For those of you that have been following my stories, will know that Vader the boxer and my dog Brutus have pretty much grown up together and have been best friends right from the start. The things that these boys have got up to have been nothing short of entertaining and on occasions, embarrassing – involving snot, farts, belches and lots of mutual humping of each others heads.
Vader like many boxers, is often misunderstood by other breeds of dog and because of his snub nose and noisy breathing, he can sound pretty aggressive when in fact he just wants to play. Except for when he doesn’t want to play and he wants to start a fight instead, totally forgetting that because he doesn’t have much of a ‘face’, he can’t even defend himself when the dog that he is winding up; retaliates.
He has often called other dogs ‘Wankers’ and other such insults and Brutus being the coward that he is, would frequently pretend to be blind, deaf, elderly or just hide behind a tree so that he wouldn’t get beaten up. Of course when they were in the basketball courts in our local park, it was ‘game-on’ because both boys were safe in the knowledge that no other dog could get to them.
This usually ended up with the boys doing some fence-fighting which is actually a favourite hobby for many dogs – it involves dogs from both sides of the enclosure, running up and down the fence and threatening each other while yelling stuff about their mothers being a mongrel with no collar from the streets.
Whenever the dogs had time apart or didn’t see each other for a while, Brutus liked to sit right next to the dividing fence where he would find some kind of comfort when he heard his flappy jowled friend snorting or barking from his garden. I have many pictures of Brutus sitting by the fence like a stalker, the photo below is just one of them.
And then they got old….
The years went by, life happened, COVID and lockdown happened and they didn’t see each other as often as they once did. But on Brutus’s 9th birthday last year, Vader was invited over to our house to celebrate Brutus’s birthday party. Well I say birthday party, it was a party for two because Vader and Brutus didn’t need anyone else as a third dog would have just messed up the dynamics.
Brutus had been ready for Vader’s arrival for ages. He had checked himself in the mirror three times, smoothed down his grey muzzle and had tried to put black shoe polish on his face to make himself look younger. Once he had heard me bring Vader through the garage door and into the back garden, Brutus impatiently wagged his tail and started doing his high pitched squeals that he has never grown out of doing when he gets excited.
“Vader!” Brutus grinned and went to body slam his old friend as he hadn’t seen him for a long time. “Wanna pee on my head?……” Brutus’s voice trailed off as he saw his mate limp slowly over to him and acknowledge him with a feeble wag of his tail.
“What’s happened to you?” Brutus barked in shock and double checked that it was the same Vader – his oldest and ‘bestest’ friend in the world.
“Old age and illness, that’s what!” Vader puffed and then suddenly looking confused, he said “Where am I?” before slowly walking over to the grass to have a crap.
Brutus laughed, “What do you mean? You know where you are! You are funny Vader, I have missed you. Fancy a game of chase on the limestone wall for old times sake?”
“What’s that over there?” Vader growled at some leaves in the corner.
Brutus frowned, “Are you OK?” At 9 years old himself, he was no spring chicken but he still could run fast, jump and pull magpies out of trees (yes, that was not his finest moment).
Vader looked up and grinned, “I am OK, let’s play!” But as soon as he had said it, he took a deep breath and then cocked his head to the side. “Where am I again?” He muttered at no-one in particular, “Oh look – there’s some poo on the grass, is that mine? It’s massive!”
Desperate to play with his friend, Brutus kept nudging him to react.
But Vader just stood over the water bowl by the garden tap gulping down some water, only occasionally looking up at a crestfallen Brutus who simply could not understand why Vader didn’t want to play with him.
“Hey do you remember when we did a fence fight with those two husky dogs and they threatened to eat us?” Brutus barked excitedly. Vader said nothing, his cloudy eyes stared vacantly up at the sky.
Brutus tried to think of happy memories to tell Vader to try and make him remember things. “Do you remember when we got arrested with a violent gang of whippets and taken to the police station for robbing the pet store?” He said desperately. This wasn’t going the way he had planned, Vader was behaving so oddly that Brutus didn’t know what to make of it.
“That didn’t happen, did it?” Vader suddenly piped up, momentarily remembering where he was.
Shrugging, Brutus said that no, perhaps it didn’t, but it would have been fun had it really happened. He was clutching at straws now, wanting to have the Vader back that he knew and loved.
I could see how frustrated Brutus was. He kept nudging him, pawing him, gifting him his fluffy snake and when that didn’t work, he brought out the rubber pig – he never brings out the rubber pig.
Vader’s breathing was strained as he bent down, had another big drink and then stared up at the sky as he once again had checked out of reality while the water dribbled out of his mouth. Brutus was quick to wash Vader’s face as he always had done in the past. The two boys would often clean each others faces and enjoyed doing so as well.
And once Brutus realised that Vader wasn’t well and not up to playing, there was no consoling him as he barked frantically and circled the grizzled elderly boxer dog. In the end he was so upset that I had to put him inside and take Vader back home.
14th December 2021
Brutus was in the garden laying on his bed. The sun had warmed him up quite nicely and he was enjoying reading his favourite dog magazine ‘Naughty Whippets with No Collars’. He was about to turn the page when he heard a husky voice say “Hey Brutus, are you there?”
That was Vader! He must be feeling better Brutus thought. He felt immense relief just to hear Vader’s voice. Maybe he could come round for another playdate?
“Are you OK?” Brutus whispered through the gap in the dividing fence. If he squinted, he could just make out Vader’s cloudy eyes staring back at him,
“I’ve just farted.” Vader snorted and then after a few minutes straining, Vader pushed out another loud fart, causing Brutus to laugh and let out a fart as well. And just for a few minutes, things were back to normal and the worries about Vader’s confusion and sickness were forgotten as the boys enjoyed some ‘toilet humour’.
“You have been my best friend you know, you do realise that don’t you?” Vader barked. It wasn’t a strong bark, but it was his unmistakable ‘rusty dog bark’ that was unique to him.
“Yes and you are mine as well. You were there for me when Rocky died and Gordon the cat too. Mates for life that’s what we are. When you are better you can come round to my house and shit in my garden just like the old times!” Brutus said happily.
Taking a big breath, Vader said, “Well – that’s what I want to talk to you about, while I can still remember who I am of course………”
Later that day
“Brutus, dinner time!” I said to him. Normally he does his own little happy dance at meal times which involves him dancing from paw to paw and throwing in a couple of twirls and some bounces because he gets so excited.
But this time he took his time and walked slowly towards the living room door and ate his dinner before jumping up on to the sofa where he remained for several hours until I had to force him out for his bedtime pee.
His brother Kevin (the bastard) usually takes immense pleasure in winding Brutus up and bullying him from his prime position on the sofa but as though sensing something was up, Kevin sat quietly next to Brutus while just occasionally looking at him to see if he was OK. No words were said between the two of them, but Brutus appeared to be grateful for the little ginger cats company.
15th December 2021
Vader was sitting by the door in his house. He had forgotten where he was again but thought that if he stayed by the door and stared at his human siblings, it might help him remember stuff like who he is and what his purpose is. He loved his human siblings so much – mainly because they fed him their leftovers, but they were his family and he was very protective of them.
Vader does have three cats and a little dog sister called Trixie that he lives with – he loved them of course but not as much as his tiny humans. Even in his moments of confusion there is one thing that always remained constant and that was he knew that his tiny humans needed him and he loved them right back.
He saw both children eating their breakfast and wondered what kind of adults they would grow in to and how many dogs they might have in their lives after he had gone. “Who am I? What should I do?” Vader whispered and then looked up at his Mum Lexie for the answers before silently pleading with her, “Help me, I am done here.”
6:33am – I had not long woken up and was getting ready for work. I heard my phone beep and saw that it was a message from Lexie letting me know that she was sending Vader to Rainbow Bridge that morning and if I wanted to come and say goodbye then I was welcome to go round.
I just pulled on some clothes and as I was about to rush out of the door, I looked at Brutus who was curled up on his bed staring right back at me. He knew where I was going, I just know that he knew.
“He might not know who you are, he is pretty confused.” Lexie said to prepare me. But as soon as Vader heard my voice, he took some unsteady steps to come and greet me.
“Well good morning! It’s a lovely day to be going to Rainbow Bridge don’t you think?” Vader said happily. He looked so old and tired. I allowed myself to imagine his arrival at Rainbow Bridge and how he would be received and who would greet him – maybe even my Rocky dog. Then turning round to Lexie, I started to cry.
“Don’t be sad, I’m not!” Vader smiled and pressed himself into my legs and allowed me to pet him.
“Goodbye old boy, it’s your time now.” I said quietly. Then hugging Lexie, I walked to the front door leaving Vader saying, “Where am I? Am I there yet?”
Bowie the big white greyhound – otherwise known as ‘The Gatekeeper’ of Rainbow Bridge, sat by the gates with his clipboard while chewing on his pen. “Rex, we have one more coming and then we can knock off!” Bowie spoke in a posh accent and looked down to where Rex was standing.
Rex the Jack Russell, nodded and smartened himself up for the final arrival. He wore a tweed peaked cap on his little head, his tan and white coat glistened in the sun and his blue leather studded collar completed the image. He looked the perfect advert for a healthy dog.
Glancing at a couple of clouds, Rex couldn’t see any signs of the new arrival. But as with all animals that enter Rainbow Bridge, they are often heard long before they are seen and this one was no different.
“Where am I? Am I there yet? What’s my name?” An old croaky voice could be heard from behind the clouds.
“You will find out, just follow me – it’s just behind this big cloud on the left.” A kind and patient voice could be heard talking back to the croaky voice. “Oh Lord, was that you?” The voice coughed and gagged as a loud fart sounded from behind the clouds.
“That wasn’t from my bum!” The croaky voice replied, “What’s my name?”
Rex and Bowie fell silent as the clouds parted and an old boxer dog limped up to the gate followed by a beautiful cream Saluki guiding him. With each step, he farted, laughed and asked where he was and who he was and just who had made that smell.
“Hello, mate – I don’t suppose you know where I am do you or even who I am. I am buggered if I know!” The old dog asked Bowie.
Bowie smiled, “Your name is Vader the boxer – Welcome to Rainbow Bridge. Rex, can you take him through please?”
“Follow me lad.” Rex said in a strong Yorkshire accent. He added, “If we get a move on, you can join in the games on the grass and I believe there are lots of treats, dog beer and sausages for afterwards.”
Vader looked at the dogs having fun in the distance. Some where chasing balls, some were digging holes, others were chasing butterflies and a cheeky young Schnauzer was running along the field with a string of sausages in his mouth while shouting ‘Catch me if you can!’
Cat’s lounged in trees and on benches, some chased rabbits – but never caught them, some bicycled furiously with their hind legs while kicking toys and some just enjoyed being where they were and living in the moment.
It really was a spectacular scene, peaceful, harmonious with each animal comfortable in the company of the others.
“Oh I don’t think I can do that, I am breathless and my joints hurt and I haven’t felt like eating properly in a while.” Vader apologised.
Rex laughed, “Trust me me lad, you are going to be just fine….”
As Vader walked with Rex through the gates to the other side, he found that he could breathe a little easier, walk with less pain and with each step that he took, he became younger and fitter as though he had never been sick. He carried on farting of course, but then some things never change do they?
A little black kelpie had stopped playing with his tennis ball and had started to walk towards Vader. It was Rocky – my dog who had gone to Rainbow Bridge in September 2018.
Let me explain about Rocky and Vader. There was never any love lost between them and they would regularly bark, growl and trade insults from either side of the fence.
They marginally tolerated each other on walks although Rocky did go for a dog that went to attack Vader on the beach one day. So there must have been some low level friendship there. Rocky would go mad just hearing Vader snorting and Vader used to wind Rocky up a treat by fence snuffling or pissing up our gate causing Rocky to bristle with disapproval.
It took a few seconds for Vader to notice Rocky who like every animal at Rainbow Bridge, was young, fit and healthy.
The two dogs squared up to each other and held direct eye contact. Tails erect, body posture stiff as they sniffed the air around them.
“Ey up Bowie, I think it might kick off over here with the boxer and the kelpie!” Rex said to Bowie on his mobile (yes they have special doggy mobiles at Rainbow Bridge).
“No they won’t.” Bowie said confidently, “They will find their dynamic – just leave them.”
“Are you sure?” Rex asked in a concerned voice.
“Absolutely.” Bowie replied and ended the call.
“Vader!” Rocky said without taking his eyes off him.
“Rocky!” Vader barked right back.
The two dogs gave each other a couple of shoves – as if testing their strength while Rex nervously watched on, still clutching his mobile phone.
Then as quickly as it started, the shoving stopped and both dogs started to play-bow to each other with their tails wagging high. They pranced, jumped and played together for a few minutes before Rocky said, “Fancy chasing some rabbits?”
As they walked off leaving a relieved Rex to report back to Bowie the greyhound, Rocky could be heard saying, “I never really hated you Vader.”
“I never hated you either, in fact I missed you when you left…” Vader admitted.
“Friends?” Rocky declared.
“Friends!” Vader barked back, “Now let’s go and chase some rabbits!”
A couple of hours after Vader had left, Brutus dutifully took position by the dividing fence where once he realised that Vader was no longer there, he proceeded to cry for quite some time.
“Brutus?” Kevin asked him later that evening.
“Yes Kevin,” he sighed.
“Rainbow Bridge must be a pretty cool place to be.” Kevin said matter-of-factly.
“What makes you say that?” Brutus said sadly.
“Because we all go there eventually!” Kevin replied cheerfully and started to wash his bum.
And although Brutus was upset at losing his best friend, he knew that Kevin was right.
Dedicated to Vader the boxer
This special dog found a way into my heart the very first time that I met him. Brutus and I would call round to Lexie’s for our evening walks and the boys would come back exhausted from their escapades.
They were also regulars on the lure coursing field at Guildford Polo Grounds. They never won of course, they were too busy play fighting on the field to win anything. Vader’s jowls flapping in the breeze like inflated shopping bags as he ran. While Brutus thought that everyone was there just to cheer him on. It kind of became a highlight if anyone managed to get a photograph of them.
I could always hear Vader before I could see him, his snuffle breathing, snorting and his farting. We had a standing joke that when he came to my house, he would do at least four shits in my garden. Lexie would even send him over with a supply of poo bags. I never knew how one dog could hold so much turd and save it up for my garden, I could imagine Brutus proudly cheering him on while doing it.
Vader didn’t like men, he was nervous of them. We would laugh at him barking and growling at my husband who was minding his own business in the living room. Vader would be in our garden, wiping his snotty nose on our window thinking that he owned the place – he did really, well at least in his eyes.
Anyway, I have only just been able to write this blog and even then I have cried while writing it. In case you didn’t know, Vader was actually in my book ‘Planet Iggy’. he inspired me to write so many chapters and played starring roles in some of the short stories.
I honestly believe that had I not met Vader and Lexie, I would never have met the Italian greyhounds and their lovely owners. Which means that I would never have written Planet Iggy either, as Vader’s antics with Brutus fired up my imagination in such a way that it made me look forward to escaping into my own magical little world of talking dogs.
This blog is dedicated to Vader the boxer – the Goodest Boy in the Land
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)
Before I adopted my dog Rocky, I knew very little about kelpies but what I did know, was that the tiny pup with the massive ears advertised on the Pet Rescue site, looked very nice and so we adopted him.
Rocky chewed, dug and smooched his way into our hearts, minds and lives and it wasn’t too long before we realised just how smart and intuitive he was and managed to teach me the true meaning of trust, loyalty and friendship between a human and a dog.
What is it about the Australian Kelpie?
‘There are dogs and there are Australian kelpies’ – someone said this to me many years ago and I have never forgotten those words. Now don’t get me wrong, ALL dogs are special in their own way but for some of us, we might just have a breed or type of dog that we favour above others. After all, we are all different and it’s those differences that make the world go round.
They just know stuff….
A kelpie can see right through you. It knows if you are hiding that tennis ball or toy and you will be met with gentle punchings by his nose to your leg or arm, in a desperate and persistent bid to gain your attention. There is no ignoring him/her because kelpies seem to have a ‘kelpie degree’ in knowing how to get you to do what they want you to do.
If you have had a bad day, your kelpie will stare you down with eyes of magic and realise that things are not quite right. You can ignore him/her all you like and pretend that you are OK, but your kelpie will know that you are lying because they are clever like that. I have always said that kelpies probably go to a secret kelpie university where they all sit at the front of the class and study stuff like that.
Your low mood will be treated with a nudge of a wet nose, shoving your hand high in the air so you have no choice but to acknowledge the firm chiselled snout of your dog and in turn stare into his eyes that see everything.
A few pokes by the paw later and your hand is draped round your kelpies neck as you subconsciously stroke his thick double coat and before you know it, you are cuddling him. That is if he hasn’t migrated to your lap first where you will go what I term ‘full kelp’ which means you have your entire kelpie on your lap before you even realised what he was doing let alone remember that he shouldn’t be on the sofa anyway.
That is when you breathe in his scent because each and every dog has his/her own special smell that is unique to them. And you enjoy the warmth and comfort of that solid little body of the dog that has made it his mission to make you feel better without you even having the need to explain yourself as you would with humans.
Because with dogs, we don’t need to explain ourselves and isn’t that a marvellous thing to not have to do that and to be understood without opening our mouths?
A whole lot of positivity and sensitivity in one smart dog
The days start ridiculously early with a kelpie and it starts with tennis balls, running, swimming or something equally exciting. Mornings are greeted with big ears, bright eyes, expectant face and a heart full of hope that the day will be fantastic. If kelpies were human, they would be positive, energetic, impossible to ignore and have a dash of naughtiness thrown in for good measure.
It doesn’t take much to upset a kelpie. You only have to raise your voice and he will think that his entire world has ended, that you don’t love him any more and his kelpie heart is breaking into a million pieces. If my dog Rocky was ever told off, he would turn round and face the wall with his back to us, giving out loud sighs of exasperation that screamed ‘I am misunderstood’. The sulking could go on for an hour or at least until his fluffy penguin was brought out for a game of ‘fetch’ and that was enough to make him forgive us for telling him off for having a go at the cat.
Driving anywhere is good as long as it’s with their favourite humans
Car rides with a kelpie are special and something to be treasured. If my Rocky could have done, he would have driven my car for me and even collected me from work. He loved the car and he loved road trips even more and was the perfect dog to travel with.
When we went down on road trips down South, Rocky would start crying from the moment his seat belt was clipped in, right up until we reached our first coffee stop and only then would he stop. Next time you see a kelpie in the car, observe the sheer joy in that dogs face, in fact if you look closely, you will probably see it telling its human how the car should be driven. Or even shouting ‘Are we there yet?’
Kelpies – the ‘sensibles’ of the dog world
Nobody does sensible quite like a kelpie. Yes, they tend to have LONG puppyhoods which seem to go on forever in terms of digging or making beds explode but once they do mature, they can give you a look that could rival that of your mother glaring at you because you have been naughty in public.
I can recall being drunk and crawling on the floor with my friend while pretending to be a sheep and my kelpie giving me the most withering look I have ever seen. Then there were the times where I would sing in the car to Usher and Rocky would look absolutely horrified and embarrassed.
Kelpies – strong and brave until the end
Kelpies can run for kms, they never seem to tire and would appear to have a bottomless pit of energy to use up. Even when injured or unwell, they will do their best to keep going and when they get too sick to do that, then you know something is really wrong. They rely on their owners to know when they are crook because they can’t rely on themselves. They are the kind of dog that would say ‘It’s OK, I am fine, I will be fine – where are those sheep/tennis balls?’
And when that time does come when they no longer enjoy their life be it as a pet or as a working dog, trust me when I say that your kelpie will tell you when he/she has had enough, you just have to be receptive to understanding them. They will tell you with their body language, with their heart and with their eyes and whilst those signals may be silent, they are the loudest you will ever hear and it is your duty to listen to them.
Because when it’s time for a kelpie to leave this world, it should be with a calm, quiet and peaceful dignity that this dog (and any dog) deserves because anything else is unfair.
So I repeat, what is it about the kelpie that is so special?
A kelpie is your dog, your worker, your protector, your mate, your driving buddy, your snuggle buddy, the one you can trust with all your secrets and the one that understands you better than you do yourself.
Everything is special about them – absolutely everything and once you have been owned by a kelpie, you will never be the same again.
Dedicated to kelpies everywhere – especially my darling Rocky
You may remember from my previous stories that my old dog Rocky went to university where he studied ‘sheep herding and the modern day kelpie’. Rocky was well educated, wore round gold-rimmed kelpie spectacles and usually carried a copy of the ‘Kelpie Times’ under his arm.
Now for a dog to get into university they have to be pretty smart. These places are usually filled with working dogs – kelpies, blue heelers, border collies, sniffer dogs in training etc.
Brutus you may have gathered by now, is not the smartest dog in the world but probably smarter than he realizes. He doesn’t like to be reminded of the time he attempted to jump in the air to catch a helitac during a bushfire and there are heaps of other examples and we certainly won’t talk about the ‘Tony Abbott doll incident’ either.
So my darling Brutus could not get into university because not only did they not have a course suitable for him; but he didn’t meet the criteria to get in.
That’s OK though because university is not for every dog and for dogs like Brutus, they have special dog schools with courses like garden digging, how to make your bed explode and how to pull washing off the line when your human isn’t looking.
Cats have a similar kind of schooling system and many cats go on to be superior creatures and acquire enough knowledge to make their human into their own personal servant. But if we are discussing Kevin the cat, he has been in and out of kitty prison for doing unspeakable crimes with a squeaky stuffed warthog, several blankets and my leg.
Brutus had always admired his kelpie brother Rocky, right up until the day Rocky crossed over to Rainbow Bridge. Sometimes Brutus would borrow Rocky’s kelpie spectacles and one of his sheep herding books and sit on the sofa pretending to read them. Rocky never had the heart to tell Brutus that the book was upside down or back to front, he just allowed Brutus to have his moment.
It never stopped Brutus dreaming about going to university though and in the privacy of his room; he had made his own certificate complete with a ‘Passed’ stamp out of a potato and some ink he obtained by breaking several of my biro pens.
One day at Pippin’s House
Brutus was at Pippin’s house having lunch. It made him feel grown up to have lunch with Pippin. Pippin was sitting in his favourite chair reading the newspaper, occasionally taking a dainty bite from a dog treat that his Mum had bought for him from the markets.
Pippin smiled at something he was reading then picking up his handkerchief, he dapped his pointy snout a few times and followed by taking a sip of his tea. He could feel a pair of eyes on him and could hear the sound of heavy breathing from Brutus.
He sighed, put the paper down on the side of the chair and turned round to where Brutus was standing. “Are you OK Brutus?” Pippin raised his eyebrows at his giant friend.
Brutus’s treats remained uneaten. Crushing bits of biscuit with his paws, Brutus struggled to find the words to ask Pippin a question. “Pippin?” he eventually asked.
Pippin peered over his spectacles, “Yes Brutus?”
“Rocky went to university and made something of himself didn’t he?”
Pip nodded and agreed that yes, Rocky did go to university and achieved great things.
“So is there any reason why I can’t do the same?” Brutus questioned him.
Pippin puffed air out of his cheeks before responding; “I think dog universities have a criteria that has to be met and that maybe it would be a bit tough for you Brutus.”
But Brutus wasn’t interested in how tough it was. Ever since Rocky had gone, Brutus wanted to stand for something (other than for food in the kitchen). He longed to reach the giddy heights of university and be able to have awards in his living room and have his degree framed on the wall to show off to everyone.
Pippin tried to pacify Brutus by saying that he was smart in other ways and wasn’t that enough?
Except that it wasn’t, not to Brutus. Because he had decided that he wanted to be just like his big brother and he would not give up until he had exhausted all avenues of trying. If he had to write to the Queen herself then that is what he would do.
“He’s going to get hurt Pippin, you need to fix this and quickly.” Bronte said firmly to her brother who didn’t reply but inwardly knew that she was right.
A Few Hours Later – Back at Brutus’s house
“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” Kevin the cat growled impatiently. He was trying to watch TV and Brutus was rummaging around in the cupboard and impatiently chucking things on to the floor.
Muttering something about ‘university stuff’, Brutus trotted off into the dining room where he spotted something on the table. It was Rocky’s latest quarterly university magazine – the subscription hadn’t yet been cancelled.
“That’s the one!” Brutus said triumphantly. Grabbing the magazine in his mouth, he walked off to his bed to read it. Which may well surprise you because if you remember from my book – ‘Planet Iggy’, that Brutus actually has dyslexia and at one point, couldn’t read at all. That was until Bronte the Iggy assisted him with various coping techniques and although his reading wasn’t nearly as good as the Iggies in his group, he could get by and if someone drew pretty pictures for him then he did even better.
Kevin stared at him intently stopping only occasionally to wash his anus, chew his nails and pick a fight with the cushions. “Why are you reading Rocky’s magazines? It’s not as though you could go to university is it, I mean don’t you have to be smart to go there?” Kev laughed at Brutus and then proceeded to kick the shit out of the cushions with his hind legs bicycling furiously and snagging on the fabric.
Brutus ignored him and flicked through the pages of the magazine. Beautiful photos of smart kelpies and blue heelers on each page, some wearing their farming collars, some herding cattle and some posing at the university with their teachers, while holding their certificates.
Feeling a huge pang of envy, Brutus berated himself. What on earth was he thinking? Kevin was right; he was no way smart enough to even look at the magazines let alone dream of going to university.
Pulling a face, Brutus nudged the magazine to the edge of his bed but did it too hard so it fell on the floor. He was going to leave it where it was but when he looked down, Brutus saw it had opened up on a page and when he saw what was on it, he bit his lip to try and stop himself from crying.
There on a full page spread was a photograph of his brother Rocky and a tribute write-up. The article must have been done just after Rocky had died to make this quarter for publication.
Rocky looked ever so smart and healthy in the photo. His shiny black coat, his eyes bright, ears erect and he had his university neckerchief round his neck. Proudly clutching his certificate for his degree in sheep herding, the look was finished off with a pair of gold-rimmed round kelpie spectacles (these are spectacles especially for kelpies, a bit like whippet jeans which are jeans just for whippets).
Brutus had been looking for those kelpie spectacles everywhere because ever since Rocky had gone, they held more significance than ever. The trouble was, Brutus just could not find them no matter how hard he looked.
He couldn’t make out all of the words in the article but realized that it was about Rocky and his success as a university educated but disabled kelpie with bad hips, while managing a busy sporting life, studying and living in the suburbs.
The next part of the article was a Q&A kind of thing where Rocky had been asked questions, one of them being did he think that all dogs should have access to higher education or should it be kept elite for the smarter dogs in life. It was Rocky’s answer that took Brutus’s breath away.
‘Intelligence should not be measured by academic qualifications because there are so many dogs that haven’t been to university and don’t have degrees but they are smart in other ways and they should be given the same chance to better themselves as any other dog’.
There was another section about Rocky crossing over to Rainbow Bridge and what a loss he would be to the university and the kelpie clubs that he was a member of. But the most surprising part to the article was a new program called the ‘Rocky Scholarship Program for Alternatively Gifted Dogs’ where dogs that are not academically gifted, could sit a special entrance test with a view to studying alternative courses at university.
They had programs such as how to be a sniffer dog, guard dog training, cat herding, storm prediction, how to protect your suburb from the garbage truck, bushfire prediction and how to protect your family to name but a few.
Dogs would graduate with their degree; they would get their special day wearing their gown and cap, a special university neckerchief, a certificate and a qualification. They would get their day of pride and recognition and would learn important skills – well cat herding is debatable but it can be useful in some circumstances I guess.
And this brainchild was the idea of Rocky. He had come up with the entire thing and had persuaded the university to run the course and had even assisted with planning it all, he really had thought of everything.
The final question in the article was asking why Rocky had thought that setting up the scholarship program was a good idea and this was his reply:
‘My brother Brutus is smart but he just doesn’t know it. He is dyslexic so cannot study in the way that other dogs can but it doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be given a chance. He is kind and even when he is scared of things, he still protects his family from the garbage truck, he loves to learn and his sniffing skills are second to none’.
‘Basically, Dogs like my brother deserve a chance to better themselves’.
The article ended with a paragraph on how to enter for the program and a photograph of Rocky on the day he started his university course.
“I never even knew he had done that, I wonder if he would have told me had he not gone to Rainbow Bridge?” Brutus thought to himself. How on earth would he have known had he not found the magazine? Or maybe he was meant to find it, call it fate if you like.
Putting the magazine neatly on his bed, Brutus could not believe he was even thinking about it. He must be mad, dreaming – or both. Picking up his mobile phone, he called the one dog that he knew wouldn’t laugh at him and would support him – Pippin Potter.
“Pippin, it’s me – Brutus, I need your help but you mustn’t tell anyone……”
At Pippin’s House
“Who was that?” Bronte asked without even looking up. She had heard Pip whispering and couldn’t make out the gist of the conversation.
Ignoring her, Pippin put on his smartest collar, picked up his little bag and diary plus his phone and trotted off towards the garden, “I am popping out for a bit, off to see Brutus about something.” The door slammed behind him before Bronte had any chance of challenging him further.
“Boys and their secrets, probably discussing about those new leather collars Brutus was talking about the other week. Complete waste of money as he always ruins them by scraping them on the wall!” Bronte said knowingly to her sister Latte.
At Brutus’s House
A light tap at the door disturbed Kevin out of his slumber. Having exhausted himself by insulting the parrots in the garden, he had spread himself out by the door and had fallen asleep. Quickly jumping up, Kevin took his position and floofed his tail out to resemble a toilet brush, “I am armed and dangerous!” Kevin shouted from behind the door.
“Hi Kevin, I have come to see Brutus. It’s me Pippin!” A well-spoken clipped English accent could be heard from behind the door.
“Oh it’s you, come in then!” Kevin sighed as he jumped up to swing on the door handle to let Pippin in.
“Hello to you as well Kevin, have you bitten your owner lately?” Pippin said bravely but had to run past Kev pretty quick before Kev swatted his bum.
“Cheeky bastard!” Kevin grumbled, “What are you doing here?”
“Private business, don’t worry though, we won’t disturb you.” Pippin said meekly.
“Bloody good job you are here, he has been acting strange since he saw that magazine.” Kev pulled a face.
Before Pip got the chance to ask about which magazine he was talking about, Brutus scaled the sofa and came charging up to him and licked his face. He looked unusually energetic for Brutus so something was up and judging by the immediate request for help; it was a pretty big deal by the look of it.
Scowling at the two dogs, Kevin decided to go to his room and watch some cat videos on his mobile. There was no way he was going to sit and listen to Brutus and Pippin going on about dog stuff because Kevin doesn’t have much time for small talk unless it’s him that is doing it.
“So Brutus, what is this all about, what do you need my help for?” Pippin crossed his paws and stared at him.
Taking a deep breath Brutus handed Pippin the university magazine which had a piece of tissue marking the page for Rocky’s article, “This!” Brutus said firmly.
Pulling out his spectacles and placing them on the end of his pointy snout, Pippin scratched his nose and began to read the article.
Ten minutes later, Pippin looked emotional and broken at what he had just read. “I never knew he wrote this, I just didn’t know and I know a lot about most things. But how come I didn’t know that Rocky would think of something like this?”
Brutus silently pleaded with Pippin to help him. Pippin kept looking down at Rocky’s picture in the article and back at Brutus. After what seemed like an eternity, Pippin gave a firm nod “OK, let’s do it!”
Brutus’s grey flappy jowls turned into a grin, wiping his eyes he said in his deep voice, “Let’s do it for Rocky!”
“No Brutus, let’s do it for YOU!”
Both dogs hugged each other for a few seconds before they were disturbed by a loud ginger cough from Kevin who was sitting behind them looking irritated because he didn’t much care for male bonding sessions.
At Pippin’s house
Pippin had just got home. Barging through the kitchen door, he found Bronte and Latte curled up together on the sofa watching a DVD. “Where on earth have you been?” Bronte asked him. Her pretty little face creased with concern.
Pippin leapt up onto the kitchen counter to check for dog biscuits, grabbing a couple he then made himself a cup of Yorkshire tea in his favourite bone China mug with Scottie dogs on it and sat on the stool by the breakfast bar.
“Nothing much and please don’t ask me to tell you because I can’t. Now what DVD are you watching?”
Latte looked at Bronte and shrugged, there was no point in badgering Pip because he stored secrets in that brain of his that could rival those of a government agent.
Nothing more was said between the Iggies, there was no need because the girls knew that whatever it was, Pippin had it under control. But when they did find out, it would certainly cause a stir in the Iggy community.
The day of reckoning
Pippin and Brutus stood outside the university where Brutus would be sitting his entrance test. Brutus was wearing a collar identical to the one that Rocky wore – a blue and black collar with a black clip on it and an identity tag. Pip reckoned that he had seen lots of kelpies in similar collars and after all, Brutus was half a kelpie and more than entitled to wear it. It was a smart collar, not too elaborate but perfectly functional and that is exactly the sort of thing that Rocky would wear because he was never a slave to fashion and even purchased his collars from charity shops.
Brutus gripped the handles of Rocky’s old university brown leather briefcase. There were some scratches on it from Kevin but you couldn’t really notice them too much as Pippin had given it a jolly good clean. Inside the briefcase was a pen, pencil, eraser, notepad and the treasured university magazine that Brutus had found with the page folded open on Rocky’s article.
“Look at me.” Pippin barked and as Brutus turned round, Pippin stood on his hind legs and straightened Brutus’s collar. Nudging him with his pointy snout, Pippin whispered, “Whatever happens my friend, I am proud of you!”
Brutus picked up the briefcase and nodded back at Pippin. He was so scared that his legs were shaking and he fought the urge to urinate himself from nerves and farted instead. As Pippin wrinkled his nose to stop himself from retching (Brutus did awful farts), Pippin forced a grin and waved him on but on the inside, Pip was as terrified as Brutus.
A group of kelpies and cattle dogs waited outside the hall where the test was to be held. They looked so confident and smart as they discussed which dog was the best sheep herder or what kind of farm they came from. Brutus didn’t want to walk past them and was certain that his legs might give way but he knew that in order to sit the test then he had no choice but to make that walk.
Nudging one another, the kelpies spotted Brutus carrying Rocky’s briefcase. They knew it was Rocky’s as it had his initials engraved on the leather and it had Rocky’s kelpie emblem on it – an outline of his head that been carved into it.
“You know who that is don’t you?” A red cloud kelpie whispered to the others. A blue heeler frowned and said no, she didn’t recognize the huge brown dog with enormous ears looking more than a little uncomfortable as he made his way to the hall.
The red cloud kelpie removed his biro pen from his collar and pointed it at Brutus, “That my friends is Rocky’s brother Brutus. Rocky went to Rainbow Bridge last year but before he went, he started this scholarship program so that other dogs could apply for university that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.”
The group fell silent. They took in the sight of Brutus and his clumsy way of walking and how he carried that brown leather briefcase as though it were his most prized possession and perhaps it was because it was because it was certainly carrying his hopes in it that’s for sure.
The red cloud kelpie waved to a group of border collies and then to some more blue heelers and signaled for them to join the growing number of dogs that had started to gather round.
And because the group had got bigger, other dogs became interested and pretty soon there was a crowd of working dogs lined up into two lines either side of the entrance door to the exam hall.
Brutus was dragging his feet, he felt sick with nerves. What on earth had was he thinking? Dogs like him didn’t go to university. They did more practical stuff and left the smart stuff to the others.
Hearing the commotion around him, Brutus looked up and saw the dogs lined up either side of the walkway. Trying to make himself look small which is hard when you weigh 33kgs, Brutus blinked and gave a submissive grin to anyone that looked at him.
“Hey Brutus, you’ve got this my friend – do it for Rocky!” The red cloud kelpie shouted and then started to clap his paws in encouragement.
“Go on Brutus, you can do it, good luck mate!” A red heeler piped up and also started to clap. One by one the dogs began to cheer Brutus as he followed three other dogs that were also sitting the test.
Dogs that he had envied when Rocky had spoken about them, smart dogs with briefcases and university neckerchiefs. He had even borrowed Rocky’s neckerchief once and placed a flat piece of cardboard on his head with a tea towel on top and a towel round his shoulders to make it look like the cap and gown that one gets when one graduates.
Of course this moment was ruined when Kevin said he looked like an idiot but good old Rocky went along with it to make his brother feel special and had presented him with a rolled up newspaper pretending it was a degree.
And now the very dogs that he had envied; were waiting outside cheering him on. A grumpy looking pug in a thick studded collar and holding a clipboard; stood by the door marking the dogs off as they entered the building, “In you go Brutus and good luck!” The pug smiled at him which was a bloody miracle as pugs never smile unless it is for something really special and when they do smile, they usually flick snot everywhere as a party trick.
Brutus took a deep breath and turned round to have one last look at the dogs outside. He gave a feeble smile and a paws-up gesture but as he did so, he noticed a tiny little figure hiding behind the tree. It was Pippin Potter and if it hadn’t been for Pippin, then Brutus wouldn’t be about to sit his entrance test for university.
The pressure was on; Brutus simply could not let Pippin down. He looked at Pip for a few seconds before disappearing into the hall.
Pippin watched Brutus right up until he went in. Then deciding that he would be there for when he came out, he curled up by the tree on the cold damp grass and waited for his friend to finish his test which was to take 2 hours and for Pippin, it was going to be the longest two hours of his life.
In the exam hall
A chunky yellow Labrador with a pen and clipboard was directing the entrants to their seats. The hall smelt of polished floors and you could hear the clipping of nails as dogs trotted up and down.
“Pssst!” A voice could be heard from behind Brutus.
Brutus looked round and saw an overweight pug in a leather waistcoat and a thick black studded collar which was far too large for his neck. He was sitting on a booster seat on his chair and on his desk he had a biro pen, pencil, eraser and a notepad with ‘Pug Life’ written on it.
To Brutus’s left was the boxer he had chatted with earlier. The boxer sat slouched at his desk and nervously clicked his biro on and off pressing the pen on the paper, making a row of inky dots while doing it. With festoons of drool hanging from his mouth, the boxer shook his head causing the drool to flick on to pretty much everything surrounding him.
“Excuse me, do you mind?” An indignant whippet bitch with an overshot jaw and an exceptionally long pointy snout, turned round and squeaked at the boxer.
Forgetting his nerves, Brutus snorted with laughter. The boxer reminded him of his friend Vader and just for that moment, he also made Brutus think happy thoughts.
“Nothing wrong with a bit of boxer snot, it can put up wallpaper you know!” The boxer laughed and winked at Brutus, well you couldn’t tell he was winking as he had more wrinkles than the average dog but Brutus assumed it was a wink as he had seen Vader trying to do it in the whippet pole dancing club one time.
“So what’s making you want to get into university then?” The whippet asked Brutus, “Is it your owner trying to make you into a smart dog?”
“No, it’s not my Mum, she wouldn’t do that.” Brutus shook his head at her.
“I don’t get it, why would you put yourself through this if you didn’t have to, you must be doing it for someone?” The whippet pulled a face.
“Myself, I am doing it for myself.” Brutus said and picked up his pen so he could practice holding it properly.
They were distracted by the appearance of the Labrador as he handed out an exam paper to each of the dogs. “No talking, no helping each other, answer each question, leave the ones you don’t know and once you have finished you can turn your paper the other way and raise your paw.”
Brutus felt a burning need to fart again; perhaps the others wouldn’t mind if he did, surely they would understand? Just as he was about to fart, the boxer also let out a loud one, followed by the whippet and then the pug. Not wanting to be left out, Brutus farted and gave a little snort of laughter and looked at the others.
“Do you all need to use the toilet or can we start?” The horrified Labrador fanned himself with some paper.
“Let’s get this over with!” The pug said taking control of the situation and it was agreed that if any of them needed to go for a poo, then they would all have to wait until the exam was over.
“OK everyone, turn your paper over and start now!” The Labrador barked and then blew the whistle to indicate the exam had started.
Taking a few deep breaths, Brutus turned his paper over and saw that his first task was to write his name, age, breed and date. He gripped his pen as best he could and slowly started to write his details on the paper.
The questions were multiple-choice and would decide where a dog’s potential skills could be. There was no actual writing, just putting a cross in the box.
The boxer, the whippet, the pug and Brutus sat quietly in their seats and quickly became absorbed in their exam. This was the first intake on Rocky’s scholarship program entrance test; the dreams of the old kelpie were hanging on this group – especially Brutus.
Brutus only looked up once and that was when he noticed a picture of Rocky on a large poster advertising the exam, the old kelpie looked distinguished and handsome wearing his university neckerchief. Brutus felt proud because that was HIS brother up on that poster, his brother giving other dogs a chance to better themselves – even if one of them was a boxer because you all know how Rocky hated boxers.
Pippin was freezing cold. He knew he should have gone home instead of sitting outside on the wet grass for that length of time, but this was a huge deal for his friend and however hard it was for Pippin, you could bet your life it was even harder for Brutus inside that exam hall.
Pippin wasn’t entirely alone either because just a little way outside the exam hall, sat the working dogs that had cheered Brutus as he went in. They too sat outside waiting when they didn’t need to, some of them played a game of cards, some of them bounced tennis balls off the walls, but all of them waited patiently for Brutus to finish.
Two hours later
Brutus, the boxer, the whippet and the pug burst through the door, well Brutus burst through the door first, followed by the boxer – the others just ran through before the door slammed shut. The whippet and the pug made out that they assisted in the shoving of the door and even had the cheek to look exhausted. The whippet actually pretended to faint but that was short lived because the pug told her to stop with the dramatics.
Pippin Potter was freezing cold, he had no jacket on and being a slim dog, felt the cold more than other dogs. His paws were wet and he shivered to try and warm himself up.
He saw the kelpies and cattle dogs congratulating Brutus on finishing his test. Pippin was desperate to go and see him but felt too scared as there were lots of big dogs standing round Brutus. But after a few minutes he could contain himself no longer and slowly trotted up to go and meet his big friend.
“You waited!” Brutus looked relieved as he spotted the Iggy standing nervously next to the kelpies.
“Are you lost?” A red heeler asked Pippin.
Pippin dug a hole in the wet soil to try and hide the fact that he was shaking. Prone to bursting into tears at inappropriate moments, he didn’t want to embarrass Brutus by doing that today. Dancing from one paw to the other, the little dog responded in his English accent, “I am Brutus’s friend, I have been waiting for him to finish his test.”
The heeler cocked his head to the side and stared at Pippin for a few seconds, not quite able to believe that this little dog with a snout as pointy as a biro pen and legs as thin as carrot sticks, could possibly be Brutus’s friend.
“Pippin! You waited for me all this time! You must have been freezing!” Brutus’s loud voice drowned out the excitement of the other dogs. They all watched as Brutus ran past them and skidded to a halt when he reached Pip, nearly knocking him over and taking up chunks of turf in the process.
“This is my friend Pippin, isn’t he lovely?” Brutus declared to the bigger dogs that looked somewhat bemused at the unlikely pair.
After deciding that any friend of Brutus’s was a friend of theirs, the usual doggy pleasantries were exchanged and Pippin’s bottom thoroughly inspected and sniffed. Pippin felt his cheeks burning with embarrassment and secretly felt glad that Rocco wasn’t there because this would have been enough to make him shout and swear and even fight with his invisible friends.
“What do you want to do now old chap?” Pippin tapped Brutus on the leg.
Unknown to Pippin, the working dogs had invited Brutus to go to the local dog pub to celebrate, which he would have enjoyed because Rocky would have gone for sure had he been around. But noticing that Pippin was hopping from paw to paw in a bid to warm himself up, he replied simply, “Let’s go back to yours for bones and beer, how does that sound?”
“That sounds perfect!” Pip smiled gratefully and the two boys started to make their way back to Pippin’s house.
“How do you think you did Brutus?” Pippin asked him.
Brutus shrugged and said that he didn’t have a clue but felt super proud for even sitting in the same building that his brother Rocky had studied in, something that he never thought would ever be possible, let alone taking part in an entrance test.
“Who knows, not me that’s for sure but I am glad that I tried.” Brutus replied, “And Pippin?” he added.
“Thanks for waiting for me, I know it must have been freezing for you to wait for so long.”
“That’s what friends are for and it wasn’t that cold really.” Pip nodded firmly trying to hide the fact his teeth were chattering.
“Liar!” Brutus barked and they both burst into fits of laughter.
Back at Pippin’s House
“Where have you two been? Mum has been frantic!” Bronte squealed and jumped off the sofa when the boys came through the front door.
Brutus was about to tell them when he felt a sharp nip to his leg from Pippin who was making a ‘hush’ gesture with his paws.
“Nowhere really, just a walk.” Pippin responded. Chucking Brutus a can of dog beer, he nodded towards the sofa for Brutus to sit down.
Bronte looked boot-faced. They were hiding something and she was sure of it. But Bronte needn’t have worried because she would find out soon enough – they all would.
A month later
Pippin and Brutus had successfully managed to keep the entire thing away from the Iggy club. Partly because Pippin wanted to surprise them and partly because Brutus was terrified of telling anyone else in case they laughed at him, not that the Iggies would dream of doing that to him as you well know.
The day had finally arrived and that was the day the dogs were due to receive their exam results.
On the outside of Brutus’s house, you could see a huge mushy, wet nose pressed against the window. He had been waiting for the mail to be delivered and had patiently been checking the mailbox every hour since 4am just in case the postie forgot where he lived and delivered it to the dog down the road by mistake.
Kevin shook his head at his brother and wondered what was going on to make him show such interest. He never usually did unless it was his food delivery and even then he never got that excited.
Brutus was about to turn away when he spotted the postman on his moped trying to stuff a large envelope in the mailbox. Opening the door, Brutus ran outside to intercept it.
“Excuse me, has that got my name on it?” He barked at the postman.
The postman squinted at the writing on the envelope; which also had a stamp from the ‘University of Working Dogs’ on the top left hand corner.
Brutus could barely contain himself as he watched the postman struggling to read the tiny print.
“Yeah, that’s for you I think, if your name is Brutus that is!” The postman handed the envelope to Brutus who took it in his mouth and without saying another word, ran up the garden and back into the house and in to his bedroom so that he could open it in private.
At Pippin Potter’s house
Pippin picked up his mobile for the umpteenth time that morning and checked for any messages from Brutus. There hadn’t been any, what on earth was happening at Brutus’s house?
“Why do you keep checking your phone Pippin?” Latte asked him.
“I am a busy dog and have to keep up with my business contacts, that’s why. Don’t be so nosey!” Pippin replied curtly in a bid to silence her.
At Brutus’s house
The crisp white envelope was A4 and fairly thick – clearly padded with documents. It had Brutus’s name on the front and on the top right hand corner, it had the stamp of the university on it with a kelpie’s head as an emblem. Brutus felt sick just holding it, let alone having the courage to open it. What if he had failed, what on earth would he tell Pippin who waited for 2 hours outside in the cold? But telling Pippin that he hadn’t the courage to open the envelope was possibly worse than failing itself.
Ripping open the envelope, Brutus pulled out a university brochure, some forms and finally, a letter in the shape of a large bone with his name on it. With his mouth trying to make out the words, Brutus read the letter several times and tilted his head to each side – something he did when he couldn’t quite grasp something. Then dropping everything on the floor and without saying a word, he walked into the garden crying quietly and clutching his phone.
At Pippin’s house
The sound of Pippin’s phone ringing jolted the Iggy out of his slumber. Brutus’s name came up on the caller ID with a profile picture of him dressed as a pop star from when they did the boy band concert.
“Well, what’s the latest……?” Pip asked quietly and after a few minutes of discussion, Pippin ended the call and went back into the house. But before he did, he looked up at the ceiling and mouthed the words ‘thank you’.
Six months later
It was graduation day at the working dog university and the new graduates were ready to receive their certificates in their chosen subjects. The chunky Labrador was bustling up and down on the stage making sure everything was perfectly in place for him to do the presentations. Dressed in what is termed a ‘Labrador suit’, he looked jolly smart – well, the suit was a bit on the tight side but he blamed that on the roast chicken he had stolen the night before.
The pug, the boxer, the whippet and Brutus were wearing their caps and gowns. Brutus’s cap was slightly wonky, the boxer’s cap had slipped down his face and the whippet’s cap was far too big for her. But that was OK because it worked for them and it was their day to shine – wonky caps and all. They sat at the side of the stage waiting for the ceremony to start. A giant painting of Rocky hung on the back wall with Rocky’s name and ‘2008 to 2018, Team Kelpie’ on the bottom.
Coughing to clear his throat, the Labrador tapped the microphone a few times to test the sound. Placing her paws in her ears, the whippet made various grumbling noises about how sensitive she was to sound and did they really have to do that? The pug gave a disapproving look in sympathy and did exaggerated gestures about turning the volume down.
“Are you OK Brutus?” The boxer asked him.
Brutus gave a determined smile and a quick nod to say that yes, he was OK even if he had to keep pinching himself to make sure it was real.
The whippet was delving into her handbag looking for her powder compact. Once she had found it, she opened it and quickly checked her reflection and examined her teeth for traces of Schmackos.
“Well, looks like this is us guys!” The boxer puffed out his chest and straightened himself up.
Brutus turned round to look at Pippin. Nothing was said but the curt nod and proud grin from Pippin told Brutus everything he needed to know.
The Labrador waited for a few minutes for everyone to settle and once they had, he began his speech, “Ladies and gentlemen I am going to start with a dedication to a very special dog that had a great influence on this university.
“Now this dog was a fine senior kelpie called Rocky who believed that all dogs deserved a chance to excel in their chosen area and not be excluded because they didn’t fit the academic criteria to apply to the university.
“And it’s because of Rocky, that we have this new pilot course on offer at our university. It is also because of this course, that we have Rocky’s brother who Rocky believed could be the best version of himself with the right support.”
The Labrador gestured to Brutus to stand up, “Ladies and gentlemen, dogs and bitches and the cat in the front row, I am proud and honoured to call up Brutus!” The Labrador moved to the side to give Brutus the space to come up to join him on stage.
“Did he just say cat in the front row?” A kelpie whispered to a Schnauzer sitting next to him.
The Schnauzer put on his spectacles and frowned while trying to make out if there was actually cat in the front row and spotted an angry looking fluffy orange cat wearing a pair of ginger cat jeans, a leather waistcoat and a white T shirt with ‘Bollox’ on it. The Schnauzer glared disapprovingly at the cat and pursed his lips when he flipped him the bird and mouthed the words ‘shit-beard’ at him.
“Who on earth is that vulgar feline?” The Schnauzer growled in his German accent to the kelpie.
“Kevin”, the kelpie sighed, “And he is Brutus and Rocky’s brother – someone you don’t want to mess with. Rumours have it that he has actually killed several dogs and three humans in his time and dines on the bodies of his enemies – and he weighs 8kgs.”
Deciding that perhaps the kelpie was right, the Schnauzer decided to try to ignore Kevin and pretend that he wasn’t there.
Next to Kevin were Pippin, Vader the boxer, Bronte, Latte, Zara, Nica, Gigi, DJ, Carlo, Fletch, Kaya, Dash, Augie and Rocco. Once they had found out about Brutus’s exam results, they had all insisted on coming to see their friend graduate. Pippin had decided to splash out as it was a special occasion and hired a mini bus to transport them.
Brutus stood up, fighting the urge not to run in the opposite direction, he turned round and focused on his friends for a few seconds and then walked with as much confidence as he could muster on to the stage.
Anyway, back to the ceremony.
The Labrador was about to hand out the first award, “Congratulations Brutus, you have been awarded the Working Dog University Certificate in ‘Protecting your garden, your home and your family’ – graduating with honors.
“You have also been awarded the ‘The Good Boy Award’ – graduating with honors. Well done lad, Rocky would be proud of you!” The Labrador handed Brutus his certificate scrolls tied up with a scarlet ribbon.
If ever there was a dog that shone with pride that day it was Brutus. Standing bolt upright, wearing his very own university neckerchief, cap and gown, Brutus tried to stay focused on the Labrador and not the group of dogs that were there for the award ceremony – many of which had come to support him.
Brutus held onto his scrolls and resisted the urge to look at them, touching the red silk ribbon, he allowed himself to imagine if that was how Rocky had felt when he graduated. He remembered how envious he felt of the little black kelpie when he got his degree and never in a million years thought that he would be standing in that exact same place to receive one himself.
“Are you crying Pippin?” Kevin hissed in his ear.
“Yep!” Pippin exhaled slowly to stop himself from doing that ugly crying you can get from watching soldier homecoming videos.
“How did you manage to keep it from us, from me?” Bronte sobbed to Pippin, “You both did this all on your own and we could have supported you!”
“Sometimes the best things in life have to be kept a secret until they are ready to come out. Besides, we told you in the end and that’s what counts.” Pippin responded.
“Oh, just one more thing lad!” The Labrador said to Brutus. Then bending down to the front of the stage he waved to a red cloud kelpie to hand him a tatty black glasses case with a gold ‘R’ embossed onto it.
The Labrador carefully opened the case and removed a pair of Rocky’s gold rimmed, round kelpie spectacles and gently placed them on Brutus’s face while adjusting the arms to fit behind his ears.
“Now you’re good!” The Labrador winked at him.
“Rocky’s kelpie spectacles! I wondered where they had gone!” Brutus gasped.
“Rocky had left strict instructions that they be given to you on your graduation from this university.”
“But how did he know I would even go to university?” Brutus questioned the Labrador.
“Rocky was a smart dog and he knew you and what you were capable of.”
“The kelpie spectacles, he has the kelpie spectacles, he had looked everywhere for them!” Pippin said to himself.
“I am so very proud of him!” Bronte whispered to Pippin.
Pippin gulped “You and me both Bronte, I just wish Rocky had been around to see this.”
“Well technically he is.” Bronte placed her paw on Pippin’s back.
Pippin cocked his head, “How did you work that one out?”
“Because as you said, this whole scholarship thing was Rocky’s idea and he knew that Brutus would eventually find out about it and apply for it.”
They were suddenly distracted by the sound of ‘Team Kelpie’ that had started off a slow clap of paws until every single dog was clapping and cheering for Brutus – an ordinary mixed breed rescue dog that took a leap of faith and succeeded (with a little help and belief from a good friend).
As Brutus looked across the room to take it all in, he noticed a tennis ball bouncing by itself on the walkway in between the seating. Nobody else seemed to see it, only him.
He looked towards the dogs clapping at him; he looked at Pippin Potter sitting next to Bronte and the other Iggies. Brutus looked at Rocco who was busy clapping and biting his own tail at the same time. He looked at Kevin who was washing his bum to annoy the Schnauzer.
Not one of them noticed that tennis ball and neither did they notice the little black kelpie standing at the back of the hall wagging his tail and waving at Brutus who stared right back at him. Then after a few minutes, Rocky picked up his tennis ball and vanished as quickly as he had appeared.
“I saw you Rocky, I saw you!” Brutus said quietly and then unable to hold his emotion in a moment longer, he leapt off the stage and landed right in front of Pippin where he hung on to the little dog and cried his heart out. He cried for Rocky, he cried because he was so exhausted but most of all, he cried because he was so proud of himself.
It’s amazing what we can achieve when someone believes in us and what others can achieve when we believe in them.
And that goes for our dogs as well.
Samantha Rose (C) Copyright Feb 2019
This story is dedicated to my friend Robyn who was brilliant at bringing out the best in people and believing in their potential. I strongly suspect that she is now hanging out with my Rocky in a place that you and I could only dream about. – Love you always Robyn
It was Friday evening on 7th September, Rocky and I were curled up on the sofa on one end, Brutus and Kev were on the other. I was ruffling Rocky’s neck and tickling his ears when I felt a lump that I had not noticed before, my first thought was a cyst and I had seen many of those in my career as a vet nurse when I lived in the UK. ‘What’s that on your neck?’ I asked him. Staring back at me with his beautiful brown eyes now so cloudy with age, he shrugged ‘You know, I am a lumpy old dog – comes with age’.
With just the minimal pressure I had applied to the lump, I felt warm blood trickle down my hands, feeling somewhat concerned, I cleaned it up and made a mental note to book the vet the next day to get it looked at.
The next day at the vet
‘That’s not a cyst, I don’t know what that is but it’s not a cyst and it needs to be removed’, the vet looked concerned as she told me and after a discussion, Rocky was booked in for the following Tuesday for surgery to get the lump removed and biopsied to see what it was. The vet asked me to check him that evening for any other lumps and bumps so that they could investigate those while he was asleep.
We were both off on annual leave that week so at least we could be at home to look after him, we had plans to go on holiday but had shelved them – thank goodness and that was a decision that was a blessing in disguise because I shudder to think what might have happened had we gone to our usual ‘middle of nowhere’ type of trip.
Either way, it was a strange moment and even stranger feeling that I can’t explain in my usual way as you will probably gather from reading this.
We were in the car park at the vets and I was about to get in the car. Rocky looked at the car and sighed, he looked exhausted as though life had just got too much all of a sudden, or perhaps it had been a while and maybe I hadn’t noticed it. Gently lifting him on to the back seat, I kissed his head, smoothed his erect triangular ears and buckled his safety belt to his collar.
Rocky and I have always enjoyed music in the car so I turned on my Usher CD and made a face at Rocky to warn him that I would probably start singing – badly. He gave a ‘Must you Mum?’ kind of look and we both laughed.
Reversing out of the car park, I was about to indicate right but at the last minute, indicated left and engaged to go.
‘Shall we take the long way home, by the coastal route?’ I asked Rocky. It added about 15 mins on to the journey but I knew he liked it, I liked it too – the ocean always looked so spectacular at that time of the morning, well at any time of the morning really.
‘Lovely day for it’, Rocky said as he pressed his snout on the window adding to the vast selection of ‘nose art’ that I simply could not be bothered to wash off.
‘Lovely day for what?’ I said, not taking my eyes off the road but tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the music.
Rocky shrugged, ‘I love this stretch of coastline, my favourite beaches and everything. How lucky we are to live here. Do you remember when I was on South Beach as a pup and started barking at that German man’s dog for not giving me his ball and the German man told you to stop me from shouting?’
We both laughed at the memory, it was hilarious and I could still here that miserable bastard saying ‘Your dog is shouting, you must stop him now!’ in his German accent. Of course I didn’t help matters by laughing which made him go bright red with anger, we actually thought that he might explode.
Then after the German guy had gone, Rocky managed to herd up a few other dogs and cause a canine uprising on the beach where all the dogs had refused to go back to their owners, preferring to run into the ocean in an act of rebellion instead.
Happy days they were, naughty days but happy all the same.
‘My favourite beaches!’ Rocky repeated with a smile on his face as he wistfully stared at the beautiful ocean as we drove past.
Rocky’s pained expression at me singing along to Usher
We arrived home about twenty minutes later and I opened the car door for him to get out. ‘Come on Rocky, Brutus is waiting for you and you know how he likes to hear about your car journeys’, I said to him.
He went to stand up in the car that he so easily got into an hour or so ago, he couldn’t get out.
Rocky looked at me all confused as though he wasn’t quite sure where he was. ‘Sorry Mum, if I could just have a few minutes that would be great’.
I could see Brutus’s anxious face pressed against the living room window, his tail which was initially wagging at high speed, slowly dwindled down to a swish. His brown forehead creased with concern at why his brother hadn’t jumped out of the car with the same enthusiasm that he had got in to it.
Initially I had thought he may have wrenched his hip as he has bad hips and so carefully lifted the senior kelpie out of the car where he just stood on the ground and looked at me. He wasn’t really there, it was like part of him had suddenly left me. I grabbed his tennis ball and threw it at him, he half bent down to pick it up and then looked back up at me and said ‘No thank you’ and stood there looking confused in an ‘Are we there yet dear?’ sort of way.
That was when it hit me, he had started to shut down and I shall explain more about that later.
I took him in to the living room where he managed to get himself on the sofa and settle down. He didn’t want his tea which was a first – ever, there was no vomiting, no drinking, no salivating, no diarrhoea, but no appetite either (he did have his breakfast that morning though).
Later that evening
We were all curled up on the sofa – me, Rocky, Brutus and Kevin, all snuggled up under a blanket. As the vet had shaved round the lump on his neck near his gland, I was able to get a good look at it and it looked nasty, it did not look innocent by any stretch of the imagination. It looked as though a hard piece of meat had erupted through his skin and I could see why the vet was concerned.
Now a few months back, Rocky presented with rapid respiration and fast heartbeat and as an ex veterinary nurse, I was quick to ask for Xrays and bloods – all were normal except for an ever so slightly enlarged liver and spleen (as reported by a radiographer), which was listed as unremarkable as that can happen in older animals having general anesthesia. His breathing settled down again and everything was fine – until now.
And it was now that Rocky’s belly looked swollen – not bloat swollen, but like it was ‘full of something’ swollen and it had only just happened on the journey home. He couldn’t really get comfortable. But in hindsight though and in recent months Rocky had started to adopt a strange position on the sofa where he would lie on his chest with his head propped up on the back of the chair, funny to look at but just another Rocky type quirk we put it down to – a bit like him barking at the stars at night for daring to shine in his garden.
‘Mum, what’s up with Rocky?’ Brutus asked me. He looked concerned and confused.
Rocky looked at me and I looked at him, his eyes were changing, it was like he was packing to leave his body, to leave me, to leave us.
Rocky’s eyes starting to glaze over
‘You’re leaving me aren’t you?’ I blurted out at him and then burst into noisy sobs as I clung on to his little body. In between my sobs, I could feel Brutus trying to lick my arms while saying ‘Mum, is Rocky going to wear tweed?’ (animals do tend to wear tweed when they cross over to Rainbow Bridge).
When my husband arrived home later that night, he was visibly shocked at the sight of our little kelpie dog who appeared to be shrinking in front of our eyes.
‘Tomorrow we book him in at the vets’, I said to my husband. ‘I shall sleep in the spare room with him tonight in case he needs me’, I added.
As for Rocky, he gave a tired smile and mouthed the words ‘Thank you’ to both of us.
That night my little ‘beetle dog’ (as I called him), snuggled up to me in the spare bedroom, he felt cold so I covered him with my duvet. As he slept and relaxed a little, I stroked him over his abdomen where to my horror, I could feel a firm lump and the surrounding area did not feel right either. No wonder this dog had been uncomfortable and no wonder he had tensed up on examination but one thing was certain, whatever had happened, had occurred quickly.
Sunday Morning – 9th September
It was my husbands birthday and we had planned to go out for breakfast and then take the boys out. Obviously that had been cancelled and we were now at the vets.
The waiting room was empty except for us and a small dog and his human. The little dog was doing rude gestures at Rocky and barking at various things that had upset him. Normally this would have been enough to set Rocky in to a full on aggression frenzy of rude words and insults, but today Rocky just ignored him which surprised both us and the vet.
I won’t go into the full conversation between us and the vet, it is too painful for me to talk about let alone even think about and go over. But I will tell you that when Rocky had his chest X-rays all those months ago, I made a comment saying to the vet that it wouldn’t surprise me if Rocky had cancer and there was something nasty going on.
Don’t ask me what made me think it, it was a feeling that I had and I have always been intuitive with my animals and those in my care when I worked as a veterinary nurse. Rocky’s gums were a bit pale but his bloods came back normal.
We even paid extra to have the X-rays reported on by a radiographer and as I mentioned earlier – they came back ‘unremarkable’ – normal, except for a slightly enlarged liver/spleen which can happen when old dogs have anaesthetics. Yet despite those normal findings, my gut instinct and the way in which Rocky was looking at me, told me that something was seriously wrong. We just couldn’t put our finger on it and believe me it wasn’t for the lack of trying and veterinary check ups/tests either.
The tumour on Rocky’s neck looked nasty, his belly was now firm and very sore and when the vet went to palpate it, my husband said his face showed tremendous pain and discomfort.
His eyes had started to glaze over – well they had actually started doing that the day before as the vet had noticed something wasn’t right but again, things had escalated overnight.
Suddenly things had started to make sense, in recent weeks Rocky would go from trotting around to walking oh-so-slowly past the window, looking visibly uncomfortable and I had assumed it was his hips bothering him. His breath had started to smell foul – it wasn’t his teeth because they were excellent for a ten year old kelpie that had 4 monthly checks at the vet for his hip injections, his yearly boosters/health checks – we were on top of that stuff and always had been.
The vet had noticed that Rocky for the first time ever, had ignored a dog in the waiting room and shown no interest in it and more concerning, it was a dog that was barking and growling at him. Rocky usually has to be taken to a separate room when there are other dogs around, but on that day it was like that other dog did not exist, he simply did not see him.
How did we miss it? How did we not see his suffering? Perhaps we did but as the vet said, kelpies are excellent at hiding their illness/injuries until by the time they are showing signs and symptoms, they are at crisis point.
This was a different vet to the one we saw on Saturday but she quickly agreed that the growth on Rocky’s neck (by his lymph glands) had appeared quickly and seemingly at an alarming rate and on closer inspection, did not look harmless.
I will never as long as I live, forget Rocky’s tired expression as he sat in that consult room, how bad his eyes were, his face, his pain when his abdomen was palpated, but most of all, his face the day before when I threw his tennis ball to him and he had decided that enough was enough, no more ball, no more fluffy penguin, no more games – he was done.
My Rocky – ready to cross that bridge
I swore blind that I would be more observant with my pets after letting Gordon go on for longer than was fair to him, I swore and promised that it would never happen again. But my Rocky was so good at hiding stuff and I certainly recall asking my husband last week if we were being cruel with Rocky as lately even since his last vet visit, he seemed to be uncomfortable and his breathing was at times, becoming a struggle again and had started to not want to get off his bed to go out for a game in the garden.
‘Are you coming for a game of ball Rocky?’ I would say to him, he would just blink at me and remain where he was and I would make a joke about him preferring his bed to our company. Why did I not pick up on that?
My head could not grasp how well he could be one moment and then the next, barely be able to walk and look so unwell.
The hardest decision for us but the kindest for Rocky
After an in depth discussion with the vet, we made the heartbreaking decision to let him go. The tumour on his neck was most likely to be cancerous and I think that was just the tip of the iceberg to be truthful. The enlarged spleen/liver although reported as normal, the tender abdomen and the lumps that had been felt, his whole appearance, behaviour and eyes completing the bigger picture. The fact that he had stopped eating, no longer wanted his ball and no longer gave a stuff about a dog having a go at him in the waiting room.
The vet was honest enough and said they could go out to investigate and open him up, remove his tumours – test them, and if required or appropriate, give him chemo – we were insured and even if we were not, we were going to pull money from our house (we have done that before).
I made a point of asking the vet that if she thought it was the wrong decision, would she tell me, be honest with me because although I am an ex veterinary nurse, the boundaries often become blurred when it comes to letting go of your pets when the right time comes and the decision has to be the best one because it is not something you can take back.
The vet agreed that it was the kindest thing to do and she would not even contemplate it had she not believed in it. And looking at Rocky at that precise point, we decided to let him go with what dignity he had left rather than put him through surgery, scans and treatment to extend his life for what? And more to the point, for whose benefit?
Goodbye my beautiful, special darling dog – Rocky
Rocky was taken out the back to have his IV line put in, he willingly went off with the vet, he has known the staff for ten years, they know him well and vice versa. He is more than comfortable with them.
He walked back in albeit a little stiffly, you could see his abdomen was uncomfortable, his eyes were tired, the bald patch where his neck had been clipped to show the tumour from the day before.
Right to the end he comforted me
If you looked ever so carefully and had my kind of imagination, you could see Rocky wearing an old tweed suit, while clutching a tatty brown briefcase and a peaked tweed cap.
My heart was pounding in my chest, I wanted to vomit – dear God what was I doing? Should I put him through surgery, chemo, could I continue to turn a blind eye to his discomfort, how much more should I or could I put him through? I didn’t want him to leave but I knew he couldn’t stay.
The vet had the two syringes in her hand, these syringes contained ‘Rainbow Juice’ which is what I call the drug that sends our pets to Rainbow Bridge. Rocky sat on some comfy soft blankets on the floor and I sat beside him and my husband sat in front of him. This was so we could be the last people he saw, felt and heard.
‘So, this is it then, I must admit that I am looking forward to not feeling quite so rubbish’, Rocky gave a half smile to me. His kelpie spectacles were neatly perched on the end of his nose, his peaked cap and tweed suit looking quite dapper but smelling of mothballs.
‘I am so sorry Rocky, I am so very very sorry I didn’t realise how sick you were’, I cried into his fur, memorizing every single part of him. I had taken photos earlier but now I wanted more memories because in a second they would be all I had.
‘Yeah well, these things tend to creep up on us, tumours are a bugger like that’, Rocky shrugged and licked my face as I cried (see photo above).
‘I love you so much, I don’t know what I am going to do without you, how will I manage without you?’ I stared at him – oh my god, how the hell did I miss not realising how sick this dog was?
‘You are going to have to keep Kevin in line, he is a bully and he walks all over you!’ Rocky laughed. Actually there was no love lost between him and Kevin to be honest. Rocky had gone for Kev a few times and Kev had given as good as he got but that very morning we took Rocky to his final journey, Kevin sat close to Rocky and Rocky allowed him to.
The way Kevin looked at Rocky that morning, he knew he was sick.
I felt his little body start to relax against mine – the ‘Rainbow Juice’ had started it’s journey into Rocky’s body and in turn, Rocky had started his journey over the bridge with the people that he loved the most right beside him – his human family.
‘Oh Mum, look at that – tennis balls and sheep! They are everywhere, can you see them? Oh my god, it’s Gordon, can I go to him? This is fantastic, I feel fantastic! Can you see it all?’ Rocky said sleepily, ‘Can’t you see it?’
But before I had the chance to answer, Rocky had left me and was running over the bridge to where Bowie the white greyhound and ‘Gatekeeper’ of the bridge was waiting to welcome him to a new life of where pain and illness do not exist and animals can have a life that only you and I can dream about.
The last thing I saw before it all disappeared, was my old cat Gordon gazing up at Rocky as they both trotted across the bridge to where a group of sheep were cheering at Rocky’s arrival.
Rocky and Gordon together again
I pleaded with him not to leave me – long after he went. I cradled his little body and broke down. I cried until I thought my heart would break and three weeks on as I write this, I am crying now.
‘Please don’t leave me Rocky, I love you so very much’ I sobbed, but he had gone and it was looking at his worn out and sick body lying on the blankets, that I knew my little old kelpie deserved better than biopsies and chemo/invasive surgery and bad hips.
I don’t know how long I remained on the floor holding my boy, but I do know it was for a while as I repeatedly said sorry to him. I don’t even remember getting up to leave either, but as I did, I glanced round and I swear to God I could imagine that old tweed suit crumpled up on the ground, with the peaked cap and kelpie spectacles on the floor next to the tatty briefcase.
Pippin Potter the Italian Greyhound’s house
Pippin Potter the Iggy – Brutus’s good friend had taken a telephone call. Bronte and her new sister Latte were having coffee in the garden while discussing puppies and stuff.
Suddenly Pippin’s phone rang, picking it up and dabbing his pointy snout, he replied ‘Pippin Potter here’.
Bronte looked up at her brother through the window and saw Pippin take a deep breath and compose himself.
‘I see, yes, we shall be right there’, Pippin said curtly and without saying a word, he and his Mum Denise quickly got into the car and drove off.
We arrived home from the vet and I cannot even begin to explain to you how hard it was to drive back into my garden and see Rocky’s kennel and toys where we left them. The tennis ball that I threw to him the other night when he refused it was exactly where I left it, the garden looked so empty.
Brutus’s face pressed against the sliding door, he looked as anxious as when we had left him. His tail no longer wagging, his eyes frantically darted round to find his brother.
‘Mum, where is Rocky? Where is Rocky?’ Brutus barked loudly again and again.
Getting on to the sofa with Brutus, I clutched my big brown dog as I explained that Rocky had gone to Rainbow Bridge.
For some time afterwards, Brutus searched for Rocky, getting quite distressed when he saw Rocky’s collar and leash. My poor sensitive and gentle dog could not and would not settle and to this very day, he appears lost without Rocky.
Brutus the day after Rocky died with his toy that our friend bought him.
Pippin is the head of the Iggy Club, he runs pretty much everything in it really and if you have followed my stories about the Italian greyhounds, you will know him very well.
Pippin arrived at my house with his Mum, I opened the door to let them in and Pippin took Brutus aside to talk to him.
‘I don’t think I know what to do without my brother?’ What do I do Pippin?’ Brutus said to his little friend. He tried so hard to be a brave dog but a life with Rocky was the only life he had ever known, he did not know how to ‘dog’ without him.
Placing a paw on Brutus’s head, Pippin then bent down and gently licked Brutus’s face, ‘You take charge of your garden and house, you put one paw in front of the other and you slowly but surely carry on. Your Mum needs you’. Pippin said firmly, ‘You’ve got this Brutus, you’ve got this’.
Brutus said nothing, Pippin said nothing but both dogs just sat there quietly while the tiny Italian greyhound frequently touched Brutus with his paw just to let him know he was there.
I’ve got you buddy, I’ve got you
This was taken a couple of hours after Rocky went, Pippin cleaned Brutus’s snout
‘Pippin?’ Brutus asked him a few minutes later.
‘Yes Brutus?’ Pippin replied.
‘How will I know how to protect my house without Rocky?’ Brutus sniffed and wiped his eyes.
Pippin looked at him thoughtfully before responding, ‘One day it will come to you and one day when that time is right, you will do it’.
Nothing more was said between the two boys but Pippin managed to send a group message to the Iggy club saying ‘Rainbow Bridge update – the Kelpie has landed’, while discreetly dabbing his eyes with his silk handkerchief.
The Kelpie has landed
So what now?
The house is different, Kevin seems to have taken over everything and I mean everything. He initially was unsettled, unhappy and more aggressive than normal but is getting better.
He and Brutus play fight more now, they chase each other round the house, Brutus has started to pounce like a cat which is a bit ridiculous and Kevin is back to humping his blankets with his toys in his mouth which is even more so.
Will we get a second dog? No, I don’t think we will. But I would be lying if I said that I miss having a kelpie because that is my favourite breed of dog ever. My health isn’t good enough for two dogs but if (and it’s a massive ‘if‘), we were to get another dog, we would look at a middle aged rescue kelpie in need of a loving home rather than a pup.
The harsh realities of pet bereavement
Losing Rocky has broken me and I don’t mind admitting it. Now I don’t give a stuff if someone thinks it is an over reaction or it is ‘just a dog’ because it is dogs that give us companionship, loyalty, service (as working dogs), and trust, and they expect nothing in return. So I make no excuses or apologies for the grief that I am showing for my kelpie because he was my dog, my mate and I was lucky to have had him in my life.
Thank you to Spearwood Vets (once again), for their kindness, care and compassion that was shown to Rocky, my husband and myself on that day and thank you for the beautiful flowers as well.
Flowers from our lovely vets – kept in the spare room out of Kevin’s reach of course
It was Sunday afternoon and Rocky was in a bad mood as he hadn’t had a good walk in ages, he was also pissed off because he doesn’t have any friends because he hates everyone, including his invisible friends that all dogs have – just ask Rocco about that.
Rocky in his Kelpie Spectacles
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘What are we doing today?’ Brutus demanded in a bored voice. Brutus always assumed things had been organised for him and kind of expected it.
Brutus always expects stuff to be organised for him
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Rocky shook the absurdly large newspaper that he was reading, taking a deep breath he peered over the top of his kelpie spectacles which are just like Harry Potters spectacles except that they are for kelpies.
‘We are probably doing nothing, I hate everyone and I hate everyone even more today’ Rocky snapped and then bent down to chew his anal glands.
Brutus who is not good at ‘reading’ other dogs, shrugged his shoulders and trotted off to Rocky’s bed to steal his gingerbread man who had taken Tony Abbott’s place for suckling time when he needed a comforter.
Unknown to Rocky I had been messaging Denise Pringle asking if she fancied going to North Lake for a walk with Pippin and Bronte and I would bring Rocky.
Telling me that yes she would meet me in the car park I then set about breaking the good news to Rocky that he was to be meeting Pippin and Bronte and Brutus would be staying home with Dad to ‘help in the garden’ (dig the crap out of it).
‘What do you mean I can’t go? I always hang out with Pippin?’ Brutus protested with his bottom lip quivering.
‘What does she mean I can’t go?’ Brutus repeated to Rocky who grinned and replied simply ‘You go everywhere, it’s my turn now – catch ya later alligator!’ Rocky barked back at Brutus.
‘Come on Brutus, go to your room – I have put some treats in there’ I reassured him.
‘Not going, won’t go, can’t make me’ Brutus said in a high pitched voice and then promptly threw himself to the floor (I am not joking either)
Brutus – an expert on sulking
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
The large brown dog buckled to the floor and started to howl. Now the reason for him not going was because I am working on Rocky’s behaviour and confidence around other dogs and he is far better when he is not with Brutus and Pippin has a calming influence on him.
Eventually I got Brutus to his bed and placated him with a carrot but not before he threatened to do rude things with it and the last I heard of him was him threatening to self harm as I drove off with Rocky in the car.
‘Yeah, this is so cool! Do you mind if I drive?’ Rocky grinned at me.
‘No, you are not driving’ I said firmly.
‘Oh well, I shall yell stuff out of the window then’ Rocky shrugged and before I could stop him; he was calling a Jack Russell terrier a ‘flea bitten stumpy legs’.
Soon we pulled up at North Lake and Denise, Pippin and Bronte arrived minutes after we did.
‘Hi Rocky!’ Pippin’s face beamed through the car window as he steamed it up trying to talk and greet Rocky.
Rocky and Pippin – members of the Sensible Club
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Rocky who is so sensible and full of self control, tried to contain himself but as he doesn’t have any friends except for Lexie’s Tess and Pippin and Bronte, he was absurdly pleased to see the two little dogs. He was especially pleased to see Pippin as on the whole and when they are not being corrupted, are both very sensible dogs that wear spectacles and read large newspapers with big words and get on very well together.
‘Hi Rocky, do you think I have my figure back after my babies?’ Bronte said flirtatiously to Rocky who looked approvingly at her skinny bum.
‘Bronte, don’t be so forward!’ Pippin reprimanded her. Bronte looked boot-faced at Pippin and winked naughtily at Rocky causing him to blush and look away.
Rocky and Bronte – a forbidden love
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘Call me’ Bronte mouthed and did a phone gesture with her paws before running off ahead so that Rocky could get the full benefit of her svelte figure and pretty purple outfit.
‘Girls, I will never understand them’ Pippin sighed to Rocky, ‘Now – shall we discuss what has been happening in the UK as I understand they have voted out and I am not sure what that means for exporting dog collars and clothes’
Rocky pretended to listen but kept a beady eye on Bronte who kept turning round to see if he was looking and remaining in one place just long enough to catch his glance.
It was a very pleasant walk and aside from discussing politics, Rocky and Pippin had a jolly nice time that involved treats from Denise’s pocket, discussing the benefits of making ones bed explode and the glories of rolling in horse shit.
‘You see this is the equivalent to Facebook, if I pee on that post then you have to pee on where I have peed’ Bronte said confidently to Rocky as they trotted beside each other.
‘Oh I see, let me see if I can get a bit more out’ Rocky replied and then cocked his leg up a tree and was followed by Pippin who had enough pee for all three of them which made them all laugh.
Anyway the rest of the walk went very well, treats were given and eaten, bottoms were sniffed and the three dogs just enjoyed each others company.
At the End of the Walk
‘Oh I wish I didn’t have to go home I have had so much fun’ Rocky said to Pippin while looking longingly at Bronte who was smiling back at him and doing her ‘call me’ gestures again and was frantically sending Rocky a text. They always have had a bit of a forbidden crush on one another much to the horror of Nica, Zara and the rest of the girls.
‘We can meet up next time old chap’ Pippin patted Rocky reassuringly on the back. Knowing that Rocky had bad hips, Pippin always liked to do his bit for the disabled and felt that it was no trouble helping Rocky as the two had become quite good friends and members of the ‘sensible club’ – well we won’t count the time that Pippin ended up in a lap dancing club run by whippets as that is another story.
Rocky was reluctantly put in the back of the car. With his black snout pressed against the window, he yelled out through the gap ‘Catch ya later Pippin’ and before Pippin could see him, Rocky gave a cheeky wink to Bronte who waved back at him.
Sweet Kelpie Dreams (of Bronte)
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
In Denise’s Car
‘What a lovely boy he is, so polite and handsome’ Bronte sighed as she settled into her bed.
‘Bronte!’ Pippin chastised her.
‘Well, he is jolly handsome’ Bronte barked back and then huffed some steam on the window and drew a love heart on it with her paws.
‘Rocky is too sensible to have flirtations with Italian greyhounds’ Pippin said firmly.
‘Yeah, I guess he is – but a girl can try….’ Bronte said quietly.
Bronte the pretty girl
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Back at Home
‘You are such a bastard, I hate you, I am never talking to you again!’ Brutus sobbed as Rocky jumped out of the car.
Ignoring him Rocky took a pee up the garden pot, well he had actually used his pee allocation while out with Pippin and Bronte and was now doing invisible pee, but even invisible pee counts when it comes to dogs.
‘I said I hate you and I am never talking to you again’ Brutus said loudly and as if to prove a point, he squatted down and pissed down his own legs. Brutus always looks as though life got a bit too much for him and when he gets upset he gets very loud and very cute.
‘You just did talk to me silly’ Rocky laughed.
‘I said I am never talking to you again, that’s it!’ Brutus started to cry and remained by my car as Rocky marked his spots around the garden to make sure that strange invisible dogs had not infiltrated our security system while we were out and my husband was in bed or whatever he did while we were out.
Later that afternoon
Having thawed out somewhat and deciding that he was totally unable to ignore or be ignored, Brutus decided to ask Rocky about how it went with Pippin and Bronte.
‘Well she is very nice isn’t she, she looked so beautiful in that purple outfit and she has lost so much weight – you wouldn’t believe she had not long had pups’ Rocky said as his face softened at the memory of the afternoon.
‘You fancy her don’t you?’ Brutus burst out and then catching Rocky blushing furiously, he stood up and farted with excitement. ‘You do, you fancy her, you fancy Bronte Pringle!’
‘You are SO childish, I don’t know why I bother with you’ Rocky growled and nipped Brutus smartly on his brown bum to shut him up and made him cry.
Curling up on his bed Rocky hid under his blanket and pretended to be asleep.
‘Rocky, are you asleep?’ Brutus whispered, ‘I am sorry, I didn’t mean to say you fancied Bronte, I know you prefer sheep to girl dogs, I was just joking’ Brutus who was mortified that he had upset his brother.
Rocky stayed silent and kept his eyes tightly shut until he was sure that Brutus had gone back to his own bed. But clutched tightly between his paws was a photo of Bronte that she had texted him plus her mobile number with a message saying ‘Call me’.
Aside from the fact that Brutus really did go in to hospital, the rest of the story is based on fictitious events and any bearing to anyone or anything in real life is purely coincidental.
The little white dog in the story is entirely made up but saying that, I could just imagine him can’t you?
This story is meant in good fun with no harm intended. It has mild course language and content so parental supervision is advised with regards to its suitability for children.
It is a long read of nearly 5,000 words so you are probably best off reading it over a cuppa and a chocolate digestive or even a Tim Tam (that’s what I would do anyway).
Those darned nails again!
My Brutus has been a bit unlucky with his nails – in particular his dew claws. On the Monday he managed to injure one of his front dew claws yet again and as it looked particularly nasty, I decided to take him off to the vet.
‘But I don’t want to go to the vet!’ Brutus sobbed as Rocky smirked behind his back and called him a ‘baby’ and then made crying gestures with his paws causing Gordon the cat to snort with laughter.
Rocky and Gordon laughing at Brutus
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Ignoring his protests I bundled up his big brown self into the back of he car and drove off to the vets while blasting Usher out on the stereo.
‘I shall vomit any second now and then you will be sorry’ Brutus muttered under his breath as we pulled up outside the vets in the car.
I shall vomit any second now – said Brutus
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘No you won’t Brutus, you are too mean to part with your food’ I laughed.
Brutus looked thoughtful and decided that perhaps he was, in fact he definitely did not like parting with his food, especially through vomiting because he knows that there is many a dog glad of a hot meal.
‘Ouch, don’t touch them, leave me alone, I shall cry if you don’t!’ Brutus shouted before the vet had even touched him. Brutus hates having his feet and wrists touched and I only have to look at them and he is doing the doggy Riverdance across the floor giving Michael Flatley a run for his money.
Brutus not being the brightest dog on the block fell for the old ‘give me a paw’ trick when the vet handed him a treat in return for his paw giving her a second to assess the damage while leaving Brutus fairly smug that he had not allowed the vet to check his paws which in all fairness to him, were bloody sore.
It was decided as he keeps injuring his dew claws, that it would be better to remove them as the injured one was pretty bad and Brutus was duly booked in for surgery for the Wednesday to give us chance to raise the funds (yes we had to pull from the mortgage – but hey, we love him and wouldn’t have it any other way, let’s hope the insurance pay up quick)
On the morning of the operation
‘Please don’t make me go, I am scared, it’s going to hurt’ Brutus cried like a baby. Torn between being terrified of going in hospital and being mortified that he had been fasted, the gentle giant was so overcome with emotion that he didn’t quite know what to do.
Even the usual calm and and collected Rocky was nervous about his brother going to the vet. Normally Rocky gets insanely jealous when Brutus goes in the car and he doesn’t but this time Rocky knew, he just knew and for the first time ever he avoided my car like the flea rinse at the dog wash.
At the Vets
Brutus stood with me in reception as I signed the consent form. Clutching his little brown ‘Brutus-suitcase’ which contained his Tony Abbott doll, a book titled ‘How to be a good boy’ and a mouldy bone plus his blue and white striped pyjamas, his suitcase had everything that he needed for the day.
Brutus looks for a distraction
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Brutus shuffled around from foot to foot and looked around for a distraction. The smell of the vet hospital infiltrated his nostrils and he just knew that it was not a nice smell for any animal and usually heralded a thermometer up the bum or something equally horrific.
Brutus and his beloved Tony Abbot doll that he really did take in to hospital
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
A little white dog sat in the waiting room patiently waiting his turn. Desperately needing to be comforted and given some sympathy from a fellow canine, Brutus smiled gratefully at the little dog who smiled nervously back at him.
‘Dew claw removal’ Brutus said to the little dog and then demonstrated the horror of it all by holding up his wrists and nodding in the direction of his wrists.
‘They are cutting my balls off’ growled the little white dog and then flashed his bottom to Brutus just to prove it. Although his testicles could not be seen due to all the fluff surrounding his bottom.
‘You win’ Brutus nodded vigorously.
‘Yes I think I do’ The little white dog replied in a resigned voice and then started to wash his testicles in a final act of rebellion while whispering ‘Goodbye old friends, it’s been fun’.
Brutus briefly remembered when he was de-sexed and had to say goodbye to his own testicles, he was kind of glad to get rid of them as they got in the way and promised to be the size of grapefruits had he been allowed to keep them.
‘We have made him up a kennel out the back for him, say goodbye to Mum’ The nurse said to Brutus who then gave me a wash on my neck.
‘Love you Mum’ Brutus said quickly and then trying to fight back the tears from nerves, dutifully trotted after the nurse dragging his little suitcase behind him.
On the ward
Just ten minutes later Brutus was tucked up in his bed wearing his stripey pyjamas, with the blankets right up to his neck and his Tony Abbott doll snuggled up beside him.
Not really being in the mood to read but thought it might take his mind off things, Brutus started to read his book ‘How to be a good boy’. There was a marvellous section on there about how to get yourself out of trouble and make your owners forgive you.
This would have been useful last week when he jumped on the bonnet of Dad’s car but that was OK, he could save it for next time.
The white fluffy dog was in the bed next to Brutus and was wearing his own set of red and white stripey pyjamas and had a blue rubber bone beside him for comfort. You see all the dogs like to bring in their own toys in to hospital, it is important to them.
‘Are you nervous?’ Brutus asked the white fluffy dog who was reading his own book on ‘How to say goodbye to your bollocks and still hump cushions’.
The white dog shrugged his shoulders and said in a confident voice ‘No of course not’ and then after checking to see who was listening, added ‘Yes I am, terrified. Are you scared?’
Brutus sighed and bit his bottom lip to try and stop himself from crying and replied ‘Yes, I am and I want my Mum’.
Brutus in bed
(Photograph from Google images)
Nothing more was said between the two dogs, they both pretended to be engrossed in their reading material but both secretly hoped that it would all soon be over and done with.
‘Your turn Brutus’ said the nurse as Brutus was taken from his bed to go to the prep area for his anesthetic.
‘I want to take my Tony Abbott doll!’ Brutus barked and when the nurse wouldn’t let him, all thoughts of being a brave dog were forgotten and he cried like a baby.
‘But what about my Tony?’ Brutus sobbed as he was restrained for his injection.
‘Don’t you worry about Tony’ the vet smiled as she placed the IV drip into his vein so that he wouldn’t become dehydrated during his surgery.
‘Ouch, that hurt, I am going to tell my Mum, she said I am a good boy, I won the Good Boy Award so why are you doing that to me?’ Brutus cried loudly as his huge chunky body tried to resist the restraint of the nurses.
‘I am a good boy!, I am a good boy!’ Brutus sobbed and he kept on saying it because he hoped it would make everything stop and also because he believed it.
Being a good boy is important to Brutus
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
But before he could say anything else, he found himself relaxing and sinking down to the table and was soon fast asleep dreaming of his Iggy friends Pippin Pringle and the gang, his hero Cop Dog ‘Rumble’ and Tony Abbott.
‘Is he dead?’ a high pitched voice demanded.
‘Don’t be silly, of course he isn’t dead’ snapped another voice impatiently.
‘He looks dead, why is his tongue sticking out like a yard of Christmas ham?’ someone else asked.
‘Did someone say ham?’ another voice barked excitedly.
‘If he is dead then I want his Tony Abbott doll’ someone barked.
‘If he is dead I want his Christmas ham, it’s like a bloody famine here and I haven’t eaten in ten years’ said another voice.
Brutus could hear muffled familiar voices but could not quite recognise them. He felt dizzy and unable to lift his head so he slowly opened one eye at a time and he wondered where the hell he was. From the corner of one eye he saw a familiar hideously ugly face of his Tony Abbott doll that had been carefully placed beside him.
Then through blurred vision, Brutus saw a gang of pointy snouts surrounding his bed in the form of Italian greyhounds plus Chewy, Starbuck, Poppy and Vader.
‘Oh look, he has opened his eyes, he isn’t dead!’ Madam Gigi barked in delight.
‘I told you he wasn’t dead, don’t be so dramatic’ Pippin said impatiently and then looked at Brutus and said ‘How are you old chap, bearing up?’
Looking surprisingly tiny and frail in his bed with his sheets tucked up to his neck, his enormous radar ears sticking out and his blue stripey pyjamas rolled up on his arms to reveal bandages on both paws and his IV drip in his arm, Brutus could have melted the hardest of hearts.
Brutus fast asleep while his friends poke him to see if he is alive
(Photograph by Google Images)
It is amazing just how small and vulnerable any dog can look when it is sick or unwell. I recall my little whippet bitch Rema when she was put to sleep due to kidney failure/old age and she was such a big character yet when I sent her to Rainbow Bridge, her huge character had literally left her body along with her heartbeat leaving the smallest of bodies behind.
‘Pippin, is that you? where am I? Who stole my Tony Abbott doll? Don’t let them take my Tony Abbott doll, who has got the ham?’ Brutus said in a husky dry voice. Making futile attempts to sit up, Brutus just flopped back down heavily on to his bed.
‘Take it easy old boy, you are still half asleep. How are you feeling?’ Pippin asked his friend.
‘My paws hurt, where is my Mum?’ Brutus said in a confused voice.
‘It’s OK Brutus; you don’t need your Mum, you have got us’ a familiar ‘special’ voice piped up from the back. Clutching a bunch of stolen daffodils with most of them snapped at the stems, stood Vader the boxer (and his tongue) – Brutus’s good friend and partner in crime.
Brutus and Vader the boxer – best of friends
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
For those of you that don’t know; Vader the boxer has a fat tongue and like all boxer dogs, speaks in a slow boxer type voice. Vader had sneaked away from his Mum to visit Brutus and felt quite proud that he had managed to steal flowers from someone’s garden even if half of them were only stalks – it’s the thought that counts.
‘Oh I say, he is rather nice’ Nica whispered to Madam Gigi nodding in the direction of the white fluffy dog that had just been desexed.
‘Not bad at all’ Madam Gigi giggled and then gasped ‘Oh my goodness Harry what are you doing?’.
Harry was now wearing a white doctors coat that he had found plus a stethoscope and had that draped around his neck. Picking up the fluffy dogs medical chart that was hanging at the end of the bed, Harry nodded to the girls knowingly.
Fat Harry the Italian greyhound (I love this dog)
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘As there doesn’t seem to be one around, I am stepping in as the vet for today and you can call me Dr Harry’ and this dog isn’t a complete man’ said he has had his balls cut off’. Fat Harry said matter-of-factly.
‘That’s OK, he is still cute, testicles are so overrated’ Gigi said to Nica who giggled and then feigned disgust at Gigi’s comments.
The Iggies were really quite naughty and were running amok in the hospital. Chewy had started up the ‘Hump-train’ and was busy humping Dash who was humping Apollo who was trying to give Mako one on the head. All of this of course was being supervised by a disapproving Woody and Fletch who were shaking their pointy snouts so vigorously that they both looked like a pair of ‘angry biro pens’.
Bronte was busy admiring herself in the mirror while Rocco fought with his invisible friend and told it to ‘piss off’ and Fat Harry was still dressed as a doctor and was checking the vomit bowls for scraps and looking at the charts on the beds. Really they were being very raucous and badly behaved and how the nurses didn’t kick them out was anyone’s guess.
Suddenly they could hear a commotion coming from the bed next to Brutus. ‘Someone stole my testicles!’ the little white fluffy dog sobbed drowsily from his bed and then started to make random prayers asking whoever had stolen them to return them instantly.
‘Totally understand mate, mine were stolen as well’ Rocco nodded towards the fluffy dog who was still off his face on painkillers and anaesthetic.
‘Shhh Rocco, don’t get involved in other dogs testicles, it could get messy’ Pippin said in a firm voice.
‘I am still a complete woman if anyone is interested’ Bronte said loudly making Madam Gigi and Nica poke her in her ribs to keep her quiet.
‘You never brag about that kind of stuff in the vets’ Nica said to Bronte, ‘It is simply not ladylike, it’s like taking ones collar off in public – you just don’t do it’.
Zara, Olive, Ari, Ayla and Bambi had all been instructed to sit in the corner and behave which was simply not happening as Zara and Olive had pinched some face masks and were wearing them while threatening to insert thermometers into each others bottoms.
Starbuck, Poppy the Chinese crested, Carlo, Cino, Pino, and Gidget were all having heated discussions about getting de-sexed and whether or not having testicles/uterus made you ‘more or less of a man/woman’.
‘I think I am a big brave boy and my Mum loves me and so does Rumble’ Brutus said in a sleepy voice.
‘What is he on?’ Rocco mouthed to Pippin.
‘Don’t know but I wouldn’t mind some’ Vader laughed.
‘Here Pippin, I dare you to put on a doctors coat’ Vader dared the little Italian greyhound who is known for being straight laced and sensible, well except for when he went ballroom dancing with Eugene the Angry Afghan but we shall say no more on that.
‘Go on Pippin, we dare you’ Rocco and Chewie barked.
Feeling up for a dare, Pippin looked around to check that nobody was looking and put on a spare white coat and then placed his half rimmed spectacles on the end of his nose.
Picking up Brutus’s medical charts to try and decipher them he replied ‘Oh yeah, he is just on drugs and stuff’ and then paraded up to Fat Harry and said ‘You are not the only doctor on the ward you know’.
Fat Harry (left and Pippin Pringle (right) playing doctors
(Photograph by Google Images)
Woody and Fletch were so shocked at Pippin’s unusually juvenile behaviour that they made a mental note to address the issue at the next Iggie meeting.
‘Nice work Dr Pringle’ Rocco laughed and patted Pippin on the back to congratulate him. Pippin blushed becomingly because he was so rarely naughty that when he was, he did it so well.
All the commotion of course had disturbed Brutus who was rambling away in his own little drug induced world.
‘When I go for a shit I do monster turds bigger than you’ Brutus said to nobody in particular ‘I love my Tony Abbott and I love everyone, I am a good boy and I can shit dinosaurs’
Bronte, Madam Gigi, Rocco, Nica, Zara and Olive were now laughing. All of the dogs had gathered round Brutus’s bed aside from Fat Harry who was now winding up the white fluffy dog and had convinced him that the vet had sold his testicles on eBay.
‘Harry will you come here now and stop teasing him about his testicles!’ Woody growled at Harry who looking thoroughly naughty; reluctantly went back to Brutus’s bed.
‘Rumble, it’s Rumble! My hero, I knew you would find me, have you come to save me?’ Brutus said drowsily. His flappy jowls and deformed bottom lip drooped open, his tongue was so dry it kept sticking to the pillow.
‘Rumble? What is he talking about Rumble for, he must be hallucinating’ Bronte said to Pippin in a concerned voice.
‘Rumble!, is that you?’ Brutus said again.
‘Just ignore him, it’s the drugs’ Pippin whispered to the others. Poor old Brutus was seeing things that were not there.
‘I am SO not going to let him live this down’ Rocco grinned at Chewy who was trying to look disapproving which is a look that Chewy does that look so well.
Chewy does disapproving very well you know
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘Well well well Brutus, a little birdie tells me that you haven’t been very well’ A deep and authoritative voice growled from behind all of the Iggies.
Turning round to see who had spoken, Rocco splutters ‘Holy shit, it’s Rumble’.
Standing there in his cop uniform in all his glory was Rumble the cop dog complete with his gun and stuff (ask a cop if you don’t know what ‘stuff’ is). Next to him stood the beautifully stunning female cop dog ‘Z’ in her cop dog uniform also with her gun and stuff.
‘Z’ is Brutus’s friend (left) and Rumble (right) is Brutus’s hero
Photograph by Google Images and Tameka
Brutus knew ‘Z’ from lure coursing and had chatted to her a couple of times when he asked about being a cop dog himself, but luckily ‘Z’ had talked him out of it on grounds that it was too violent for him. But we all know that Brutus is not cut out to be a cop dog we just don’t tell him that.
Sounds of crackling could be heard as a voice was heard over Rumble’s radio. ‘Can you give me your location PD Rumble – over’.
‘Yes I am at the vet hospital just visiting a mate, won’t be long – over’ Rumble spoke into his radio.
PD Rumble – the finest cop dog in WA
(Photograph by Tameka and fit the cop under Rumbles head remains anonymous)
‘Oh my god he is totally gorgeous’ Nica gushed and then pulled out her make up mirror from her back and checked her teeth. Tempted to remove her collar and throw it at Rumble the way in which women throw their panties at a Tom Jones concert, Nica thought better of it and just loosened it a few notches instead.
Even Zara was star struck over the handsome cop dog. They had heard Brutus go on about Rumble and knew that Brutus kept a photo of Rumble in his bedroom titled ‘Rumble – my hero’ but they never thought for one moment that Rumble would take time out of his day to see Brutus let alone refer to him as a ‘mate’. Little did they all know that ‘Z’ had organised this for her buddy Brutus, it was all down to her.
‘Hello there officer pleased to meet you’, Bronte extended her paw towards Rumble.
‘Pleased to meet you ma’am’ Rumble said politely as he tried to ignore Bronte’s impossibly short dress that flashed her Iggy bum.
‘I think I am going to faint’ Gigi whispered to Nica who couldn’t decide whether or not to faint or vomit or do both for good measure.
‘Rumble, is that really you?’ Brutus stuttered in shock. Staring at Pippin Brutus whispered ‘Is that Rumble? Is that really Rumble?’
Pippin who was still wearing the doctors coat smiled and nodded that yes, it was Rumble and the other dogs were just as shocked to meet him as Brutus who had always managed to bring Rumble into a conversation whenever he could and continually spoke about him.
‘Yes Brutus it really is me, what have you been up to then?’ Rumble grinned at the sleepy brown dog who was still neatly tucked up in his bed with Tony Abbott beside him.
‘I have had my paws operated on, they took my nails away and they stole that dogs testicles’ Brutus said drowsily.
Shuddering at the testicle comment Rumble glanced round at the white fluffy dog who was now ranting about his balls being sold on Ebay – thanks to Fat Harry for telling him that.
‘Well I thought I would come and pay you a visit, ‘Z’ has told me that you have always wanted to be a cop dog’ Rumble said to Brutus.
‘Yes but it is a bit too violent for me so I don’t think I would be very good at it’ Brutus blushed and glanced down at his bandaged paws.
Brutus looked up at Rumble, he looked so smart in his uniform with his gun on his holster. He had a real job to do and so did ‘Z’, they both served and protected their community. Brutus couldn’t quite believe that ‘Z’ had organised this for him, he vowed to pay her back somehow.
‘I can’t believe Rumble and ‘Z’ have come to visit Brutus – OUR Brutus’ Rocco said to Fat Harry who agreed with him.
It was all getting too much for Zara and Olive who were now being typical teenagers and threatening to throw their panties at Rumble because they had seen the female dogs do it at a ‘Lassie’ concert once. It was only Madam Gigi who told them that nice dogs didn’t throw their panties at handsome cop dogs but it was perfectly acceptable to drool though.
Suddenly Rumble’s radio went off ‘PD Rumble please can you get to Leighton Beach in Freo, a beagle is threatening to eat everyone’s lunch, a great Dane has done a shit on someones handbag and it is all getting rather heated – over’.
‘PD Rumble and ‘Z’ are able to respond and will be there right away – over’ Rumble said into his radio as Brutus watched him in awe.
‘Catch ya later Brutus, hopefully lure coursing next week if you can come?’ ‘Z’ winked at him.
PD ‘Z’ – Brutus’s friend
(Photograph by Google Images)
‘I won’t be allowed to race but I can come and watch’ Brutus said in a husky dry voice.
‘Sounds good’ ‘Z’ the cop dog replied and handed him a couple of business cards and then mouthed the words ‘Call me’ as she demonstrated with her paws like a telephone.
Brutus could not believe his eyes, was this really happening? Not only had Rumble rocked up to see him – Brutus, but ‘Z’ had given him her business card and asked her to call him and even though Brutus felt sore from his operation, this had totally made his day. If this was a drug induced dream then it sure was a good one.
‘Get yourself some rest, there’s a good boy and you lot, don’t over excite Brutus’ Rumble said to the others in his deep voice and when Rumble speaks, everyone listens as he just has that kind of authority. Hell that dog could make me eat a bone myself if he asked me nicely enough.
‘Sorry officer, it wasn’t me, honest it wasn’t’ Fat Harry said in a guilty voice to Rumble as he walked out.
‘What wasn’t you lad?’ Rumble’s eyes bored into Fat Harry making him blush.
‘These are not my testicles!’ squealed the little white fluffy dog who was clutching two tangerines in a handkerchief and sobbing loudly, ‘Mine were in better shape than that’
‘What can I say officer, the fruit was in the bowl so I made use of it, it’s a fair cop!’ Shrugged Fat Harry.
Shaking his head at Fat Harry, Rumble sighed as he turned round to ‘Z’ and said ‘Come on ‘Z’, let’s get going to Freo to find out about this beagle and the Great Dane’.
‘Take care Brutus’ Rumble barked at Brutus and gave him a pat on the head, ‘And you are a good boy’.
‘Goodbye Rumble’ said Brutus, he was torn between exhaustion and shitting himself from excitement – you all know Brutus and his bowel problems so you get the picture.
‘Pippin, Rumble said I am a good boy’ Brutus said to Pippin. Being a good boy is important to Brutus as you all know so for Rumble to say it made it extra special.
‘Yes Brutus you are a good boy. How cool is it that Rumble and ‘Z’ came to see you’ Pippin smiled.
‘Pippin?’ Brutus asked Pippin sleepily.
‘Yes Brutus’ Pippin replied
‘Why are you and Fat Harry wearing white coats?’ Brutus demanded.
Fat Harry looked at Pippin, shrugged his shoulders and said ‘What are your thoughts?’
‘Well, it was like this…..’ Pippin started to say.
But that was as far as he got because when he looked at Brutus he was fast asleep with his tongue sticking out, his blue and white stripey pyjamas all rolled up displaying his bandages and in between his bandaged paws was his Tony Abbott doll.
‘Take care Brutus’ Pippin said quietly and then said to the gang ‘Come on you lot, Brutus needs his rest’.
As they all walked out all they could hear was the white fluffy dog sobbing to the nurse that his testicles had been swapped for tangerines and nothing the nurse said could convince him otherwise.
It was a drowsy Brutus that I collected from the vets that day, we even had to help him out of the car where he was put straight to bed.
Unimpressed with his ‘cone of shame’ Brutus sat on his bed crying but not quite knowing why he was crying in fact even to this day I don’t even think he remembers crying.
Brutus was actually crying in this photo – no kidding
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
The next day….
It was night time and the boys were in their respective beds chatting about Brutus’s operation the day before.
‘I had the most marvellous dream that Cop dogs Rumble and ‘Z’ came to visit me in hospital and Rumble said that I was a good boy’ Brutus said to Rocky as he lay on his bed.
Rocky raised his eyebrows and laughed ‘You had too many drugs I bet’ and then stood up and turned the several obligatory circles that dogs tend to do before they lie down. Taking a deep sigh, Rocky quickly fell asleep.
Brutus sighed and snuggled up to Tony Abbott who still smelt of hospitals and disinfectant. Feeling something prick his chest in his pyjamas, Brutus sat up and wondered what it was.
Tucked in his pyjama pocket were the two business cop cards that ‘Z’ had given him, one was ‘Z’s card with a message saying ‘See you at lure coursing’ and the other was Rumble’s card and on that one was written ‘Brutus – Catch up some time – Rumble’.
Tempted to wake Rocky up and tell him that it wasn’t a dream after all, Brutus decided against it as Rocky wouldn’t believe him.
But he did come and see him and he said that Brutus was a good boy and in Brutus’s eyes, that was all that mattered.
Samantha Rose (C) Copyright August 2015
Thanks and Acknowledgements
I would like to thank the vets and nurses of Spearwood Veterinary Hospital for the excellent high standard of care that they have given to my Brutus with his recent surgery (and with all of my pets).
It means a great deal to me to find a good compassionate veterinary hospital with a great team that my dogs actually love going to and that I can trust.
The fact that even after his surgery and despite being a bit sore, Brutus was absurdly pleased to go back for his post op visit so he could see the staff there, that really says something.
You know when you read the words ‘Indestructible’ and it is in the same sentence as ‘dogs’? Well we dog owners just know that it is all a load of crap and those words are just not compatible in any sentence – ever.
And when you do see a so called ‘Indestructible dog bed’ for sale in the pet shop, it usually comes at a fairly high cost which is fine, but that just means preparing yourself that the bed may last only marginally longer than a ‘normal’ bed but it will however, earn you bragging rights in the dog park that you have lavished such a luxury on your dog. I know this as I have had six of the above mentioned beds and I am still traumatised by the whole event and I can still see the stuffing on my grass.
Lexie had bought her boxer dog Vader one of those ‘chew proof’ beds; it was beautiful and so well made; in fact Brutus was jealous as he wanted one for himself and pestered me for one.
But knowing that Brutus would make a light snack out of it and I don’t even trust him to sleep on the new bed that Cuzz Bro’s Kennels made for him as he has shown a keen interest in the mattress and has made threats to make it explode in the stilly watches of the night.
So Brutus is limited to daytime use of the bed only until he matures and even then he prefers the leather sofa.
The potential for a ‘bed explosion’ is always there!
Anyway, late last night there were some ‘comings and goings’ in the garden, Rocky was barking, Brutus was barking and Vader was barking and it wasn’t the usual ‘dog choir’ that heralds and invisible or real intruder either.
‘What’s going on?’ My husband asked me.
Shrugging my shoulders I peered out of the back door and saw Rocky and Brutus having a heated discussion through the fence.
I shall now tell the story from the dogs point of view as only they know the truth of what happened.
In the garden – late at night
‘Brutus – are you there?’ Vader’s husky ‘boxer voice’ could be heard from his garden.
Brutus was busy sniffing where Rocky had urinated and was squatting like a girl so he could take a piss on top of where Rocky had marked – and yes, Brutus still squats and pees down his own legs.
‘Bad aim lad, bad aim, why not try lifting your leg like a real man?’ Rocky smirked and then showed him how to do it by pissing on Brutus’s head. Brutus loved that, he always presented his head for Rocky to piss on.
Brutus – the master of pissing down his own legs!
‘Brutus! Answer me, are you there? It’s a disaster, I have been thrown out of the house and nobody is talking to me!’ Vader shouted even louder.
Brutus and Rocky both stopped what they were doing and charged up to the fence. Rocky with his hackles up and tail erect, trotted around full of his own importance.
‘What’s up?’ Rocky said in a sharp voice – Rocky is not Vader’s best fan, actually Rocky isn’t a fan of anyone really except for Tess, Gordon and his tennis balls.
Rocky Dog – he is a fan of no-one
‘My bed exploded in the middle of the night and now nobody is talking to me and Mum has sent me outside’ Vader said as he tried hard to control his tongue which was escaping from all gaps in his mouth like the Royal red carpet.
Vader the boxer (and his unfeasibly large tongue)
‘That’s crap man, why did you get the blame? Everyone knows these beds are known to explode’ Brutus said sounding sympathetic.
‘Isn’t that dog abuse?’ Rocky said thoughtfully, he was sure it was. After all everyone knew about the invisible German Shepherd dogs that came to dogs houses and gardens overnight, wrecked them and disappeared into thin air while the pet dogs got the blame.
Vader’s exploding bed!
Vader kept trying to place his tongue back in his mouth like a game of ‘catch’. Devastated at being sent outside, he wondered if the bed had really exploded or could it have been him that chewed his own bed?
He may have nibbled it just a little because the stuffing was so gloriously wonderful to share around, surely that could not be a crime? However, after a few minutes of thought, Vader quickly decided that he had been a victim of his own bed exploding and he would defend his right to innocence and get a lawyer (Brutus) if his Mum wanted to question him on the matter ‘Admit nothing’ was the motto of every dog that had been a victim of this crime.
‘We used to have comfy beds in our kennel’ Rocky said wistfully before adding ‘Until HE (Brutus) ate them all and spread them round the garden like butter’. Rocky glared at Brutus accusingly.
Brutus – one minute he is asleep on his bed
The next minute it has exploded everywhere!
Brutus blushed in response because it was true, but the beds had deserved it, they had mocked him and teased him and it was a case of ‘kill or be killed’ when it came to those beds. Besides, he had done the world a favour by killing them, and the plants and digging the trenches in the garden – that was a ‘war effort’ for sure.
And those plants – they were so naughty!
‘What are you going to do?’ Rocky asked him.
Vader shook his head and flicked drool everywhere; ‘Don’t know, Mum will buy me a new one I expect and I shall see if it is safe to have around and I may or may not kill it again’
Brutus nodded approvingly and said ‘Sounds like a plan’.
Rocky had now tired of the conversation and was herding up the tennis ball and calling it a bastard for rolling away.
‘Boys, come on, stop barking, it’s time to come in!’ I shouted to them and as they thundered down the garden and through the patio door, Brutus was muttering something about ‘being bloody cold out there and could I please put his pyjamas on’.
‘What was all that barking about?’ My husband asked me as I settled the boys down for bed.
‘Not sure but Vader was involved’ I replied and then busied myself in the kitchen to make a hot drink.
‘Rocky?’ Brutus whispered from his bed.
‘Yes Brutus?’ Rocky replied.
‘Will our beds explode in the night and we get into trouble?’ Brutus asked, sounding worried.
Rocky sighed and said ‘Not if you don’t make it explode it won’t’.
‘That’s OK then but sometimes these things just happen and it’s not our fault, I have heard that exploding bed syndrome is a real condition’ Brutus said confidently. (That’s what he believes anyway)
Brutus – Admit to nothing!
‘Mouse Norris said that her bed explodes frequently’ Brutus whispered to Rocky, after all if it happened to Mouse then it could happen to anyone.
Even Mouse Norris was a victim of her bed exploding!
‘Brutus our beds will not explode unless you make them of course’ Rocky said firmly as he snuggled down with his toy gingerbread man that Lexie had bought him for Christmas.
Rocky – trying to sleep with his gingerbread man
‘OK then, I will try not to make them explode’ Brutus replied.
Rocky sighed and shook his head looking a touch sanctimonious about it all – yeah right, many a bed had died in our garden and Rocky himself should not be quite so smug about the subject as one night TWO beds met their demise in our garden and I strongly suspect that Rocky had a ‘paw’ in that incident.
Rocky implicated in TWO exploding beds
But secretly Brutus liked exploding beds and like many dogs, he got quite excited at the site of all that foam and fluff, it was really too much temptation for any dog.
In Vader’s House
‘I am sorry Mum, I don’t know how it happened, don’t be cross with me’ Vader pleaded in his boxer-voice that sounded as though he had a mouth full of cotton wool, except that it was tongue instead.
Vader is very sorry for the bed he DID NOT destroy
Lexie knew she should be cross with him but he looked so cute and he was very sorry indeed and he promised never to do it again if she bought him a nice new bed, which of course she will.
‘I have decided to join Brutus’s Good Boy Club’ Vader said gratefully to Lexie who snorted with laughter because the Brutus Good Boy Club really means the Brutus Bad Boy Club.
Vader and Brutus – members of The Good Boys Club
‘God help us’ Lexie muttered and then started thinking about new beds – preferably ones that did not explode.
So if you ever find your dogs bed has exploded, please explore the thought that it could be the mystery German Shepherd dogs that are active worldwide. They get into people’s houses and gardens, do the damage, dig up gardens, make dog beds explode and they blame your dog.
They are clever like that – just ask Brutus, Rocky and Vader.
‘Where are you going all dressed up?’ Rocky asked Brutus as he had spotted him smoothing down his ears and whiskers, not to mention he was wearing new leather collar on his neck.
‘Going to visit Millie in hospital as she is being de-sexed today’ Brutus replied and then with both paws, breathed out on them to check if he had ‘bone breath’.
Rocky nodded approvingly, anything to do with dogs being de-sexed he was a passionate and avid supporter knowing that many dogs were not as lucky as he and Brutus had been in finding good loving homes.
‘Can I borrow some of your doggy aftershave?’ Brutus asked Rocky who grinned and told him to help himself but then added something about ‘not being able to polish a turd’.
Brutus was nervous, he remembered his own de-sexing operation and knew that it wasn’t so bad but he was worried if Millie would even want him to visit.
‘Catch ya later Rocky!’ Brutus shouted and then gave his reflection a last glance in the mirror before leaving, totally oblivious to the gravy stains on his snout, the mucous stains on his neck from his play session from Vader and the scratch on his head where Gordon smacked him the other day.
‘Give my love to Millie!’ Rocky yelled back, but it was too late – Brutus was long gone.
At the Vets – now please just imagine a proper old-fashioned human hospital type set up purely for imaginative effect.
Millie had already been admitted to hospital and was tucked up in bed wearing her new nightdress – a white Victorian style one with a high lacey collar giving an impression of innocence and a non chewing, non digging dog.
The female dogs were all in one ward and the boy dogs in another ward and all the vet nurses wore old-fashioned green and white striped dresses with starched white aprons (just like the olden days).
‘Hello, the name is Millie – pleased to meet you’ Millie leaned forward in her bed to speak to a rather nice brindle whippet bitch who was wearing a pie frilled collared nightdress and had a pair of half rimmed spectacles on the end of her nose as she tried to read her ‘Dogs Today’ magazine.
‘My name is Dolly, pleased to meet you, are you in for de-sexing as well?’ Dolly the whippet replied as she peered over her glasses.
‘Yes, I think we all are today, there are 3 of us getting de-sexed’ Millie replied sounding grateful that someone was able to talk to her and take her mind off how nervous she was.
Dolly who was now polishing her spectacles on the bed sheets, was also pleased that Millie had struck up a conversation, after all we all know what it’s like to be in hospital and how scary it can be.
Dolly looked beautifully elegant in her nightdress, while clutching a knitted patchwork blanket and a stuffed rabbit that her Mum had given her as a comforter. Her Dogs Today magazine was opened on an article titled ‘De-sexing and the modern day bitch’, which was about how bitches can have a normal, active and fulfilling life after de-sexing.
‘Will you be having visitors aside from your family?’ Dolly asked Millie who was trying to take in the scenery and thinking how much the pillows resembled sheep and should she herd them up?
Millie sighed and said ‘No, Mum will collect me later this afternoon when it’s over’ and then added fretfully ‘I hope it doesn’t hurt too much, I am a lure courser you know’.
‘Don’t worry, you will be fine’ Said a large chunky Labrador bitch who was sitting upright in her bed, wearing a soft flannelette nightdress with pictures of bones on it. ‘My name is Anne, pleased to meet you’.
Both Dolly and Millie smiled back at Anne who was now busy sniffing for food, her nose appeared to have a mind of its own as it tried to pick up various smells, because at the end of the day, all good Labradors love their grub!
Outside the veterinary hospital
Clutching a bunch of wilted flowers, Brutus once again smoothed his face and made his ears look nice and frantically tried to wipe the gravy off his snout before entering the building.
‘Hello’ said Brutus to a large overweight British Bulldog who was busy checking his Facebook account on his iPhone. The bulldog nodded back to acknowledge Brutus before updating his Facebook with a status of ‘About to have my balls cut off’.
A large white poodle with a diamante stud collar; sat at the reception desk assisting the public (well those that believe in my stories anyway), after rustling through some papers, she looked up and smiled at Brutus and said in what I can only describe as in a ‘BBC English’ type accent; ‘Can I help you?’
Brutus cleared his throat and clutched the wilted half-dead flowers and replied in his best-spoken voice ‘I am looking for Millie who is in for de-sexing’.
The poodle smiled at the large clumsy teenage dog that was obviously trying to impress his visitor with his wilted flowers.
Standing up, the white poodle looked at Brutus and said curtly ‘Turn around lad, let me see your butt, no testicles allowed on male visitors of the doggy kind’
Blushing, Brutus turned round while the poodle gave him a quick visual examination before replying ‘No testicles, that is what I like to see – very good! yes lad – you can go straight up to the ‘de-sexing ward, 2nd floor, first right’
Brutus smiled nervously and found that he had gripped his flowers so tightly that two of them had snapped, leaving only the stalks visible.
‘Oh excuse me lad?’ The poodle receptionist said in a quiet voice.
Turning round, Brutus looked at her to see what she wanted.
‘You might want to wipe that bit of gravy off your face and clean that bit of mucous off your neck’ The poodle grinned and then beckoned for Brutus to lean over while she cleaned him up with a baby wipe.
‘All good to go’ The poodle smiled after she had finished tidying Brutus up and then immediately gave her attentions to a large black greyhound called ‘Cowboy’ who was in for his de-sexing.
Brutus walked along the corridor; which smelt of animal hospital and disinfectant. Vets and vet nurses rushed around, trolleys were being pushed around with sleeping or sleepy pets on them; it was a medical and veterinary hub of activity.
‘No, please! Not my testicles, please – I shall do anything, I promise not to hump the cat/rabbit/child/sofa ever again, I swear I did not get the blanket pregnant and will take no responsibility for the mini blankets!’ A boxer with unfeasibly large testicles yelled as a veterinary nurse fought to get him down the corridor to the boy dogs de-sexing area.
‘Someone told me I will sing in a high voice once I lose my balls and Boris the beagle down the road told me that I will turn into a girl’ the boxer sobbed to anyone that would listen and everyone that wouldn’t.
‘No, you will not sing in a high voice, no you will not turn into a girl, you will just not be able to get the girls pregnant, now come on and be a good boy and follow me!’ The nurse reassured him.
The boxer stopped yelling and reluctantly started to follow the nurse while looking around for moral support from other male dogs.
‘Hey mate, they are taking away my balls!’ The boxer shouted to Brutus as he walked by.
‘That blanket episode, it wasn’t my fault and about the other incident, I swear it didn’t look like a rabbit when I found it’ The boxer yelped as he was reluctantly dragged onto the dog ward, but not before he cocked his leg and took a piss up the wall.
‘Can I help you?’ A vet nurse asked Brutus who had by now snapped some more heads off the already wilted flowers.
‘Yes please, I am here to visit Millie’ Brutus stuttered and was so nervous that he let out a fart. The nurse was far too polite to say anything but her nose wrinkled up and she swallowed a few times and tried hard not to breath while at the same time, pointing to the direction of the female dog ward where Millie was being kept.
Dolly, Anne and Millie were lying in their beds, somewhat sleepy, as they had been given their pre-med. Anne the Labrador was now so hungry she had almost convinced a vet nurse to give her lunch by pretending to be diabetic. It had almost worked as well had Dolly the whippet not told her off for doing so.
‘For goodness sake Anne, you only had your tea last night, just how hungry can you be?’ Dolly said impatiently.
‘Bloody starving actually, anything over 2 hours constitutes as Labrador starvation’ Anne said looking sulky. Any second now she would be forced to eat the sheets, then they would be sorry.
‘Millie, you have a visitor’ the veterinary nurse said to her as she straightened the bed sheets and tidied Millie up.
‘I am not expecting Mum to come and get me until after the operation’ Millie replied sounding confused.
(Sounds of whispering and giggling from Anne and Dolly)
‘Ooohhh, sexy!’ Dolly the whippet grinned and then sat up and removed her spectacles and unbuttoned a few buttons on her nightdress to show her teats.
Brutus with all the clumsiness of a young lad who has never properly dated a female dog before (we can’t count Mouse as that is a one sided relationship where Mouse only had eyes for the lure), walked awkwardly down the ward, almost tripping over the sheer length of his own legs, whilst farting at the same time as he was so nervous, you know when some old ladies fart with each step when they walk to the toilet on their walking frames? Well that was Brutus.
Being a young, fit and very handsome boy, despite being clumsy and not knowing how to behave in front of the bitches, Brutus got a lot of attention and by now both Dolly and Anne were smoothing their whiskers and flashing their teats in a bid to get his attention.
Millie’s face lit up like a Christmas tree when she saw him and sat up in her bed and frantically wagged her tail under her nightdress.
Not quite sure on how to behave, Brutus bent down to kiss Millie on the cheek and almost head-butted her in the process, causing Anne and Dolly to giggle and blush.
‘Thank you so much for coming to see me’ Millie said, also going red as she could hear Dolly and Anne giggling as they tried to hide their heads under their sheets.
‘These are for you’ Brutus stumbled and handed her the wilted flowers which by now had been squeezed so tightly with nerves, that only one very wilted flower remained amongst the stalks of the other flowers.
Millie stared at the broken stalks and the one remaining flower as though it were the most beautiful thing she had ever been given in her entire life. ‘Oh Brutus, that is truly beautiful!’ She replied and carefully took the flower and put it in a cup of water by her bed.
Brutus nodded, suddenly aware that the other two dogs were staring at him and he wasn’t used to that, well aside from some of the Iggy’s staring at him and getting attention from Madam Gigi, this was all new to him.
‘Are you nervous?’ Brutus asked Millie who was now quite sleepy from her pre-med, with her eyes flickering as she tried to stay awake and stare at Brutus.
‘Nope, not all’ Millie lied and then said quietly ‘Well maybe just a bit’.
Squeezing her paw to reassure her, he nodded looked around the ward and noticed that Millie was the only one with a visitor.
‘Excuse me young man, we are taking Millie down now for her surgery, you can wait outside’ The nurse smiled to Brutus and then led him to the corridor where a miniature Schnauzer was pacing up and down while talking in German on a mobile phone.
‘Take care Millie, see you soon!’ Brutus said in his loud ‘Brutus-voice’. And the last thing he saw was Millie being lifted on to a trolley to be wheeled to be de-sexed.
‘See you later Millie!’ Dolly the whippet said, her voice wobbling, as she too was nervous.
‘I wonder how long we will have to wait?’ Anne the Labrador said sounding concerned, she was starving and if she didn’t wake up with a pig’s ear in her mouth, she would report everyone for cruelty to Labradors and you could be sure of that.
‘Right now, by the looks of it’ Dolly replied as a couple of veterinary nurses arrived at their beds to take them for their operations.
Brutus sat outside in the corridor watching the Schnauzer talking in German on his phone whilst occasionally farting while he heatedly discussed the pros and cons of the kennel cough vaccine.
‘Man, you need to go to the toilet, to think they call me Turd Legs’ Brutus said sounding highly disgusted.
‘Sorry, it was zee sausage’ The Schnauzer whispered to Brutus in broken English and then went back to talking on his phone before ‘winking’ with his bottom which usually means ‘take me to the garden before I crap myself’ – at least that’s what it means with Vader the boxer.
Schnauzers – talking in German you know
‘Millie, Millie – wake up my lovely! There’s a good girl!’ A nurse was stroking Millie’s tiny black and white head to try and wake her up.
Millie’s throat was a bit sore from the tube that had been put down, she felt a bit of pain in her tummy but painkillers had helped that. Everything seemed loud, she could smell disinfectant and she could still taste the gas that had been used to keep her asleep during the operation.
‘Where’s my Mum?’ Millie asked sleepily, she wanted her Mum – where was she?
‘It’s OK Millie, your Mum will be here later when you are more awake’ a vet nurse reassured her and then covered her with another blanket to keep her warm.
Next to Millie lay Anne and Dolly on their recovery trolleys; they had also both had their surgery done. Being a whippet with no body fat on her Dolly was taking her time to wake up but Anne the Labrador was already starting to wake and was shouting something about Shepherd pie and carrots whilst chowing down on her blankets because she was so hungry.
The boxer dog we had seen earlier was also in recovery himself and waking up in noisy fashion while shouting ‘We’re on the ball!’ and other such English soccer songs to do with balls and testicles.
Brutus meanwhile, was waiting patiently like a good boy outside the ward and he was hoping that he would be allowed back in for a quick visit before going home.
He was still embarrassed about the snapped and damaged flowers and hoped that Millie wasn’t too upset but little did he know, Millie didn’t see the snapped stalks, she saw the one flower that was there and to her it was beautiful.
‘Brutus, you can go back in quickly before Millie’s Mum comes to collect her’ a veterinary nurse said to Brutus who had been staring at the ‘National De-sexing Month’ posters that were on the wall.
Millie had now been taken back to her bed and was still a bit groggy but not too groggy to forget her vanity and was tidying herself up when she saw Brutus walking in.
‘Hi Millie, are you OK?’ Brutus asked her as she struggled to sit up.
‘Yep, I am fine but I won’t be able to come round to play for a bit’ Millie replied.
‘That’s OK, it doesn’t matter’ Brutus mumbled, he was still blushing each time she spoke to him.
‘When you are better we can go lure coursing perhaps?’ Brutus asked Millie who was averting her gaze because Anne and Dolly were making rude gestures from behind Brutus’s back. Really these girls were so naughty.
The two dogs sat in silence for a bit, there was nothing to be said really – they were just comfortable in each others company and with their paws just slightly touching, there was no need for words.
‘Millie, your Mum is here to get you’ the vet in charge said to Millie who wagged her tail so hard that she almost got it caught in the bed sheets as she spotted her Mum clutching her leash all ready to take her home.
Brutus stood up and suddenly felt clumsy and embarrassed, he got up to go and as Millie was so excited to see her Mum she didn’t even notice he had left.
‘Come on Millie, let’s get you home’ Millie’s Mum said to her. She had been so worried about the little dog and couldn’t wait to get her home.
Clipping the leash on Millie’s collar, the tiny dog was led out of the ward leaving Dolly and Anne in their beds waving their paws as they said goodbye.
‘She was nice’ Anne the Labrador sighed, ‘I would like to see her again and do some of this lure coursing stuff she was going on about’.
Dolly was polishing her glasses again, after all there is nothing quite like a whippet that wears glasses, it makes them look so intelligent you know. If you have a whippet at home, put some glasses on them if you don’t believe me.
Whippets in glasses
‘Oh look, she has forgotten the flower beside her bed’ Dolly said as she spotted something.
And beside Millie’s bed was a glass with water in it and a single wilted flower that Brutus had brought in earlier.
‘Should we call her back?’ Anne the Labrador asked Dolly.
After a few seconds Dolly replied ‘No, don’t bother, it was dead anyway, she won’t miss it’.
And then both dogs started talking about more important things like what they would have for their dinner and if they were lucky, perhaps it would be a bone.
Back at Millie’s House
‘But I want it, it was mine, we must go back for it!’ Millie sobbed as she tried desperately to break out of her Mum’s clutches.
‘Millie, what do you want? What is the matter?’ Millie’s Mum tried to reason with the young dog that was so upset she was almost inconsolable.
‘My flower, my flower – Brutus brought it for me’ Millie barked loudly looking visibly distressed.
And do you know something – that little dog was so upset that she cried long into the night to the point she almost made herself vomit.
Back at Brutus’s House
‘How was Millie?’ Rocky asked Brutus as they lay on their new bed that Cuzz Bro had made for them.
‘Oh yeah, she was OK’ Brutus replied and then set about chewing his leg and pretending it was a beef bone.
‘Don’t worry too much about her, it’s good that she has been de-sexed – there are not enough good homes for dogs as it is’ Rocky said in a firm voice, always the voice of reason is my Rocky.
‘Yep I know, Pippin already went through this with me’ Brutus sighed.
‘What’s the matter then?’ Rocky demanded, his huge kelpie head and big ears showing up as a big ‘shadow of kelpie’ in the light.
‘Nothing’ Brutus said flatly and then stuffed his nose to his bottom and pretended to be asleep. Because when Brutus is upset, he finds that his bottom is the only place that Rocky won’t pester him for answers.
Rocky pesters Brutus for information
Later that night
(Sound of Millie’s mobile phone ringing)
‘Hello Brutus is that you?’ Millie said sleepily. She had been given some more painkillers to keep her settled and felt a bit drowsy.
Brutus stuttered not quite knowing what to say, he hadn’t expected her to answer. ‘Yes, that’s me, just checking how you are?’
‘What about Mouse will she mind you calling me?’ Millie asked him, she didn’t want to know the answer but had to ask anyway.
‘I have heard rumours that Mouse is living the high life in some pet resort while flirting with other dogs, besides – she loves the lure more than me’ Brutus said fretfully.
‘Thank you for my flower, I left it at the hospital by mistake’ Millie said quietly.
‘That’s OK, I shall get you better ones next time’ said Brutus.
‘Are you glad you got de-sexed?’ Brutus asked Millie.
Millie took a few seconds to answer before replying ‘Yes, now I can concentrate on what is important in my life without worrying about coming on heat and having unwanted puppies’
Brutus momentarily felt quite excited, perhaps this one would be different and he could actually find a dog that loved him for being him and not a lure – Brutus.
But the excitement was only momentary because what Millie said next made Brutus’s heart sink.
‘Lure coursing’ Millie replied happily and then said ‘Do you think I will be well enough for the next event?’
‘Goodnight Millie’ Brutus said quietly and then shuffled off to his bed to play with the one thing that doesn’t mind him chewing its genitals – his beloved Tony Abbott doll.
West Coast Dog Sports – a Day at the Races May 2014
(This is a long story so you might want to make a cuppa and put your feet up)
The Night Before the Race
It was the night before the Lure Coursing event with West Coast Dog Sports and excitement could be smelt at home in the form of anal glands.
‘Why are you tidying up your ears, you are running not trying to impress someone’ Rocky sniggered at Brutus who was busy putting his mums hair products in his ears to make him look less like Scooby Doo.
‘If I suck my belly in, do I look like a greyhound?’ Brutus asked Rocky as he held himself in and looked in the mirror.
Gordon sat near by and snorted with laughter and muttered something about ‘you can’t polish a turd’.
‘Look like a greyhound? What the hell are you on about?’ Rocky burst out laughing.
After a few seconds it clicked and Rocky opened his eyes wide and shouted out exceptionally loudly ‘Oh my god, it’s true what everyone is saying, you are trying to impress Mouse Norris aren’t you?’
Brutus blushed and pursed his lips together looking mortally wounded and said rather too loudly ‘No, I just fancy the greyhound look, it’s said to be more athletic’.
‘Fancy Mouse more like, as if she would ever look at a turd legs like you!; Rocky said whilst laughing his kelpie head off.
Brutus pretended that he didn’t care but he did and it was true, he loved Mouse, she was so pretty but last time he met her and tried to talk to her, she told him to ‘piss off’. She was the most popular dog and all the greyhounds would hang around her and the Italian Greyhounds and Whippets were all in her gang.
She was the fastest dog on the track and rumours had it that when Mouse Norris races, that she leaves flames in the grass burning because she is that fast. Someone else said that she runs so fast that she can power a road train but that also could be just a rumour.
Either way Brutus liked her and had her photo on the wall in his room. He had been practising greyhound poses all week – sucking his face in, trying to hold his belly in and more drastically, shutting his own snout in the door in a bid to make it more pointy like a greyhound.
He thought of changing his name to ‘Fly’ as that seemed very greyhound-like but to be honest he looked just like a ‘Brutus’.
Later that evening Brutus was on the phone to Vader, they were planning their day for tomorrow. Brutus was trying to show off a bit as he had been at the last event when Vader hadn’t.
‘Don’t worry Vader, I know Dee’s ridgebacks now – we are best friends’ Brutus told Vader over the phone.
And before you ask, yes dogs do have their own mobiles, it’s just you haven’t seen them using them yet.
‘You said hello to Dee’s ridgebacks?’ Vader said sounding suitably impressed.
‘Yep, I think we are best mates’ Brutus replied, feeling happy that he had impressed his flappy jowled friend.
Brutus did in fact meet Dee’s ridgebacks but the male told him to ‘get his brown arse away from the puppy cage’ as he was protecting the pups.
Brutus blushed and said ‘Yeah, no worries – call me, we can do drinks sometime’ and did a telephone demonstration with his paws and walked off.
Anyway, Brutus was demonstrating to Vader his ‘knowledge’ about the last event and even got Vader to believe that he had won a trophy. Vader was drooling, he was so jealous as he wanted to win a trophy too – for the largest jowls; now that would be nice.
But Brutus was just adding to his own story because it sounded better in his head and was far nicer to believe.
‘I am going to ask Mouse on a date’ Brutus said to Vader on the phone.
‘You are going to ask Mouse?’ Vader gasped.
‘Yep, I am going to offer her my Tony Abbott doll’ Brutus said sounding quite determined.
‘Ha ha haha! That will go down well’ Rocky shouted as he overheard the conversation.
After about ten minutes of talking about whether or not Vaders tongue would have to race on its own, Brutus ended his conversation telling him he would see him tomorrow and they would be doing some squat jumps to warm up.
‘Come on Brutus, big day ahead for you – go and lie down’ I said to Brutus.
Brutus took himself off to his bed and I took a few seconds to spy on him as he said his ‘puppy prayers’.
Sitting on his bed with his eyes tightly closed, Brutus said his own little prayer, he said it so quietly that I could only just make out the words.
‘Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for Mouse my heart to keep,
And if I win the big dog race
I give my bum for Mouse to chase’
Curling up in a tiny ball on his fluffy pink blanket, he snuggled down and wriggled his head on the blanket to get comfy, closing his eyes, leaving the little black tufts of fur on his eyelids visible as though he wore eyeshadow.
And within five minutes, Brutus was fast asleep dreaming of Lure racing with his best mate Vader, making friends with the ridgebacks and having his beloved Mouse cheering him on at the sidelines.
Racing Day – May 17th 2014
Lexie and I had just arrived at the Polo grounds for the lure coursing event. Brutus was quivering with excitement, his back twitching, stomping his feet, snorting like a pig – he could barely contain himself.
Vader was looking around taking in the atmosphere, he had only been once before but knew that as well as getting to run a big distance off leash, he would also get some of his Mum’s hot dog and whatever treats his Dad had packed for him so he was pretty stoked at that thought.
It was a scene of heightened activity, dogs were prancing around, some were in their breed groups, some were in crates, some were burning off excess energy to bide their time until the afternoon race and some like Mouse, had done the big race with twists and turns which was reserved for members.
‘Can you see Mouse?’ Brutus asked, straining his eyes to keep an eye out for the beautiful white greyhound that as you know was rumoured to be the fastest dog ever and had powered rockets with her speed.
‘Nope, can’t see her – why are you interested in girls for? They all smell’ Vader said looking hurt that Brutus didn’t want to do ‘boy stuff’ with him like fart and belch.
‘Oi, piss off!’ A little dog growled at Vader as he walked by. Vader pretended he didn’t care and just ignored him.
We made our way to pay for our races where we were met with some whippets and some Italian greyhounds who were all talking very fast and in high pitched voices because that is the way they speak you see and it is a very posh accent if truth be known.
‘Oh my god, here he comes!’ One of the whippets giggled and then blushed becomingly.
‘That’s him, that’s him!’ Another whippet whispered and then placed a paw over her mouth and looked embarrassed.
‘Hi Brutus!’ Pip the Italian greyhound said confidently.
Brutus looked around him, having been an outsider in the beginning; he wasn’t familiar with other dogs greeting him.
‘Mouse Norris is here, she knows you are coming’ Pip said and then nodded his tiny little head vigorously, his pointy snout looking like the nib of a fountain pen.
Another Italian greyhound in a smart green outfit was also highly excited about the whole conversation and kept lifting one paw off the ground and then placing it back down again.
You see Mouse Norris is like the Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice) of the dog world, all the sight hounds know here, all the greyhound bitches want to be with her and we won’t even talk about what the boy dogs want to do with her.
‘Hi Pip’ Brutus said nervously, he remembered Pip from last time, and had met him before but never classed himself as part of any gang – except Vaders gang and that contained just him and Vader. Even Rocky wasn’t part of that gang, mind you Rocky hates Vader with a passion, actually aside from Tess, Rocky hates every dog with a passion and the only one in Rocky’s gang is Rocky himself.
Pip – the Italian Greyhound
‘What did you say about Mouse?’ Brutus asked, he had to know, he NEEDED to know.
‘I said Mouse Norris knows you are coming, all the whippets are talking about it too and the Italian greyhounds!’ Pip said, so excited that his already high pitched voice was going even higher.
Always remember that no dog gossips as well as a whippet and Italian greyhound, they are the ‘canine newspapers’ of the dog world and are messengers to the greyhounds. If you want something kept a secret, never tell an Italian greyhound or a whippet. But saying that, they are all so damn cute they could get away with anything.
Brutus didn’t know what to make of it, how could Mouse be interested in him if he wasn’t a greyhound? Having tried very hard to change his shape to be like a greyhound, Brutus had done things like starving himself to get extra ribs to show, shutting his own snout in the door to make it pointier, right down to chasing invisible rabbits around the garden.
But in the end he resigned himself to the fact that he would never be a greyhound. And to be honest, his ‘inner-kelpie’ that had been trying to emerge lately in the way of crouching down and herding Rocky up, had been taken over by his ‘inner ridgeback’ in the way of a deep loud bark, clumsiness, dislike of cold/wet weather and a love of his warm bed and big bowls of food.
‘Brutus are you coming?’ Vader shouted, just as a red kelpie called him a ‘fat tongue pig-dog’ and shouted other obscenities at him like ‘Vader no balls’.
‘Why is everyone telling me off today?’ Vader asked Brutus who shrugged his shoulders because he didn’t know.
‘Vader, hold on a sec, Pip is telling me something about Mouse’ Brutus replied, he was shaking now. He had dreamed of this moment for a long time. The first time Brutus met Mouse she barked at him, the second time she was too busy to bother with him and was holding court to her beautiful pointy snouted friends looking like Liz Hurley at a party for cool people.
Whatever was going on, all the whippets were interested in Brutus and they were all sniffing him and allowing him to sniff them. Brutus couldn’t believe it.
Brutus and Vader gossip with the the ‘pointy snout’ brigade
(Photo by Lexie Goldsmith)
‘How come they are talking to you?’ Vader asked, his tongue hanging out to get in on the action. (His tongue has voting rights)
Brutus was showing off now and replied ‘Oh, I saw them all last time’.
Vader looked boot-faced, let out a fart and then pretended that he didn’t care, after all; girl’s smell. He didn’t need a girlfriend; he had Brutus, all boys together and let’s sniff each other’s bums.
‘Come and see Mouse!’ Pip shouted and as some of the whippets stood aside to form a ‘corridor of whippet’, there was Mouse in all her glory. She had already run her races and was watching some of her friends run.
Mouse sets the field alight with her speed
(Photo by Samantha Rose)
‘Hi Mouse’ Brutus stuttered. He was going to embarrass himself, he was sure of that.
Mouse looked aloof for a second and then stuffed her pointy snout under Brutus’s belly. Brutus still being a baby at 18 months old adopted a submissive posture and allowed Mouse to do her inspection.
‘He has respect, I like that’ Mouse said in her posh voice to the whippets who giggled. The Italian greyhounds hid behind the whippets, except for Pip who wanted in on the action and stood there for a good look.
Brutus was thrilled; Mouse even let Brutus have a sniff of her bottom which went down very well indeed.
‘Vader – did you see that, did you see that?’ Brutus whispered loudly to Vader who was looking disgusted with his friend.
‘I have seen it, I cannot ‘un-see’ it, what have I told you about all girls smelling!’ Vader snapped and then walked off with Lexie to be measured for some doggy pyjamas that the IGGY stall were selling.
After Vader had been measured for his pyjamas, we walked up to the terrace to see the ridgebacks who were sitting rather chilled out in their crates, some were reading magazines, some were listening to music.
The Ridgbacks in their crate – ‘the cool gang’
‘Piss off’ One of the male ridgies said to Vader who stuck his tongue out in response.
‘Hi Brutus’ the male ridgie said to him, it was the same male that told him off last month for getting too close to the puppies. But today it appeared that Brutus had ‘earned his stripes’ and was getting some recognition and that meant the world to Brutus just to be accepted.
‘You are such a brown nose’ Vader muttered to Brutus who was now so happy all these dogs had remembered him and if nothing else nice happened today, Mouse had acknowledged him and the whippets had flirted with him. He would go home a King today, King in his own imagination.
‘Come on Vader, let’s go and drool over our Mums hot dogs’ Brutus said to Vader. Vader looked at his mate, stuck his big fat tongue out and grinned.
‘OK then’ Vader said and gave Brutus a gentle nudge as they walked up the hill together.
By now it was getting crowded and you could feel the excitement in the air.
The red kelpie that had told Vader off was now having a meeting with some other dogs, I think they were discussing sheep or something but it was getting rather heated.
‘She thinks that sheep are intelligent’ A cattle dog said whilst laughing at the very thought of sheep being clever.
‘The only thing she has herded up in her life are her toys’ a border collie said bitchily.
‘I vote that we don’t let her into obedience until she admits sheep have no brains’ The red kelpie said firmly while the other dogs in the gang barked their approval.
We managed to find a table and ordered our hot dogs and cold drinks and the dogs sat near us. Brutus was telling Vader that Mouse let him sniff her and she sniffed him and two whippets had asked him for his mobile number.
‘Well I have new pyjamas’ Vader said firmly and then added ‘Wanna pull my paw?’
Brutus pulled Vader’s paw who then promptly farted and then laughed and snorted at his own daring.
Brutus shook his head trying not to laugh. He was trying very hard to be a good boy and make friends and so far, this was the best day of his life with all these dogs talking to him and the best of all, Mouse acknowledging him.
As I was eating my hotdog, I could hear sounds from under the table.
‘Good day to you, Vot eez your name?’ A strong German accent came from near where my bag was by the table.
Brutus stopped talking to Vader and glanced down to see who was speaking, and there was the cutest little Schnauzer ever.
‘Nice clip, did my Mum groom you?’ Vader said approvingly at the little dog and then added ‘Mum likes Schnauzers’ Vader nodded at an elderly dog who was lying nearby.
‘My name is Franz and I am German’ the schnauzer said in his broken English accent.
‘Are you running?’ Vader asked Franz the Schnauzer.
‘I vood like to run and perhaps I vill, but I prefer to clean up leftover hot dog’ Franz replied and then true to his word, started scooting about the floor looking for a stray sausage like a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
‘My good man, your nose impresses me’ Brutus laughed at the skill of the little Schnauzer as he neatly checked the floor for food.
‘One never knows when one will need ones nose’ Franz said firmly.
‘And may I add, that is a good tongue, in Germany we vood be jealous of such a tongue’ Franz said to Vader who looked pleased at the complement.
Meanwhile there was quite a line up to wait for turns to run so Lexie and I thought it best to take our place in the line.
Brutus’s friend Millie the border collie had turned up for her first attempt at lure coursing and Brutus was trying to explain to her how it is done. He felt that he knew enough to show her the ropes at least.
‘Always remember, don’t kill the lure – it’s a plastic bag and it’s not alive’ Brutus said patiently to a wide eyed Millie.
Millie the border collie
(Photo by Melissa Jones)
‘Come on Brutus, we are going to take our turn’ I told him and we took a slow walk down with everyone else while Lexie and Vader waited at the side to take photographs.
The tiny dogs totally ‘owned it’, full of their own ‘inner-big-dog’, they ran down that track with their tiny legs barely touching the floor.
A sweet little Westie puppy gave half hearted chase but thought it would be such fun to skip and frolic down while keeping an eye out for his Mum.
A dog at the sidelines was a bit of a hooligan and each time the lure went by, he shouted and cheered and if you can imagine a footy fan yelling at the top of his voice, you just about get the picture.
‘Come on, kill it, get it!’ The little dog shouted loudly while his Mum tried very hard to make him stop. He sounded a bit like a donkey with his loud yell.
‘Come on, nice butt, look at that, nice legs, lovely snout, cute ears!’ He yelled to each dog running by, his owner tried so hard to make him stop but he was enjoying himself so much and looked so cute making his donkey like sounds as he screamed.
We were standing next to an English bull terrier was going in for his first time and was looking somewhat puzzled at the course.
‘What’s the point in it?’ He asked Brutus.
‘You chase the lure and you try and win the race’ Brutus replied happily. He knew the ropes now, he had friends, he was a dog going places – you just see!
‘Win what race? I am running alone’ The English bull terrier told Brutus in his posh English accent. EBT’s tend to speak like Prince Charles if you want to know what they sound like.
‘What race? Why it’s the most important race in the world – the race in your head, the race of your life’ Brutus replied, proud that he could offload some of his knowledge.
And with that, the bull terrier nodded approvingly, as though it all made perfect sense.
He wasn’t particularly fast but he had a look in his face, a look of determination that every other dog knew, he was running for himself, he was running because he wanted to and he was running because he loved it and that my friends, is the real meaning of ‘running the race of your life’ – doing things because you love them and because you want to.
Brutus had started to shake, I could hardly hold him and when it came to my turn, I handed him over to the guy to release him while I went to the other end to catch him.
‘Come on Brutus, you can do it!’ A ridgeback shouted over to where we were standing.
A couple of fluffy dogs also shouted out words of support and some of the bigger dogs too.
Brutus looked so proud, he finally had some ‘mates’ to call his own and a beautiful girl had taken notice of him – his beloved Mouse.
He was now feeling almost – but not quite grown up, I say not quite as he still reserves the rights to temper tantrums but hey, we all have our quirks.
‘Right Brutus, see you at the other end’ I whispered in his ears and then made my way to the other end to catch him.
It’s always a bit nerve wracking wondering if your dog will run and if he does run, will he run to you or will he make his bid for freedom like the Afghan did at the last event and was careering round the field happily avoiding his owners, frolicking around like a gazelle, his fur blowing in the wind and in a grand finale of finding some horse shit to roll in. Now that, I did not want Brutus to do so you can see why I was worried.
The guy let Brutus off and I will say that this is the fastest I have ever seen Brutus run and he has done 6 runs in total now at 3 events. He was like 34kgs of brown bullet the way he shot down that course.
‘Come on Brutus, you can do it! A gang of Italian greyhounds shouted from the sidelines. Now Mouse had checked Brutus out and had approved him, all the whippets and the Iggy’s saw him as a friend as well. He had never had so many girls after him before and despite Vader telling him that girl’s smell, he rather liked it.
A couple of cattle dogs were yelling from the sidelines and I think that the dog that sounding like a donkey was also shouting ‘Go on my son!’
‘Go on turd legs, you can do it!’ Vader shouted from the side as Lexie tried to take photographs.
Brutus turned round and grinned at Vader while continuing to run.
Brutus grins at Vader as he runs by
(Photo by Lexie Goldsmith)
His speed shocked me, he put everything he had into that run and I would have loved to have known his times because he was that quick.
Just as he got into the swing of it, the course ended and he had to stop, except that he didn’t as he was going too fast.
‘Go Brutus, my hero!’ Millie shouted while bouncing around.
‘Oh god, he is going to hit the barrier!’ a border collie said and then covered her eyes.
‘Bloody hell, he has improved’ One of the ridgebacks said to her friend.
‘Watch out Brutus – too late!’ a little terrier cried with a pained expression on his face.
‘Shit, I don’t think I can stop!’ Brutus shouted looking alarmed and then sighted Millie, looked momentarily excited before he not only crashed in to the barrier, but tore right through it, leaving a gaping hole.
I needn’t have worried about him running off; he couldn’t exactly go far with all that netting around his neck.
Everyone laughed at the clumsy brown dog tangled up with orange plastic netting around him and I untangled him so the fence could be repaired.
‘Did you get a photo of him?’ I asked the photographer who was standing at the end.
‘I am not sure’ she laughed as she looked at the ripped netting and Brutus standing next to it.
‘Well done Brutus!’ dogs were shouting to him, congratulating him. Millie was so proud; she wanted to claim him for herself, totally unaware that his heart belonged to Mouse. And talking of Mouse, oh how he wished she could have seen him run, he might not set the field alight like she could but he rather hoped she would be proud of him.
‘My hero!’ Millie said happily and then proceeded to lick round Brutus’s jowls to congratulate him. That is just how some dogs congratulate each other you see – by a good jowl licking.
Just as we were about to prepare for Vader’s race, another border collie tried to introduce himself to Millie.
‘Well hello there little lady, fancy a drink of water with me?’ He asked in a smooth voice with a hint of Devonshire accent.
‘Piss off, she is mine!’ Brutus snapped back and for the first time ever, puffed himself up and displayed some jealousy in protecting Millie whom he had declared his true friend a couple of months ago.
Well it took me by surprise, Brutus being protective of Millie. Probably because she comes into his garden for play dates and he has known her since she was small. But either way, Brutus sent this border collie away with a flea in his ear and then called him ‘turd face’ for good effect.
Before long it was Vaders turn so we got ready to cheer him on.
‘Come on Professor Jowls!’ A white fluffy dog shouted from the side.
Several dogs were heatedly discussing whether or not Vader’s tongue should enter a race on its own and some were even saying it was the longest tongue in the world and could be used as a red carpet for royalty; others compared it to a yard of wet ham.
A couple of Italian greyhounds shouted in their high pitched voices words of encouragement and an elderly boxer also cheered in his ‘rusty dog bark’ (you know all elderly dogs have a rusty bark, you just have to listen out for it).
‘Come on Vader!’ Brutus shouted as he danced around from paw to paw whilst beating his tail on my legs.
Vaders jowls flapped in the wind and the little brown and white boxer romped to the end and straight into his Mums arms like a good boy complete with snot over his face like all good boxer dogs.
‘Let me lick your jowls’ Brutus said enthusiastically and set about cleaning the mucous from Vaders mouth to congratulate his buddy.
‘How did I do?’ Vader asked Brutus in his boxer voice speaking with a ‘fat tongue’.
‘You are the jowls of fire Vader, you are the jowls of fire’ Brutus said and then held his paw up to ‘high five’ Vader.
Vader grinned and the two boys walked back to the terrace speaking over one another in excited voices about their race and how they ran it.
When we sat down, a very nice lady came up and offered the boys half a sausage each which they both had, probably not a good idea as they were going to run with each other in their next race but as Brutus was eyeing up the sausage on the table like a starving person on a diet, I relented and so did Lexie and in the end, the boys enjoyed the sausage.
‘Hmm, nice bit of sausage’ Vader said as he chowed down on his piece.
‘Very nice indeed’ Brutus replied and then sucked his teeth to get the bits out.
A bit later Lexie and I took the boys down for their final run of the day and took our place in the line where Vader was chatting to a Springer Spaniel puppy and Brutus was making friends with a beautiful fawn whippet.
A ridgeback was shouting, the Italian greyhounds were raring to go, Millie was waiting for her place in her first ever run, and Brutus I believe, was starting to tire and when he gets tired, he goes right back to baby behaviours.
Nothing like a temper tantrum when you are a tired pup!
(‘Mum, I am tired, can I have a sausage?’ Brutus asked. Honestly, that dog never made sense half the time.
‘No Brutus, you cannot have a sausage. You will do this run and then we are going home. I told him.
Before I could stop him, Brutus started to roll on the grass and he did it with such passion that it could only mean one thing – horse shit. With it being the polo grounds, the scent of horses is too much for any dog to cope with.
‘Oh this is fun!’ As Brutus rolled over and kicked his long legs in the air rolling in every bit of scent he could find.
Brutus rolls in horse scent while Vader chats to Franz the Schnauzer
I suppose I ought to be grateful it was scent of horse shit rather than horse shit itself and I should be even more grateful that it wasn’t fox shit as I still have memories of my old whippet in London who loved fox shit so much, she would actively seek it out to roll in it and spent more time in the bath than she did on the field.
‘Loose dog!’ Someone shouted and as we turned round, we saw a whippet happily galloping across the field and let me tell you, there is nothing quite as joyous as a loose whippet or Afghan hound when it has slipped its leash.
‘Life so wonderful, look at the trees, and watch out world I am here!’ The whippet said in a high pitched ‘sing-song’ kind of voice as it announced its arrival.
The dog was eventually caught but not before the other dogs gave it a round of applause for its bid for freedom which whether or not you like it, all dogs like an illicit gallop around the field knowing that their owners don’t have a hope in hell of catching them.
Anyway, Brutus and Vader were being held for their run while Lexie and I went down the bottom to catch them.
‘Oh shit, I should not have had that sausage’ Brutus said to Vader as they ran.
Vader belched and replied ‘I know what you mean, I think I have wind’
We cheered them on, but you could just tell they were having a chat as they ran down the track because I could see them both laughing at times. God knows what they were chatting about but I guess they were tired and ready for home.
Brutus and Vader in their race
(Photo by Melissa Jones)
We caught them with no problems and their friends cheered and clapped at their effort.
And that was that, they had done their two races and it was time to go home so we said goodbye to Millie and her Mum and a few others and put the boys in the car to drive home.
‘Did you get Mouse’s number?’ Vader asked Brutus.
Brutus sniffed and put his head down ‘Nope but Pip gave her mine, so he told me’ and then added ‘I like Pip, he’s cool’.
Vader went quiet and then said to Brutus ‘If you get a girlfriend, will you still be my friend?’
Brutus looked at his flappy jowled mate, whom he had known ever since he moved to his new home. He was his true friend, they urinated on each other, humped each other, shared toys, shared owners – shared everything.
‘Vader, you will always be my friend, actually you are sort of like my brother’ Brutus told him while nodding his head.
Vader grinned back and without any warning, licked Brutus on his face before settling down.
Friends for life!
On the way home Vader kept farting in the car, Lexie nearly vomited and I didn’t smell it till we pulled up outside the house and then it was like Vaders stomach had fallen into his butt. Honestly it was that vile, I actually think that we nearly died from the smell of Vaders farts.
Brutus is overcome by Vader’s farts!
When I got into the house I let Brutus out to catch up with Rocky as that is what they both like to do when they have been apart.
Then Brutus was put to bed for an hour so I could let him settle down before feeding him.
Brutus was so tired he could barely hold his head up. He glanced down and saw that on his mobile phone was a message from Mouse Norris.
‘Hi Brutus, see you at the next event, we can share a bowl of water if you like. Mouse’
Brutus gasped and looked at the message again, nope – he wasn’t dreaming, it was there for all to see.
Mouse Norris had messaged him – Brutus, she had messaged him and he would never ever delete that message.
It was a very proud Brutus that went to bed tonight. Proud because he has overcome his ‘in your face’ and ‘over the top’ puppy behaviour that has seen him told off a few times and now he has made some friends.
He was proud that Mouse had sent him a message and finally, he was proud that he has found something that he loves doing and that he is good at – lure coursing.
You see that is what lure coursing is about – dogs socialising, racing, taking part, discussing the day’s events, being spoilt with treats of sausage, forging friendships and relationships with other dogs and going home so exhausted that in their sleep, you can see their legs moving, tails wagging and eyes twitching because you know, you just know that they are re-living the day’s events in a wonderfully fabulous technicolour dream.
And while they are asleep, their owners all come on to the West Coast Dog Sports Facebook page to discuss the day, admire the photos, chat to old friends, make new friends and enjoy the memories while counting down the weeks until the next lure coursing event where the fun will start again.
Lure coursing – it’s the place where your dog wins ‘its own race’ and you make friends into the bargain.
Making friends is what it’s all about!
My thanks go to Dee and the team at West Coast Dog Sports for organising the event and making it such a brilliant day.
And to all the lovely dogs that have tapped into my imagination and made themselves heard in the most human way possible.