and as for me going to the toilet on my own, well that is so overrated and I no longer complain when you want to sit on my knee while I am trying to pee.

You still love your life, you still enjoy your life, you are just slower and older but you still know how to demand what you want, get what you want and you still know how to be naughty.

So when did you get so old my darling Gordon and why did it take me so long to realise that you are not replaceable by a mobile phone, laptop computer or ‘time alone’.

Now I make the most of each time you want a cuddle, I am privileged that you are so desperate to sleep on my lap and I love the fact that you follow me around.  But most of all I am proud, proud that you are my cat and that we bought you with us from London to Perth and I am privileged to be seeing you into your senior years.

You are getting older Gordon and you won’t always be around but while we have you, we promise to look after you, never to let any harm come to you and love you for the rest of the time that you have with us and when the heartbreaking time comes to send you over to Rainbow Bridge, we will walk right beside you to that entrance.

Thank you for being our cat

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The gift of owning a senior pet cannot be underestimated

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright January 2016

Jessie – 10 Year Old Dog Stolen from Perth

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Jessie – stolen from her home during a burglary

(Photograph provided by owner)

Who:     Jessie the Kelpie (mix)

Age:       Ten years old

Colour:  Black (grey mask, tufts of eyes), white paws, vest and stomach

Sex:        Female

Date:      23rd October 2015

Area:      Heathridge, WA, 6027

What happened?

On Friday 23rd October 2015, Jessie’s owner left his house in Heathridge, WA at around 1.30pm.  He noticed nothing strange or untoward, just an ordinary day with nothing to make him suspect anything was going to happen.

He returned the same day at around 7.15pm, the weather was fine and it had gone dark about 20 minutes prior to him coming home.  Jessie’s owner pressed the garage key fob a few houses before arriving at the house as he usually did so that the garage door would be open for him to drive straight in

As he drove closer to the house, he realised that the garage door was going down which indicated that it had already been open.  Pressing the button again to open it, he drove up the drive which is on a slope and into the carport.

By now Jessie’s owner was somewhat worried as Jessie is left outside when the owners are out; with the garage door down and the gate on the other side locked with a padlock.

With it being dark, Jessie’s owner left the car headlights on so that he could see to drive his way in.  Jessie usually comes to greet her owner but on this occasion she didn’t which was out of character in itself.

Now this is where I want you to imagine how you would feel if this was your dog – not necessarily a cute puppy, but your dog – whatever breed and however young or old that may be.  Imagine coming home to this and think about how you would feel.

Jessie’s owner quickly got out of the car and went to the back door of the house where he could clearly see that the door had been forced and left open.  his first thought was to check the laundry room outside where Jessie often likes to lie on the tiled floor because it is cool and she can still see everything from where she is.

That was when he noticed that Jessie wasn’t there and shouted her name in the vague hope that Jessie may have run into the bushes to hide, but Jessie never came and wasn’t in the bushes or anywhere else for that matter.

The owner ran through the house yelling for Jessie hoping that she was inside, running in to the bedroom where Jessie sleeps and then into every other room but not yet noticing if anything had been stolen because his priority was Jessie and it was now evident that she wasn’t there.

Could Jessie have wondered off somewhere?  This is highly unlikely if not impossible because Jessie is simply not that kind of dog and is of a senior age where she is content to be in her own little home and the Queen of her castle with no need to stray even with the doors forced open.

Once Jessie’s owner had checked the house; he realised that all of his clothes from the spare bedroom wardrobe (about 40 hangers worth) had been stolen just leaving one dirty T shirt left (and the clothes that he stood up in).

A laptop which was hidden under an A4 notepad in the lounge and not in full view was also stolen but his wallet with $168 inside and all the credit cards which were in full view and easy to spot; was not touched.  Whoever had burgled the house left no mess, no drawers open or any of the usual mess that is often associated with burglaries.  All they took were the clothes, the laptop and Jessie.

So what is so special about a ten year old dog?

Photographs provided by Jessie’s owner

When a younger dog is stolen it often generates a lot more publicity, especially when it is a puppy or a female that has just had puppies – and rightly so because Mum needs her pups and vice versa.

Jessie is a senior dog, she is ten years old, probably a bit stiff on her legs, more grey on her face than black.  To sum it up she really is of no value to anyone other than her owner.

The media have not really picked up on this story and why would they be interested in a grizzled senior kelpie/collie mix in her twilight years?  After all, this one won’t pull on the public heartstrings now will it?

Well this is where we are mistaken.  The fabulous animal loving public of Perth would definitely want to hear about this – if only the media picked up on it and gave this story as much publicity as the younger dogs that are stolen get.

Things to consider about this case

What is so special about Jessie?  To her owner she is priceless, no amount of money can buy her and whilst he has put up a $1,000 reward with ‘no questions asked’, the question begging to be asked is whether or not money was and is the motivation in this case.

Something else to consider is that the house where Jessie lives sits at the top of a steep drive, it is also on a road which is on a bus route.  The house has an intruder alarm where as no other houses around it do and the strobe light is clearly visible on the front of the house.  Jessie’s owner did not put the intruder alarm on that day, however you can clearly see an alarm sensor in the corner of the kitchen though the back door which they forced.

Jessie also has loud bark, which like most dogs she uses when she hears anything close to her territory and is a vocal dog. The next door neighbour has 2 dogs which also bark when they hear things – which makes this very strange that they picked Jessie’s owners house to burgle that night.

Let’s not forget that money was left behind and the only three things that were stolen were clothes, a laptop and Jessie.  Could this be someone targeting the owner, or someone known to the owner?

Why is it important to get Jessie home ASAP?

This old girl is an established pet, she has an acceptance about her that takes many years of love, care and attention from her owner to get her to this stage.

Jessie’s little pleasures in life aside from walks, will be her home comforts and ultimately her ‘Dad’.  Being able to sit on the sofa and wait until her owner get home.  A dog like Jessie will not want for much but one thing is certain, her routine and family will be important to her.

I can imagine Jessie being locked up in someone’s house or garden, she may be cold/hot, sore from her joints, she won’t have her toys and familiar items around her and being a very senior dog, she could well be disorientated.

If you live in Perth, have you noticed that your neighbour has acquired a new dog, if so does it bark a lot?  A dog in a new and scary environment will bark out of fear or confusion.

Old dogs tend to have what I term to be ‘rusty barks’ where their barks sound old, have you heard a new dog on your street with a ‘rusty old dog bark?’

Could you peak over your neighbours fence discreetly and see if they have a senior, black kelpie/collie mix with a grey muzzle and white paws fitting Jessie’s description?

If there is one thing the people of Perth are exceptionally good at and that is coming together in a crisis or when an animal needs help and it is a quality that makes me very proud to live here.

So whilst Jessie is not a young dog, please keep an eye out and be vigilant in looking for her, she deserves to spend her final years with the one that loves her most and understands her best – her owner.

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There is a $1,000 reward for Jessie’s safe return or information leading to her return.

Please let us find this elderly dog that did nothing that fateful day aside from lie in her home awaiting for her beloved owner to come home.

If you have Jessie

If by some chance the person that has stolen Jessie is reading this, please give her back.  You know taking her was wrong, you know that keeping her is wrong and you know that you are not being fair to either her or her owner.

Jessie’s owner will give you a reward for her safe return and will not pursue this.  All he wants is his dog back safe and sound.

If you still have her, take a good look at her after reading this and ask yourself if what you have done is right.

If you have passed her on, then I ask you to let the owner know the details of the person you passed her on to so that he can try and get her dog back.

But do remember one thing, a ten year old dog has zero value to you but the $1,000 reward money – now you could do a lot with that couldn’t you?

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Photographs provided by Jessie’s owner

If you have any information that could lead to the whereabouts of Jessie, please call Lee Padgett on this number:

Mobile: 0406642031

Email: leepadgett@hotmail.com

Find Jessie – Stolen from Perth

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright January 2016

Pippin Pringle, Brutus and the ‘Testicle Incident’

Brutus was round Pippin Pringle’s house for tea and bone broth. They were hanging out quite a bit really and the tiny little dog was teaching Brutus how to be intelligent but as Rocky said, ‘you can’t polish a turd’. However, Pippin felt flattered that Brutus had asked him to make him a clever boy and was only too happy to oblige.

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Pippin teaches Brutus how to be a clever boy (Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Brutus was sat on one chair with a mug of bone broth and Pippin was on the other. Bronte was round Ayla’s house having a girly night with Gigi, Nica and Zara. Fat Harry had tried to gatecrash it to try but was caught out and sent away by Gigi.

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Brutus trying to replicate the ‘Shelby position’ (Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Pippin’ Brutus asked him.

‘Yes Brutus?’ Pippin said without looking up.

‘How come Shelby has such large testicles and we don’t have any?’

Shelby is an Italian greyhound with a set of testicles that could be used as door knockers for a castle and was often seen proudly displaying them to make other dogs jealous.

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Shelby’s testicle door knockers (Photograph Gabrielle)

Blushing in response, Pippin replied ‘Well because we had ours removed when we were younger. Some dogs have them and some dogs don’t’.

‘But do you miss having testicles because Shelby’s are enormous and Dash told August who told Rocco who told me that he has been seen bouncing down the road on them like spacehoppers’ said Brutus.

Pippin was now going red as he was not used to talking about such things. Not knowing what to say, he merely muttered something about ‘Testicles just get in the way of stuff’.

‘But wouldn’t you want to have a set like Shelby’s?’ Brutus asked Pippin who had buried his head in a ‘Dogs Today’ magazine.

Pretending that he didn’t care about Shelby’s testicles, Pippin sighed and taking a swig of bone broth, he replied simply ‘No, I don’t do heavy weights as I have a bad back’.

Brutus looked thoughtful ‘Mine were never heavy, they were like two frozen peas in a handkerchief when they were removed’.

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Brutus has testicle envy of Shelby (Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Looking up in embarrassment Pippin said firmly ‘Please can we talk about something else’.

‘Just going to the toilet’ Brutus said as he jumped up to go to the loo.

Ten minutes later and Brutus hadn’t returned.

‘Goodness me, where is he?’ Pippin said impatiently. That dog could get lost in anyones house as he wasn’t the brightest dog on the block. Pippin had been told that the other night Brutus had used his head to push open the sliding patio security door and had literally popped the entire sliding security door out of its frame causing his Mum (me) to get up and catch it before it fell on the car (yes really).

The guy that came to fix it yesterday just stared at Brutus and said ‘Yes, well……’ as Brutus blushed at the fact that his hammer-head was capable of such destruction – but that is another (expensive) story and I shall leave that to my husband to tell.

Anyway, Pippin was wondering where Brutus had got to and just as he was about to get up, he heard snorting and laughing as ‘Pigaloo’ (Brutus’s nickname) came staggering out of Denise Pringle’s bedroom walking like a cowboy.

‘Hey Pippin, do I look as good as Shelby?’ Brutus grinned at Pippin who had his mouth open so wide that he could have caught flies in it.

‘Oh my god…..’ Pippin spluttered as bone broth shot out of his nostrils.

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Pippin says ‘Oh my god’ (Photograph by Samantha Rose)

There stood Brutus with a silken handkerchief tied around the base of his tail with two scented round (large) candles stuffed inside. Barely able to walk, Brutus walked like a constipated cowboy with a poo fighting to get out of his bum.

‘Let’s phone Shelby and tell him I have balls as big as he does’ Brutus said proudly while struggling to look in the mirror and admire his new ‘man-shape’.

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Brutus checks himself out in the mirror (Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Aren’t you going to say anything?’ Brutus asked Pippin while trying to organise his ‘balls’.

‘Oh my god…’ Pippin repeated and then mopped his brow and took a swig of bone broth before replying ‘They don’t suit you Brutus, they make you look fat’.

Brutus who has a thing for his figure and likes to remain svelte and musclebound, blushed ‘Do you really think so? Do you think I look better without them?

Swallowing his bone broth, Pippin wiped his snout and replied firmly ‘Absolutely’.

‘Oh well, if you insist’ Brutus sighed and then swaggered back to Denise’s bedroom to remove the handkerchief and scented candles from between his legs.

(Sounds of Bronte coming in the door)

‘We have had a marvellous evening but I am so glad to be home, I am totally exhausted’ Bronte said dramatically as she fanned her pretty snout with a copy of ‘Who is who at Dogs West’.

Spotting Brutus, Bronte grinned and said ‘Hi Brutus, how’s it going?’

Brutus got up to greet her and gave her face a little clean to say hello.

Raising her snout to the air, Bronte asked ‘Can anyone smell vanilla?’

‘Don’t ask Bronte, just don’t ask’ Pippin stepped in quickly before the whole story could leak out.

‘Would you like me to fetch you some bone broth?’ Brutus asked Bronte in a bid to impress her.

‘Yes please Brutus, that is kind of you’ Bronte said gratefully.

‘So Pippin, what’s been happening, did you teach Brutus how to be a clever boy?’ Bronte smiled at her brother.

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Pippin and Bronte discuss polishing the turd that is Brutus (Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Glancing round to Brutus who was in the kitchen pouring Bronte some of Denise Pringle’s famous bone broth, Pippin sighted some candle staining down Brutus’s legs and a waft of vanilla each time he wagged his tail.

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Brutus smells of vanilla (Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Taking a deep breath Pippin replied firmly ‘I think he has a while to go before he is a clever boy, but he sure knows what to do with candles’.

And with that explanation – Bronte had to be content.

The End

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright November 2015