The Day Brutus Found His Bark

Brutus finds his bark

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

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

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

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

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

The boys

Brutus and Rocky in happier times

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

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

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

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

Brutus alone

Brutus in his chair

Anyway, I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brutus Oct

Brutus the brave

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

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

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

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

Rocky Farm

Rocky – forever watching from wherever he is

 

Samantha Rose Copyright © October 2018

Never too old for some magic

Kev1

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

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

The Brutus Tree

Brutus asks Rocky to stand by The Brutus Tree

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Rocky?’ Brutus asked the little kelpie.

‘Yes Brutus?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the house

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

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

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

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

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

Room

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

Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

You can read about that here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gordon June 18

Gordon – making a guest appearance in my imagination

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

me and Gordon

That final cuddle to send him on his way

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘One last hug?’ I asked him.

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

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

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

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

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

‘No, thank YOU!’ Gordon whispered back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outside in the garden

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

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

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

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

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

Later on

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Brutus?’ Kevin asked him.

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

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

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

And with that Kevin had to be content.

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

 

The End

 

Samantha Rose Copyright © August 2018