For those of you that have been following my stories, will know that Vader the boxer and my dog Brutus have pretty much grown up together and have been best friends right from the start. The things that these boys have got up to have been nothing short of entertaining and on occasions, embarrassing – involving snot, farts, belches and lots of mutual humping of each others heads.
Vader like many boxers, is often misunderstood by other breeds of dog and because of his snub nose and noisy breathing, he can sound pretty aggressive when in fact he just wants to play. Except for when he doesn’t want to play and he wants to start a fight instead, totally forgetting that because he doesn’t have much of a ‘face’, he can’t even defend himself when the dog that he is winding up; retaliates.
He has often called other dogs ‘Wankers’ and other such insults and Brutus being the coward that he is, would frequently pretend to be blind, deaf, elderly or just hide behind a tree so that he wouldn’t get beaten up. Of course when they were in the basketball courts in our local park, it was ‘game-on’ because both boys were safe in the knowledge that no other dog could get to them.
This usually ended up with the boys doing some fence-fighting which is actually a favourite hobby for many dogs – it involves dogs from both sides of the enclosure, running up and down the fence and threatening each other while yelling stuff about their mothers being a mongrel with no collar from the streets.
Whenever the dogs had time apart or didn’t see each other for a while, Brutus liked to sit right next to the dividing fence where he would find some kind of comfort when he heard his flappy jowled friend snorting or barking from his garden. I have many pictures of Brutus sitting by the fence like a stalker, the photo below is just one of them.
And then they got old….
The years went by, life happened, COVID and lockdown happened and they didn’t see each other as often as they once did. But on Brutus’s 9th birthday last year, Vader was invited over to our house to celebrate Brutus’s birthday party. Well I say birthday party, it was a party for two because Vader and Brutus didn’t need anyone else as a third dog would have just messed up the dynamics.
Brutus had been ready for Vader’s arrival for ages. He had checked himself in the mirror three times, smoothed down his grey muzzle and had tried to put black shoe polish on his face to make himself look younger. Once he had heard me bring Vader through the garage door and into the back garden, Brutus impatiently wagged his tail and started doing his high pitched squeals that he has never grown out of doing when he gets excited.
“Vader!” Brutus grinned and went to body slam his old friend as he hadn’t seen him for a long time. “Wanna pee on my head?……” Brutus’s voice trailed off as he saw his mate limp slowly over to him and acknowledge him with a feeble wag of his tail.
“What’s happened to you?” Brutus barked in shock and double checked that it was the same Vader – his oldest and ‘bestest’ friend in the world.
“Old age and illness, that’s what!” Vader puffed and then suddenly looking confused, he said “Where am I?” before slowly walking over to the grass to have a crap.
Brutus laughed, “What do you mean? You know where you are! You are funny Vader, I have missed you. Fancy a game of chase on the limestone wall for old times sake?”
“What’s that over there?” Vader growled at some leaves in the corner.
Brutus frowned, “Are you OK?” At 9 years old himself, he was no spring chicken but he still could run fast, jump and pull magpies out of trees (yes, that was not his finest moment).
Vader looked up and grinned, “I am OK, let’s play!” But as soon as he had said it, he took a deep breath and then cocked his head to the side. “Where am I again?” He muttered at no-one in particular, “Oh look – there’s some poo on the grass, is that mine? It’s massive!”
Desperate to play with his friend, Brutus kept nudging him to react.
But Vader just stood over the water bowl by the garden tap gulping down some water, only occasionally looking up at a crestfallen Brutus who simply could not understand why Vader didn’t want to play with him.
“Hey do you remember when we did a fence fight with those two husky dogs and they threatened to eat us?” Brutus barked excitedly. Vader said nothing, his cloudy eyes stared vacantly up at the sky.
Brutus tried to think of happy memories to tell Vader to try and make him remember things. “Do you remember when we got arrested with a violent gang of whippets and taken to the police station for robbing the pet store?” He said desperately. This wasn’t going the way he had planned, Vader was behaving so oddly that Brutus didn’t know what to make of it.
“That didn’t happen, did it?” Vader suddenly piped up, momentarily remembering where he was.
Shrugging, Brutus said that no, perhaps it didn’t, but it would have been fun had it really happened. He was clutching at straws now, wanting to have the Vader back that he knew and loved.
I could see how frustrated Brutus was. He kept nudging him, pawing him, gifting him his fluffy snake and when that didn’t work, he brought out the rubber pig – he never brings out the rubber pig.
Vader’s breathing was strained as he bent down, had another big drink and then stared up at the sky as he once again had checked out of reality while the water dribbled out of his mouth. Brutus was quick to wash Vader’s face as he always had done in the past. The two boys would often clean each others faces and enjoyed doing so as well.
And once Brutus realised that Vader wasn’t well and not up to playing, there was no consoling him as he barked frantically and circled the grizzled elderly boxer dog. In the end he was so upset that I had to put him inside and take Vader back home.
14th December 2021
Brutus was in the garden laying on his bed. The sun had warmed him up quite nicely and he was enjoying reading his favourite dog magazine ‘Naughty Whippets with No Collars’. He was about to turn the page when he heard a husky voice say “Hey Brutus, are you there?”
That was Vader! He must be feeling better Brutus thought. He felt immense relief just to hear Vader’s voice. Maybe he could come round for another playdate?
“Are you OK?” Brutus whispered through the gap in the dividing fence. If he squinted, he could just make out Vader’s cloudy eyes staring back at him,
“I’ve just farted.” Vader snorted and then after a few minutes straining, Vader pushed out another loud fart, causing Brutus to laugh and let out a fart as well. And just for a few minutes, things were back to normal and the worries about Vader’s confusion and sickness were forgotten as the boys enjoyed some ‘toilet humour’.
“You have been my best friend you know, you do realise that don’t you?” Vader barked. It wasn’t a strong bark, but it was his unmistakable ‘rusty dog bark’ that was unique to him.
“Yes and you are mine as well. You were there for me when Rocky died and Gordon the cat too. Mates for life that’s what we are. When you are better you can come round to my house and shit in my garden just like the old times!” Brutus said happily.
Taking a big breath, Vader said, “Well – that’s what I want to talk to you about, while I can still remember who I am of course………”
Later that day
“Brutus, dinner time!” I said to him. Normally he does his own little happy dance at meal times which involves him dancing from paw to paw and throwing in a couple of twirls and some bounces because he gets so excited.
But this time he took his time and walked slowly towards the living room door and ate his dinner before jumping up on to the sofa where he remained for several hours until I had to force him out for his bedtime pee.
His brother Kevin (the bastard) usually takes immense pleasure in winding Brutus up and bullying him from his prime position on the sofa but as though sensing something was up, Kevin sat quietly next to Brutus while just occasionally looking at him to see if he was OK. No words were said between the two of them, but Brutus appeared to be grateful for the little ginger cats company.
15th December 2021
Vader was sitting by the door in his house. He had forgotten where he was again but thought that if he stayed by the door and stared at his human siblings, it might help him remember stuff like who he is and what his purpose is. He loved his human siblings so much – mainly because they fed him their leftovers, but they were his family and he was very protective of them.
Vader does have three cats and a little dog sister called Trixie that he lives with – he loved them of course but not as much as his tiny humans. Even in his moments of confusion there is one thing that always remained constant and that was he knew that his tiny humans needed him and he loved them right back.
He saw both children eating their breakfast and wondered what kind of adults they would grow in to and how many dogs they might have in their lives after he had gone. “Who am I? What should I do?” Vader whispered and then looked up at his Mum Lexie for the answers before silently pleading with her, “Help me, I am done here.”
6:33am – I had not long woken up and was getting ready for work. I heard my phone beep and saw that it was a message from Lexie letting me know that she was sending Vader to Rainbow Bridge that morning and if I wanted to come and say goodbye then I was welcome to go round.
I just pulled on some clothes and as I was about to rush out of the door, I looked at Brutus who was curled up on his bed staring right back at me. He knew where I was going, I just know that he knew.
“He might not know who you are, he is pretty confused.” Lexie said to prepare me. But as soon as Vader heard my voice, he took some unsteady steps to come and greet me.
“Well good morning! It’s a lovely day to be going to Rainbow Bridge don’t you think?” Vader said happily. He looked so old and tired. I allowed myself to imagine his arrival at Rainbow Bridge and how he would be received and who would greet him – maybe even my Rocky dog. Then turning round to Lexie, I started to cry.
“Don’t be sad, I’m not!” Vader smiled and pressed himself into my legs and allowed me to pet him.
“Goodbye old boy, it’s your time now.” I said quietly. Then hugging Lexie, I walked to the front door leaving Vader saying, “Where am I? Am I there yet?”
Bowie the big white greyhound – otherwise known as ‘The Gatekeeper’ of Rainbow Bridge, sat by the gates with his clipboard while chewing on his pen. “Rex, we have one more coming and then we can knock off!” Bowie spoke in a posh accent and looked down to where Rex was standing.
Rex the Jack Russell, nodded and smartened himself up for the final arrival. He wore a tweed peaked cap on his little head, his tan and white coat glistened in the sun and his blue leather studded collar completed the image. He looked the perfect advert for a healthy dog.
Glancing at a couple of clouds, Rex couldn’t see any signs of the new arrival. But as with all animals that enter Rainbow Bridge, they are often heard long before they are seen and this one was no different.
“Where am I? Am I there yet? What’s my name?” An old croaky voice could be heard from behind the clouds.
“You will find out, just follow me – it’s just behind this big cloud on the left.” A kind and patient voice could be heard talking back to the croaky voice. “Oh Lord, was that you?” The voice coughed and gagged as a loud fart sounded from behind the clouds.
“That wasn’t from my bum!” The croaky voice replied, “What’s my name?”
Rex and Bowie fell silent as the clouds parted and an old boxer dog limped up to the gate followed by a beautiful cream Saluki guiding him. With each step, he farted, laughed and asked where he was and who he was and just who had made that smell.
“Hello, mate – I don’t suppose you know where I am do you or even who I am. I am buggered if I know!” The old dog asked Bowie.
Bowie smiled, “Your name is Vader the boxer – Welcome to Rainbow Bridge. Rex, can you take him through please?”
“Follow me lad.” Rex said in a strong Yorkshire accent. He added, “If we get a move on, you can join in the games on the grass and I believe there are lots of treats, dog beer and sausages for afterwards.”
Vader looked at the dogs having fun in the distance. Some where chasing balls, some were digging holes, others were chasing butterflies and a cheeky young Schnauzer was running along the field with a string of sausages in his mouth while shouting ‘Catch me if you can!’
Cat’s lounged in trees and on benches, some chased rabbits – but never caught them, some bicycled furiously with their hind legs while kicking toys and some just enjoyed being where they were and living in the moment.
It really was a spectacular scene, peaceful, harmonious with each animal comfortable in the company of the others.
“Oh I don’t think I can do that, I am breathless and my joints hurt and I haven’t felt like eating properly in a while.” Vader apologised.
Rex laughed, “Trust me me lad, you are going to be just fine….”
As Vader walked with Rex through the gates to the other side, he found that he could breathe a little easier, walk with less pain and with each step that he took, he became younger and fitter as though he had never been sick. He carried on farting of course, but then some things never change do they?
A little black kelpie had stopped playing with his tennis ball and had started to walk towards Vader. It was Rocky – my dog who had gone to Rainbow Bridge in September 2018.
Let me explain about Rocky and Vader. There was never any love lost between them and they would regularly bark, growl and trade insults from either side of the fence.
They marginally tolerated each other on walks although Rocky did go for a dog that went to attack Vader on the beach one day. So there must have been some low level friendship there. Rocky would go mad just hearing Vader snorting and Vader used to wind Rocky up a treat by fence snuffling or pissing up our gate causing Rocky to bristle with disapproval.
It took a few seconds for Vader to notice Rocky who like every animal at Rainbow Bridge, was young, fit and healthy.
The two dogs squared up to each other and held direct eye contact. Tails erect, body posture stiff as they sniffed the air around them.
“Ey up Bowie, I think it might kick off over here with the boxer and the kelpie!” Rex said to Bowie on his mobile (yes they have special doggy mobiles at Rainbow Bridge).
“No they won’t.” Bowie said confidently, “They will find their dynamic – just leave them.”
“Are you sure?” Rex asked in a concerned voice.
“Absolutely.” Bowie replied and ended the call.
“Vader!” Rocky said without taking his eyes off him.
“Rocky!” Vader barked right back.
The two dogs gave each other a couple of shoves – as if testing their strength while Rex nervously watched on, still clutching his mobile phone.
Then as quickly as it started, the shoving stopped and both dogs started to play-bow to each other with their tails wagging high. They pranced, jumped and played together for a few minutes before Rocky said, “Fancy chasing some rabbits?”
As they walked off leaving a relieved Rex to report back to Bowie the greyhound, Rocky could be heard saying, “I never really hated you Vader.”
“I never hated you either, in fact I missed you when you left…” Vader admitted.
“Friends?” Rocky declared.
“Friends!” Vader barked back, “Now let’s go and chase some rabbits!”
A couple of hours after Vader had left, Brutus dutifully took position by the dividing fence where once he realised that Vader was no longer there, he proceeded to cry for quite some time.
“Brutus?” Kevin asked him later that evening.
“Yes Kevin,” he sighed.
“Rainbow Bridge must be a pretty cool place to be.” Kevin said matter-of-factly.
“What makes you say that?” Brutus said sadly.
“Because we all go there eventually!” Kevin replied cheerfully and started to wash his bum.
And although Brutus was upset at losing his best friend, he knew that Kevin was right.
Dedicated to Vader the boxer
This special dog found a way into my heart the very first time that I met him. Brutus and I would call round to Lexie’s for our evening walks and the boys would come back exhausted from their escapades.
They were also regulars on the lure coursing field at Guildford Polo Grounds. They never won of course, they were too busy play fighting on the field to win anything. Vader’s jowls flapping in the breeze like inflated shopping bags as he ran. While Brutus thought that everyone was there just to cheer him on. It kind of became a highlight if anyone managed to get a photograph of them.
I could always hear Vader before I could see him, his snuffle breathing, snorting and his farting. We had a standing joke that when he came to my house, he would do at least four shits in my garden. Lexie would even send him over with a supply of poo bags. I never knew how one dog could hold so much turd and save it up for my garden, I could imagine Brutus proudly cheering him on while doing it.
Vader didn’t like men, he was nervous of them. We would laugh at him barking and growling at my husband who was minding his own business in the living room. Vader would be in our garden, wiping his snotty nose on our window thinking that he owned the place – he did really, well at least in his eyes.
Anyway, I have only just been able to write this blog and even then I have cried while writing it. In case you didn’t know, Vader was actually in my book ‘Planet Iggy’. he inspired me to write so many chapters and played starring roles in some of the short stories.
I honestly believe that had I not met Vader and Lexie, I would never have met the Italian greyhounds and their lovely owners. Which means that I would never have written Planet Iggy either, as Vader’s antics with Brutus fired up my imagination in such a way that it made me look forward to escaping into my own magical little world of talking dogs.
This blog is dedicated to Vader the boxer – the Goodest Boy in the Land
Before I adopted my dog Rocky, I knew very little about kelpies but what I did know, was that the tiny pup with the massive ears advertised on the Pet Rescue site, looked very nice and so we adopted him.
Rocky chewed, dug and smooched his way into our hearts, minds and lives and it wasn’t too long before we realised just how smart and intuitive he was and managed to teach me the true meaning of trust, loyalty and friendship between a human and a dog.
What is it about the Australian Kelpie?
‘There are dogs and there are Australian kelpies’ – someone said this to me many years ago and I have never forgotten those words. Now don’t get me wrong, ALL dogs are special in their own way but for some of us, we might just have a breed or type of dog that we favour above others. After all, we are all different and it’s those differences that make the world go round.
They just know stuff….
A kelpie can see right through you. It knows if you are hiding that tennis ball or toy and you will be met with gentle punchings by his nose to your leg or arm, in a desperate and persistent bid to gain your attention. There is no ignoring him/her because kelpies seem to have a ‘kelpie degree’ in knowing how to get you to do what they want you to do.
If you have had a bad day, your kelpie will stare you down with eyes of magic and realise that things are not quite right. You can ignore him/her all you like and pretend that you are OK, but your kelpie will know that you are lying because they are clever like that. I have always said that kelpies probably go to a secret kelpie university where they all sit at the front of the class and study stuff like that.
Your low mood will be treated with a nudge of a wet nose, shoving your hand high in the air so you have no choice but to acknowledge the firm chiselled snout of your dog and in turn stare into his eyes that see everything.
A few pokes by the paw later and your hand is draped round your kelpies neck as you subconsciously stroke his thick double coat and before you know it, you are cuddling him. That is if he hasn’t migrated to your lap first where you will go what I term ‘full kelp’ which means you have your entire kelpie on your lap before you even realised what he was doing let alone remember that he shouldn’t be on the sofa anyway.
That is when you breathe in his scent because each and every dog has his/her own special smell that is unique to them. And you enjoy the warmth and comfort of that solid little body of the dog that has made it his mission to make you feel better without you even having the need to explain yourself as you would with humans.
Because with dogs, we don’t need to explain ourselves and isn’t that a marvellous thing to not have to do that and to be understood without opening our mouths?
A whole lot of positivity and sensitivity in one smart dog
The days start ridiculously early with a kelpie and it starts with tennis balls, running, swimming or something equally exciting. Mornings are greeted with big ears, bright eyes, expectant face and a heart full of hope that the day will be fantastic. If kelpies were human, they would be positive, energetic, impossible to ignore and have a dash of naughtiness thrown in for good measure.
It doesn’t take much to upset a kelpie. You only have to raise your voice and he will think that his entire world has ended, that you don’t love him any more and his kelpie heart is breaking into a million pieces. If my dog Rocky was ever told off, he would turn round and face the wall with his back to us, giving out loud sighs of exasperation that screamed ‘I am misunderstood’. The sulking could go on for an hour or at least until his fluffy penguin was brought out for a game of ‘fetch’ and that was enough to make him forgive us for telling him off for having a go at the cat.
Driving anywhere is good as long as it’s with their favourite humans
Car rides with a kelpie are special and something to be treasured. If my Rocky could have done, he would have driven my car for me and even collected me from work. He loved the car and he loved road trips even more and was the perfect dog to travel with.
When we went down on road trips down South, Rocky would start crying from the moment his seat belt was clipped in, right up until we reached our first coffee stop and only then would he stop. Next time you see a kelpie in the car, observe the sheer joy in that dogs face, in fact if you look closely, you will probably see it telling its human how the car should be driven. Or even shouting ‘Are we there yet?’
Kelpies – the ‘sensibles’ of the dog world
Nobody does sensible quite like a kelpie. Yes, they tend to have LONG puppyhoods which seem to go on forever in terms of digging or making beds explode but once they do mature, they can give you a look that could rival that of your mother glaring at you because you have been naughty in public.
I can recall being drunk and crawling on the floor with my friend while pretending to be a sheep and my kelpie giving me the most withering look I have ever seen. Then there were the times where I would sing in the car to Usher and Rocky would look absolutely horrified and embarrassed.
Kelpies – strong and brave until the end
Kelpies can run for kms, they never seem to tire and would appear to have a bottomless pit of energy to use up. Even when injured or unwell, they will do their best to keep going and when they get too sick to do that, then you know something is really wrong. They rely on their owners to know when they are crook because they can’t rely on themselves. They are the kind of dog that would say ‘It’s OK, I am fine, I will be fine – where are those sheep/tennis balls?’
And when that time does come when they no longer enjoy their life be it as a pet or as a working dog, trust me when I say that your kelpie will tell you when he/she has had enough, you just have to be receptive to understanding them. They will tell you with their body language, with their heart and with their eyes and whilst those signals may be silent, they are the loudest you will ever hear and it is your duty to listen to them.
Because when it’s time for a kelpie to leave this world, it should be with a calm, quiet and peaceful dignity that this dog (and any dog) deserves because anything else is unfair.
So I repeat, what is it about the kelpie that is so special?
A kelpie is your dog, your worker, your protector, your mate, your driving buddy, your snuggle buddy, the one you can trust with all your secrets and the one that understands you better than you do yourself.
Everything is special about them – absolutely everything and once you have been owned by a kelpie, you will never be the same again.
Dedicated to kelpies everywhere – especially my darling Rocky
You may remember from my previous stories that my old dog Rocky went to university where he studied ‘sheep herding and the modern day kelpie’. Rocky was well educated, wore round gold-rimmed kelpie spectacles and usually carried a copy of the ‘Kelpie Times’ under his arm.
Now for a dog to get into university they have to be pretty smart. These places are usually filled with working dogs – kelpies, blue heelers, border collies, sniffer dogs in training etc.
Brutus you may have gathered by now, is not the smartest dog in the world but probably smarter than he realizes. He doesn’t like to be reminded of the time he attempted to jump in the air to catch a helitac during a bushfire and there are heaps of other examples and we certainly won’t talk about the ‘Tony Abbott doll incident’ either.
So my darling Brutus could not get into university because not only did they not have a course suitable for him; but he didn’t meet the criteria to get in.
That’s OK though because university is not for every dog and for dogs like Brutus, they have special dog schools with courses like garden digging, how to make your bed explode and how to pull washing off the line when your human isn’t looking.
Cats have a similar kind of schooling system and many cats go on to be superior creatures and acquire enough knowledge to make their human into their own personal servant. But if we are discussing Kevin the cat, he has been in and out of kitty prison for doing unspeakable crimes with a squeaky stuffed warthog, several blankets and my leg.
Brutus had always admired his kelpie brother Rocky, right up until the day Rocky crossed over to Rainbow Bridge. Sometimes Brutus would borrow Rocky’s kelpie spectacles and one of his sheep herding books and sit on the sofa pretending to read them. Rocky never had the heart to tell Brutus that the book was upside down or back to front, he just allowed Brutus to have his moment.
It never stopped Brutus dreaming about going to university though and in the privacy of his room; he had made his own certificate complete with a ‘Passed’ stamp out of a potato and some ink he obtained by breaking several of my biro pens.
One day at Pippin’s House
Brutus was at Pippin’s house having lunch. It made him feel grown up to have lunch with Pippin. Pippin was sitting in his favourite chair reading the newspaper, occasionally taking a dainty bite from a dog treat that his Mum had bought for him from the markets.
Pippin smiled at something he was reading then picking up his handkerchief, he dapped his pointy snout a few times and followed by taking a sip of his tea. He could feel a pair of eyes on him and could hear the sound of heavy breathing from Brutus.
He sighed, put the paper down on the side of the chair and turned round to where Brutus was standing. “Are you OK Brutus?” Pippin raised his eyebrows at his giant friend.
Brutus’s treats remained uneaten. Crushing bits of biscuit with his paws, Brutus struggled to find the words to ask Pippin a question. “Pippin?” he eventually asked.
Pippin peered over his spectacles, “Yes Brutus?”
“Rocky went to university and made something of himself didn’t he?”
Pip nodded and agreed that yes, Rocky did go to university and achieved great things.
“So is there any reason why I can’t do the same?” Brutus questioned him.
Pippin puffed air out of his cheeks before responding; “I think dog universities have a criteria that has to be met and that maybe it would be a bit tough for you Brutus.”
But Brutus wasn’t interested in how tough it was. Ever since Rocky had gone, Brutus wanted to stand for something (other than for food in the kitchen). He longed to reach the giddy heights of university and be able to have awards in his living room and have his degree framed on the wall to show off to everyone.
Pippin tried to pacify Brutus by saying that he was smart in other ways and wasn’t that enough?
Except that it wasn’t, not to Brutus. Because he had decided that he wanted to be just like his big brother and he would not give up until he had exhausted all avenues of trying. If he had to write to the Queen herself then that is what he would do.
“He’s going to get hurt Pippin, you need to fix this and quickly.” Bronte said firmly to her brother who didn’t reply but inwardly knew that she was right.
A Few Hours Later – Back at Brutus’s house
“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” Kevin the cat growled impatiently. He was trying to watch TV and Brutus was rummaging around in the cupboard and impatiently chucking things on to the floor.
Muttering something about ‘university stuff’, Brutus trotted off into the dining room where he spotted something on the table. It was Rocky’s latest quarterly university magazine – the subscription hadn’t yet been cancelled.
“That’s the one!” Brutus said triumphantly. Grabbing the magazine in his mouth, he walked off to his bed to read it. Which may well surprise you because if you remember from my book – ‘Planet Iggy’, that Brutus actually has dyslexia and at one point, couldn’t read at all. That was until Bronte the Iggy assisted him with various coping techniques and although his reading wasn’t nearly as good as the Iggies in his group, he could get by and if someone drew pretty pictures for him then he did even better.
Kevin stared at him intently stopping only occasionally to wash his anus, chew his nails and pick a fight with the cushions. “Why are you reading Rocky’s magazines? It’s not as though you could go to university is it, I mean don’t you have to be smart to go there?” Kev laughed at Brutus and then proceeded to kick the shit out of the cushions with his hind legs bicycling furiously and snagging on the fabric.
Brutus ignored him and flicked through the pages of the magazine. Beautiful photos of smart kelpies and blue heelers on each page, some wearing their farming collars, some herding cattle and some posing at the university with their teachers, while holding their certificates.
Feeling a huge pang of envy, Brutus berated himself. What on earth was he thinking? Kevin was right; he was no way smart enough to even look at the magazines let alone dream of going to university.
Pulling a face, Brutus nudged the magazine to the edge of his bed but did it too hard so it fell on the floor. He was going to leave it where it was but when he looked down, Brutus saw it had opened up on a page and when he saw what was on it, he bit his lip to try and stop himself from crying.
There on a full page spread was a photograph of his brother Rocky and a tribute write-up. The article must have been done just after Rocky had died to make this quarter for publication.
Rocky looked ever so smart and healthy in the photo. His shiny black coat, his eyes bright, ears erect and he had his university neckerchief round his neck. Proudly clutching his certificate for his degree in sheep herding, the look was finished off with a pair of gold-rimmed round kelpie spectacles (these are spectacles especially for kelpies, a bit like whippet jeans which are jeans just for whippets).
Brutus had been looking for those kelpie spectacles everywhere because ever since Rocky had gone, they held more significance than ever. The trouble was, Brutus just could not find them no matter how hard he looked.
He couldn’t make out all of the words in the article but realized that it was about Rocky and his success as a university educated but disabled kelpie with bad hips, while managing a busy sporting life, studying and living in the suburbs.
The next part of the article was a Q&A kind of thing where Rocky had been asked questions, one of them being did he think that all dogs should have access to higher education or should it be kept elite for the smarter dogs in life. It was Rocky’s answer that took Brutus’s breath away.
‘Intelligence should not be measured by academic qualifications because there are so many dogs that haven’t been to university and don’t have degrees but they are smart in other ways and they should be given the same chance to better themselves as any other dog’.
There was another section about Rocky crossing over to Rainbow Bridge and what a loss he would be to the university and the kelpie clubs that he was a member of. But the most surprising part to the article was a new program called the ‘Rocky Scholarship Program for Alternatively Gifted Dogs’ where dogs that are not academically gifted, could sit a special entrance test with a view to studying alternative courses at university.
They had programs such as how to be a sniffer dog, guard dog training, cat herding, storm prediction, how to protect your suburb from the garbage truck, bushfire prediction and how to protect your family to name but a few.
Dogs would graduate with their degree; they would get their special day wearing their gown and cap, a special university neckerchief, a certificate and a qualification. They would get their day of pride and recognition and would learn important skills – well cat herding is debatable but it can be useful in some circumstances I guess.
And this brainchild was the idea of Rocky. He had come up with the entire thing and had persuaded the university to run the course and had even assisted with planning it all, he really had thought of everything.
The final question in the article was asking why Rocky had thought that setting up the scholarship program was a good idea and this was his reply:
‘My brother Brutus is smart but he just doesn’t know it. He is dyslexic so cannot study in the way that other dogs can but it doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be given a chance. He is kind and even when he is scared of things, he still protects his family from the garbage truck, he loves to learn and his sniffing skills are second to none’.
‘Basically, Dogs like my brother deserve a chance to better themselves’.
The article ended with a paragraph on how to enter for the program and a photograph of Rocky on the day he started his university course.
“I never even knew he had done that, I wonder if he would have told me had he not gone to Rainbow Bridge?” Brutus thought to himself. How on earth would he have known had he not found the magazine? Or maybe he was meant to find it, call it fate if you like.
Putting the magazine neatly on his bed, Brutus could not believe he was even thinking about it. He must be mad, dreaming – or both. Picking up his mobile phone, he called the one dog that he knew wouldn’t laugh at him and would support him – Pippin Potter.
“Pippin, it’s me – Brutus, I need your help but you mustn’t tell anyone……”
At Pippin’s House
“Who was that?” Bronte asked without even looking up. She had heard Pip whispering and couldn’t make out the gist of the conversation.
Ignoring her, Pippin put on his smartest collar, picked up his little bag and diary plus his phone and trotted off towards the garden, “I am popping out for a bit, off to see Brutus about something.” The door slammed behind him before Bronte had any chance of challenging him further.
“Boys and their secrets, probably discussing about those new leather collars Brutus was talking about the other week. Complete waste of money as he always ruins them by scraping them on the wall!” Bronte said knowingly to her sister Latte.
At Brutus’s House
A light tap at the door disturbed Kevin out of his slumber. Having exhausted himself by insulting the parrots in the garden, he had spread himself out by the door and had fallen asleep. Quickly jumping up, Kevin took his position and floofed his tail out to resemble a toilet brush, “I am armed and dangerous!” Kevin shouted from behind the door.
“Hi Kevin, I have come to see Brutus. It’s me Pippin!” A well-spoken clipped English accent could be heard from behind the door.
“Oh it’s you, come in then!” Kevin sighed as he jumped up to swing on the door handle to let Pippin in.
“Hello to you as well Kevin, have you bitten your owner lately?” Pippin said bravely but had to run past Kev pretty quick before Kev swatted his bum.
“Cheeky bastard!” Kevin grumbled, “What are you doing here?”
“Private business, don’t worry though, we won’t disturb you.” Pippin said meekly.
“Bloody good job you are here, he has been acting strange since he saw that magazine.” Kev pulled a face.
Before Pip got the chance to ask about which magazine he was talking about, Brutus scaled the sofa and came charging up to him and licked his face. He looked unusually energetic for Brutus so something was up and judging by the immediate request for help; it was a pretty big deal by the look of it.
Scowling at the two dogs, Kevin decided to go to his room and watch some cat videos on his mobile. There was no way he was going to sit and listen to Brutus and Pippin going on about dog stuff because Kevin doesn’t have much time for small talk unless it’s him that is doing it.
“So Brutus, what is this all about, what do you need my help for?” Pippin crossed his paws and stared at him.
Taking a deep breath Brutus handed Pippin the university magazine which had a piece of tissue marking the page for Rocky’s article, “This!” Brutus said firmly.
Pulling out his spectacles and placing them on the end of his pointy snout, Pippin scratched his nose and began to read the article.
Ten minutes later, Pippin looked emotional and broken at what he had just read. “I never knew he wrote this, I just didn’t know and I know a lot about most things. But how come I didn’t know that Rocky would think of something like this?”
Brutus silently pleaded with Pippin to help him. Pippin kept looking down at Rocky’s picture in the article and back at Brutus. After what seemed like an eternity, Pippin gave a firm nod “OK, let’s do it!”
Brutus’s grey flappy jowls turned into a grin, wiping his eyes he said in his deep voice, “Let’s do it for Rocky!”
“No Brutus, let’s do it for YOU!”
Both dogs hugged each other for a few seconds before they were disturbed by a loud ginger cough from Kevin who was sitting behind them looking irritated because he didn’t much care for male bonding sessions.
At Pippin’s house
Pippin had just got home. Barging through the kitchen door, he found Bronte and Latte curled up together on the sofa watching a DVD. “Where on earth have you been?” Bronte asked him. Her pretty little face creased with concern.
Pippin leapt up onto the kitchen counter to check for dog biscuits, grabbing a couple he then made himself a cup of Yorkshire tea in his favourite bone China mug with Scottie dogs on it and sat on the stool by the breakfast bar.
“Nothing much and please don’t ask me to tell you because I can’t. Now what DVD are you watching?”
Latte looked at Bronte and shrugged, there was no point in badgering Pip because he stored secrets in that brain of his that could rival those of a government agent.
Nothing more was said between the Iggies, there was no need because the girls knew that whatever it was, Pippin had it under control. But when they did find out, it would certainly cause a stir in the Iggy community.
The day of reckoning
Pippin and Brutus stood outside the university where Brutus would be sitting his entrance test. Brutus was wearing a collar identical to the one that Rocky wore – a blue and black collar with a black clip on it and an identity tag. Pip reckoned that he had seen lots of kelpies in similar collars and after all, Brutus was half a kelpie and more than entitled to wear it. It was a smart collar, not too elaborate but perfectly functional and that is exactly the sort of thing that Rocky would wear because he was never a slave to fashion and even purchased his collars from charity shops.
Brutus gripped the handles of Rocky’s old university brown leather briefcase. There were some scratches on it from Kevin but you couldn’t really notice them too much as Pippin had given it a jolly good clean. Inside the briefcase was a pen, pencil, eraser, notepad and the treasured university magazine that Brutus had found with the page folded open on Rocky’s article.
“Look at me.” Pippin barked and as Brutus turned round, Pippin stood on his hind legs and straightened Brutus’s collar. Nudging him with his pointy snout, Pippin whispered, “Whatever happens my friend, I am proud of you!”
Brutus picked up the briefcase and nodded back at Pippin. He was so scared that his legs were shaking and he fought the urge to urinate himself from nerves and farted instead. As Pippin wrinkled his nose to stop himself from retching (Brutus did awful farts), Pippin forced a grin and waved him on but on the inside, Pip was as terrified as Brutus.
A group of kelpies and cattle dogs waited outside the hall where the test was to be held. They looked so confident and smart as they discussed which dog was the best sheep herder or what kind of farm they came from. Brutus didn’t want to walk past them and was certain that his legs might give way but he knew that in order to sit the test then he had no choice but to make that walk.
Nudging one another, the kelpies spotted Brutus carrying Rocky’s briefcase. They knew it was Rocky’s as it had his initials engraved on the leather and it had Rocky’s kelpie emblem on it – an outline of his head that been carved into it.
“You know who that is don’t you?” A red cloud kelpie whispered to the others. A blue heeler frowned and said no, she didn’t recognize the huge brown dog with enormous ears looking more than a little uncomfortable as he made his way to the hall.
The red cloud kelpie removed his biro pen from his collar and pointed it at Brutus, “That my friends is Rocky’s brother Brutus. Rocky went to Rainbow Bridge last year but before he went, he started this scholarship program so that other dogs could apply for university that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.”
The group fell silent. They took in the sight of Brutus and his clumsy way of walking and how he carried that brown leather briefcase as though it were his most prized possession and perhaps it was because it was because it was certainly carrying his hopes in it that’s for sure.
The red cloud kelpie waved to a group of border collies and then to some more blue heelers and signaled for them to join the growing number of dogs that had started to gather round.
And because the group had got bigger, other dogs became interested and pretty soon there was a crowd of working dogs lined up into two lines either side of the entrance door to the exam hall.
Brutus was dragging his feet, he felt sick with nerves. What on earth had was he thinking? Dogs like him didn’t go to university. They did more practical stuff and left the smart stuff to the others.
Hearing the commotion around him, Brutus looked up and saw the dogs lined up either side of the walkway. Trying to make himself look small which is hard when you weigh 33kgs, Brutus blinked and gave a submissive grin to anyone that looked at him.
“Hey Brutus, you’ve got this my friend – do it for Rocky!” The red cloud kelpie shouted and then started to clap his paws in encouragement.
“Go on Brutus, you can do it, good luck mate!” A red heeler piped up and also started to clap. One by one the dogs began to cheer Brutus as he followed three other dogs that were also sitting the test.
Dogs that he had envied when Rocky had spoken about them, smart dogs with briefcases and university neckerchiefs. He had even borrowed Rocky’s neckerchief once and placed a flat piece of cardboard on his head with a tea towel on top and a towel round his shoulders to make it look like the cap and gown that one gets when one graduates.
Of course this moment was ruined when Kevin said he looked like an idiot but good old Rocky went along with it to make his brother feel special and had presented him with a rolled up newspaper pretending it was a degree.
And now the very dogs that he had envied; were waiting outside cheering him on. A grumpy looking pug in a thick studded collar and holding a clipboard; stood by the door marking the dogs off as they entered the building, “In you go Brutus and good luck!” The pug smiled at him which was a bloody miracle as pugs never smile unless it is for something really special and when they do smile, they usually flick snot everywhere as a party trick.
Brutus took a deep breath and turned round to have one last look at the dogs outside. He gave a feeble smile and a paws-up gesture but as he did so, he noticed a tiny little figure hiding behind the tree. It was Pippin Potter and if it hadn’t been for Pippin, then Brutus wouldn’t be about to sit his entrance test for university.
The pressure was on; Brutus simply could not let Pippin down. He looked at Pip for a few seconds before disappearing into the hall.
Pippin watched Brutus right up until he went in. Then deciding that he would be there for when he came out, he curled up by the tree on the cold damp grass and waited for his friend to finish his test which was to take 2 hours and for Pippin, it was going to be the longest two hours of his life.
In the exam hall
A chunky yellow Labrador with a pen and clipboard was directing the entrants to their seats. The hall smelt of polished floors and you could hear the clipping of nails as dogs trotted up and down.
“Pssst!” A voice could be heard from behind Brutus.
Brutus looked round and saw an overweight pug in a leather waistcoat and a thick black studded collar which was far too large for his neck. He was sitting on a booster seat on his chair and on his desk he had a biro pen, pencil, eraser and a notepad with ‘Pug Life’ written on it.
To Brutus’s left was the boxer he had chatted with earlier. The boxer sat slouched at his desk and nervously clicked his biro on and off pressing the pen on the paper, making a row of inky dots while doing it. With festoons of drool hanging from his mouth, the boxer shook his head causing the drool to flick on to pretty much everything surrounding him.
“Excuse me, do you mind?” An indignant whippet bitch with an overshot jaw and an exceptionally long pointy snout, turned round and squeaked at the boxer.
Forgetting his nerves, Brutus snorted with laughter. The boxer reminded him of his friend Vader and just for that moment, he also made Brutus think happy thoughts.
“Nothing wrong with a bit of boxer snot, it can put up wallpaper you know!” The boxer laughed and winked at Brutus, well you couldn’t tell he was winking as he had more wrinkles than the average dog but Brutus assumed it was a wink as he had seen Vader trying to do it in the whippet pole dancing club one time.
“So what’s making you want to get into university then?” The whippet asked Brutus, “Is it your owner trying to make you into a smart dog?”
“No, it’s not my Mum, she wouldn’t do that.” Brutus shook his head at her.
“I don’t get it, why would you put yourself through this if you didn’t have to, you must be doing it for someone?” The whippet pulled a face.
“Myself, I am doing it for myself.” Brutus said and picked up his pen so he could practice holding it properly.
They were distracted by the appearance of the Labrador as he handed out an exam paper to each of the dogs. “No talking, no helping each other, answer each question, leave the ones you don’t know and once you have finished you can turn your paper the other way and raise your paw.”
Brutus felt a burning need to fart again; perhaps the others wouldn’t mind if he did, surely they would understand? Just as he was about to fart, the boxer also let out a loud one, followed by the whippet and then the pug. Not wanting to be left out, Brutus farted and gave a little snort of laughter and looked at the others.
“Do you all need to use the toilet or can we start?” The horrified Labrador fanned himself with some paper.
“Let’s get this over with!” The pug said taking control of the situation and it was agreed that if any of them needed to go for a poo, then they would all have to wait until the exam was over.
“OK everyone, turn your paper over and start now!” The Labrador barked and then blew the whistle to indicate the exam had started.
Taking a few deep breaths, Brutus turned his paper over and saw that his first task was to write his name, age, breed and date. He gripped his pen as best he could and slowly started to write his details on the paper.
The questions were multiple-choice and would decide where a dog’s potential skills could be. There was no actual writing, just putting a cross in the box.
The boxer, the whippet, the pug and Brutus sat quietly in their seats and quickly became absorbed in their exam. This was the first intake on Rocky’s scholarship program entrance test; the dreams of the old kelpie were hanging on this group – especially Brutus.
Brutus only looked up once and that was when he noticed a picture of Rocky on a large poster advertising the exam, the old kelpie looked distinguished and handsome wearing his university neckerchief. Brutus felt proud because that was HIS brother up on that poster, his brother giving other dogs a chance to better themselves – even if one of them was a boxer because you all know how Rocky hated boxers.
Pippin was freezing cold. He knew he should have gone home instead of sitting outside on the wet grass for that length of time, but this was a huge deal for his friend and however hard it was for Pippin, you could bet your life it was even harder for Brutus inside that exam hall.
Pippin wasn’t entirely alone either because just a little way outside the exam hall, sat the working dogs that had cheered Brutus as he went in. They too sat outside waiting when they didn’t need to, some of them played a game of cards, some of them bounced tennis balls off the walls, but all of them waited patiently for Brutus to finish.
Two hours later
Brutus, the boxer, the whippet and the pug burst through the door, well Brutus burst through the door first, followed by the boxer – the others just ran through before the door slammed shut. The whippet and the pug made out that they assisted in the shoving of the door and even had the cheek to look exhausted. The whippet actually pretended to faint but that was short lived because the pug told her to stop with the dramatics.
Pippin Potter was freezing cold, he had no jacket on and being a slim dog, felt the cold more than other dogs. His paws were wet and he shivered to try and warm himself up.
He saw the kelpies and cattle dogs congratulating Brutus on finishing his test. Pippin was desperate to go and see him but felt too scared as there were lots of big dogs standing round Brutus. But after a few minutes he could contain himself no longer and slowly trotted up to go and meet his big friend.
“You waited!” Brutus looked relieved as he spotted the Iggy standing nervously next to the kelpies.
“Are you lost?” A red heeler asked Pippin.
Pippin dug a hole in the wet soil to try and hide the fact that he was shaking. Prone to bursting into tears at inappropriate moments, he didn’t want to embarrass Brutus by doing that today. Dancing from one paw to the other, the little dog responded in his English accent, “I am Brutus’s friend, I have been waiting for him to finish his test.”
The heeler cocked his head to the side and stared at Pippin for a few seconds, not quite able to believe that this little dog with a snout as pointy as a biro pen and legs as thin as carrot sticks, could possibly be Brutus’s friend.
“Pippin! You waited for me all this time! You must have been freezing!” Brutus’s loud voice drowned out the excitement of the other dogs. They all watched as Brutus ran past them and skidded to a halt when he reached Pip, nearly knocking him over and taking up chunks of turf in the process.
“This is my friend Pippin, isn’t he lovely?” Brutus declared to the bigger dogs that looked somewhat bemused at the unlikely pair.
After deciding that any friend of Brutus’s was a friend of theirs, the usual doggy pleasantries were exchanged and Pippin’s bottom thoroughly inspected and sniffed. Pippin felt his cheeks burning with embarrassment and secretly felt glad that Rocco wasn’t there because this would have been enough to make him shout and swear and even fight with his invisible friends.
“What do you want to do now old chap?” Pippin tapped Brutus on the leg.
Unknown to Pippin, the working dogs had invited Brutus to go to the local dog pub to celebrate, which he would have enjoyed because Rocky would have gone for sure had he been around. But noticing that Pippin was hopping from paw to paw in a bid to warm himself up, he replied simply, “Let’s go back to yours for bones and beer, how does that sound?”
“That sounds perfect!” Pip smiled gratefully and the two boys started to make their way back to Pippin’s house.
“How do you think you did Brutus?” Pippin asked him.
Brutus shrugged and said that he didn’t have a clue but felt super proud for even sitting in the same building that his brother Rocky had studied in, something that he never thought would ever be possible, let alone taking part in an entrance test.
“Who knows, not me that’s for sure but I am glad that I tried.” Brutus replied, “And Pippin?” he added.
“Thanks for waiting for me, I know it must have been freezing for you to wait for so long.”
“That’s what friends are for and it wasn’t that cold really.” Pip nodded firmly trying to hide the fact his teeth were chattering.
“Liar!” Brutus barked and they both burst into fits of laughter.
Back at Pippin’s House
“Where have you two been? Mum has been frantic!” Bronte squealed and jumped off the sofa when the boys came through the front door.
Brutus was about to tell them when he felt a sharp nip to his leg from Pippin who was making a ‘hush’ gesture with his paws.
“Nowhere really, just a walk.” Pippin responded. Chucking Brutus a can of dog beer, he nodded towards the sofa for Brutus to sit down.
Bronte looked boot-faced. They were hiding something and she was sure of it. But Bronte needn’t have worried because she would find out soon enough – they all would.
A month later
Pippin and Brutus had successfully managed to keep the entire thing away from the Iggy club. Partly because Pippin wanted to surprise them and partly because Brutus was terrified of telling anyone else in case they laughed at him, not that the Iggies would dream of doing that to him as you well know.
The day had finally arrived and that was the day the dogs were due to receive their exam results.
On the outside of Brutus’s house, you could see a huge mushy, wet nose pressed against the window. He had been waiting for the mail to be delivered and had patiently been checking the mailbox every hour since 4am just in case the postie forgot where he lived and delivered it to the dog down the road by mistake.
Kevin shook his head at his brother and wondered what was going on to make him show such interest. He never usually did unless it was his food delivery and even then he never got that excited.
Brutus was about to turn away when he spotted the postman on his moped trying to stuff a large envelope in the mailbox. Opening the door, Brutus ran outside to intercept it.
“Excuse me, has that got my name on it?” He barked at the postman.
The postman squinted at the writing on the envelope; which also had a stamp from the ‘University of Working Dogs’ on the top left hand corner.
Brutus could barely contain himself as he watched the postman struggling to read the tiny print.
“Yeah, that’s for you I think, if your name is Brutus that is!” The postman handed the envelope to Brutus who took it in his mouth and without saying another word, ran up the garden and back into the house and in to his bedroom so that he could open it in private.
At Pippin Potter’s house
Pippin picked up his mobile for the umpteenth time that morning and checked for any messages from Brutus. There hadn’t been any, what on earth was happening at Brutus’s house?
“Why do you keep checking your phone Pippin?” Latte asked him.
“I am a busy dog and have to keep up with my business contacts, that’s why. Don’t be so nosey!” Pippin replied curtly in a bid to silence her.
At Brutus’s house
The crisp white envelope was A4 and fairly thick – clearly padded with documents. It had Brutus’s name on the front and on the top right hand corner, it had the stamp of the university on it with a kelpie’s head as an emblem. Brutus felt sick just holding it, let alone having the courage to open it. What if he had failed, what on earth would he tell Pippin who waited for 2 hours outside in the cold? But telling Pippin that he hadn’t the courage to open the envelope was possibly worse than failing itself.
Ripping open the envelope, Brutus pulled out a university brochure, some forms and finally, a letter in the shape of a large bone with his name on it. With his mouth trying to make out the words, Brutus read the letter several times and tilted his head to each side – something he did when he couldn’t quite grasp something. Then dropping everything on the floor and without saying a word, he walked into the garden crying quietly and clutching his phone.
At Pippin’s house
The sound of Pippin’s phone ringing jolted the Iggy out of his slumber. Brutus’s name came up on the caller ID with a profile picture of him dressed as a pop star from when they did the boy band concert.
“Well, what’s the latest……?” Pip asked quietly and after a few minutes of discussion, Pippin ended the call and went back into the house. But before he did, he looked up at the ceiling and mouthed the words ‘thank you’.
Six months later
It was graduation day at the working dog university and the new graduates were ready to receive their certificates in their chosen subjects. The chunky Labrador was bustling up and down on the stage making sure everything was perfectly in place for him to do the presentations. Dressed in what is termed a ‘Labrador suit’, he looked jolly smart – well, the suit was a bit on the tight side but he blamed that on the roast chicken he had stolen the night before.
The pug, the boxer, the whippet and Brutus were wearing their caps and gowns. Brutus’s cap was slightly wonky, the boxer’s cap had slipped down his face and the whippet’s cap was far too big for her. But that was OK because it worked for them and it was their day to shine – wonky caps and all. They sat at the side of the stage waiting for the ceremony to start. A giant painting of Rocky hung on the back wall with Rocky’s name and ‘2008 to 2018, Team Kelpie’ on the bottom.
Coughing to clear his throat, the Labrador tapped the microphone a few times to test the sound. Placing her paws in her ears, the whippet made various grumbling noises about how sensitive she was to sound and did they really have to do that? The pug gave a disapproving look in sympathy and did exaggerated gestures about turning the volume down.
“Are you OK Brutus?” The boxer asked him.
Brutus gave a determined smile and a quick nod to say that yes, he was OK even if he had to keep pinching himself to make sure it was real.
The whippet was delving into her handbag looking for her powder compact. Once she had found it, she opened it and quickly checked her reflection and examined her teeth for traces of Schmackos.
“Well, looks like this is us guys!” The boxer puffed out his chest and straightened himself up.
Brutus turned round to look at Pippin. Nothing was said but the curt nod and proud grin from Pippin told Brutus everything he needed to know.
The Labrador waited for a few minutes for everyone to settle and once they had, he began his speech, “Ladies and gentlemen I am going to start with a dedication to a very special dog that had a great influence on this university.
“Now this dog was a fine senior kelpie called Rocky who believed that all dogs deserved a chance to excel in their chosen area and not be excluded because they didn’t fit the academic criteria to apply to the university.
“And it’s because of Rocky, that we have this new pilot course on offer at our university. It is also because of this course, that we have Rocky’s brother who Rocky believed could be the best version of himself with the right support.”
The Labrador gestured to Brutus to stand up, “Ladies and gentlemen, dogs and bitches and the cat in the front row, I am proud and honoured to call up Brutus!” The Labrador moved to the side to give Brutus the space to come up to join him on stage.
“Did he just say cat in the front row?” A kelpie whispered to a Schnauzer sitting next to him.
The Schnauzer put on his spectacles and frowned while trying to make out if there was actually cat in the front row and spotted an angry looking fluffy orange cat wearing a pair of ginger cat jeans, a leather waistcoat and a white T shirt with ‘Bollox’ on it. The Schnauzer glared disapprovingly at the cat and pursed his lips when he flipped him the bird and mouthed the words ‘shit-beard’ at him.
“Who on earth is that vulgar feline?” The Schnauzer growled in his German accent to the kelpie.
“Kevin”, the kelpie sighed, “And he is Brutus and Rocky’s brother – someone you don’t want to mess with. Rumours have it that he has actually killed several dogs and three humans in his time and dines on the bodies of his enemies – and he weighs 8kgs.”
Deciding that perhaps the kelpie was right, the Schnauzer decided to try to ignore Kevin and pretend that he wasn’t there.
Next to Kevin were Pippin, Vader the boxer, Bronte, Latte, Zara, Nica, Gigi, DJ, Carlo, Fletch, Kaya, Dash, Augie and Rocco. Once they had found out about Brutus’s exam results, they had all insisted on coming to see their friend graduate. Pippin had decided to splash out as it was a special occasion and hired a mini bus to transport them.
Brutus stood up, fighting the urge not to run in the opposite direction, he turned round and focused on his friends for a few seconds and then walked with as much confidence as he could muster on to the stage.
Anyway, back to the ceremony.
The Labrador was about to hand out the first award, “Congratulations Brutus, you have been awarded the Working Dog University Certificate in ‘Protecting your garden, your home and your family’ – graduating with honors.
“You have also been awarded the ‘The Good Boy Award’ – graduating with honors. Well done lad, Rocky would be proud of you!” The Labrador handed Brutus his certificate scrolls tied up with a scarlet ribbon.
If ever there was a dog that shone with pride that day it was Brutus. Standing bolt upright, wearing his very own university neckerchief, cap and gown, Brutus tried to stay focused on the Labrador and not the group of dogs that were there for the award ceremony – many of which had come to support him.
Brutus held onto his scrolls and resisted the urge to look at them, touching the red silk ribbon, he allowed himself to imagine if that was how Rocky had felt when he graduated. He remembered how envious he felt of the little black kelpie when he got his degree and never in a million years thought that he would be standing in that exact same place to receive one himself.
“Are you crying Pippin?” Kevin hissed in his ear.
“Yep!” Pippin exhaled slowly to stop himself from doing that ugly crying you can get from watching soldier homecoming videos.
“How did you manage to keep it from us, from me?” Bronte sobbed to Pippin, “You both did this all on your own and we could have supported you!”
“Sometimes the best things in life have to be kept a secret until they are ready to come out. Besides, we told you in the end and that’s what counts.” Pippin responded.
“Oh, just one more thing lad!” The Labrador said to Brutus. Then bending down to the front of the stage he waved to a red cloud kelpie to hand him a tatty black glasses case with a gold ‘R’ embossed onto it.
The Labrador carefully opened the case and removed a pair of Rocky’s gold rimmed, round kelpie spectacles and gently placed them on Brutus’s face while adjusting the arms to fit behind his ears.
“Now you’re good!” The Labrador winked at him.
“Rocky’s kelpie spectacles! I wondered where they had gone!” Brutus gasped.
“Rocky had left strict instructions that they be given to you on your graduation from this university.”
“But how did he know I would even go to university?” Brutus questioned the Labrador.
“Rocky was a smart dog and he knew you and what you were capable of.”
“The kelpie spectacles, he has the kelpie spectacles, he had looked everywhere for them!” Pippin said to himself.
“I am so very proud of him!” Bronte whispered to Pippin.
Pippin gulped “You and me both Bronte, I just wish Rocky had been around to see this.”
“Well technically he is.” Bronte placed her paw on Pippin’s back.
Pippin cocked his head, “How did you work that one out?”
“Because as you said, this whole scholarship thing was Rocky’s idea and he knew that Brutus would eventually find out about it and apply for it.”
They were suddenly distracted by the sound of ‘Team Kelpie’ that had started off a slow clap of paws until every single dog was clapping and cheering for Brutus – an ordinary mixed breed rescue dog that took a leap of faith and succeeded (with a little help and belief from a good friend).
As Brutus looked across the room to take it all in, he noticed a tennis ball bouncing by itself on the walkway in between the seating. Nobody else seemed to see it, only him.
He looked towards the dogs clapping at him; he looked at Pippin Potter sitting next to Bronte and the other Iggies. Brutus looked at Rocco who was busy clapping and biting his own tail at the same time. He looked at Kevin who was washing his bum to annoy the Schnauzer.
Not one of them noticed that tennis ball and neither did they notice the little black kelpie standing at the back of the hall wagging his tail and waving at Brutus who stared right back at him. Then after a few minutes, Rocky picked up his tennis ball and vanished as quickly as he had appeared.
“I saw you Rocky, I saw you!” Brutus said quietly and then unable to hold his emotion in a moment longer, he leapt off the stage and landed right in front of Pippin where he hung on to the little dog and cried his heart out. He cried for Rocky, he cried because he was so exhausted but most of all, he cried because he was so proud of himself.
It’s amazing what we can achieve when someone believes in us and what others can achieve when we believe in them.
And that goes for our dogs as well.
Samantha Rose (C) Copyright Feb 2019
This story is dedicated to my friend Robyn who was brilliant at bringing out the best in people and believing in their potential. I strongly suspect that she is now hanging out with my Rocky in a place that you and I could only dream about. – Love you always Robyn
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 September
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the day after Rocky died with his toy that our friend bought him.
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.
I’ve got you buddy, I’ve got you
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.
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.
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.
Flowers from our lovely vets – kept in the spare room out of Kevin’s reach of course
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy birthday Rocky
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Birthdays – you are never too old to celebrate them, just ask Rocky.
*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*
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.
Rocky is not amused at being compared to me
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bronte 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’.
Colour: Black (grey mask, tufts of eyes), white paws, vest and stomach
Date: 23rd October 2015
Area: Heathridge, WA, 6027
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.
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?
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:
About the Pet Project Exhibition – ‘One of the Family’
What is the Pet Project?
The Pet Project is a photography exhibition run with the aim to capture the importance of how dogs are part of our family.
This involves three master photographers – Janet Craig, Tina Urie and David Brittain who are working with Cancer Support WA to form The Pet Project.
The photographers are seeking pet owners and their dogs to take part in a professional photo shoot and are looking to capture one photo that demonstrates the love and connection between a person/people and their dogs.
How does the fundraising work?
Each person that enters will have their own fundraising page set up with their chosen photograph and a short write-up about their dog(s). The next step is to get people to sponsor your fundraising page where all proceeds go to Cancer Support WA.
If you are lucky enough to raise $1,200 then you get a free canvas print of your photograph but either way, anything that is donated to Cancer Support WA is a welcome donation no matter how much it is.
Apart from showing the bond between dogs and their owners in a photograph and the fun of actually taking part in a photo shoot with your dog, the most important reason is to raise funds for Cancer Support WA.
About Cancer Support WA
I have tried to find the right words to describe the work that Cancer Support WA does, I have tried to find the right words to describe the benefits, the help and the priceless support that they offer to those affected by cancer but nothing I write seems adequate enough.
I have taken some of the information from their website but as for what they do and the services that they offer – I shall leave you to decide just how incredibly amazing Cancer Support WA are.
*Taken from the Cancer Support WA webpage*
“Cancer Support WA is a leading Western Australian cancer support service provider caring for people with cancer and their families”.
Doesn’t that sound simplistic and easy? Well it isn’t because the words ‘care’ and ‘support’ do not even begin to describe the work that they do and the support that they offer to those that need it.
The Faces of Cancer
I believe that cancer has many faces and it takes on the form of whoever it invades and then the faces of the family and loved ones that it affects.
My friends, family and I are just some of the faces of cancer. I have lost my Mum to the disease, my Dad, friend and sister are in remission from it, I have two friends currently fighting cancer and I have lost a very close friend in 2014 to the disease. Basically we are part of that cruel jigsaw puzzle that makes up a cancer diagnosis.
Here is a link to a previous blog I have done about my journey when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer.
You can see it in the eyes of these people in terms of pain, fear, anger, confusion, hurt and a silent voice that screams ‘I am scared and I need help’ and this is where groups like Cancer Support WA can help.
The Importance of Support and Help
To have a counsellor at the end of the phone to offload to, for someone to tell you what assistance that you are entitled to and help you to get it; this can make a big difference to a person going through such a cold and lonely journey, because that is the only way I can describe it – ‘cold and lonely’.
It takes an entire team which include a huge network of professionals to support a family that has been affected by cancer and in order to have that team, it takes funding and lots of it.
*Figures taken directly from the Cancer Support WA website*
$1,000 can offer support to one person for a year
$120.00 can pay for a counselling session
$35.00 pays for a 24 hour cancer support service
$50.00 pays for a home and hospital visit
$200.00 pays for a family cancer management plan
$300.00 pays for a cancer care pack
$500.00 pays for a research library
These are services that we all hope that we will never need but in the event that we do, we would no doubt be grateful for each and every part of it which is why continued funding is so important. So let’s help the support groups to support those that do need it.
About our photographer – Janet Craig
Our session was booked with Janet Craig who is a professional portrait photographer and owns a successful studio in North Fremantle. She is a Master Photographer with 3 gold bars with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography.
How I got involved in the Pet Project
I had seen the Pet Project advertised on Janet Craig’s Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. They were seeking out Perth dog owners to see if they wanted to apply.
It looked fun, although the thought of my two boys in a photographic studio filled me with dread but Brutus had assured me that he would be a good boy and Rocky is always a good boy anyway so I thought ‘why not?’ and sent Janet a message, she quickly called me back and a date was organized for the shoot – Saturday 22 May.
A bit about what I write
For those of you that have not read my blog before, I write about talking animals. Basically I give them their own perspective on life, I write about what they would say if they could talk and I bring their personalities to life in the way of humanizing them.
In my stories my dogs drink coffee, read the paper, have parties, go to school, have meetings and do all the stuff that humans do. Some of my previous stories are quite adult in nature so if you do choose to read those, please be advised that sometimes adult content is used. In this story however, it is child friendly and suitable for anyone with a good imagination and sense of humour.
My stories are childish, some may call them daft while others may say ‘animals can’t talk, don’t be stupid’ But I will say just one thing and that is if you do have a pet then I suggest you really observe him/her.
Because when you do, it will open up a whole new world comparable to that of ‘Dr Doolittle’ and once they start talking, you will be hard pressed to shut them up.
As I have said before, all animals can talk – it is just whether or not we choose to listen to them.
A bit about my dogs
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Rocky is a 7-year-old kelpie dog, he is grumpy and a bit disabled as he has bad hips. Like a lot of kelpies, he is tennis ball focused which is difficult as being so disabled he is unable to have the ball thrown for him.
He enjoys barking at the garbage truck every Tuesday morning which is somewhat annoying so we have started to intercept that. This usually ends up in an argument of some kind with accusations that we have ‘ruined his life’ and how he was ‘saving us from the garbage truck’.
Rocky is a very intelligent and sensible dog, he wears half rimmed spectacles and reads the newspaper while drinking ‘dog-o-cino’ coffees.
Brutus – not the smartest kid on the block
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Brutus is large 2.5 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback/Kelpie and could be what is described as the ‘Forrest Gump’ of the dog world.
He is not a smart dog and has a liking for ‘pronking’ (bouncing) in the air trying to catch the water-bombers when they fly over our house to put out bush fires and yes, he believes he can catch them.
On a couple of occasions I have found him on the bonnet of my car perched like a mountain goat while admiring the view and the butterflies.
Brutus talks in a deep, slow voice and if you could compare him to a kid at your school, he would be the annoying, clumsy and naughty child at the back of the class with a bad farting problem.
The morning of the photo shoot
It was the morning of the photo shoot and Brutus and Rocky were getting ready and trying to make themselves look halfway respectable. Having never had a professional photograph taken before, they were practising various poses in the mirror while jostling each other for prime position.
‘Will you let me have a go!’ Rocky snapped to Brutus who was pouting and trying to flex his muscles.
‘I am trying to make myself look nice’ Brutus growled back which only made Rocky angry enough to nip Brutus on the bum. Like typical vain teenagers, the dogs were sucking in their bellies, pouting and trying to find the most flattering of positions.
‘It’s so hard being a model’ Brutus said dramatically and briefly wondered if he should have had his dog chow for breakfast, but only briefly as he believed that breakfast breaks the dreadful famine that he has suffered during the night.
My good friend Moira and her son Chad were coming along to give me a hand with the boys. Brutus at 30kgs and Rocky at 20kgs are a little bit too much for me to handle on my own so I was more than grateful for Moira and Chad’s offer of help.
We were taking my car and I was to sit in the back between the boys while Chad sat with Moira in the front. Not used to having people in the back with them, Rocky and Brutus were clearly not happy at having to share the back of my car with me and it was only then that I realised just how disgusting my boys are.
The journey was quite dreadful with Brutus kicking me with his long legs claiming that there was not enough room for him to stretch. Rocky was blatantly farting in front of me and when I told him off, he blushed and tried to claim that was what the back seat of a car was for – dogs and farting. (I think it was the steak that I had fed him from the night before)
By the time we arrived at the studio in North Fremantle I was more than relieved to get out of the car and the boys were raring to get on with their photo shoot.
Getting ready for the shoot
Janet introduced herself and what a lovely lady she is as is her assistant. They made us feel very welcome indeed.
The studio was large, light and airy with lots of props placed around it and the first thing that struck me was a gorgeous print of several dogs all sat outside a house, it was an incredible shot that spoke volumes and commanded your attention.
‘Oh my god, this place is enormous, it is bigger than our garden, can I dig it?’ Brutus barked excitedly and then jumped up on his hind legs to stare at himself in the mirror.
‘Right, show me where the sheep are, do you have sheep, if not tennis balls will do’ Rocky said firmly and glanced around to see if there was anything for him to herd up.
I had brought some props with me which included Brutus’s Harley Davidson cap, his beloved Tony Abbott doll which is his favourite toy of all time, a black vest that he sometimes wears and a tennis ball for Rocky who was already wearing his smart Australian flag neckerchief that he saves for special occasions.
Brutus when I first bought him his Harley Davidson cap
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
While Janet got everything set up, we were waiting in the reception area that happened to have a large mirror there. Now I don’t know if your dog’s ever react against their reflection in the mirror or even if they have ever seen themselves in the mirror but my Rocky dog has never really taken notice of himself in the mirror before up until now that is.
Don’t worry Brutus – Rocky has it covered!
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Brutus was oblivious to the mirror as Brutus is oblivious to everything really except food and his friends, Tony Abbott and his puppy blanket.
Brutus, Tony Abbott and his puppy blanket (and a carrot)
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
But Rocky wasn’t and once Rocky had seen his reflection, he was absolutely furious about it because he doesn’t like other dogs gate crashing his personal space – even his own reflection.
Rocky – not amused by his own reflection
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘Excuse me, what on earth do you think you are doing here?’ Rocky growled at the angry little black kelpie dog that was staring back at him mirroring his expressions which annoyed Rocky so much that he was beside himself (in the mirror).
‘Who is that?’ Brutus demanded to Rocky and then stared at the reflection but only really noticing Rocky’s reflection.
‘Don’t worry Brutus, I’ve got this covered’ Rocky growled in an authoritative voice and then puffed himself up and to his horror, the dog in the reflection did the same. It was ‘game on’ and Rocky would fight this kelpie dog to save his family – if he had to of course.
‘You have two seconds to get out of here before I make you cry’ barked Rocky and then looked back at Brutus and mouthed to him ‘It’s OK, I think he is scared of me’.
I could see things were going to get out of control and Rocky would end up beating his own mirror image up if I didn’t stop him, so thought I had better put him out of his misery.
‘Rocky, there is something I need to tell you’ I said to him gently, after all there is nothing worse than embarrassing your dog in public and it is quite unforgivable.
‘Step back Mum, this dog is aggressive’ Rocky said tried to nudge me backwards.
‘Rocky, it is not another dog, it is your reflection in the mirror’ I whispered to him.
Looking boot-faced, Rocky bristled with anger and after a painful silence replied simply ‘I knew that, I totally knew that’ and then did what any other dog that had been so publicly shamed would do, turned round and looked for another diversion.
‘Oh look, there is my tennis ball’ Rocky said in a voice that clearly said ‘I have been shamed’ and then trotted off with his hackles still raised.
‘Ha ha ha! You were growling at your own reflection!’ Brutus laughed to Rocky.
Then with a confused look on his face, Brutus asked him ‘Rocky, what is a reflection?’ Bless him, as I said he is not the smartest dog on the block.
Fun in the Studio
We were able to let the dogs go off the leash as the studio door was shut and as you can imagine this went down very well with the boys and totally unused to trotting around on a shiny floor, Brutus galloped around like a new-born foal getting tangled up in its legs.
‘Yay! Look at me!’ Brutus yelled as he ran from one end of the studio to the other.
‘He is SO childish, he is not my brother, please ignore him’ Rocky said looking so embarrassed to be in the same room as Brutus let alone witness the giant dog skidding all over the studio narrowly missing furniture as he did so looking like Scooby Doo on a ghost chase.
When it came to getting ready for the photos both dogs thought it was just one big game and perhaps it was but either way Janet had the patience of a saint.
The tennis ball was duly brought out and Rocky went into ‘Perfect Kelpie’ mode and some good shots of him catching his ball were taken while Brutus just galloped around the studio in his own little world, skidding along the floor and admiring himself in the mirror.
Rocky knows how to be a good boy!
(Photograph by Moira Humphry)
‘This is great fun, I can move really fast without trying!’ Brutus shouted to Rocky as he came thundering round the corner tripping up in his own legs while Rocky was being ever the professional and doing marvellous things with his tennis ball.
When it came to Brutus’s turn to pose it was a bit like asking a child to sit quietly through a Cliff Richard concert – it just wasn’t happening.
We got some shots of the boys together while Brutus was asking Janet if he was THE most handsome dog she had ever laid eyes on. Rocky just rolled his eyes at such vanity and looked fed up while secretly hoping that HE was the most handsome dog that Janet had ever seen.
After all, every dog loves to think that he/she is the most handsome and well-loved dog in the world don’t they?
Trying to get the boys in one shot – not happening!
(Photograph by Moira Humphry)
I would like to tell you that both boys did everything obediently and for nothing other than praise but I would be lying. Both dogs were heavily bribed with treats and high pitched squeaky sounds to make them look the part.
Brutus took full advantage of the bribery and ate his treats with such speed that one could be forgiven for thinking that he had been starved for 50 years. Rocky was also bribed and quickly disowned his tennis ball in return for the dog treats.
‘I am SO loving it here, I love you Janet – do you love me? Can I play here on a weekday and have treats and run around and everything, do you do doggy daycare?’ Brutus said in a deep voice while speaking as quickly as the words could fall out of his mouth.
I am sure that Janet has heard it all before as there are several fabulous photographs of dogs in her studio looking all serene and obedient – unlike mine. But Brutus decided that he liked Janet and her assistant, he liked skidding round the studios but most of all, he loved the treats.
The final few photographs were taken of the boys in my car and the reason behind that was that Rocky adores going in my car and loves it when I drive him round the palm tree in the garden with the seat belt on him in the front passenger seat. In fact I actually believe that Rocky drives my car and hoons around Fremantle when I am not using it but that as they say, is another story.
Rocky is a bit of a hoon in my car
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘Move over, it is my turn to drive’ Brutus growled at Rocky from the back seat.
‘No way, you think I am going to let you drive?’ Rocky snorted with laughter. Rocky always gets his ‘Cop face’ on when he is in the front seat which I will add he always secured by his leash as well as a human seat belt when I drive him around the palm tree.
This is Rocky with his ‘Cop Face’ on
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
His ‘Cop face’ is the kind of face you pull when a cop pulls up next to you in the traffic lights, where you look and check your mirrors, nod curtly at the officer, smile and pull away gently and slowly and then once the cop is out of sight, you shout and swear at the car/cyclist that has just cut you up. Rocky has a professional and full on ‘Cop face’ when he is in the front of my car.
That is why it was fun to photograph the boys in the car, Rocky in the front and Brutus in the back looking like a dirty teenager. Although whether or not the photographs turned out is anyone’s guess as Brutus wouldn’t look at the camera.
The dogs enjoyed themselves so much that they lost track of time and before we all knew it, the shoot had come to an end and it was time to go home.
‘And that as they say, is a wrap’ said Rocky.
‘Wrap? Did someone say wrap? Chicken wrap?’ Brutus asked with his ears pricked up at the thought of food.
Rolling his eyes, Rocky shook his head and replied ‘That’s the lingo you see, that is what they all say in media – that’s a wrap’.
‘Who taught you that?’ Brutus demanded to know.
‘I saw it on TV once’ Rocky said knowingly.
‘Well if it’s a wrap, then why can’t mine be chicken?’ Brutus added and jumped in to the back seat so that I could secure him to his seat belt.
‘You have food on the brain’ Rocky snapped and then said in an apologetic voice to Janet ‘Please excuse my brother, his middle name is stomach’
‘Bye Janet, love you Janet’ shouted Brutus from the car as his big boofy brown head hung out of the window in order to say goodbye to his new friend.
‘Well that was fun wasn’t it?’ I said to the boys as we drove away from the studio towards home.
‘I am so tired that I think I might need extra food to compensate’ Brutus said in his most pleading ‘hungry’ voice and yes, he does actually have a ‘hungry’ voice that he uses when he is trying to get more food.
‘Yes I enjoyed that and it was nice to play with my tennis ball’ Rocky said happily. You will have to forgive him for being obsessed with his ball to the point that he has a book called ‘Tennis balls and the modern-day Kelpie’ on his bookcase.
‘What about you Brutus, have you got anything to say?’ I asked him.
‘Do you think I have what it takes to be a model?’ Brutus asked as he tried to catch his reflection in my rear view mirror.
And that my friends is one question that I never got chance to answer because all I could hear was Rocky snorting with laughter. But Brutus as a model? I shall leave that one to you.
Brutus and Rocky’s Pet Project Fundraising Page
If you would like to sponsor our photograph and donate to Cancer Support WA, please follow this link. Donating is safe and easy to do and you will be making a difference. You can also check out the photograph that Janet has picked from our session – but don’t be fooled by how angelic Brutus looks!