The Goodest Boy Has Landed

Brutus and Kevin were curled up on the sofa together. It was a particularly cold evening in August and although the gas heater was on, the boys still felt the need to snuggle up to each other.

The things you do to keep warm
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Kevin had been particularly clingy with Brutus in recent weeks, choosing not to leave his side and curling up next to the old dog whenever he could. Brutus seemed to take some comfort in this contact and the two boys would much prefer to be next to each other rather than with myself or my husband.

“My leg is hurting me.” Brutus sighed one night. “The human is taking me to the vets tomorrow to get it looked at.”

Kevin looked up from washing his bum and frowned, “Are you OK Brutus?”

“Not sure yet, I hope so” Brutus shrugged.

Saturday 6th August 2022 – At the Vets

Brutus had always loved going to the vets as he gets to kiss the nurses and gets spoilt with treats and this visit was no different. The vet let him scoff the rest of the treats in the tub while she examined his hind leg. It was painful for Brutus but the dried roo snacks made it a pretty good trade off.

“There is a slight swelling on his right hock, it could be an infection or arthritis but we have to rule out more serious things so best we X-ray him.” said the vet and she then organised an X-ray for the following Wednesday.

Brutus loved all the staff at the vets – pic taken in healthier times for Brutus
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Wednesday 10th August 2022

“See you later then?” Brutus grinned at Kevin. His handsome face now frosty with grey fur on his eye tufts and around his muzzle. But although he was nearly ten years old, he still behaved like a puppy and was obsessed with his toys.

“You bet you will. I’ll bite your legs if you sniff my bum!” Kevin taunted him.

“You don’t have any teeth Kevin but hey, who am I to shatter your plans.” Brutus smirked back at him.

“Are you scared?” Kevin asked him.

After a few seconds Brutus replied bluntly, “No, I am not.”

And with that, Brutus was led outside and helped into the car by his human Dad while Kev pressed his face against the window and watched the car reverse out of the garage.

I was working from home that week and later that day I received the call from the vet saying that the X-rays showed it was looking likely that Brutus had bone cancer. But they were going to obtain a sample to make sure because there was a slim chance that it could be an infection and that needed to be ruled out. At that point I was hoping by some miracle it was an infection but the awful sinking feeling in my stomach told me otherwise.

Several hours later, I collected a sleepy Brutus from the vets along with his bag of strong painkilling medication. The vet and the nurse lifted him into the car for me and I drove home with my precious cargo in the back while sporadically sobbing each time I stopped at any traffic lights. I wasn’t ready for this – none of us were. How dare cancer do this to our dog.

Thursday 11th August 2022

Mates for life
Photograph by Samantha Rose

“How will the humans manage without you?” Kevin asked Brutus that evening once Brutus had filled him in on the news.

“They have you to help them Kevin.” He nudged him gently.

“How will I manage? I mean with my anger management issues, am I up to the job?” Kevin quizzed him.

“You are the ONLY man for the job and of course you will manage.” Brutus said firmly.

And with that, Kevin had to be content but inwardly he was terrified because being alone had never been his strong point. He had always enjoyed interacting with Brutus through the bedroom window watching him play in the garden and Brutus had always done a splendid job of keeping the stray cats out of the garden in return. (Kevin hates other cats)

The Results

The vet telephoned me the next day to say that there was no sign of infection and that it was indeed bone cancer – likely osteosarcoma. This is a fast spreading and aggressive cancer and quite often, by the time it is diagnosed, it has often spread. Suddenly, a few things fell in to place about Brutus and his behaviour in recent months – nothing specific, but things that could easily be put down to old age or arthritis but with further investigation, would show otherwise.

Brutus weighed 35kgs and already had a reduced range of movement in his hips from old age and we did not think it would be fair on him to amputate his leg and put him through chemotherapy. He was not the kind of dog that could manage on three legs at all and he was already looking unwell which probably meant that the cancer had spread.

After ending the call with the vet, I called my husband to give him the news. He too had been hanging on to the hope that it would be an infection or arthritis and it was awful to shatter that last bit of hope for him and I could hear the devastation in his voice.

Because we had been advised that he could have between one and three months left to live, we had decided to treat Brutus palliatively and make every single day for him count and create a bucket list of his favourite things to enjoy.

Taken just after he had his Xrays
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Saturday 13th August 2022 – Bucket List

“What’s a bucket list?” Kevin demanded to Brutus, “And why have you got one and I haven’t?”

“Because I am the goodest boy!” Brutus said smugly and nudged Kevin so hard that he fell off the sofa and said “Bollocks!”.

The Goodest Boys Club
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Brutus then patiently explained to Kevin what a bucket list was and how it is a nice thing to do in order to fill the time that you have left in life with the things that would please you the most and make you happy.

Kevin frowned, “I have a question?”

“Go on, what is it?” Brutus asked him.

“Why do we have to wait until our time is running out before doing nice things? Why doesn’t everyone do the stuff that they dream of doing now?”

Brutus didn’t reply because he didn’t know the answer to that and quite frankly, neither do I.

But I will say that his bucket list consisted of lots of nice things including a trip to Petstock to choose a toy, have all of his favourite food, go to his favourite cafe, have his favourite humans come round to see him, go to Bunnings and have a hotdog from the sausage sizzle and finally, take him on a final holiday to our favourite AirBnB in Prevelly, Western Australia.

Bucket List Item Number 1. – Favourite Cafe and Beach Trip

Me and Brutus – Day One of his bucket list
Photograph by Samantha Rose

The first item on the bucket list was to take Brutus to ours and his favourite cafe and feed him whatever we were having and that day. He enjoyed both savoury and sweet muffins. In fact, he had most of ours as we didn’t have much of an appetite to be honest.

“Mum?” Brutus asked me.

“Yes darling?”

“Have I got crumbs on my face?” Brutus stuffed his smushy face up close to mine.

“No you haven’t Brutus.” I told him.

“Well, don’t you think it’s about time that I did have some crumbs on my face – and in my mouth?” He eyed up the last piece of savoury muffin on my husband’s plate.

I laughed at him and gave him the piece of muffin and watched him eat it in exaggerated fashion as though it was a three course meal. Brutus was never a quick eater and would make a big deal out of the smallest of morsels.

After that we went for a gentle walk on the beach by the riverside. It’s a gorgeous place and Brutus’s often used to swim there.

Brutus on his favourite beach in South Fremantle – Pic taken in healthier days
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Bucket List Item Number 2. – Petstock

The next stop was Petstock in South Fremantle – our local pet shop, this was on the same day as bucket list item number 1. Brutus loves it there as the girls always make such a fuss of him and give him treats. Let me add that Brutus’s tantrums in this store were legendary and he was famous for them. Each time I took him to the store, if he found a toy that he wanted and I wouldn’t buy it, you could bet your sweet life that he would throw himself on the ground, shadow box with his front paws and refuse to get up.

The wonderful staff there would usually have to tempt him out of the store with food/treats to get him to my car.

On one occasion he spotted a blue plush unicorn head toy and decided that he wanted it. We managed to get him out of the store to the car with treats. But then he threw himself onto the bitumen in the carpark and kicked his legs like a baby horse.

The only time he moved was when I took him back into the shop to purchase the said unicorn toy. While I was waiting to pay, my husband called and asked where I was (I was due home). Explaining to him about the tantrum over the toy, my husband sighed, ‘You are not going to buy it for him are you, he has more than enough toys!’

“I can’t exactly make any promises I am afraid” I replied. And much to the delight of Brutus, we left the store with him clutching his new plush unicorn head. We even got a photo of one of the store assistants posing with Brutus and his unicorn. What a day that was for a dog to be alive – he had a captive audience, treats from the store, lots of cuddles, told what a good boy he was AND he got the toy of his dreams.

The day of the ‘Unicorn Incident’ and the fabulous staff at Petstock
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Anyway, as part of his bucket list, we let him choose some toys and treats and got the staff to keep them behind the counter for us and I would pay for them the next day (Monday).

“Can I really have whatever I want?” Brutus barked happily.

“Whatever you want.” I hugged him. He looked so happy to be there, his tail wagging in circles so fast that he knocked some of the toys off the shelves. Unable to believe his luck, he noisily snuffled into some fluffy toy rabbits and then searched along the shelves until he found some Kong toys. We made our selection and the girls put them aside for us.

It had definitely been a good day for Brutus. He was limping a little and we were careful not to walk him far – literally just the bare minimum for him.

Monday 15th August 2022

But despite our best efforts and much to my shock, I couldn’t believe how much Brutus deteriorated overnight. When I woke up on Monday morning to take him for his morning pee, he got off the sofa and his leg gave way. It broke my heart to see my darling boy scrabbling along the floor and I had to use a towel under his belly to help him to the garden. Hoping it was just morning stiffness, I asked my husband to keep an eye on him while I was at work.

Later that morning my husband called me to say that Brutus couldn’t stand properly on his own and could now no longer walk unaided. Not only that, he was visibly looking tired and unwell.

The vet had in fact warned us that his leg would not be strong – sometimes the leg can even just break/snap with osteosarcoma and it would be excruciating. We didn’t want that happening to Brutus so when my husband called me, I knew it was decision time.

“What do you think?” I asked him, my heart was pounding in my chest, I felt physically sick. Did I want to know the answer?

“I think he’s done.” My husband said sadly.

Taking a deep breath, I telephoned the vets to organise the final trip to Rainbow Bridge for my sweet dog who wouldn’t even get to complete his bucket list of a sausage sizzle at Bunnings or go down to Prevelly, to the cottage that he loved so much.

Our favourite Air BnB Cottage in Prevelly – Brutus loved his holidays there
Photograph by Samantha Rose

We really wanted the vet to come to our house so that Brutus could be comfortable in his home with his family. The vet agreed with our decision and arrangements were made to come to our house at 11am the next day (Tuesday 16th August).

Brutus and Kevin remained close that night, it was a private connection that we were not privy to and could only watch. “Brutus, who is going to run around the Mitzi when you are gone?” Kevin meowed, he looked quite upset. “Because it can’t be me, I am an indoor cat.”

The old brown dog frowned, “There may not be anyone that can run around the Mitzi for some time I’m afraid.”

“How did that all start – running around the Mitzi?” Kevin asked him, “Tell me the story again…”

Brutus patiently started to tell Kevin the story of how running around his human Dad’s Mitzi car, became something of a national sport within his garden.

And speaking of the Mitzi, allow me to tell you the story so that you will know what I am talking about.

Run Around the Mitzi

One of Brutus’s habits was that when my husband came home from work in the evenings, he liked to do a lap around my husbands car – a Mitsubishi SUV. We don’t know why he enjoyed it but we do know that it was important for him to greet my husband in this way.

It didn’t matter how cold/wet/windy it was, on his way back into the house after saying hello to my husband, he had to run around the ‘Mitzi’. He would then run inside at speed, skidding across the floor while looking absurdly proud of himself. We even got to the stage where we could say to him ‘Brutus, run around the Mitzi!’ and he would do so on command, running as fast as his long legs could carry him with a big grin on his face.

I would hear the garage door go up – sometimes early, sometimes late – even midnight and Brutus would go outside, wait for my husband to park the car, greet him and then do his laps around the car. It was adorable and became part of our evening routine. Kevin would watch out of the living room window looking somewhat bemused at Brutus clumsily doing zoomies around the Mitzi.

We tried to confuse him one night as we both drive SUVs and I put my Kia where my husband would normally park his Mitzi and then let Brutus out. Brutus was about to start running when he skidded to a halt, looked at both cars and then immediately went to my husbands car to start running. There was no tricking him let me tell you that.

My husband did say though, he enjoyed Brutus going outside to meet him every night, wagging his tail, wiping his snout on his jeans and then doing laps around the car. It was a lovely welcoming home routine and we loved it.

Bedtime

We left the bedroom door open that night and in the early hours of the morning, we could hear Brutus scrabbling across the floor to come into the bedroom.

He went to see my husband first and then I helped him up on to the bed. I was squished up at the end of the bed with nothing but a sheet to barely cover me and felt as stiff as a board. Yet I couldn’t disturb him.

I occasionally felt a gentle lick on my face but other than that, he slept soundly between his two humans.

I took this photo of him on the morning that he left us – this final cuddle was so important to him – to all of us. Photograph by Samantha Rose

The garbage truck came and went without event and without Brutus barking at it and starting off the local dog choir that usually did the obligatory barking every Tuesday. I guess another dog would have to take over that role.

But for Brutus, his time with us was almost done and he had earned his rest.

Waiting….

We have never had any of our animals sent to Rainbow Bridge from home before – but it just seemed to be the right thing for Brutus. Rocky our kelpie went to the vet as an emergency so it was different for him.

The waiting part was the hardest. My chest was aching with grief, we knew it was the kindest decision and we owed Brutus a dignified and pain free ending. But still, it didn’t make it any easier.

At 09.54am I received a text from the vet saying that they would be arriving at around 11.30am. That was fine by us as our good friend Greet – a lady that Brutus loved so very much and had always bought him birthday and Christmas presents, was going to come round to see him to say goodbye.

When she arrived, Brutus was lying on his bed, wagging his tail and made heroic efforts to try and stand up so that he could wash her neck and show her what a good boy he was.

“Ive bought you some toys!” Greet said to him while holding a stuffed cow and a stuffed bright pink pig (Brutus loved his squeaky plus piggy toys that Greet used to buy him).

‘Is that mine?” Brutus asked happily and before Greet could answer, he took the pink plush pig and tried to hobble to the living room to play.

“Damn it, my legs won’t work!” Brutus looked frustrated as his hind leg gave way from under him. Greet coaxed him back on to his bed so she could pet him without him falling over.

“You’re such a good boy, you really are!” Greet told him. Then she gave a delighted Brutus all the cuddles he wanted while he frantically tried to wash the tears from her face.

Greet and Brutus – goodbyes are hard
Photograph by Samantha Rose

A bit later after Greet had gone, we saw the car pull up outside the driveway and we opened the garage door so the vet and the nurse could drive into our garden. We quickly had to put Kevin in his room as we did not want him to see any of this and he isn’t always good with visitors anyway.

The sofa was ready with Brutus’s favourite toys – including his beloved unicorn and favourite bears. Brutus’s blanket had been carefully laid on there for him – all the things that he loved were there.

The vet and the nurse came armed with a soft blanket for Brutus to lay on. Brutus was so happy to see them, “Hi ladies, how is it going?” Then as he tried to get up to greet them, he collapsed to the floor and we helped him up so he was sitting on the blankets on the sofa.

We chatted for a bit, we laughed and we cried – they had known him for his entire 9.5 years and had watched him grow into the magnificent dog he was. Then the vet put a cannula in to his hind leg – he barely noticed it. (Brutus hated his front legs being touched).

Now the next part of the story will be seen from Brutus’s point of view

Brutus was on the blankets on the sofa when he heard a little cough. Ignoring it, he rested his head on his paws while the humans fussed him.

“Excuse me, it’s rude to ignore visitors!” A well spoken voice said in the background.

Forcing himself to sit up, Brutus blinked a few times, cocked his head to the side and gasped.

“Hello my friend!” The voice piped up. And there; standing right in front of Brutus was his old kelpie brother Rocky who crossed over to Rainbow Bridge in 2018.

Our old Rocky Dog
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Brutus looked at the humans who were busy talking. How could they not see the little black kelpie dog in the living room? “OMG Rocky! You came for me – but I don’t understand, how come the humans cant see you?”

“They can’t see me, only you can. I am here to escort you on to the next part of your journey to Rainbow Bridge.”

“What do I do? I don’t know what to do?” Brutus looked a bit frightened.

“Let your humans cuddle you and enjoy it – make the most of it and make the most of them. Don’t worry, I’ve got you and everything is going to be OK I promise.” Rocky comforted him.

Brutus settled back in the sofa and he noticed that his Mum was sitting right next to him and his Dad was leaning above him and stroking him. Rocky was right, how jolly nice to have so much affection and the fluffy blanket felt so nice and soft as well.

“Kangaroo meat Brutus?” He heard his Mum’s voice ask him. That was nice, he never got roo meat in the mornings. He took it gently, ate it and continued talking to Rocky.

“You are looking good Rocky, how are your hips? Do you still have cancer?” Brutus asked him.

“Some raw steak Brutus?” His Mum offered him.

“Don’t mind if I do!” Brutus laughed and gobbled down the steak.

“No cancer, no bad hips – life is fantastic if I say so myself!” Rocky replied and then added. “Oh yes, you have a few people waiting for you at Rainbow Bridge, I think you are going to be in for a nice surprise!”

“Schmackos Brutus?” His Mum handed him some treats. She was crying. Why was she crying?

“Hmmm, Oh yes – go on then!” Brutus nodded. “I am a bit tired but I’ve always got room for some Schmackos but no more after that, I am too full to eat another thing.”

“Who is there, is Vader the boxer there?” Brutus yawned.

“Might be, only one way to find out!” Rocky barked softly.

“Rocky, I feel a bit funny, Oh no, I’m scared, what is happening? what do I do?” Brutus panicked.

“You’re Mum is right in front of you, give her a kiss.” Rocky instructed him.

Brutus had started to lose focus but managed to look at his Mum’s face – it was so close to his, close enough to kiss her. And that is exactly what he did just before he fell asleep.

Time to go….

Brutus and Rocky remained for a few minutes, watching the humans and Kevin – who had been let out of his room to acknowledge what had happened and to say his own goodbyes.

“Will they be OK?” Brutus asked Rocky.

“Yes, in time they will. They will soon come to realise that it was for the best. Your Mum and Kevin are going to need a bit of looking after though – it’s going to be hard on them in coming months.

The two dogs watched on for a few minutes more as Brutus adapted to how he was feeling and his new self.

“Ready to go my friend?” Rocky gestured to Brutus.

Taking one last look at his family, the vet, the nurse, the sofa, the toys – everything he loved, he nodded, “Yes, I think so!”

Then in the blink of an eye, they were gone.

Follow me…
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Breezy – Brutus’s sister 

Breezy on the left and Brutus on the right
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Breezy is Brutus’s sister and her human and I, are friends on FB – I have known her more or less since we adopted the dogs.

Our dogs have had playdates in the past and were so very alike in mannerisms and behaviours, I would refer to them as ‘two halves of a whole dog’ because they were that identical.

Breezy’s human told me that around the time that Brutus died, Breezy had gone out into the garden. She suddenly went a bit wobbly on her legs, vomited, looked confused for a bit and then after a few minutes, she calmly walked away.

Breezy I must add, is just as kind and gentle as Brutus was – I still maintain that they were two halves of the same dog and we got so lucky when we adopted them.

Me and Breezy on the left, and Me and Brutus on the right
Photograph by Samantha Lakehal

Rainbow Bridge

Bowie the white greyhound and Gatekeeper of Rainbow Bridge had been up since 5am making sure everything was ready for that day.

He had instructed some of the Rainbow Bridge residents to line up on either side to greet the new arrival.

Vader the boxer, Madam Gigi, Fat Harry, Augie and Dash – the Italian greyhounds were lined up and ready.

Brutus and his old Iggy friend Dash
Photograph by Samantha Rose

“Oh darling, I cannot believe he is coming to us at last!’ Madam Gigi said dramatically as she fanned herself with a large leaf. “I truly might faint with excitement!”

Madam Gigi
Photograph by Samantha Rose

“I know what you mean, this is bloody unexpected isn’t it!” Fat Harry puffed his cheeks out and shook his head. “Still, it’s good that the gang are slowly reuniting again I must admit!”

Fat Harry
Photograph by Samantha Rose

As the Italian greyhounds spoke loudly in their high pitched voices, all trying to shout at once in order to be heard. Dash was asking if there were any snacks as he was hungry and Fat Harry was pointing to his mouth and doing gestures of hunger. Madam Gigi was still fanning herself with the leaf and while occasionally glancing at Vader the boxer trying to waft his farts in her direction.

It was so noisy that Bowie the greyhound had to cough a few times to get their silence.

“Excuse me everyone! Can we have silence please!” Bowie barked to shut them up.

“Shhhhh, he’s coming!” Madam Gigi hissed at the other Iggies.

Suddenly you could hear an unmistakable deep voice saying, “Are you sure I am going to like it here?”

“Absolutely.” A voice replied.

As the clouds parted, Brutus and Rocky slowly walked up towards Bowie who was several metres from the gates of Rainbow Bridge. Bowie had greeted millions of animals entering The Bridge and now he had to greet the gentle giant that stood before him – the dog that he had heard so much about from the Iggies.

“Hello Brutus, welcome to Rainbow Bridge. My name is Bowie and I am the gatekeeper.”

“Pleased to meet you Bowie.” Brutus puffed up his chest and smoothed his ears to make himself look smart.

“Fancy a run through the gate?” Rocky poked Brutus’s neck with his snout.

“I don’t think I can do that, my leg has been awful lately.” Brutus shook his head.

“Try it, you might surprise yourself.” Rocky said to him.

The two dogs slowly began to walk towards the gate. Then Rocky started to trot ahead of Brutus, occasionally looking back to encourage him. “Come on, speed up!” He barked.

Follow me Brutus
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Brutus looked hesitant, he always needed lots of encouragement to do things he wasn’t sure about. He watched Rocky who had stopped trotting but was gesturing him to move towards him. He had to step over the gate in order to be accepted into Rainbow Bridge, there really was no other way.

Meanwhile, the Italian greyhounds and Vader the boxer were lined up just on the other side of the gate, watching and willing him to start trotting.

“I want my Mum…” Brutus started to cry, his entire body trembling.

Madam Gigi knew that Brutus thrived on encouragement and applause and she also knew that from the old days of lure coursing, even when Brutus took a wrong turn and crashed through the barriers, that the love and praise from his human Mum was enough to make him think that he had ‘won’.

“Come on Brutus! You can do it! You entered the fastest dog in Australia competition – you did so well. Come on lad, you can do it!” Madam Gigi started barking at the top of her voice.

And it didn’t take long before the others started to catch on and shout out encouragement at Brutus who was still mumbling to himself ‘I want my Mum!’

“You can do it Brutus! Come on the Goodest Boy!” Fat Harry shouted in his high pitched Italian greyhound voice.

“Come on Brutus, it won’t hurt we promise, try and run through the gates!’ Augie cried through cupped paws to try and make himself sound louder. Just for the record, if you want to know how an Italian greyhound talks, just imagine breathing in some helium and then talking. That’s exactly how they sound.

“OMG, is that Madam Gigi, Fat Harry, Augie, Dash and the gang!” Brutus beamed at Rocky.

Rocky said nothing but nodded in the direction of the gate and Brutus not only recognised his Iggy friends, but could also a solid tan and white boxer dog who was standing right at the front of them.

“Vader, that’s Vader!” Brutus howled. Vader was Brutus’s best friend and had crossed to Rainbow Bridge a couple of years ago leaving Brutus utterly lost without his flappy jowled mate.

Taking a deep breath, Brutus started to trot towards the gate of Rainbow Bridge. As he got closer to Bowie the greyhound, Bowie gave him a wink and a salute as he passed him.

He was nervous at first, of course he was but with each stride he got faster, more athletic and very quickly he realised that there was no more pain to hold him back.

Once Brutus was over the other side of the gates, he was greeted by his best friend Vader the boxer and his Italian greyhound friends that had passed years before him and it were as though they had never been apart.

Together again – Vader and Brutus
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Bowie the greyhound smiled at the emotional scenes from behind the gate. Then picking up his special mobile phone, he made the final important call before he could close out on this job.

“Hello, is that Pippin? – It’s Bowie…..”

Pippin’s House

Pippin the Italian greyhound was sitting in his living room. Wearing a red and gold velvet smoking jacket, he was sipping on a glass of whippet whiskey (that’s a special whiskey for pointy snouted dogs) while reading a dog magazine. Now an older, more distinguished gentlemen, he was once a good friend of Brutus and they had gone through many escapades together and visited each others homes on several occasions.

Pippin and Brutus – pic taken the day that Rocky died
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Pippin jumped as his phone rang. Being head of the Iggy club, he had a direct line to Rainbow Bridge and was always the first to be told when dogs had crossed over.

“Hello, Pippin speaking.” He answered in his posh clipped English accent – I always said that he could announce the war with his voice. He dabbed his pointy snout with his handkerchief and was about to take a sip of his drink.

“I see, Yes I shall let the others know….” Pippin said quietly and then ended the call. Then wiping his eyes, he started to compose a text message to the Iggy gang which simply read, ‘The Goodest Boy has landed’.

Kevin

We had to leave Brutus’s collar and toys for Kevin – it was of great comfort to him.
Photograph by Samantha Rose
Photograph by Samantha Rose

It was a few days after that Brutus had gone to Rainbow Bridge and Kevin had been showing signs of distress.His veterinary behaviourist had advised to let Kevin see Brutus’s body afterwards which is what we did.

Initially he didn’t show any interest but after about ten minutes, he cuddled up to his brother and remained there until the vet took him away.

We were also advised to leave the blanket, collar and toys for Kevin. Unfortunately in hindsight, we removed them too soon and Kev got so upset that he attacked myself and my husband so they were quickly reinstated on the sofa.

One particular evening, Kevin was in the living room watching out of the window. The Mitzi was parked in its usual place in the carport. The kennel and bed outside had been turned round to face the wall and the box of toys placed next to it. The garden had an eerie silence about it and it was hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, Brutus would be joyously running around the car to greet his human Dad.

“There is no-one to run around the Mitzi anymore. I would love to see one last run around the Mitzi” Kevin said to nobody in particular. He was lonely, so very lonely and wasn’t doing so well as an only pet.

“Wanna bet?” A voice sounded from outside.

“Who said that?” Kevin startled. Then he heard the sounds of nails scraping outside in the garden and noises of panting from exertion.

Straining his eyes to look through the door, he saw Brutus running around the Mitzi while Rocky the kelpie chased him.

Rocky and Brutus
Photograph by Samantha Rose

“What’s that noise I can hear?” His Mum asked him as she placed a cup of tea down on the table. Pulling the blinds aside, she looked out of the window and unable to see anything, she sat down on the sofa.

“Just another run around the Mitzi.” Kevin laughed to himself then as he turned round to look out of the window again, he saw that Brutus and Rocky were no longer there.

The Latest on Kevin

Kevin is slowly getting better. He initially retreated to his room, his aggression ramped up and his separation anxiety was and still is pretty severe. We have seen him on the security camera pacing around the living room, meowing and showing signs of distress. My neighbour brings her little dog to the house to play with him which is doing wonders for his confidence.

As for the humans Brutus left behind

There is a huge Brutus sized gap in our lives and home where he once was and if I thought that I cried heaps over Rocky, well my grief at losing Brutus was on another level.

I guess I just didn’t see it coming really. He was 9.5 years old, a fit and athletic dog and we just thought it was the start of arthritis and certainly not bone cancer.

I do take comfort in the fact that we didn’t let him suffer and he had a pain free and dignified ending with his family at home and being fed up until he was sedated (sedation given before his final injection). I am even more grateful for the way that he looked at me before he went to sleep and gave my face a good lick – that is a precious memory I will keep forever.

I have often asked myself why we put ourselves through this when the loss of a pet is so painful. Would I have changed anything if I could turn the clock back? Well the answer is no, absolutely not.

Because Brutus led me to meet some fantastic people and their Iggies at the Italian Greyhound Club. If it wasn’t for Brutus, I would not have met Cathy from CJ Animal Rescue – who is one of the most incredible women I have met. I would not have moved to my current house and met my neighbour and friend Lexie and her dog Vader the boxer who was Brutus’s best friend. And if I hadn’t have met Vader, I would never have written and published my book ‘Planet Iggy’.

Brutus took me on the most wonderful journey of pet ownership. He was such a kind, gentle and funny dog and he didn’t have a mean bone in his body and I was so lucky to have been his owner. My husband and I were pretty grateful that we were the last people that Brutus saw, heard, smelt and felt as he left us, surrounded by his favourite toys and veterinary staff.

Dedicated to Brutus – the Goodest Boy in the Land – thank you for being our dog.

Brutus – The Goodest Boy in the Land
Photograph by Samantha Rose

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright February 2023

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Dr Lucy and Nurse Christine and the staff from Spearwood Veterinary Hospital for their professionalism and kindness that they have consistently shown to us and our pets. I would also like to thank Cath from CJ Animal Rescue – just for everything really.

And everyone else that supported us during that time including our Facebook and Insta supporters – too many to mention really but they know who they are.

Finally – I would like to acknowledge the fantastic work that Beyond Blue Australia do. The 20 minute telephone counselling sessions can make a huge difference when you are feeling overwhelmed with grief.

A Dog Called Dash

This story is about Dash the Italian greyhound. Dash was one of the characters in my book Planet Iggy and his real life naughtiness and escapades have kept his humans on their toes and the vets busy.

A very special little dog deserving of this tribute.

Dash – Photograh by Samantha Rose

At Dash’s house

Dash and his brother Augie were at home. Augie was lying on his back playing on his mobile phone.  He was obsessed with the ‘who’s who on the show circuit’ page, he enjoyed checking out which dogs were doing well and who had the biggest testicles. It made him miss the days when he had a splendid set of gonads himself – those were the glory days!

“I say Dash, have you seen this Iggy, he is pretty new to the circuit?” Augie asked him without even looking up.

Dash didn’t reply, he was busy gazing out of the window. He could just see the BBQ outside and it reminded him of all the times that he had stolen food from it – something he was pretty proud of. Had food theft been an Olympic sport then he would have surely won a Gold.

He hadn’t been well for a while and had been diagnosed with a serious liver issue that he knew would not allow him to live as long a life as a healthy dog. Although he wanted to have a full life with his humans, he knew it wasn’t possible and he was just waiting for the right time to leave them.

His humans had been warned that he may have to go to Rainbow Bridge at any point. It didn’t make it easier mind you, but they did understand and were trying to make each day with Dash count.

“Dash, I am talking to you!” Augie nudged him with his pointy snout.

Giving his head a little shake, Dash turned around and gave Augie a tired smile. “Sorry Augie, what you were saying?”

Augie frowned, his little face looked troubled, probably not helped by him having more grey hairs than Dash, who simply refused to age in both appearance and attitude. “Oh, never mind, it doesn’t matter. Are you OK Dash?” Sitting up, Augie picked up his drink and took a mouthful and dabbed his snout with his handkerchief to remove the coffee froth.

“Sort of, I will be….” He replied simply and then added, “Hey, do you remember the time I sneaked into the kitchen of the dog café when nobody was looking?”

Augie snorted his Dog-o-Cinno coffee through his nostrils. “Do I remember? How could I forget! Do you remember the tomato incident, nobody could believe it!”

“Oh my days! That was talked about for ages afterwards.” Dash laughed.

“Talked about until this very day and will be forever more I reckon.” Augie added.

“I remember how we used to stand on Brutus’s back so that we could reach the café table and steal the food!” Augie wiped his eyes as he roared with laughter. “Dear old Brutus, such a good boy for letting us use him as a ladder.”

“Actually Dash, isn’t there a photo somewhere of you and Brutus getting cosy together at Chewie’s birthday at the dog cafe?” 

Dash cocked his head to the side. “Might have been!” he said knowingly. “Photographic evidence is kicking around somewhere I do believe.”

Dash and Brutus – Photograph by Samantha Rose

“You haven’t had a boring life have you Dash?” Augie poked him playfully with his paw. 

Dash grinned, “No, I most certainly haven’t and I have kept my humans on their toes that’s for sure!”.

“Dash?” Augie asked him quietly. 

“Yes Augie?” Dash stared at his brother.

“Are you OK?” Augie asked him again. His eyes bulging, his ears flat back on his head, the tiny Iggy trembled as he asked Dash the question, because he kind of already knew the answer.  He was just hoping by some miracle that he was wrong.

Taking a leap on to the sofa, Dash then gestured for Augie to sit next to him. “I need to have a chat….”

“I don’t want to hear it Dash, please don’t make me hear it, I am not ready to hear it!” Augie rushed his words out all at once and spoke so quickly that it was almost hard to understand him. But all the same, he jumped up and sat next to his brother to hear what he had to say.

Dash gently explained to Augie that it was now time for him to go, what was going to happen next and how he was relying on Augie to take charge of the family afterwards. He told him how he was a big brave boy and that he would be just fine.

“Dash?” Augie asked him after a few minutes.

“Yes Augie?” Dash replied.

“Are you scared?” Augie’s eyes stared intently at him.

“No Augie. We all have our time with our humans – be it a day, a week, years – whatever. But when it’s up, it’s up. Besides, I am tired of being unwell and if I can’t steal my human’s food with the stealth and professionalism that I am used to, then that means it’s my time”.

Augie huddled up to his brother. “Will you be able to steal food at Rainbow Bridge?”

“I bloody well hope so!” Dash growled and both dogs burst out laughing.

Later that day….

Bowie the large white greyhound and gatekeeper of Rainbow Bridge stood outside the entrance with his regulation clipboard and a chewed-up pen in the shape of a large bone. It was a bad habit chewing his pen and he knew that, but he still enjoyed doing it.

Bowie the Gatekeeper of Rainbow Bridge – Photograph by Fran Forbes

“Hi Bowie, who are we waiting for today?” An important looking Scottish terrier named ‘Bertie McTavish’ asked in his strong Scottish accent. He looked quite dapper wearing a red tartan collar with a whistle clipped to it, which he was not afraid to blow to regain any order should it all kick off with any newbies. Not that it ever did of course but Bertie did like that whistle and the power that it gave him – think about the policemen in the UK when they had whistles in the olden days and you will just about get the picture.

But nobody ever kicked off at Rainbow Bridge and aside from a bit of exuberance when reunited with old friends, there was never any trouble.

“Someone pretty special who is going to keep us all on our toes, that is all I can say.” Bowie gave a curt nod to Bertie.

Bertie who had seen it all before – or so he thought, sighed, “There isn’t anyone we can’t handle here and should anyone be naughty then I have this!” He pointed dramatically to the whistle clipped on his collar.

Bowie raised his eyebrows and smirked, “Are you sure about that?” But before he got chance to say anything else, he could hear a commotion of an incoming new resident. 

It’s a great source of excitement for new animals coming to Rainbow Bridge; it’s like being given a new lease of life and getting reunited with old friends at the same time. They tend to make a bit of noise on arrival but it’s all high jinx because they are so happy to be there.

“Excuse me, but where is the food? I am bloody starving!” Dash suddenly appeared out of nowhere. They always do that on entry to ‘The Bridge’. They transition through and appear very quickly. It never fails to make Bertie startle and say ‘Now then, there will be none of that here!”

“Hello Dash old boy, how are you doing?” Bowie said affectionately.

Dash’s tail wagged furiously, so hard in fact that it smacked the Bertie in the face and made him sneeze. “I could murder a chocolate muffin my friend!” Dash grinned.

“Why does that not surprise me?” Bowie laughed, “Let me get someone to escort you through the gates. You are the only one coming in today.”

“Who is going to take me through, I can’t see anyone around, are you going to take me?” Dash asked Bertie. 

Bertie shook his head, “Not me pal and I don’t want any funny business from you!” he said sternly and then catching Dash’s worried face, he gave the little black dog a cheeky wink to show he was joking.

“Come on my friend, follow me.” Bowie reassured him. 

“Wait a second!” Dash shouted and quickly lifted his leg to pee on the gatepost. Bertie rolled his eyes at Bowie and muttered something about it being ‘highly inappropriate’ and should he blow his special whistle to control the situation? 

Dash hesitantly walked through the gates to the other side when he was suddenly bowled over by another Italian greyhound. “Darling, you are here! I thought you would never arrive!”

He looked up and saw Madam Gigi looking absolutely gorgeous with a pair of oversized sunnies and an Italian silk scarf tied around her neck. The two Iggies hugged each other tightly, that was after Gigi had done the European thing of kissing the cheeks of course.

Madam Gigi – Photograph by Samantha Rose

“Follow me, everyone is waiting for you! Fat Harry is eating everything in sight and it’s high time that you came to redress the balance!”

“It’s so good to finally be here Gigi. Tell me, do they have tomatoes where we are going?” Dash asked her.

“Tomatoes? Darling, there are more tomatoes than you would know what to do with!” Gigi barked at him and waved her front legs in the air – Pippin always said that if you cut off Madam Gigi’s front legs, she would be speechless.

The further he walked the more energetic he became and the better he felt until all evidence of pain and illness had vanished. Across the field, Dash could just make out the rotund figure of Fat Harry frantically waving his stuffed hamburger toy in the air to get his attention. 

Fat Harry – Photograph by Samantha Rose

Nearby a black kelpie dog with an Australian neckerchief tied around his neck was sat on the grass reading a newspaper titled ‘The Kelpie Times’. He stopped reading and folded up his paper on his lap and glanced up. With his tail wagging slowly in recognition, he walked towards Fat Harry and said, “Is that who I think it is?”

Rocky – Photograph by Samantha Rose

“Yes Rocky, I think it is! – Isn’t it brilliant?” A huge grin appeared on Fat Harry’s face.

Rocky nodded, “Yes, it is absolutely marvellous. We all meet up here in the end, that’s what is so special about this place – there is no such thing as goodbye.”

“Is that it for today Bowie, shall I close the gates?” Bertie asked him.

Bowie looked on as little Dash was welcomed into the next level and final part of his life surrounded by his friends. “Yes, that’s it for today, close the gates. Oh, and Bertie?” Bowie asked him.

“Yes Bowie?” Bertie turned around to answer him.

“You can put your whistle away for today, maybe you can use it tomorrow?” Bowie winked at him leaving Bertie McTavish to reluctantly tuck his whistle under his collar for another day.

At Augie’s House 

Augie was sat on his bed looking out of the window. He didn’t know how long he had been there for but it must have been a while. Dash’s bright red collar was on the coffee table and his toys were where he left them, Augie stared at them sadly and briefly wondered how he would manage without him. He would of course, but it would take time to adapt without Dash.

There was one more thing left to do and Augie had been putting it off. Taking a deep breath for bravery, he picked up his mobile phone and dialled Pippin’s number.

Pippin’s House

Pippin had been having a wonderful time lately. His sister Latte had recently had puppies and you all know how Pippin loves his puppies. One time both he and Brutus did some ‘doggy day care’ involving looking after Bronte’s puppies and it all ended in a flurry of talcum powder and diapers put on the wrong way – but that’s another story.

Pippin – Photograph by Samantha Rose

“Pippin, will you stop disturbing the babies!” Latte barked at him.

Pretending that he hadn’t heard, Pippin nudged the puppies with his pointy snout in the hope of waking them up so that he could justify a cuddle with them.

Pippin had actually grown quite distinguished as a senior dog and his grey fur had blended in quite nicely on his face. Unlike his friend Brutus who was looking pretty grizzled with age, but hey, we all get older right?

“Pippin, it’s for you?” Bronte handed him his mobile phone.

Looking boot-faced at being taken away from the pups, Pippin grabbed the phone from Bronte and took it into his office. 

It all happens in Pippin’s office – good news, bad news, naughtiness, reprimands and everything in between. The large regal looking chair, the huge leather topped desk, a brown china pot with all of Pippin’s pens and pencils in it and his bright red lounge coat with golden trim, hanging up on the door. This office has seen it all and could tell a thousand stories about the Iggy gang and the life of Pippin.

Pippin sat in his chair clutching his phone and after a few minutes replied quietly, “Thank you, I will let the group know.”

Then as per tradition and the rules of the gang, Pippin sent a group text simply saying, “Dash has landed.”

A few hours later

Latte had just finished feeding her puppies. Pippin was standing behind her watching the babies trying to snuggle up to her.

“I shall miss Dash you know.” Latte said to Pippin, “Will you miss him?”

Pippin gave a little nod, “Yes, I shall miss him greatly. He was a character that’s for sure with all the naughty stuff he got up to.”

“What’s this tomato incident that everyone always talks about?” Latte asked him.

“OMG, Pippin you MUST tell her about that, please tell her – you tell it best!” Bronte barked excitedly.

A smile spread across Pippin’s face as he curled up next to Latte and Bronte and began telling the greatest story ever told about a dog café, a group of Italian greyhounds, a tomato and a little black dog called Dash.

The End

Our pets may not live forever but the memories of their antics and naughtiness will remain alive for as long as we tell their stories.

This blog is dedicated to Dash.

Written and published with the kind permission and blessing of Dash’s human Kylie.

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright October 2020

Brutus and the Antique Dog Shop

Rocky – Photograph by Samantha Rose

It’s been almost two years since my darling kelpie Rocky crossed over to Rainbow Bridge – 2 years on 9th September to be precise. I remember that day as though it were yesterday and never did I imagine that losing a pet would hurt that much, it were as though he took a piece of me with him.

Brutus took months and months to find himself after Rocky left before he realised that he could bark at the garbage truck with the best of them. He even learned how to swim in the ocean which is something that we never thought that he would do. Rocky was the swimmer, Brutus was the barker that would give accusing looks if he was made to go in the water. Now Brutus can swim like a fish, although his motive is to catch water birds but that is another story entirely.

So this story is dedicated to the memory of my Rocky dog because this is just what I can imagine him doing.

Sunday afternoon at Brutus’s house


It was a cold, wet and windy Sunday afternoon where most animals would be snuggled up inside their warm kennels or their homes. Kevin was curled up on his cat tree planning on what he would have for his tea. He spent a large part of his day thinking about food and this was a perfectly acceptable way to pass the time for him.

Brutus was standing by the dining room window. He was bored and rather fancied catching up with Vader and Pippin but he knew that they would be up to other things.
Turning round to Kevin, Brutus shouted “Catch you later, I am just going for a walk!” and before Kevin had chance to reply, Brutus had slammed the door and was trotting down the garden path. Kevin barely looked up, in fact I don’t even think that he heard him. “Yes, I am definitely looking forward to my roo meat tonight!” He mumbled to himself and noticing that he was already salivating, he quickly tried to clean the drool off his face with his paws.

 

Kevin – his life revolves around food. Photograph by Samantha Rose

Brutus didn’t need to go far to amuse himself. He stopped at the side of the road and checked for cars – just like his human had taught him. Straining his eyes to look at the park, he saw that there were no dogs or people there and it was completely empty.

Making his way to the small row of shops at the edge of the park, Brutus thought that perhaps if he checked the cafe out, he might be able to score a snack of some kind. And you can’t blame him for that as any self respecting dog would do the same.

Sighing, he saw that all the shops were closed – except for one and it was a shop that he had never noticed before. All the same, it was open and Brutus thought he would go and take a sticky beak to pass the time. ‘Antique Dog Toys’ Brutus read the sign on the outside of the shop out loud, “How strange, I wonder when this opened?” Then giving himself a good shake, he decided to go in and see what toys they had on offer.

As he walked in, a loud bell sounded to alert the owner. The shop smelled positively delicious to Brutus, it was a mix of cooked beef, bones, Schmackos dog treats and a touch of excitement. “Wow, where am I?” Brutus gasped and as curiosity got the better of him, he started checking out the shop in more detail.

Heaps of tennis balls, old stuffed toys, rope tugs, frisbees to name but a few, adorned the shelves. There was a shelf with an old cash register on top and a bowl of dog treats was placed next to it. On a lower shelf were old smelly bones that may well make a human look away in disgust, but to any dog – it was like the best thing for them to smell. And the older the bone, the better especially if it has been buried for months and then dug up. Just ask your own dog if you don’t believe me.

Brutus gasped when he noticed in the corner of the shop, was a bright red mini lamp post with a small picket white fence surrounding it in the corner of the shop – it was there for dogs to cock their leg if they chose to. Not Brutus though, he still squats like a female dog.

“How on earth did I not notice this shop before? All these old toys, do they belong to other dogs?” Brutus thought to himself. It was true, the toys didn’t look new at all, far from it. They looked chewed, played with, tatty and some might say, ‘well loved’.

Brutus was so engrossed in looking around this little shop, that he didn’t notice the owner sitting in a leather chair behind the counter. A little black kelpie dog sat on an antique leather chair from behind the counter. Wearing a tweed suit with gold half rimmed spectacles perched right on the edge of his snout, the look was complete with a large gold watch on a chain that was carefully placed in the inside pocket.

The kelpie studied Brutus noting his excitement to be in such a shop. His tail wagging furiously like the propellor of a helicopter, he managed to knock a few tennis balls off the shelf.
Feeling his jowls burn with embarrassment, Brutus frantically tried to grab some of the tennis balls in his mouth. Managing to pick up only two of them, he looked up to see the little kelpie peeking over the top of his gold rimmed spectacles and staring at him.

“Oh my days, no way, it can’t be! Is that you?” Brutus dropped the tennis balls out of his mouth letting them bounce on the floor of the shop.

“Hello Brutus!” The kelpie wagged his tail and jumped off his chair towards Brutus who had his tail tucked in between his legs because he was so overwhelmed.

“Rocky!” Brutus yelped and playfully nudged Rocky in recognition, “It is you! I knew you would come back for me!” As the two dogs greeted each other, their tails wagged so hard that they not only cleared all the tennis balls off the shelves, but managed to knock off a few stuffed toys as well.

“Come on my friend, we have some catching up to do!” Rocky said firmly.

“What if someone comes in and disturbs us?” Brutus frowned.

“They won’t, well they can’t actually.” Rocky replied.

Brutus pondered about asking further questions but didn’t. He had never needed to question Rocky because Rocky knew everything – he had been to Kelpie university you know.
As the storm picked up outside and the rain lashed against the windows of the shop, the two dogs chatted without barely stopping for breath. They didn’t even notice the weather outside because they were so engrossed in each other.

A short while later


“So what’s with all of these old toys? I don’t get it?” Brutus questioned Rocky.

“Well, when a pet crosses over to Rainbow Bridge, their spirit remains in their toys, furniture or anything that they may have loved, chewed or loved sleeping on. Take Kevin for instance.”

“I’d rather not, he is a right bastard!” Brutus muttered.

Rocky laughed and carried on talking. “Kevin is sleeping in that old grey plastic bed that Mum bought for their very first cat Bruno way back in 1995 I think it was.
“That catnip blue mouse with the leg chewed off, well the leg that I chewed off. That belonged to Mums other cat in England called Juniper and then it was handed down to Gordon.”

Brutus cocked his head to the side, “Yes, you are right. Mum has the box of toys that belonged to Gordon and she gave them to Kevin and some of those toys were way back from when they lived in England.”

“It’s not just toys Brutus, it can be anything that the animal loved. Take the food bowls that Mum brought over from England – they belonged to Bruno and Juniper. Gordon used them and now Kevin has them.” Rocky added.

“But what’s the connection with these toys in the shop?” Brutus repeated his question to

Rocky, “What IS this shop?” He pulled off his spectacles from his snout and fiddled with them for a few seconds. Then removing his silken red handkerchief from his pocket, he huffed on his glasses and set about cleaning them.

Once he had done that, he looked at Brutus and said matter-of-factly, “It’s a magic shop of memories because every toy in this store is just that – a memory. They have all belonged to a dog or cat that was loved and has now crossed to Rainbow Bridge.”

“Even the tennis balls?” Brutus questioned and looked at the tatty tennis balls scattered on the floor.

“Especially the tennis balls!” Rocky smiled and placed his spectacles back on the end of his snout.

About ten minutes later Brutus reluctantly stood up. “I guess I had better go home now, Mum will be worried about me.”

“Take care my friend and remember that those you love, never really leave you – we are always around somewhere and our memories appear when you least expect them to.” Rocky gave Brutus a friendly nudge. “Now if you will excuse me, I have work to do!” Rocky said with a firm nod before jumping back on his leather chair and fiddling with the cash register.

“Goodbye Rocky and thank you!” Brutus smiled at him and walked out of the door. As the door shut behind him, Brutus realised that he had meant to ask Rocky if he would see him again. Turning round to go back in, Brutus was confused to see that the shop that he had just left, was actually nothing but a vacant building with ‘For Rent’ on the front and not the antique store that it was a few minutes ago.

Sounds of thunder rumbled in the distance and it had started to rain heavily again. Brutus shivered and looked at the shop before running home as fast as he could because he hated storms.

Back home

It was a cold and wet Brutus that arrived back home. His Mum hadn’t even noticed that he had gone and Kevin was fast asleep in his basket.

 

Brutus, always hated the cold weather – Photograph by Samantha Rose

After rubbing his soaking wet body on his blankets to dry himself, Brutus inspected the toy box outside under the pergola. There were dog tugs, tennis balls, Brutus’s old tatty flappy cat which no longer had any stuffing inside, there were cracked rubber dog tugs, old honking pigs without the squeak inside them and a few old scruffy Kong toys that were there before Brutus’s time and had belonged to Rocky as a pup.

Brutus startled as he heard a noise from behind him. Three tennis balls bounced randomly on the concrete – it were as though they had been thrown from the box.

The balls were tatty and fluffed up from where Rocky used to carry them around for hours on end. They had certainly seen better days that’s for sure. But you know what, they were still OK and had some life left in them.

As Brutus carefully picked up the tennis balls one by one, he placed them back in his toy box and went back inside.

The End

Every toy in your pets toy box tells a story and keeps the memory of the last pet that played with it, alive. Especially tennis balls, let’s not forget the tennis balls.

 

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright August 2020

Always Room for a Little One

Gigi the Italian greyhound – or Madam Gigi if you would like her proper title, had been feeling unwell due to her eating a bone. Being one for enjoying her food, whatever Gigi ate was no real surprise to anyone and you can just ask her human about the ‘lettuce’ incident at the Iggy Christmas party one year – honestly, that story is legendry.

Madam Gigi – taken after the ‘lettuce incident’ – photograph by Samantha Rose

She is a beautiful and glamourous dog with a very well-spoken and some might say, posh accent (In case you didn’t know, in my stories all animals can talk – you just have to believe it). Just imagine a wealthy lady with flowing scarves tied round her neck, speaking at least 32 languages, wearing huge over-sized sunnies smelling of gorgeous expensive perfume which leaves wafts of it wherever she walks. If you can imagine that then you can imagine Gigi. 

Gigi’s brother – Rocco, now he is a different character altogether with a tendency to swear at random and inappropriate moments, fight with his invisible doggy friends (all dogs have invisible friends) and even attack his reflection in the mirror and bite his own hind legs for annoying him. Although Rocco may be scary on first impressions, once you get to know him he is an utter darling.

Rocco enjoying a cuddle off his lovely Mum – Photograph by Samantha Rose

One particular day, Gigi was curled up on the sofa because she wasn’t feeling too bright because the bone that she had eaten was causing her pain and it was decided that her human Mum would take her to the vet. 

About twenty minutes before the appointment, Gigi slowly got up to get smarten herself up, even in her time of sickness, she didn’t let her appearance slip up and while she was waiting for her human to get everything ready, Gigi was powdering her snout and spraying herself with her favourite perfume ‘Dog Eau De Ca Turd’.

Rocco was busy washing his genitals and not taking much notice of Gigi. It was girl thing you see, and he knew that Gigi had to be perfect before she left the house and if she was going on a lunch date with Nica and Zara, oh my goodness it put a whole new meaning to the words ‘Girl Power’.

But this time something made him look at her, something made him stop right in his tracks and REALLY look at her. Cocking his head to one side, he studied his sister who in between smoothing her fur down, was grimacing with pain and discomfort. “Are you OK Gigi?” Rocco frowned, then noticing that she was putting on her most glamourous scarf that she only ever wears for special occasions, he swallowed a couple of times and gulped.

Gigi took a deep breath before turning to face him and patted the floor a couple of times to signal for him to come over to her.

“No! No, I don’t want to hear it!” Rocco’s voice stumbled as he fought back the tears. “That scarf, that scarf – you said it was for a special occasion and you have owned it for years and have never worn it until today!”

“Rocco, we need to chat darling, come here.” Gigi said calmly. 

“No, I am not ready to come over, I am busy, no Gigi, don’t make me!” Rocco cried, but he knew he had to and usually nobody could make Rocco do anything that he didn’t want to do, but this time he knew that he had to go and sit by Gigi to hear what she had to say.

“Good lad!” Gigi smiled encouragingly, “Now, let’s have that chat…..”

As the two Italian greyhounds sat huddled up next to each other, Rocco listened to his sister talk while at the same time, trying hard to be the big strong brother that he knew she really needed.

Suddenly they were interrupted by their human Mum calling Gigi to take her to the car. “Right then, this is it!” Gigi nudged Rocco with her pointy snout. “Give me a hug then!”

Rocco stared at Gigi and thought how nice she looked with her scarlet red scarf wrapped around her neck, her fur smoothed back, the silver-grey fur on her muzzle and round her eyes making her look distinguished and ridiculously gorgeous. 

Leaning towards her to give her a hug, he thought how nice she smelt with her doggy cologne and just her own individual smell that all of our dogs/cats have and if you don’t believe me, go and smell your precious cat/dog now because they do have their own unique scent that simply cannot be replicated.

“Look after Mum for me and keep an eye out for Brutus, you know how he gets bullied by other dogs.” Gigi re-tied her scarf and gave Rocco a quick lick on the cheek.

“Promise you will let me know once you arrive?” Rocco whispered.

“You my dear brother, will be the first to know.” Then turning to face her Mum, Gigi allowed herself to be picked up and carried outside to the car. As Rocco ran to the window and pressed his snout up against the glass, he could see his Mum start up the car and drive off with Gigi in the back. 

Rocco left the window and trotted through the house, going from room to room to check. He eventually he found one of Gigi’s toys which he picked up and carried on to his bed and then burying his entire face in to the toy to muffle any sound, Rocco started to cry.

When glamour walks into the room

Bowie the Gatekeeper, Photograph by Fran Forbes

A large white greyhound known as Bowie (AKA – the Gatekeeper) stood outside a huge brass gate. Holding a clipboard with some names on it, he impatiently pressed the button on his biro pen a few times and frowned. Everyone was in that should have been, well except for one – one dog was late. Checking the list again, Bowie realised who it was and laughed, “Now why doesn’t that surprise me!”

A tan and white self-important looking staffie was chowing down on some doggy treats in a bag. Delving his snout into the packet, he triumphantly pulled out a kangaroo flavoured biscuit before offering Bowie one. “Fancy one Bowie? Who are we waiting for?”

Bowie politely declined the treats, he was watching his figure and wasn’t as active as some of the other dogs. “You will know soon enough, it will all kick off when they arrive I promise you that.”

The staffie shrugged and muttered something about going for a game of tennis ball with the kelpies that were waiting for him. A handsome black kelpie with a white cross on his chest, waved in the distance and yelled, “Are you coming Rex?”

Rex wagged his tail, “Yes Rocky, I will be there in a second!”

Bowie winked at him, “Off you go lad – your mates are waiting for you.” 

“Well, if you are sure…” Rex started to say but didn’t bother to finish because the temptation to play ball with the kelpies was just too much. Before Bowie got to say anything else, Rex was running as fast as his little legs would carry him to where the kelpies were and all you could hear was the typical ‘piggy’ and snorting sounds of an out of breath staffie dog.

“Thirty minutes late!” Bowie growled to himself, then lifting his head up high, his nose started to twitch as he picked up a scent. “Can anyone smell that? Smells like perfume?” 

He could hear her before he saw her, in fact there was no mistaking that voice. “Darling, I am finally here! Did you think that I wasn’t coming? You must tell me absolutely everything! 

“Oh God it is so good to not have that awful belly pain. They operated of course but I was so sick and had totally had enough of this old age lark. How amazing though, death-by-bone, what a way to go!”

Bowie laughed, it was hard to be annoyed with her. I mean, what a grand entrance to make and only she could carry it off, “Gigi, fashionably late as usual – loving the scarf sweetheart!” Then leaning towards her, he accepted her dramatic air-kiss on either side as Gigi made the ‘Mwah, Mwah!’ sound for effect as she kissed him.

Grabbing his biro pen, Bowie marked her off on his list. That was it for the day, the next intake would be tomorrow. He pointed ahead of him and nudged Gigi on her rump, “Are you ready then Gigi?” 

Gigi looked longingly through the gates. It was better than she ever could have imagined, so beautiful with all the animals looking in superb condition and what is more, she could not wait to go through and start enjoying her new-found health, youth and vitality.

“Oh darling, I just need to let someone know that I am here if that is OK?” Gigi gestured with her paws.

“OK, off you go then, but make it quick sweetie as I want to watch a dog program on TV later and I have some mates coming over for some dog beer.”

Gigi sat down, closed her eyes and took a deep breath and whispered, “Rocco, Madam Gigi has landed!” Then standing up and wagging her tail, she trotted over to where Bowie was standing.

“Ready?” Bowie nodded at her.

“You betcha I am ready!” Gigi clapped her paws.

They both walked to the gates which opened automatically to allow them to go through. 

As Gigi stepped over to the other side, with each step she became fitter, younger and more energetic until she became the age and fitness level that suited her best.

Over to where the kelpies were playing, one black kelpie in particular stopped playing ball with his mates. Glancing up he noticed Gigi walking towards them. Walking slowly towards her, the black kelpie beamed when he realised who it was.

Rocky patiently waiting for Gigi – Photograph by Samantha Rose

“Rocky, you waited for me – I knew you would, now tell me everything about this place!” Gigi barked at him.

 “Gigi, allow me to welcome you to Rainbow Bridge and you are going to love it…” Rocky greeted her warmly and led her to her new friends and a life that you and I as humans can only dream about.

At Rocco’s House

Rocco was asleep in his bed when suddenly he sat up and cocked his head to the side as though someone had called his name.

Getting up and having a stretch, Rocco looked up and started to wag his tail. He smiled and said in a quiet voice, “Thank you Gigi.” Then picking up his mobile, he texted his good friend Pippin Potter.

At Pippin’s House

Pippin Potter was in his office organising the Iggy Christmas party, it was the most anticipated and looked forward to event of the year and Pippin positively relished in organising it.

Pippin Potter – the organiser, Photograph by Samantha Rose

“Latte, can you come here please I have a job for you!” Pippin called out to his younger sister. But before he had chance to follow up on the conversation, his mobile phone beeped and a message flashed up from Rocco. Dabbing his pointy snout with his favourite blue silk handkerchief, Pippin picked up the phone and read the message.

“Pippin, I was busy you know, I am not your servant!” Latte sulked as she barged into his office. Then noticing the look on his face, she stopped in her tracks, “Is everything OK?”

Ignoring Latte, Pippin quickly composed a group text and then hit the ‘send’ button, “Go and get Bronte, I need to tell you both something”.

At Zara and Nica’s house

“I can’t believe she has gone.” Nica shook her head sadly as she had always been good friends with Gigi.

Zara snatched some handkerchiefs from the tissue box, wiped her eyes and then noisily blew her snout afterwards. “I just don’t understand why she had to go, why did she have to go Nica?” 

Nica being a much more sensible dog than Zara, smiled kindly at her sister. She wasn’t used to discussing Rainbow Bridge and had no idea that really was the best place for animals to go when their lives and purpose with their humans was done. “It was her time Zara, there comes a time in every animal’s life where they need to make their journey to Rainbow Bridge and today was Gigi’s.”

“Nica?” Zara asked her sister.

“Yes Zara?”

“Will Gigi like it there?” 

“Yes, Zara she will love it,” Nica answered truthfully. And with that answer, Zara had to be content.

At Rocco’s House

Despite Pippin Potter offering the group support for him, Rocco had declined, saying that he preferred his own company. He had even sent his invisible friends away so it was just Rocco and his own thoughts.

Rocco sat on the sofa and glanced around the living room. Gigi’s toys were where she had left them in the corner by her bed which had her favourite blankets still moulded into her shape where she had slept. Her bowls in the kitchen with the uneaten kibble and tiny paw prints where she had bought in some mud from the garden. Rocco wondered how could so much of her still be in the house without her being there?

Taking a deep breath and puffing his cheeks out, Rocco went to pick up Gigi’s toys. One by one, he tidied them up and placed them next to her bed then once he had finished, he pressed his nose onto her bed to take in her scent before getting in to her bed and curling up on the blankets. After a few minutes all you could hear were the gentle snores of an exhausted and heartbroken dog.

Rocco with Gigi’s toys – Photograph by Gwynneth Cavilla, published with her permission.

A couple of weeks later

“Go away, I hate everyone and no I am not interested!” Rocco barked furiously at whoever was knocking at his door. He had been a grumpy-guts all week, refusing to talk to anyone or discuss his feelings. Even Brutus couldn’t get through to him and that was saying something.

“Rocco my friend, it’s Pippin. Can you open the door – talk to me, you can’t stay shut in here forever.” The quiet, posh voice of Pippin Potter sounded from outside, in his well-spoken ‘BBC English’ accent that everyone knew and loved.

“Leave me alone! I don’t need any of you – bollocks to you all!” Rocco yelled. 

Pippin sighed, there was nothing he could do or say to break down the invisible barrier that Rocco had built up to keep everyone away and for the first time ever, he didn’t know what to do and Pippin always knew what to do.

Rainbow Bridge

Gigi had been at Rainbow Bridge for a few weeks but had still been keeping an eye on Rocco from above to see how he was coping. She was not happy with what she saw, she really had believed that Rocco would have started to move on or at least allowed his friends to be there to support him.

Rocky the kelpie and Gigi were relaxing on the sun loungers by the swimming pool one day. They often enjoyed one another’s company and would do respectable things like go to the opera or have dog beer while reading upmarket magazines and newspapers while discussing sheep herding or current affairs.

The pool really was rather marvellous non-slip rocks scattered on the edges. Balls and toys were everywhere for the dogs to play with and even some inflatables that magically stay inflated no matter how many times they are bitten. There were bottles of water and dog beer on the little round tables next to each sun lounger and bowls of dog biscuits and treats for those that wanted them.

A golden Labrador was swimming lengths in the pool while occasionally diving for his favourite rope toy. He was being cheered on by a brindle whippet who was coaching him. The pool was big enough for all to enjoy but the Labrador still kept a respectful distance from Gigi and Rocky because he thought that Gigi did not look like the type of dog to enjoy getting wet. He was right as well because later Gigi told him that she would actually melt if she went in the water and the Labrador never forgot it.

“He is in a pretty bad way Gigi, what are we going to do?” Rocky took a mouthful of his dog beer, savoured it in his mouth for a few seconds before swallowing it and giving a little belch. “Excuse me!” Rocky covered his mouth with his paw and blushed. Thank the Lord that Gigi hadn’t noticed as Rocky would have been mortified.

“I think it’s time that I sorted this out once and for all!” Gigi said firmly and placed her drink back on to the table.

 “Do you think he is ready?” Rocky asked as he stood up, stretched and walked to the edge of the pool, “After all – there is no going back if you do this.”

“Absolutely, I know my brother and he is more than ready. He just doesn’t know it yet.” Gigi gave a confident nod and raised her drink, “Cheers, here’s to Rocco!”

“To Rocco!” Rocky barked and dived into the pool to retrieve a tennis ball that he could ignore no longer.

One Month Later

Rocco had been in the foulest of moods since Gigi died. He had even taken to insulting strangers that knocked on the door and had told one salesman that he hoped that his testicles would fall off and be eaten by the crows.

His days were spent sitting by the window calling the neighbours dogs ugly and telling the poodles down the road that their hair looked shit. He had stopped hanging out with his invisible mates and had become so withdrawn from life that he wouldn’t even talk on the phone to his friend Brutus.

Anyway, it was one afternoon and Rocco as usual, had his grump on and was busy swearing at himself on his bed and chewing his own leg because it had moved without his consent. On hearing his human put the keys in the front door, Rocco quickly curled up into a ball so that he could pretend to be asleep – that way his human would think twice about disturbing him.

The door opened and Rocco felt a blast of fresh air infiltrate his nostrils, he closed his eyes tightly and shuddered out a big sigh. But then something else hit his nostrils and the scent was so strong that it may as well smacked him in the face and despite not wanting to open his eyes, the presence of something staring at him was that intense that he had no choice but to open them.

“Hello there! I am Cilla, I am going to be living with you! How jolly nice this house is, do you have any toys? I love toys, do you love toys? Where is my bed? Would you like to play? We are going to be lifelong friends! Aren’t you excited? I am excited!” 

Rocco was horrified to be met with the sight of a beautiful blue/fawn and white Italian greyhound puppy of about 8 months old. And like all Iggy puppies, she spoke fast while asking a plethora of questions and changing the subject several times in the process.

It’s not often that Rocco is lost for words but this time he was. He sat up, rubbed his eyes and watched little Cilla squealing with excitement as she ran from room to room, frantically circling every time she picked up a scent.

“Oh, look what I have found! How lovely, can I keep it?” Cilla ran up to Rocco with one of Gigi’s soft toys in her mouth.

“No! Get that out of your mouth now! It’s not yours, that is Gigi’s!” Rocco shouted at Cilla.

Startled, Cilla dropped the toy and scampered behind the sofa whimpering. 

“That’s not yours to take! Gigi would be furious if she were here!” Rocco growled and picked up the toy to take back to his bed. 

Too terrified to move, Cilla remained behind the sofa and eventually fell asleep in a tiny ball with her long legs folded up like a dead upturned spider and Rocco being the stubborn boy that he is, didn’t want to move either.

But Rocco needed to know more about this imposter. I mean she could be anyone – she could be intending to steal his toys, his human and everything. Curiosity got the better of him and he decided to go and check her out. 

“And another thing, you can’t just come in here thinking that it’s your home….” Rocco began to say but stopped when he saw little Cilla.

She looked so tiny and had a sweet puppy innocence about her. Where everything is exciting and wonderful, where every toy belongs to you, where everyone loves you and thinks that you are marvellous. Puppies often get into the wrong hands and don’t always end up in a good home and Rocco knew that from stuff his mates had told him. 

Cilla’s ears were neatly folded back on her head, her nose tucked under her tail by her bum. She had that delicious puppy smell that pups tend to have. It reminded Rocco of Zara, Latte and the other puppies that he had seen in the Iggy Club, puppies that he had grown to know and love.

Gigi would have loved her for sure and probably given her the toys because Gigi delighted in other dogs being happy and relished in making them so. Cilla was a blank canvas and Rocco realised that he could teach her everything he knew and how to be the best dog that she could be.

Feeling a huge pang of guilt that he had been so mean to her, Rocco went back to his bed and picked up Gigi’s toy. Careful not to wake her, he gently dropped the toy by Cilla’s paws and stared at her for a few minutes. Snuggling into the toy, Cilla made a few little puppy moans of contentment.

“I guess that Gigi won’t be needing that toy after all.” Rocco thought to himself. The temperature had dropped and Cilla shivered a little in her sleep tucking herself even tighter to keep warm.

Gigi used to love it when Rocco curled up next to her and they would keep each other warm. That was just what they would do for each other you see, it was what you would call a team effort I guess.

“Oh, alright then, if you insist!” Rocco shrugged and curled up on the floor next to Cilla. Shuffling across towards her, he felt her shivering to keep warm. Pressing himself closer towards her, he rested his head on her neck and it wasn’t long before he was fast asleep with the only thing between them was Gigi’s little stuffed toy.

Rocco lays the ground rules down for Cilla – Photograph by Gwynneth Cavilla, published with her permission

Always room for a little one

Gigi was alone in the gardens of Rainbow Bridge. She had been there for a few hours while having some quiet reflection. 

“Everything OK Gigi?” She heard Rocky’s voice from behind her.

Turning around, she beamed at him. “Yes, my friend, it most certainly is…”.

And the moral of the story is, when one beloved pet leaves our lives, it paves the way for another one to enter. It doesn’t mean that we love the old pet any less, it just means that there is always a space for another pet to love. It gives them a chance to have a loving home and it gives us the opportunity to love again and at the end of the day, a short time of loving a pet is far better than not loving one at all.

Gigi – Photograph by Samantha Rose

Dedicated to Tunamara Dolce Gigi 2006-2019

This story has been published with the kind permission of Rocco and Gigi’s human – Gwynneth.

Samantha Rose – Copyright (c) November 2019

Friends – You can’t always see them

Brutus now has an invisible Kelpie friend called Derek and before you laugh at me, please hear me out.

Now many of you may remember in my stories, that Rocco the Iggy also has some invisible friends that he fights with. All dogs have the capacity for invisible friends because they are ideal to blame when beds explode or things get chewed or holes dug in the garden.

Your dog can look remarkably innocent when you discover stuff that has been destroyed and you can bet your sweet life that the invisible dog has done it. It’s an unwritten rule all over the world that dogs (and cats) will deny any naughtiness even if the evidence is smeared on them or still in their mouths.

Invisible friends are also good if you are happen to be a grumpy non dog social kind of dog and you still like to have a good mate. You can chat to your imaginary friend, you can fight with him/her and no-one gets hurt and just hang out with them when you feel lonely.

Brutus has never needed an invisible friend before because he had Rocky. I will freely admit that since Rocky died, Brutus has been a shadow of his former self and is clearly missing having a companion.

Of course the answer would be to get another dog but financially we are not in a position to do so – you all know how much I would love another kelpie and I can’t even watch Red Dog now because it hurts so much. But that is another story.

Brutus has taken to interacting with frogs, birds – in fact whatever he happens to find in the garden. I have spotted him play bowing to a frog in the garden, play bowing to the magpies and more embarrassingly, chasing a butterfly in the garden and wagging his tail (I am being serious).

So it should come as no surprise that he joined the ranks of Rocco and got himself an invisible friend and this is how it all came about.

The arrival of Brutus’s invisible friend – Derek

One night Brutus was busy filling up his scrap book with cutouts of kelpies. Carefully licking the pictures, he clumsily slapped them onto the book. Tilting his head to the side, Brutus admired his handiwork – well they looked a bit wonky but that was OK, he didn’t mind.

He didn’t know why he was doing it, he guessed it just made him feel better and he would pretend it was his family album to comfort himself. Closing the scrapbook, Brutus grabbed a chunky marker pen and wrote in untidy scrawl ‘My Scrap Book’ and then put the book down on his bed.

He was suddenly brought back to reality when his mobile phone rang, glancing down he saw a picture of an Iggy flash up on his phone, the photo was of Rocco doing a rude gesture with his paw.

“Hi Rocco, what’s up?” Brutus answered his phone while outlining the cover of his scrapbook with his nails.

“You know you wanted a new brother?” Rocco asked him.

Brutus shrugged, “Yes, but you know it can’t happen, Mum said we can’t afford it.”

“Well you know I have an entire group of invisible friends that don’t cost a thing to keep.” Rocco barked excitedly down the phone.

Brutus had never considered having an invisible friend before and wondered if his mates would rip the piss out of him for having one. But then again, Pippin said most dogs have invisible mates, some are just well hidden and there is no shame in it either because it’s jolly nice to have one to bark at the garbage truck with.

“Tell me more, but I am not sure I can believe in this so I am making no promises!” Brutus sat on his bed and made himself comfortable.

And as Rocco explained how it all worked, he frequently stopped talking to Brutus so he could tell his invisible mates to stop interrupting or he would bite their arses off.

Brutus wasn’t convinced, I mean how on earth can you form a bond with something you cannot see, let alone make friends with it?

The Next Day

Brutus got up as usual, had his breakfast and went out into the garden. He had forgotten his conversation with Rocco the day before and was busy sniffing every single blade of grass to check that nothing had moved during the night.

“Excuse me, am I at the right house? Are you Brutus?” A posh public school English voice shocked Brutus out of his morning garden ritual. Quickly turning round, he spotted a middle aged red cloud kelpie with ginger tufts above his eyes and a patch of ginger fur in the shape of a huge bow tie across his chest (kelpie owners will know what I mean by that).

The kelpie clutched a kelpie briefcase and wore a pair of round kelpie spectacles on his head. He looked pretty smart and Brutus instantly knew that he had been to kelpie university because his briefcase had the same emblem on it that Rocky’s had.

“Who are you?” Brutus frowned, but wagged his tail at the same time. It made a wonderful change to talk to another dog in his own garden instead of a frog, parrot or butterfly.

“The name is Derek, pleased to meet you. I am your new brother!” The red kelpie nodded to Brutus and held his paw out for him to shake, “Is this my new garden? It’s jolly nice I must say.”

Brutus looked puzzled and looked round for his Mum. She was busy washing the car and didn’t even notice the handsome kelpie in the garden. 

“She can’t see me old chap, only you can see me. Oh and maybe your friends, but only if they want to. Invisible friends take some getting used to and some dogs don’t feel a need for it really.” 

“My goodness she must love you judging by the amount of fur you have left on those car seats.” Derek burst out laughing, he was standing on his hind legs peering through the rear window and looking at the fur on the seats.

Brutus remained where he was and waited for his Mum to notice Derek who was now busy rifling through the toy box looking for one of Rocky’s old tennis balls that his humans did not have the heart to throw away.

“Tennis balls! My life is complete!” Derek grabbed a tennis ball, threw it into the air and watched with delight as it bounced past the car on the pavers.

Brutus’s Mum looked up just in time to see the tennis ball roll past. She looked at Brutus who was standing near the grass, that was strange as Brutus has never been one for tennis balls and never plays with them.

“That’s funny, that sounded just like what Rocky used to do – throw his tennis ball down the driveway.” She said wistfully and picked up the tennis ball and threw it back in the toy box.

“I know Brutus, I miss him too.” Giving Brutus a pat on his rump, she picked up the bucket and car wash stuff and made her way back into the house to make a cup of tea.

“Fancy a game of chase round the car?” Brutus grinned at Derek. 

Derek wagged his tail, “I thought you would never ask!” 

As Brutus did laps up and down the garden, he realised that Rocco was right, these invisible friends were good fun and he was already looking forward to stealing Kevin’s food and blaming it on Derek.

Because that’s what friends are for (well, invisible ones anyway)

The End

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright June 2019

There is something about a Kelpie

Through the eyes of a kelpie
Photograph by Samantha Rose

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.

You can’t hide your feelings from a kelpie
Photograph by Samantha Rose

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.

Who is up for a swim?
Photograph by Samantha Rose

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?’

Are we there yet Mum?
Photograph by Samantha Rose

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.

Rocky’s pained expression at me singing along to Usher
Photograph by Samantha Rose

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.

Time for me to go now Mum (my Rocky telling me it was time)
Photograph by Samantha Rose

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.

If you are interested in reading about when my Rocky crossed over to Rainbow Bridge and the magic surrounding it, here is the link: https://thepigaloodiaries.com/2018/09/30/where-did-you-go-my-friend/

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

Samantha Rose (c) Copyright April 2019

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.

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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

Dogs Do Denmark – The Adventures of Rocky and Brutus

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Brutus and Rocky love their road trips

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you like the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘What’s a Sheep?’ says Brutus

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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Gordon was not amused at going to the vet

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the road

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Rocky – a well-travelled kelpie

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Can’t you guess?’ Brutus barked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Stopover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Are we there yet?’ Brutus asked Rocky.

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

‘How do you know?’ Brutus demanded.

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

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

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

Denmark (Home Sweet Home)

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

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

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

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

The house

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rocky checking out the garden

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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Cows can be so judgemental

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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Alpacas – They can be bullies you know

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rocky – the perfect farm dog

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘How can you tell?’ Rocky laughed.

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

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Brutus – not a farm dog

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grumbles and Rocky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rocky2

Rocky pretends the countryside belongs to him

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rockyrootail

Rocky enjoys his roo tail

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Eau de ca dog (manure)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brutus – a country dog in the making

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

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

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

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

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

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

The girls

Gossiping chickens wearing (imaginary) frilly aprons

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

‘Is that Brutus?’ Rocky strained his eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HighlandCow

‘Did you say something dear?’

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beginners Guide to Backing Sheep

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

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

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

Boysinbed

The boys often had bedtime discussions

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brutusthegoodboy

But why can’t I eat the cows Mum?

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Revenge of The Julies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TugofTony

Nothing like a game of ‘Tug-of-Tony’

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

‘Yes Brutus?’

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

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

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

Brutuspyjama

Brutus in his purple pyjamas

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Rocky?’ Brutus asked him.

‘Yes Brutus?’

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

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

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

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

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

Those darned chickens!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brutus has his day

The boys

Brothers – through thick and thin

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later that night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What animals?’ Rocky barked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Especially you Brutus.’ Grumbles smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Back to normal I guess.’ sighed Grumbles.

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

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

And that was something they all agreed upon.

Back home

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

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

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

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Brutus and his friend Vader

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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Rocky driving a rusty old tractor – so he believes

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

The End.

Samantha Rose – Copyright August 2018 ©

 

Dogs, Owners and Look-alikes

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Free stock photo provided by Pexels

We have all heard the saying that some owners look like their dogs and as I write this, I alternate my gaze between Rocky and Brutus wondering which one I resemble. I do have to agree though, because I have seen lots of people in my life that do a fabulous ‘look-a-like’ when it comes to their pets and I don’t mean that in a bad way, after all I think that our pets are perfect in their own individual way. I just find it amusing that some people really can pull it off.

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Rocky is not amused at being compared to me

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

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Schnauzer – I love these dogs, such characters

(Free Stock Photo Provided by Pexels)

For instance I have seen some elderly men that actually look like their Schnauzer, complete with grey bushy/tufty eyebrows and grey beards and I am not even joking. Next time you see an old man with an abundance of grey wiry facial and eyebrow hair, think Schnauzer and I bet he has one at home if he isn’t out walking it.

When it comes to giving the standard description of a person, I am pretty rubbish and the best I can come up with is ‘Short/tall, fat/thin, grey hair’ kind of thing. But I do wonder if I said ‘Elderly Schnauzer looking man’, if that would that cut it with the cops when describing a suspect? Maybe the cops could introduce a doggy comparison chart for us dog lovers that see a breed of dog in everyone. (Well I find it amusing but then I am a bit wierd like that).

Can you just imagine it in a police line up where there is a GSD, a greyhound, a pug and an Airedale terrier, ‘Officer he looked like number three’, you say firmly as you point to the pug.  God that would make life so much easier.

The Afghan Incident

I still hold the mental scars and embarrassment over this, it is so raw that I blush at the mere mention of it so please be patient with me as I relive the shame.

We were living in Devon in the UK at the time and I was walking in to town when I spotted a car parked on the side of the road by the pathway. The window was completely down and partially sticking out was the glistening golden head of a gloriously well-kept Afghan hound.

Now in those days I could never resist a dog, especially when it is so tantalizingly close to me like this one was. Stretching out my arm, I stupidly went to pat the dog on the head (I say stupidly because now I would never touch a dog without the owners consent – ever). ‘Aren’t you gorgeous!’ I sighed and patted the dogs silky fur.

‘Excuse me, do you mind!’ A furious voice piped up and the glorious ‘Afghan’ that I had touched, moved its head, looked up and revealed an obvious human face instead of a canine one as a pissed off looking female glared at me.

Feeling my cheeks burning with embarrassment, I muttered something about being sorry and poor eyesight and needing new glasses. This was and still is true, as I do recall when we were on holiday in Namibia in 2007, I mistook a pile of black rubbish sacks in the distance for a group of ostriches and wanted to go and take photos – but let’s not discuss that as my husband still reminds me of that one.

I quickly walked off and left the ‘Afghan’ woman with her lips pursed tightly like a cats anus and a look of disbelief at what had just happened and as for me, well I just pretended that it never happened. She should be flattered really, does she have any idea that goes into making an Afghan hounds coat stand out like that? I think not.

I thought I had put all this behind me I really did but only this week as I was driving to work I saw a guy walking his greyhound. Well of course I had to have a good look at the dog, you all know I am a sucker for a pointy snout brigade (whippet/greyhound/Iggy).

Unable to believe my eyes, I blinked a few times and looked again – well it was at a red traffic light so I could get a few glances in. This man had a nose just like his greyhound, he had sharp chiselled features and I could have sworn he was walking in sync with his dog with that delightful bounce that greyhounds sometimes have when they walk. The only thing missing was that the guy wasn’t brindle and shiny like his dog but then you can’t have everything.

As for me…

I definitely don’t look like my kelpie Rocky and I don’t think I look like Brutus either. My hair which is a huge mop, could possibly do Afghan when I straighten it or Briard if I go wavy – who knows, but the next time I go to my hairdresser I might just ask her to ‘Do an Afghan’ and just enjoy the moment, providing nobody ruffles my hair through my car window of course.

 

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright April 2018

 

Brutus learns the real meaning of Christmas

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Brutus

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Brutus and Rocky were in the living room discussing Christmas and their shopping list. Gordon had just done an Exorcist style vomit over the dining room and had gone back to his food bowl to ‘replenish what had been lost’ much to Rocky’s disgust and Brutus’s admiration.

‘So what do you want for Christmas Brutus?’ Rocky asked him.

Brutus looked thoughtful ‘I don’t want much really, I would like a honking pig as Mum killed mine in the garden, I would like some more flappy toys, a spare gingerbread man, maybe a squeaky Santa and another snake, I would like a new collar and ID tag – not one of those crappy collars, perhaps a doggy stocking, a new camp bed for my bedroom and a new stuffed rabbit’ he finished looking absurdly proud of himself for being what he thought was ‘restrained’.

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Brutus with last years gift that ‘exploded’ all by itself in the garden

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Rocky gasped ‘Not much? That is a huge amount Brutus and most dogs don’t get that much and some dogs don’t get anything at all’.

Gordon said nothing but stopped eating to listen to the boys talking. Inwardly he was shocked though as Brutus had lots of toys, admittedly some had ‘exploded’ all by themselves in the garden but he never went without that’s for sure.

‘What about you Rocky?’ Brutus asked him. Stretching out on the sofa, Brutus snuggled his head down on the red pillow and waited for Rocky to tell him his Christmas list for Santa Paws. Brutus loves Christmas and every year in the three Christmas’s we have had him, he makes me tell him bedtime stories about how Santa Paws visits all the dogs and leaves them food and bones that their owners have bought them and given to Santa for storage.

Rocky shrugged his shoulders ‘Well last year I wished for my hips to be not so painful and a bit better, but I have already got that present now because Mum bought me special powder to go in my food and they are so much better although I still can’t walk as far as normal kelpies’.

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Rocky is a simple kelpie dog with simple needs

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘But I would like some new tennis balls to replenish my collection, I would like a generous slice of turkey if Dad can spare it, I would love to be able to get on the sofa with Mum and Dad and maybe even play with my fluffy penguin after lunch.

‘Of course we usually get a collar each year and I love the Rogz collars and always have a red or a blue one and an ID tag is nice as we usually get one every year as well.

But my best gift is when Mum does her Skype call to the UK and gets to talk to her family and I get to talk to her Daddy – AKA John Stocken because I have met him, I think he could be referred to the doggy version of our Grandad if such a thing exists’, Rocky said knowingly. A wise kelpie beyond his years, Rocky just knows ‘stuff’ and is an oracle of information.

‘You know John Stocken? How?’ Brutus demanded, feeling more than a little jealous of this as he only ever hears my Dad over the phone when he calls me.

‘I have met him’ Rocky said smugly, ‘He came to Perth once and threw my tennis ball and rubber chicken for ages, we had fun, we had cuddles and everything and I slept outside his room for 3 days after he flew back because I missed him so much’.

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Rocky, Dad (AKA – John Stocken/Daddy Stocken, and the rubber chicken – Rocky on the left looking camouflaged!

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

The two dogs fell silent for a bit and all you could hear was the sound of Gordon occasionally crunching his cat biscuit.

‘But Rocky, I don’t understand – most of your presents are not sold in the shops so where would you buy them? How would you get them?’ Brutus asked looking puzzled.

‘That’s just it Brutus, Christmas isn’t about how much money is spent on things or how many toys and bones your owners buy for you, it is about the stuff that money can’t buy.

‘Time with those that love you, video calls to friends and family, nice food, cuddles, turkey dinner, the stuff you can only do or speak about with people you love. You can’t buy any of that in the shops.’

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Rocky creating his own memories on one of our road trips

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Sure having toys and stuff is great but those memories last a whole heap longer than any toy that explodes in the garden’. Rocky finished.

‘But what about my toys, I love opening my toys?’ Brutus frowned.

‘You know out of all the stuff on your list Brutus, the one that is the most important above everything else?’ Rocky asked him.

Brutus shrugged because he didn’t know.

‘The collar and ID tag that Mum gets us and pays to have engraved to say we have a home and family of our own. The rest doesn’t matter’ Rocky said.

Brutus quietly walked off to his bedroom and stared at his bed which contained one of his fluffy blankets, his beloved Tony Abbott doll, his stuffed rabbit, his penguin, his honking hedgehog, his bear, baby teething ring and his deer antler.

It wasn’t a too shabby collection of toys, next to it was a bowl of fresh water and a food bowl, his camp bed and behind that a cupboard containing some more freshly washed blankets in case he shit the bed (don’t ask!) and needed his bum washed and fresh bedding.

He walked back into the kitchen and stared at Rockys bed which had been hand made by Cuzz Bro’s Creations, covered in a red blanket, a Julie Gillard doll, another Tony Abbott doll and a gingerbread man which Brutus thinks is his but it really belongs to Rocky, plus a deer antler, bowl of water and food bowl.

Walking into the dining room Brutus noticed a selection of leashes, head collars, a collar, Rocky’s muzzle and Brutus’s camo harness. Brutus also took in the toy box in the garden packed to the top with toys and his recent birthday present of Fat Cat (flappy cat) and his snake he got from Dee Cole at the Funky Dog Company, as well as shit loads of tennis balls scattered around the garden.

Nothing more was said that afternoon about presents from either of the dogs. Gordon never asks for anything anyway and still has toys from when he was a kitten, even his plastic bed belonged to our cat before him – Bruno and is about 20 years old and Gordon loves it. Gordon likes simple things like bird feathers or being allowed to chew my bras (bastard).

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Gordon  – almost 15 years old and an all round naughty boy and member of the ginger club

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

So today I had to go and do my Christmas shopping and I hate shopping, like really hate it unless I am in a pet shop and then I love it.

‘What would you like for Christmas boys?’ I smiled at them as I was about to leave.

‘Tennis balls would be good and a new ID tag’ Rocky smiled at me.

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I shall have a tennis ball please Mum and lots of cuddles and turkey

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘But if we can go to the farm area on Christmas Day so I can catch up with the sheep that would be good as well’ Rocky added.

‘How about you Brutus?’ I asked him.

Brutus stared at me, his red/brown eyes bore into mine, expecting a long list I got ready for his demands of toys/bones etc.

‘If you can see fit to buying me a new honking pig to replace the one you squished in your car that would be nice, and a new ID tag because I have scraped the writing off mine on the wall when I rub myself against the bricks every morning’ Brutus growled.

‘Is that all? Are you sure?’ I asked him, this was news to me – Brutus is the King of Christmas lists and has even resorted to writing his lists on an entire roll of toilet paper to fit in what he wants which involves half of City Farmers.

‘Some turkey dinner would be nice and if I can be with Rocky when you Skype Daddy John Stocken and everyone else that would be brilliant’ Brutus barked at me.

Shrugging my shoulders I smiled at them and went off to do my shopping while secretly wondered if someone had swapped my dog with a newer angelic version.

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Brutus the Good Boy

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

After I had gone shopping

‘Did you mean that?’ Rocky asked Brutus, he could barely believe what he had just heard.

‘I’ve got loads of toys, I’ve got pretty much everything really and as you say, the rest of the stuff can’t be bought’ Brutus said firmly.

Rocky looked at his brother in admiration, nudging Brutus affectionately with his snout, Rocky grinned ‘Except for the honking pig – they are $11.00 in the supermarket because I have checked on Mum’s computer’.

Brutus laughed and wagged his tail ‘Yes, let’s not forget the honking pig’.

Driving

Going in the car to look at the sheep – cost? Priceless

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Gordon sat washing his anus from the other chair, at almost 15 years old he had seen many Christmases as you can imagine and he had realised long ago that the best Christmas is one that creates memories and not shopping lists, like the time he ate tinsel off the tree and had to shat it out with my help pulling it from his bum (now THAT is a memory!).

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You thought I was joking about the anus!

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Three hours later I returned with very little in my bag as shopping had been a total nightmare, we don’t have children so not much to buy anyway really. But what there was in my bag; was a packet of tennis balls and a honking pig.

And in the post winging its way to me is an envelope with two bone shaped ID tags for the boys all engraved with the best present a dog could want – their owners details and enough phone numbers on there to show the world we love them.

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The most important things – the famous honking pig, collar, ID tag and a bone. These were Brutus’s first things bought for him when he came out of hospital after being critically ill.

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Merry Christmas everyone, thank you for the lovely comments and support so many of you have given this page over the years.

Samantha, Gordon, Rocky and Brutus

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright December 2016