The Day We Walked With Gordon

Gordon

Gordon

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Wednesday 23rd August 2017

‘Will you walk with me Mum? You promised?’ Gordon asked me as we both sat on the sofa. His beautiful green eyes now speckled with age, his once 7kg frame now barely touching 4kgs.

His eyes bore into mine, searching for my response – almost pleading for it.

I bit my lip and hesitated. He was right, I had always promised him that I would walk with him right by his side and I was not about to let him down now.

‘We will both walk with you, one of us either side and will be proud to do it Gordon’ I reassured him, ‘Even if you did put your teeth through my finger that time causing me to have tetanus’.

‘Yeah, about that…….’ Gordon laughed.

Suddenly Brutus came running into the living room with his gingerbread man in his mouth. ‘What are you talking about? Is it me? Everyone always talks about me because I am nice!’

‘Not everything is about you Brutus,’ Rocky snapped at him and went back to reading his newspaper – ‘The Kelpie Times’.

‘Well I heard you saying about walking with Gordon so thought I might be invited’ Brutus wagged his tail and cleared the table of its contents in the process.

Gordon stared at him ‘No Brutus’ he said firmly, ‘Just no’.

Saturday 26th August 2017

‘Mum! Mum! Why is Gordon wearing a tweed suit?’ Brutus yelled.

Rocky glanced up and saw Gordon standing there looking rather odd and if not out of place, wearing a tatty tweed suit – the type old people wear.

‘It is a day for tweed and I am dressed for that occasion’ Gordon replied as Brutus tried to clean his bum, ‘and one day my friend, you too will wear tweed’.

‘What occasion? I have never noticed that suit before either?’ Rocky looked puzzled and then after a few minutes, he realized what it was about and said nothing further.

Brutus stood there with his gingerbread man in his mouth, his tail had stopped wagging, ‘I don’t understand’ was all he said and then dropped gingerbread man on the floor and walked back to his bedroom looking confused muttering something about tweed suits, old men and mothballs.

A short while later

 ‘Where are you going? Can I come’ Brutus pleaded. ‘Are you are taking Gordon to the vet? You always take us when he goes, shall we get in the car now?’

‘Brutus, come and sit with me’ Rocky said firmly and patted the mattress on his bed to gesture for Brutus to sit down.

‘But we always make these trips as a family!’ Brutus started to bark and then realizing it wasn’t going to have any effect, he jumped on the bed beside Rocky.

‘I don’t understand’ Brutus repeated and nudged Rocky in the ribs for reassurance.

Gordon looked at Abdel and myself, he stared up at each of us ‘Will you walk with me now?’

‘Of course’ I replied and we took him to the car leaving Brutus with his face pressed up against the window wondering why he had been left behind. Rocky sat upright on his bed rigid like a bookend staring at us through the glass, as the car pulled out of the garage while Brutus repeatedly mouthed ‘I don’t understand’.

In the car

‘What are you doing?’ Abdel asked me as I grappled with my phone while trying to balance Gordon in his basket on my knee in the front seat.

‘Lion King – The Circle of Life’ I replied simply, ‘It reminds me of Gordon’. I turned the radio down and put Lion King on full blast on my phone.

‘Now that’s more like it’, Gordon laughed.

‘Do you remember when I got tickets to Lion King and held you above my head like Simba?’ I reminded him.

LionKing

Gordon – my very own Lion King

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Remember? How could I forget!’ Gordon replied. ‘I believe that this song was written for me’.

‘Yes Gordon, I believe it was’. I agreed and turned up the volume on my phone.

Feeling his ginger fur stick out through the wire squares in his cat basket, I smoothed him down and touched him, memorizing every single part of him.

‘How about the time in London when we had a guy round to measure up for blinds and he didn’t like animals. You jumped into his over sized laundry bag and all I saw was it shifting across the living room with you inside it.

‘I had to grab you and throw you across the living room before he saw you, and I managed it as well. He never did notice that you had damaged some of the stuff in his bag’. (This is actually true, it was in our flat in London)

Gordon laughed.

‘It’s not been a bad 15 years has it?’ Gordon looked up at Abdel and myself.

‘It’s been the best my friend, it’s been the best’. Abdel said quietly and carried on driving.

And in that journey to the vets we laughed, we talked, we played ‘Circle of Life’ as loud as we could while knowing that our very own Lion King was on the front seat of our car in his basket.

And so we walked….

‘Are we there yet?’ Gordon asked Abdel.

‘Nearly Gordon, nearly’ Abdel replied.

‘How will I know when I am there?’ Gordon looked at me.

‘Because you just will’ I patted his head.

‘Hold on a minute, I can see something, look at that over there – I can see towels hanging on the trees!’ Gordon shouted excitedly. His long slender ginger legs with pink toes like little beans, his nails gripped on to my jumper.

The finaltowel

The final towel – the night before Gordon left us, he didn’t eat it

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon looked at Abdel and myself and then looked ahead of him. As if conflicted, he kept alternating his gaze between us, and what he could see in front of him.

As we got closer I could see a large white greyhound waiting at the gate. He wore a glamorous soft red martingale collar with a golden disk around his neck saying ‘Bowie’ on one side and ‘Gate Keeper’ on the other. Clutching a clipboard he was ticking names off and greeting various animals that were lined up to go in.

‘Hello there, you must be Gordon – I have heard all about you. You look very smart in your suit; it’s the perfect day for tweed! These must be your humans who I must say are jolly privileged to see this’, Bowie greeted him affectionately.

‘Will you come and make my bed?’ Gordon asked Abdel hopefully, ‘And put sardines in my bowl and smooth my head down?’

Abdel looked down at Gordon, not quite believing what he was seeing or what was happening. He rubbed Gordon’s ears and stroked his back over the tatty tweed suit.

Abdel.1

He promised he would ‘walk’ with him to Rainbow Bridge – and walk with him he did

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Sorry Gordon, your humans can’t go beyond this point, it’s not their time’ the greyhound said gently to Gordon who looked panic stricken at the thought of not being with us.

‘But they need me, and I need them’ Gordon protested, his long nails defiantly gripped my arms.

Bowie smiled, ‘I know my friend but they and you, are going to be just fine, I promise’.

‘Well I guess this is it then, you said you would walk with me and I guess you did’, Gordon said after a few minutes.

‘What do I do now?’ Gordon asked Bowie the greyhound.

‘There are some towels hanging on the washing line and they have your name on them’ Bowie encouraged him.

‘Maybe tomorrow, I am a bit sore today and tired, I am so very tired’ Gordon yawned.

‘Try it, you never know it might be OK’ Bowie nudged him with his long white snout.

Gordon nervously walked ahead and was surprised that his joints didn’t hurt him. There were several brightly coloured towels all clipped on a washing line and blowing in the breeze as though they were enticing Gordon to get closer and shred them.

Cats were scattered around on chairs, trees or just chasing butterflies. Some were playing with dogs, some were eating and some were having a catnip party and were off their faces on catnip while playing a game of poker.

I stepped forward to get a better look at him but Bowie blocked my way. ‘No further for you my friend, this is our world now and your place is with your boys at home. We have got this covered’, Bowie winked at me and wagged his tail.

‘Oh and Samantha?’ Bowie asked, ‘Don’t you tell the other humans what you have seen today, they will get jealous and we can’t have that now can we!’

Abdel and I took one last look at Gordon who started running towards the towels, he then looked back at us as if to get permission to chew them. The next minute he pulled a towel off the line and was bicycling furiously with his hind legs kicking the fabric, while shouting ‘bollocks’ and his tweed old-man-suit had been replaced by a luxurious silky ginger coat that tends to be worn by the young, fit and healthy cats.

I looked round at Abdel and then back towards Bowie and in that split second of looking away, Bowie was gone as was Gordon.

Back to reality

Abdel and I kept our promise to walk with him to Rainbow Bridge and that is exactly what we did.

Gordon had a cannula placed in his arm and then he was handed back to us all cuddled up in his blue blanket. I sat in a chair and he sat on my lap while my husband stroked his head and the vet crouched down to my level and told Gordon just how loved he was.

He went quickly, so very quickly – I knew he would, he was so frail and the moment he was removed from his basket it was like his illness and years had caught up with him. Gordon looked exhausted, he looked sick and had been holding it together in the home but once at the vets, there was no further need to do that because he was ready to go.

Once out of his basket it was like someone had turned the lights on and we could clearly see how tired and sick he was. It was no longer about our selfish needs to keep him, it was about his need to go on the final journey of sleep that he so rightly deserved.

me and Gordon

Goodbye my darling cat

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

His huge personality left with his little heartbeat, leaving behind his old body on the vet’s table. I cried that embarrassing sobbing that you can’t control that vets and nurses have seen so many times before.

Since when did he get so tiny, so thin and so frail? How did such a big cat with a huge personality get so small? I held him in my arms, we both did – he felt so small but still warm like he was asleep. Where did he go, where did you go Gordon, did we do the right thing? Why does it hurt so much and why do we feel so guilty?

Our hearts were breaking as we cradled our little cat of 15 years who we had brought over to Perth from the Motherland over 9 years ago. The cat that had seen us through the toughest times, the death of my Mum, some serious health problems, a few house moves, moving to Australia and when my husband was nearly killed in a car accident. Gordon was the one constant in our lives and whatever happened, he was there at home ready to bite us and shred the towels and say ‘bollox’ whenever we told him off.

Baby Gordon

Gordon aged 9 weeks old

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon doing his time at Byford Quarantine in 2008

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon and Brutus

A very special bond between Gordon and Brutus

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Empty Basket

We walked out clutching our empty white wire basket that we have had for years, in fact it belonged to our old cats Bruno and Juniper and I walked out of the vets with it empty when they crossed to Rainbow Bridge as well.

It was a painful drive back home; I kept the basket on my knee as though Gordon were still in it. He always travelled in the front and it didn’t seem right to put the basket in the back. I remember thinking that the basket would probably never get used again because no way could I ever face getting another cat – ever.

Rocky and Brutus

‘I still don’t understand?’ Brutus said to Rocky.

‘Brutus, when an animal goes to Rainbow Bridge it is customary for them to wear a tatty tweed suit and once they pass over, they regain their beautiful coat again along with their health’ Rocky explained.

‘Tweed suit? But Gordon was wearing a tweed suit this morning’ Brutus gasped, his eyes looking around the room for his brother.

dogs1

Photo taken the day after Gordon died – the quietest they had ever been

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Gordon! Gordon! Stop hiding, it’s not funny any more, come on Gordon, where are you?’ Brutus was frantic as he ran into Gordon’s bedroom to check for his brother.

Gordon’s grey plastic bed with his brown fluffy blanket and his stuffed reindeer in it remained untouched with all his other toys lying around plus a bowl of cat chow and a bowl of water from that morning. Although the room was full of Gordon’s stuff, it was empty of Gordon. I had to clean that room when we got back which was hard.

empty room

The empty room, too clean, too tidy and not right

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘He’s gone Rocky, he’s gone!’ Brutus cried and when the realization hit him, he kept howling even the calming influence of Rocky couldn’t console him.

Back home

Once we were back home I took the basket in to Gordon’s room and placed it on the floor and started crying again. There was a Gordon sized gap that had been left in our home and I knew that the animal dynamics were going to change because of it. I didn’t know how they would change, just that they would.

I suddenly felt a wet nose on my face as both of my boys came into Gordon’s room. They pressed themselves up against me and both tried to wash my face.

‘Don’t cry Mum, I don’t like it when you cry’ Brutus kept swallowing which he always does when he is nervous. Rocky rested his head on my knee, he said nothing but kept pressing his head into me and licking whatever bit of me he could reach.

My house was quieter, the dogs were out of sorts and I could now leave the bathroom door open without my towels getting chewed. Did I like it? No I didn’t, nice towels are overrated and nice towels are shit.

I missed my little cat, I couldn’t bring myself to throw his stuff away or even give it away; I just couldn’t do it. I bagged it up and put it in the spare room.

We had Gordon privately cremated – something I never thought that I would do or would even consider. For some reason I changed my mind and I am glad that I did because we get comfort in knowing that Gordon is still with us in his own way (he is on the bookcase).

In my stories Gordon swears a bit (as many of you that follow my animal stories will know), his favourite word in my stories is ‘Bollox’ – and that is how he spells it as well. So it seemed only fitting that we would have that engraved on the brass plaque on his box.

The vets also took some paw prints for us which is a nice keepsake as well and when keepsakes are all you have left, they suddenly become very important.

LionKing2

Gordon’s ashes – and that is just what he would say as well

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Pawprints

The vets took a paw print for us and gave us this lovely card with a handwritten message

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Pet Bereavement

I have been through this before many years ago but was hoping that at 50 years old, I would be older and wiser and how wrong I was, how very wrong.

I had also underestimated how hard this would be on Brutus as it hit him so hard that his grief was tangible. Just after Gordon died Brutus started to curl up outside his bedroom while holding his fluffy turkey in his mouth. He had started to vocalize and howl the loneliest howl I have ever heard a dog make, it was heartbreaking to witness.

You will have noticed that I have taken photographs of anything out of the ordinary in terms of my pets behaviour. You may not see what I see in the photos but it was there and I promise you that.

dogs2

Brutus curled up outside Gordon’s room

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Rocky is a sensitive little kelpie dog and that night we lost Gordon, he lay in the spare room with me while I made myself ill from crying. His slim black paws gripping round my arm and he had pressed his solid little black body up close to me, so close that I could feel his heartbeat. That is unusual for Rocky, as he normally likes to lie by my feet, but that night he patiently let me cry into his fur until I fell asleep.

I woke up at 5am and Rocky was sitting by the door to go out and he went straight to his bed and went to catch up on his own sleep. Animals are so special and I often think that some humans don’t deserve such loyalty and love that we get from our pets.

Getting used to things

When your animal grows older with you, you have your routine and you just ‘get’ each other. Your cat knows what you do and vice versa but once the cat (or dog) has left you, the gap is enormous and getting used to not having to care for that pet, hear or see it around is hard – very hard.

It was the longest week of our lives dealing with our own grief and by now Rocky, who had been sensitive to our own feelings, was now starting to exhibit distress from Gordon not being there.

It took several trips into Gordon’s room to get Rocky to settle and realize that Gordon wasn’t coming home. Brutus has taken even longer and still checks for Gordon to this day.

Brutus had a habit of stealing Gordon’s toys, in particular his fluffy reindeer. He always pinched it and would suckle on it and walk around with it proudly presenting the toy to whoever was around. The day Gordon died, Brutus stole this reindeer and brought it to my husband.

‘Don’t let him have that, we can give it to the new kitten’, my husband blurted out, looking protectively over Gordon’s beloved reindeer.

‘What new kitten?’ I asked him, he shrugged and walked away without saying anything further. New kitten? I don’t bloody well think so.

Never say never

It was on the Friday after we had said goodbye to Gordon and a colleague at work and myself had been looking on a pet rescue site, just looking of course.

‘My house is so empty without a cat’, I said to my colleague. We had always had a cat in our 26 years of marriage and have never once been without one.

‘That’s cute’, I pointed out at this tiny 7 week old rescue ginger tuxedo kitten from a pet rescue website. My colleague agreed and we continued to look at cats but I kept going back to this little kitten.

Later that night I showed my husband a picture of this kitten and to my surprise, he told me to email the cat rescue place to see if he was still available. Not expecting to hear anything back, I sent the email and didn’t think any more of it.

The words ‘We will never have another cat’ were fading fast in our heads, the ‘Gordon’ sized gap in the house was enormous and it wasn’t just a Gordon sized gap, it was a cat-sized gap as well.

The next morning Abdel and I had gone out for lunch when I decided to check my email. To my surprise the kitten was still available, asking my husband what he wanted to do, I left the decision to him but something inside told me that this was meant to happen.

‘Let’s go now and view him’, Abdel said with a flicker of excitement in his eyes. And after speaking to the rescue lady, it was organized that we could drive to her house to view the kitten and to see if we would be suitable as owners.

Seven weeks old and full of attitude

The first thing we saw when we were taken into the kitten room were several kittens but one in particular stood out and that was the unmistakable orange semi long haired tuxedo kitten that we had seen on the pet rescue site.

This tiny little chunky boy marched across the floor totally ‘owning’ it while shouting to his siblings, ‘Move out of the way you bastards, this family has my name on it’. Then walking up to my husband, he gazed up at him and said ‘Pick me up then!’

And in that split second, we knew our decision had been made and it was certainly not the ‘Never again’ type of decision either.

‘The name is Kuma, pleased to meet you’, the kitten said to me when it was my turn to hold him.

Kevin2

Kuma – now known as ‘Kevin’

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Hello Kuma, how would you like to be called Kevin?’ I asked the furious bundle of ginger who was trying to gnaw on my knuckles.

‘That’s fine, but my middle name is Bastard’, Kevin replied.

‘What do you think?’ The rescue lady asked me.

Abdel and I looked at each other and then looked at Kevin, ‘We will take him’. Then opening his wallet, my husband handed over the cash and we completed our adoption papers.

‘Catch ya later losers, see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!’ Kevin yelled to his siblings and his Mum, who did a phone gesture with her paws saying ‘Call me!’

Fast Forward to now

Rocky has accepted the new baby and is also terrified of him, he won’t give Kevin eye contact but sits protectively outside the cat room when he hears Kevin crying. I have warned him that by being scared of him that Kevin will exploit that and launch a takeover of his bed and his food bowl. Rocky said he knows who is going to wear the trousers in this house and those trousers will be ginger so resistance is futile.

Brutus is on a very slow introduction as Kevin still looks like lunch/prey but each day Brutus gets to sniff Kevins bum while Kevin is in my arms and gets rewarded with food as we are working on a positive association with the kitten.

We always give Brutus choices and when Kevin is in my arms, there is usually chicken or some treats on the work counter in the kitchen that Brutus can have as a reward for choosing food over being over excited and too focused with the kitten.

Kevin got an ear clean from Brutus the other day which was cute but Kevin is far too small to be left alone with Brutus as Brutus is so big and clumsy, we are just being cautious.

Brutus still has to check Kevin’s room for Gordon and sniff the litter tray and we are slowly getting there but it will be a long while before Kevin is allowed to play in the same room as Brutus. We are lucky that we do have a cat room with lots of toys and we are so glad that we kept Gordon’s stuff.

Kevin’s cat basket belonged to our first cat Bruno, we bought that basket in 1994. The cat bowls are about 20 years old, we just pass them down from cat to cat and in its own bizarre way, we pass down the stories as well.

Kevin

 babykevin

The day Kevin came to us – note Gordon’s fluffy reindeer

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

At the time of writing this (19th Sept 2017) Kevin is 9 weeks old, he is a sweet little kitten who has started to shin up our legs and use our torso as a cat scratch pole.

He is in to absolutely everything, chewing, trashing his crate in his room if he isn’t fed on time or fed enough. He will tip his entire bowl of food over if you upset him and dabs his paw in his water bowl and flicks it.

Yesterday I could hear the sounds of his bedroom being trashed and tiny paws skidding along the floor and a ginger voice shouting ‘Yeah, bollocks to everything!’ and ‘Gingers have rights too’.

Kevin3

Gingers rock! – according to Kev

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

A large bowl of meat and biscuit had been consumed, there were toys everywhere and Kevin was trying to convince me that every time I leave him alone in his room, a large ginger Tom cat appears and teaches him what to say and what naughty stuff to get up to.

The conversation went something like this – ‘Don’t be silly Kevin, I can’t see any ginger cat, you must be imagining it’ I tried to reason with him and told him that it is quite common for baby cats to pretend to see things.

‘But Mum, I am not I swear, there really is a ginger cat that appears on the clothes drier each time you leave me alone. It was him that taught me to chew the blinds and said you would like it’. Kevin protested.

Sighing, I shut the door – I had no time for this, I am finalising my book before it gets sent to the typesetters in two weeks. Large ginger cats in the spare bedroom – whatever next?

‘Told you she wouldn’t believe me!’ Kevin muttered after I had left, ‘Why doesn’t she believe me?’

A large orange tabby cat sat on the clothes drier, his coat luxurious and plush, his eyes a beautiful green colour, his puffy mouth that was begging to be kissed.

The ginger cat looked at Kevin who at 9 weeks old was tiny compared to him. ‘Don’t worry lad, she will soon believe you. Now, are you ready for tonight’s lesson – because I am going to teach you how to chew some towels’.

‘Towels? Really? That sounds fun!’ Kevin grinned, ‘By the way, what is your name?’

‘You can call me Gordon’ The ginger cat replied simply, ‘Now – about those towels…..’

Kevin and Gordon

Gordon lives on in the naughtiness of Kevin

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Thank you

Thank you to the veterinary staff at Spearwood Veterinary Hospital, Perth Australia for looking after Gordon for the past nine years since we arrived in Australia, he could not have been better looked after.

Losing a pet is hard enough but how their final journey ends in the vet surgery and how it is dealt with can leave a lasting impression on the owners – either good or bad.

To be given the time to chat, to cry, to say goodbye and have the vets and nursing staff show such genuine compassion and emotion, is not a skill, it is a gift because you simply cannot make that up, it has to come from the heart.

Dr George Jackson – you have an amazing and incredible team working for you. Your staff made that awful day for us so much more bearable.

And while we said ‘never again’ to another cat, you had better get yourselves prepared for Kevin and before you say anything, yes he is a bit tubby because if I don’t feed him when he wants, he trashes his bedroom and shreds my ankles.

These ginger cats can be so demanding you know.

Samantha

If you need help

Pet bereavement and grief is real and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is never ‘just a cat/dog/pet’, it is YOUR pet so don’t let anyone tell you what to love or how much to love it either.

We have can’t believe how much losing Gordon has affected us, both my husband and I are still picking up the pieces and having intense moments of missing our cat and it is almost 3.5 weeks on.

All I can say is you have to acknowledge your feelings and ignore anyone that tries to dismiss what you are going through. Please be kind to yourself if you are going through this and if you do find yourself struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Help for Pet Bereavement

Never again or how soon is too soon?

I can’t believe that a week after losing my precious Gordon that we have another kitten. I was adamant that no cat would come into my home and take Gordon’s place and that I could not put myself through that ever again.

Then I had a word with myself and made myself face up to a few things. Firstly, when you lose a pet and you get another one, you are not replacing them in any shape or form. Each animal that you bring to your house is not replacing your old pet, it is creating a new space, new memories, it is a new personality that is going to make you laugh, cry, spend money on toys and treats – it is going to be different. No guilt needed, just giving another pet a chance of a loving home.

I realise that we as pet owners don’t want to put ourselves through that pain again, my goodness the thought of it still scares me, the pain that I am still going through and choosing to do it all again with another animal? I must have rocks in my head.

But on the other side of the coin, wouldn’t life be harsh if we only limited ourselves to loving only one animal and never allowing ourselves to have another? I don’t regret any of my animals that I have owned in the past, they have all given me love and memories to treasure and for that I am grateful.

Anyway, that is my update and I guess writing it all down and documenting the whole thing is more for my benefit really. I always express myself through my writing and this is no different.

If you are interested then you can check out this five minute micro doc about how we got Gordon to Australia.

Gordon’s Story – Get Gordon Down Under

 

Samantha Rose (c) Copyright September 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sweet Dreams of Brutus

*Disclaimer*

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 dogRocky 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.

11880405_10153077699183317_2151334692541059425_nI 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.

11873353_10153074559723317_1257505242758641125_nBrutus 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.

Tony AbbotBrutus 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’.

Carry on bestBrutus 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.

PurpleBeing 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.

Later on….

‘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.

Carry on 1Brutus 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.

10850087_746985655389483_27126447455886745_nBrutus 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.

IMG_9089Fat 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’.

Pippin and Fat HarryFat 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.

11096433_10152811819433317_9032761375785145492_nChewy 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.

Brutus and the cops‘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.

CopPD 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.

Z copPD ‘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.

Back home

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.

11917674_10153078421973317_3770795908447460476_nBrutus 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.

The End

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.

So thank you guys and keep up the good work.

Samantha