Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My guys

Yesterday, as I started to finally refinish my kitchen and its drawers, I thought the easiest way to do it would be to take the actual kitchen utensil drawers outside onto the deck, complete with their inside contents and just work on their front surface, in peace and without fear of dripping varnish or anything else on the floors inside.

Well, Big Boy 3, my ever curious magpie and great greedy guts, wondered straight away what I was doing, and brought his mates with him.  BB3 sat on one of the deck tables where some of my drawers were established for their refurbishment of beauty, and queried me.  I mean, when do I really have to answer to a Magpie, but I obliged.

"I've sanded and prepared them, and now I am re-finishing them.  They will look like new --probably better!", I said defiantly.

BB3 just looked at me, and sat on the chair of main table where I had placed two drawers, and looked at me still inquisitively.  I shrugged, and brought out more drawers, and laid them on the other tables, and then looked around. 

By this stage, BB3 has called in his friends, and they were perched on the deck railing, and suddenly BB3 sat on the drawer that held the kitchen towels.

I spoke sternly to him saying "If you do so much as poo on these tables or anywhere near these drawers you and your friends are cut off! Period!  No more treats of food, no more special delicacies for you guys--that's it!  I need your total cooperation!"

Apparently they had a conference and conceded, as there wasn't a sign of birdie interference anywhere amongst any of the drawer contents.  I, however, had a huge audience, sitting on the deck railing and unused tables.  This included of course, the BB3 family, but also the Honey Eaters and the Lorrikeets.  They all also had an opinion, letting me know where I messed up, or if I missed a spot while doing the refinishing. (Sometimes they are just too 'hilariously' helpful!) 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sometimes it's not easy

You know, everyday I wake up feeling positive, sometimes weary, but positive.  Then I get out of bed, ...that's when it all goes down hill...just joking, but, honestly, just recently I have had infected sinuses and the the flu, or whatever they call this attrocious thing that has taken over my life, and created this weak, nose-blowing, limping for sympathy thing that has become me.  May this feeling rot in the hot spot!!  I prefer my strong willed self--not this limp rag.

But early this morning, as is my usual "dawn'esque" exercise, I sat and meditated on life, instead of quietly taking the opportunity to enjoy another few chapters of my favourite novel...(By the way Harlan Coben is a genius author, closely followed or even levelled by Michael Robotham!!)  Excellent reading!

Anyway, it made me realise that while what I am going through is hopefully only temporary, and knowing how awful I feel..some others in the world are going through much worse, very much worse, and you know,  I bet they aren't even offered the opportunity of sitting around feeling sorry for themselves!  They could be in war-torn countries, or seriously ill in hospitals or at home with not a blue sky in sight...if you know what I mean. 

Well, I felt humbled.  Mind you, I didn't feel better, but it put it all into perspective.

I thank God that I am normally healthy, and that I have people around me who love me.  It means a lot to me, and this makes me realise that I should be positive.  I know--I may grumble and say I can't do it all today --and maybe I can't--but in the end - does it really matter?  The work will get done. The task will get accomplished.  The sun will shine - because we all know:

"The sun'll come out tomorrow"

Sorry couldn't resist -- my family will chuckle and then groan, as they know this is my theme song!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The finishing line

It was a very peaceful, sunny Sunday afternoon, and I remember wandering through the backyard to go into our 4 bay garage, to get to my car, as I needed some things from town.  Kurt was laying on the back lawn, and Georgie was near by.  Kurt didn't get up as was his usual gesture, in order to greet me,  and just laid there.  Noticing a difference in his behaviour I called out:

'What is it boy?  Are you OK?'

He still just laid there, but turned his head in my direction. to let me know that he was aware of me.  I found it odd that he didn't get up to greet me, so I went over to him, to see if he was OK. 

'What is it big fella, hey?  Are you not well?'

Kurt just laid there and looked at me, and then got up and licked my hand, while Georgie danced around his face.  (Try as much as she could to grow, Georgie never got her size much bigger than Kurt's head.  As a puppy, I had photos of her sitting in our bird bath, so small, and Kurt standing next to the bird bath, with his mouth and lower jaw about the size of her whole body!)  Yet they both loved each other so much!  Amazing difference in stature and nature, but tuned in all the same.

'Georgie, do you what is wrong with this big lug?  He doesn't seem as happy as usual does he?'

Georgie just looked at me, and went over to Kurt and jumped up a bit to lick his face.  Kurt stood there, trying to give me a grin, and accepting Georgie's licks, and then laid down again.  Not his usual behaviour, but it was a quiet and warm Sunday afternoon, so I dismissed his behaviour, and went on my errands into town.

After about 2 hours I arrived home only to find Kurt still laying in about the same place, this time with Georgie up next to him.  I dropped my packages around me, and felt for his nose.  My doggie thermometer.  It was warm and dry --not a good sign.  He was breathing a bit louder than his normal manner, and didn't have his ol' fighting spirit about him.  I went inside and asked the family members who were there if they had noticed anything strange about his behaviour.  As they had mostly been engrossed by TV all afternoon, there was little response. 

That night, I heated up some leftovers for Kurt as a treat, and while letting them cool a bit, I sat with him in the backyard.  He laid his head in my lap, and I noticed a lump on the top of his head. 

'Kurt, have you been butting trees again?' I asked hoping to get him to liven up.  But got no reaction.  I equated his behaviour to that of a migraine, something I used to know a lot about.  But he just laid there instead, occasionally lifting his eyes to look at me, but mainly he was just liking the general massage I was giving him.

I went into the kitchen and got his food, as well as Georgie's and sat with them as they ate.  Well, Georgie ate, and loved it!  Home cooked food!  But Kurt wasn't as enthused, and ate the few bites that I hand fed him.... In the end I decided to just let him be, and made sure that his water dish was close by. His nose was still warm and dry.  I put it all down to a bad day for him, everyone has one... But felt badly for him all the same.

I talked to the family members that were there that night, and said that we would have to get him to the vet in the morning if he wasn't any better, and then got on with family and night meals.  Being Sunday night, there was dinner to prepare, and arrangements for Monday's schedule of activities.  I hated Mondays. Always provided left curves, and things that just weren't needed at the best of times.  Tuesdays were always better....

Monday morning arrived too quickly, and as I got out of bed, I was surprised that we hadn't been woken up by the dogs barking in the early hours, as per normal.  This morning was very quiet.  I looked outside the window from the lower bathroom, and saw Kurt laying in about the same spot as he had the night before. 

Afraid, I called out to John, and asked him to help me with Kurt.

'We'll have to make a quick trip into town and the vet right away! I'll call my office, and you can start to get him into the car.  We'll deal with the girls and their schedules later.....Why hasn't he moved much.. He is really scaring me now!'

We both rushed into the backyard and stood next to Kurt.  He didn't stir.  His small lump on the top of his head, had grown, and it was now a noticeable size.  It looked strange on his large, square head, I remember thinking, as I reached down to nudge him in order to awaken him.. I had never had to wake Kurt before!  He was our guard!!

It was then that we realised.  Kurt was dead.  Just like that.  Gone. Dead. With a lump. It appeared later, that he may have had a brain aneurysm, or a heavy blow to his head, which didn't make sense to me. Kurt was dead.  Just like that.

I called my office and told them that once again, I would be late, and we made arrangements for John and I to meet in a few hours to work out what to do with Kurt's body.  There was a lot of shock happening to us, and we just couldn't understand it all.

Later that day, John carried Kurt to the front end loader, and drove his poor body to our "Pet Cemetery" - a shady spot on our property hidden within a grove of trees.   The hole had already been dug by John, in preparation, and we lovingly deposited Kurt's large body there.  Saying a blessing we covered the area with large rocks, and then with bougainvillea flowers.

I walked back up to the house, with little Georgie at my side, amazed that I was still dry eyed.  (I knew the tears would come later, when I fully understood what had really happened.)

Kurt was dead.  Our protector was gone. 

It was a very sad Monday!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Kurt- Our hero till the end

Kurt was the most laid back retired Rottweiler that I had ever met.  (Mind you, I hadn't met many--but I bet he was the coolest dog of them all!) 

I remember one day, as I was getting ready for work at my university position, there was commotion outside, with Georgie barking, and after looking outside the front windows, I noticed that even Kurt had gotten up from his usual 'lookout' position and was standing erect.  There was an unfamiliar car coming up our driveway, and as our house is somewhat private, it is unusual to get unannounced visitors early in the morning. 

By the time I had made it downstairs to the front door, there was a car parked outside, and it contained 4 men in uniform. At first I was a bit concerned, and immediately thought that there might have been an accident involving a family member, or some dire reason why an unmarked car containing 4 uniformed men just sat in the car at the front of my house. Kurt was standing at the drivers door, complete with tennis ball in his mouth (he obviously wasn't too concerned...) so I approached the vehicle.

As it turned out they were from the Army and wanted to get my permission to walk through my property and up into the hills behind our home to explore the area. 

'Sorry, Ma'am', the driver stated as he rolled down his window low enough to show me his identity, keeping an eye on Kurt at all stages.  'There is a general concern that there could still be unexploded devices from past war exercises in this area, and we would like to explore beyond your property if you don't mind.'

'Sure!  Go ahead', I replied, stepping aside, while Kurt just sat there with the tennis ball in his mouth grinning at these 4 men.

'Er, Ma'am, would you mind calling your dog away.  The men just don't want to have to hassle with him' the driver urged somewhat in a pleading manner.

I smiled and told him to get out the car.  He hesitated, while I told Kurt to sit.  Kurt spat out his ball, somewhat disappointed, and did as instructed.

'If you would just extend your arm slowly, and let Kurt smell the palm of your hand, he will be satisfied that you are not a threat, and you may come and go as you please.  I really do have to get to work, so I will just leave you here now, and I trust that you will be OK '

'Er, Ma'am, we would rather that you don't leave us here with that dog.'

'His name is Kurt.'

'Don't leave us here with Kurt.  We will hurry our task and be finished as soon as possible.'

I watched, along with Kurt at my side, as the two men in the front of the car stepped out, and looking somewhat waryingly at Kurt,  started to walk through to the back of our house yard and cross the wire fence into the back bushland.  I then turned to the 2 other men in the back seat and gave them an enquiring look, which they attempted to miss while they hurriedly looked at their phones or just anything else, except Kurt and I.

Giving a shrug, I went back into the house and Kurt laid down, next to the driveway in front of the house, with his tennis ball once again close by.  By this time I had phoned my office and said that I would be delayed, but that my explanation would probably be worth it, and then waited, wondering how much longer these two men would just sit in the car.  Occasionally Kurt would grab his ball and wonder over to the window at the right side of the back seat door, and push it up against the glass.  Nothing.  No movement from the car.  Obviously these men did not know how to play this game!

After about 10 minutes, the left back door opened and one of the men looked as though he was attempting to leave the vehicle.  Kurt was ecstatic!  He quickly grabbed his ball and raced around to that door, hoping to entice that human to throw his ball so that he could chase it!  But no!  The human just jumped back into the back seat and slammed the door shut.  (I was having a hard time trying to stifle my laugh, but if this was the army I was feeling a bit insecure.  If a dog could stop them, what would something more fierce do?  I tried to chastise myself for thinking like this, but just was getting impatient and figured that 4 men could have been accomplishing this task faster than just the two.) 

Eventually the other two men from the bush appeared and I went down to the car to greet them. 

'So, what did you find?'

'Our equipment hasn't shown any traces, but we will be investigating  further.  Thank you for cooperating, and giving us your time.'

'I'm sure my office will be interested', I replied, trying not to smile, and patted Kurt on his head as he stood next to me with his tennis ball in his mouth.  Reaching down, I took the ball, and gave it a good throw - to which Kurt took off immediately, like a bullet and tried to retrieve it as fast as he could, almost smiling at someone finally understanding the game!

The car backed out of the driveway a little way, did a turn around, keeping an eye on Kurt, and drove down our driveway.

Needless to say we never saw them again.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Maddie's 'Big Day Out' with Kurt er, Carl, er...Kurt

When I turned 40, I discovered a whole new life --my new baby Madison played a large role in that, as she was entering into my world and the world of us.  But during this stage and leading up to her birth, Kurt and I used to spend time together 'talking' about what to expect and if I was up to it!  He was sure I could handle it all, but I felt I was on shaky ground to begin with.  But Kurt had faith, and as we sat in the sun on those early cold Winter days in the beginning, he would put his paw on my arm and let me know that all was OK.

When Maddie arrived, there were celebrations, and upon arriving home we opened her 'bunny rug' so that Kurt and Georgie could inspect her, and give their nod.  Georgie almost jumped upside down, and Kurt just sat and grinned at me.  He knew.  He was happy. 

As time passed, and Maddie started to grow up a bit, we would let her discover her bearings in the gardens surrounding our house, closely followed by Kurt, as her guide and protector.  Wherever she wandered, Kurt wasn't far behind, and soon they became firm friends. 

The day finally arrived when Maddie started Day Care, at about 15 months, and Kurt was a bit reluctant to have her leave us so soon.  But as I had been given a position at the local university, there was very little option left for us.  I explained this to Kurt, but he still had his doubts.

During this process, my sister who lives in Michigan, began sending us books about Carl - the Rottweiler--beautiful picture books about Carl and his young side-kick, someone very similar to Maddie, although her name was Madeleine!  I would open these books for Maddie and Kurt, and tell them the 'story' according to the pictures, and they would sit, entranced, (except for the times that Georgie would distract Kurt as he was on guard duty after all!)

Good Dog, Carl : A Classic Board BookAs time went by, the various books would arrive for Christmas presents or for Maddie's birthday, and there was excitement as she and I would sit down and discover the next adventure that had been written about 'her and Kurt' in this latest story book.  She was fascinated, and would ask me time and time again to tell her the story of the Christmas shopping adventures, or the Day Care adventures or the other adventures that Kurt (Carl) took her on.  It wasn't until many years later, that the story books and their wordless stories, became apparent to Maddie and she realised that Kurt had been her substitute for Carl.  But what a substitute!  On the days when Kurt, Maddie and I would sit and 'read' the books together they would look at the pictures and marvel at their adventures, wondering how they had been allowed to do what they did!  I always smiled, and told them how special they were, and of course, that was enough!  They already knew that!

Note:  For those readers unfamiliar with Kurt and Georgie.  Kurt was our professionally trained guard dog, who had since retired and lived with us at home.  Georgie was his side-kick and a great little friend to the world.  She was a black and tan Australian terrier, (or blue, as they are called), and was a constant ball of energy and love!)

Kurt- what a dog!

Kurt was a wonderful guard dog, and yet managed to keep his 'humanity' when it came to us.  But the time eventually arrived when we decided to take a different direction in our life, which resulted in a move to a larger city, and the possible retirement of Kurt from his guard dog responsibilities. 

We started looking for a new home, knowing that Kurt and his needs would always play an important role in that choice.  We couldn't just place him in a small domestic back yard, and expect him to cope all day while we were at work in our new roles as Financial Consultants.  So we searched the area and finally found the ideal property, a lovely newish home on a blank block of 20 acres--plenty of space to design and do what we wanted.  We knew Kurt would be impressed!  Our two girls aged 10 and 8 were also impressed by the way, especially when Bron, our 10 year old, found out that she had her own bedroom on the top floor complete with her own ensuite.

I worried about Kurt learning how to retire, I mean this had been a seriously devoted working dog, never lacking in his guard duties.  I thought that he would get bored, and wonder how to entertain himself.  I shouldn't have worried.  Kurt was made for retirement.  He knew he deserved it, and he took full advantage of it.  His best friends were Georgie, my blue Australian terrier, and his tennis ball.  He greeted everyone with his tennis ball in his mouth.  (He worked out later whether he would let them leave --put me in the mind of Selleck and Magnum--playing it cool until the last!)

Kurt and Georgie had a routine of safety worked out.  Kurt would lay in the top of the front yard, in complete view of the front driveway, and any traffic that would encroach upon the acreage down below, leading up to this place.  He was laid back and relaxed about it all. He knew he had the upper hand, and having Georgie as his sidekick always helped.  Georgie, being a terrier, was a yapper.  As soon as she suspected any kind of foreseeable danger:  intruders, birds, kangaroos getting too close, a strong wind, a sudden change in temperature, she would push out a yelp then a bark of unrest and concern.  Kurt would open an eye, have a brief look around, then either get up and investigate, give a loud and deep  'Woooghhhghhff', then either lay down again or go to investigate, with Georgie jumping up to his face, saying: 'See, I told you!  I knew it was important!  I've done good, right!?  I've done good!'  Kurt would look at her, and either move into action, or just nod at her, as if acknowledging her contribution, then investigate and then more likely than not, just lay down again, while Georgie relived her adventure of finding the potential 'crim' over and over to him again and again. A lot of times I would find them laying together with Kurt's front leg over Georgie's face, as they lay there together.  I think it was his only means of getting her to settle down.

I think sometimes Chris would like to do that to me, but I'm too quick for him, plus I have the added skill of knowing how to talk under water!

Yes, Kurt was settling into his new life. and all was well in the world.  Little did he know that our next addition to the family would soon arrive, and that Madison would enter his life in a very big way!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kurt- his journey continues

Kurt was meant to be a guard dog.  He was bred and built to be one.  We knew that from the very beginning.  But what was difficult for us was the knowledge that one day we would have to say goodbye to our puppy and hello to the man dog.  The day arrived somewhat earlier than I had probably anticipated, but it felt right when it eventually happened.

We had introduced him to the workplace and the guys and he had felt like he was a member there.  He became on of the 'boys' and enjoyed all the privileges that the 'club' entailed.  During morning 'smoko' when the pie van came around the industrial estate, it always stopped in front of our place, and Kurt, who had his regular steak and kidney pie on a daily order always received his treat.  I remember being at home one day, before heading down to my office, and received a desperate phone call from one of the guys.  The pie van had run out of steak and kidney pies, and they were worried about Kurt.  I was more or less requested to go in search of the bakeries in town who might still have one of the pies in stock...this dog wasn't spoiled --he was just in control!

This is a disgusting side bit, but I have to share it.  One of our younger guys used to have a pie and a can of coke and then when he had finished, would let out a big burp of contentment.  Not nice - right??  But guess who thought it was cool!  Kurt!  So after his pie, each day, he would do the same, and then sit with a satisfied look on his face.  I gave up on ever making him fierce after that!  But I was wrong.

Well, family commitments and situations beckoned us overseas to see my family, and we left lists of instructions and jobs for the guys back at work, and found a wonderful ex-policeman who was now into training dogs, to leave Kurt with.  He guaranteed that when we returned in about 2 months, that Kurt would be the guard dog he was bred to be.  Somewhat tentatively, but trustingly, and as it turned out, rightfully so, we did just that.

On our return (after about 2 months) we were told that we could collect Kurt and take him back to work, but this time as a professional on duty.  He was trained when in work mode, to eat to a code, and to be very observant.  As is in the nature of Rottweilers, they will quietly let an individual enter their environment, but will not let them leave unless they are sure of them.  This behaviour trained all of our delivery people to deliver to us before 5:00pm, as after that time frame they may not be allowed to leave the premises without our say.  Kurt was in control of the situation.  They knew that.

We fed Kurt to a code word, which prevented him from eating poison bait if it got tossed over the fence to distract him while on duty. (Kurt was now living full-time at the factory and had free run during the day, but went on duty at 5:30pm each night, when the guys clocked off.  It was as if the tick of the time clock made him realise that the sound of that tick was his on-duty call!)

He patrolled the outside of the building when everyone went home at night, sometimes, if the guys worked later than usual, Kurt still clocked on at the normal time. and never rested while on duty.  He had a kennel in a certain section of the yard, but was always at the ready, and rarely barked, unless provoked.  That bark usually meant business.

He was an excellent guard-dog, and while fierce while on duty, if we as a family approached the place at night, and he recognised us, he would melt and become our puppy again.  Or perhaps our young man by then.  We would enter the yard, and greet him, and the girls would rub his ears, and receive his kisses, but at the same time, he would hesitate at a sound, or would suddenly freeze and just fix his gaze on some vision off in the distance.  He was on duty, and never forgot it. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kurt- our Rottweiler

The story of Kurt is a story that cannot be told briefly, because  
his life was immense, as was he.  This is his beginning....
Back in the days when we had a manufacturing business, we decided to buy a 'watch dog'.  We actually wanted a pet, but a dog that would also put the scare into intruders, if needed, would be an added bonus.  As we had worked formerly with Kelpies as sheep-dogs, being the wonderful working dogs that they are, we discovered that we could also treat them somewhat as pets.  So, we thought, why not try our luck again!  We finally decided that a Rottweiler was the ideal dog for us.  So the search began for our perfect dog. 
Beautiful and healthy looking rottweiler pup.jpgIt took a while to find the right breeder, and in close proximity to us, but eventually we found him. The dog we chose was a lineage dog, and had a great winning family background.  But to us, he was a wonderful black and tan puppy, with large feet, and floppy black ears, who liked us as instantly as we liked him.    On the way home from his breeder, we struggled to find a name to suit him, given his background, and finally decided that just the strong name of Kurt suited him.  Short and sweet, but meant that he was capable of doing business! 

As a puppy he tripped over his large paws more often than he ran on them, and spent most of his time doing doggie messes in places where doggie messes weren't needed.  He lived in and all around our home for the first 6 months,  trying to get his bearings and grow into himself.  We would take him down to the workplace to show our guys, but as that was a work zone, and Kurt wasn't ready yet, we decided against the integration of him yet into that zone.

At about the age of 6 months he was a large puppy--gaining his squarish head, and his large shoulders, but his legs were still too tall for his body and still somewhat gangly.  It was those legs that caused the problem on that fateful day. 

I had him at home in the backyard, and he was playing very happily with our little terrier, Elsa.  As I went into the house to check on the phone, which had been ringing incessantly, I heard a squeal of brakes!  I rushed outside to our front yard where the commotion was coming from and found Kurt laying in the middle of the street in front of our house.  Apparently he had suddenly found the front yard, and just as suddenly jumped into the street, only to be hit by a car!  The driver felt as devastated as I,  but Kurt was the most woeful.  He had a broken back  leg, and we had to stop traffic until we could safely move him, and get him to the vet, hoping that he could be made whole again.  Kurt laid in the car, so full of misery and in such a woebegone state!  I felt like such a terrible person, for 'letting' this puppy wander into danger.  Kurt was examined, and eventually declared in good enough health, but had to have his back leg repaired and set in plaster from just above his ankle up to his hip.  He was so pathetic in his demeanour, and let me shower sympathy on him, often demanding more until he was satisfied that I felt as much sadness as he did, as he rolled his large black eyes up at me, and gave soft gentle groans of doggie pain!  (Mind you, as time went by, these groans of pain only occurred in my presence.  When I wasn't around, he tried to chase butterflies and snap at flies quite happily!)

Aftr his leg was set, we brought him home with clear instructions to not let him put undue pressure on his back leg and to try to rest him until his leg had mended further, allowing the bone to settle, (an estimated period of confinement for at least a week, until we could release him from his closed quarters for more exercise.) As he was still a puppy and prone still to puppy misdemenors and accidents, we confined him by a chain to his kennel outside, limiting his actions, and saving us from the enormous job of clean up after his puppy antics.  During the day he was great, as we all tried to spend as much time with him as possible, including cuddles and lots of sympathy, but as night he was on his own.  And he didn't like it!  Neither did our neighbours.  We often went to bed at night with his pathetic howling suddenly occurring and waking up the neighbourhood, and if we weren't woken by his howling, the neighbours made sure that their phonecalls of despair kept us awake.  But, soon, he was well enough to be 'let free' from his chain and his closed environment, and allowed to wander around our house yard, and continue his investigations and fascination with life. 

The local newspaper editor had a soft spot for Kurt, and while his original injury with his poor puppy face and gangly leg in a cast had made page 3, with a sorrowful photo and story of his pain and suffering, he was eventually made a local town icon as his progress was reported upon.  This would occasionally cause us to share his story with him, as we would sit and show him the photos in the paper and read about him so that he knew what was happening out there in the real world.  Sometimes he would lick the paper, or us, and sometimes he just would lay on his back, indicating that it was time for a tummy rub, while his awkward leg in the cast angled off to the side.

Eventually the day came when he was allowed to have the cast removed!  By this stage, he had grown so much that the cast that had originally reached his hip was about half way down his thigh, and he ran freely on all legs, using the cast as a means of strength, rather than a hindrance.  We took him to the vet, and the cast was removed.  As he was lifted down from the vet's table, he stood uneasily on his newly freed leg, which without the cast, looked more shrivelled and thin compared to his other 3 muscly legs.  He whimpered when we tried to get him to walk, and he just wanted to lay and nurse his smaller leg.  The vet said that he was OK, but that Kurt would need to get used to his leg again.  He whimpered most of the way home, as he lay pitifully on the back seat of the car, and insisted upon being helped into the patio at home.  We all made a fuss over him, and encouraged him to walk, but he wasn't too sure.  The attention was what he wanted, and he tried as hard as he could to make sure is lasted as long as it could.

By the next morning, he had forgotten that he needed to limp in front of us, and by lunchtime, he was tentatively running with the girls, trying to keep up with them as they ran around the back yard.  The paper ran a story on his recovery--it must have been a lot of slow story days back then...and before we knew it, we had a good friend who volunteered to take Kurt daily to a large creek for swimming practice to strengthen his leg.  In about a month, it was hard to tell which leg had been damaged. and Kurt was ready to take on the world. 

And believe me, he did!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mixed emotions

I am going through some tough times at the moment.  Lots of emotions due to various factors - last minute renovations and its woes, unexpected financial expenditures and possible losses, my father's health issues, and as a result the possible need to drop everything in order to fly overseas at a moments notice, the list goes on.  I am trying to maintain a balance of thought in these processes, which requires a lot of reflection, deep breathing, and not letting them all pile on me at once.  Hey!  I'm a multi-tasker - I can do this. 

Just didn't want to do it all right now.

But tonight one of my best friends rescued me and took me with some other 'girls' to a Chicks Flick at our local cinema.  We saw a great movie in great company, received a lovely glass of sparkly, a gift bag on our arrival to our seats which contained all sorts of fun surprises, and received a lovely fresh rose as we left our theatre.  The movie was great!  I was able to really laugh with my friend, and feel the lady power in the room as we got the 'jokes' at just the right time all together!  It was amazing the gentle but vibrant vibe that the room exuded. 

I needed that.  The ability to be just me again, and try to connect with humour and the world and not all of this work, and the worries that seem to have overtaken me at the moment.

I know I will smile more tomorrow, and whatever comes my way can be handled and resolved. 

I feel good---and just a simple thing like a good friend and fun night out with a great comedy film was all it took! 

That is why I love my life!!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jock and Strap enjoy secrets

Our border collies, Jock and Strap, are very well trained (thanks to Chris' discipline), and sit on command, eat their meals within a routine and command, and try not to jump on you when greeting you, (Strap still needs reinforcement there, while Jock would rather have you come to him if he is in lay-down mode - this lad will live forever!)

In the mornings the 'boys' get their treats, a Smacko and some Lucky Dog bone biscuits.  Chris gives them fresh water (something we have to keep an eye on here in Queensland as the irreverent cane toad is prone to sit in the dogs water dish and possibly emit some of their poison into the water, dirty little critters!) 

The boys then begin their day of guarding us from anything and everything - whatever it is, they will find it, and bark at it or chase it, or carry a soccer ball in hopes of  'it' playing with them, and or, in Jock's case, lay down eventually and tell it to just go away...

One of Chris' rules (to which we humans need to pay attention) is not to feed the boys treats without good reason.  They are very spoiled and one of them, I won't mention his name (Jock) is fairly lazy and overweight.  But the boys know I have a soft spot, when it comes to them, and they use their sweet, innocent dog faces and large black/brown eyes to work me whenever they can.  As they and I know Chris' rule about doggie treats, (not to give them any more treats during the day unless they are duly deserved), we sometimes cheat.  (I have actually made a game of it, and the boys love the intrigue and feeling that the three of us are being sneaky and naughty together!)

On certain days as I walk through the large hallway passage which in one area, leads down to the lower level at the back of the house, and out into the backyard, the dogs must hear me coming, and they stand at the back door preparing their looks of complete and utter need.  They make their faces look enticingly cute and endearing, and somehow make their doggie eyes (dangerously enticing things that they are) look even more pleading.  This all means to me - "Please!  We have been good boys and really would like another another Lucky Dog bone biscuit."  So, knowing that it is not a good thing to do, goes against doggie discipline, and yet it somewhat fun, I have developed a secret code with them.  It usually goes like this:

" Hello, Boys!  Do you want something?"

They usually respond by stepping even closer to the back screen door and pressing their noses against the screen.

"Is Dad around?" I will say, waiting for them to check.  They turn their heads and look in all directions, then stare back at me expectantly, starting to wag their bodies not just their tails.  The wag starts at the tail, but somehow travels up their body in such an expectant manner, that one can almost see and feel the drool that is going to appear at any time now.

"OK.....but this must be our secret" I whisper to them as if it is a conspiracy, and they stand as tall and correctly as they can.  I reach into their tall, 4 basket wicker doggie chest of drawers which holds their belongings and find two biscuits.  The anticipation of our 'naugtiness' is almost too much for them!

Turning to them I whisper, "OK. But you must eat them quickly and quietly, don't let Dad catch you!" They wiggle their bodies again and as I open the back screen door, Strap pushes forward for his biscuit closely followed by Jock.  Whispering to them, I add "Remember, this is our secret--don't blow it!"  They throw me a grin of understanding as I give each one their treat (without making them sit for it) and they quickly, but quietly retreat to enjoy their 'forbidden treasure'.  I love watching them join in on the intrigue, and delight as they scurry off to enjoy this treat knowing that at any time we could all be 'caught'!

Chris actually worked out a long time ago what I was doing, and just shakes his head at me.  I smile, and say that occasionally even we mere humans need to have some mischievous fun, and the boys get the benefit!  Makes me smile each time they 'share the secret' with me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Teddy Bears and me

It all started with one little sad looking teddy bear with grey straggly fur which sat on a shelf in a fabric/craft shop.  I picked her up and wondered how in world she would ever make it in life - I mean, she was scraggly.  Her face was sweet, and somewhat hopeful, but her appearance just wasn't helping her.  I carried her around the shop with me for a while as I looked at other things, and then as I was going to the front counter realised that she was still in my arms.  She felt comfortable and somewhat at home there.  So I bought her and brought her home.

My first teddy is the grey one sitting
near the lid in the middle

My special Steiff bear is sitting in the
front row, in the middle 

That was when it all began.  Suddenly I was given teddy bears for presents by friends and family and my collection began to grow.  They had their own toy chest, and some had little lounge settings to sit on and special areas in our home which were dedicated to their well-being. Before I knew it I was captured by the teddy love. 

I started to read about teddy bear collections and collectors, and discovered interesting bits of information and learned how to decide if a teddy bear was a collection item worth the investment as a serious collector, or one that just needed love.  A lot of my teddies craved love.  I had lots of that to give to them! 

When we went on our last trip overseas, as an anniversary present, Chris bought me a special Steiff Bear in a wonderful teddy bear shop in York.  The shop itself held magic, and the experience of being able to pick out a bear just for me, and for my collection was like letting a kid roam through a lolly shop!  It was marvellous, then I saw him. My Steiff Bear.  He sat there on the shelf all patient and stoic, wondering if I was going to notice him.  Well, I sure did!  He went on the rest of our trip through France, Switzerland, and Italy carefully carried by me in my luggage, just so that I could ensure he was OK.  When we finally got home, he soon made friends, and as you can see it didn't take him long at all to find a good spot to sit and enjoy a cup of tea.

Most of my teddy friends have been put into packing boxes waiting for our move from this home.  It will be fun to finally meet up with them again, and let them decide where they feel the most comfortable, as they settle into their new surroundings.  I'm sure they will just be happy to see everyone again!