Thursday, May 31, 2012

An apology to Jehan and Farouk.

May I blame Pamela for what you're about to read? 


This morning, shortly after I woke up and before I could even have a coffee, I saw her post. Then Chandra'sThen Fern's.


From there, it was just a short and slippery slope down my own memory lane with its unruly unpruned hedges.


I don't know if you've heard of Lori's If I Die Today posts.Those of you who also follow her, will know what I'm talking about. I've always had problems answering the questions she poses. But I know one thing. 


If I died today, I would regret not telling you about Jehan and Farouk.

I was startled this morning, to see how similar Rook [on the right] was to Jordan and Georgia. And Han [on the left] to Rufus. 


I spent an hour, maybe more, this morning, digging up old pictures from dusty baskets that sit under a table. They're neatly organized into sandwich bags labelled Friends, Family, Brisbane, Sydney, Norway, Morocco and other places I've been lucky enough to visit in my life. My god. I was so young then! I had a crazy perm, a shape, legs and wore hotpants! 


Many of the pictures were stuck together or had turned brown. None of them were digitally clear. But those sepia shadows made me cry like I haven't in a very long time. 


Some things I don't like to think about because, quite frankly, they make me sad and they make me feel like a bad person. But I know there'll be no stopping now until I'm done with this post.


*


Jehan and Farouk were 2 dogs we had when we lived in Brisbane, more than 23 years ago. They were both pound puppies though I can't remember where exactly they came from.


Farouk was the first to be adopted. 
Even as a pup, he was neurotic and could be aggressive. He chewed through half our backyard and was particularly fond of bromeliads. He got spanked a lot for that.
We got Jehan about 2 months later from a different pound. 
He was about 3 or 4 months old, if I remember correctly, and had been dropped off by someone who'd moved to an apartment. When we first met him on a rainy day, he was filthy, had mangy fur, weepy sores, and the sweetest temperament you could hope for in a pup.


The first 2 years were uneventful. In those days, we didn't fuss over what kind of bones to give our dogs and whether their food should be organic. And [unlike some un-named pigdog], they never demanded that we walk them twice a day, rain or shine. 
Rook and Han mostly played in the 1/4 acre backyard. A few times a week, they'd get taken out for leash walks. I don't remember there being any leash-free parks for dogs in the area though there was a pine forest where we'd take them sometimes. 



Rook loved the smell of coffee and would sit by my side every morning, drooling as I had my morning mug on the back verandah. I thought he was a coffee addict reincarnated. I hesitate to say he was my dog because I know The Other Half will take exception to that. But I do think he was more my dog. We bonded over our neuroses.


Jehan was very devoted to [who else?] The Other Half. He would lie down by the gate all day, waiting for the man to come home from work. There was no shelter there and only gravel to sleep on, but he wouldn't come into the house even when it rained. This is the daft dog that once picked up a cane toad and lived to tell the tale.
In 1991, we made a decision to move to Sydney. There was just no work for us in Brisbane. We had no idea where we were going to stay and we didn't know if it would be possible to bring 2 big dogs with us to an unknown city and into an unknown future. 


So we decided the best thing to do would be to find them new homes.  


You see why it's so hard for me to tell this story?


We put up signs at the produce shop, the butcher's and the vet's. We called around. I wrote a long letter about their quirks and put it in an envelope to be given to the new owners. Or, in the worst case scenario, to be dropped off at the pound, together with our boys. 


Then, in the last week, with the worst case scenario looming, we realised we just couldn't do it. 


So we called our rellies in Sydney instead and begged them to take Jehan and Farouk. Just for a while. Until we were settled. We would look after them. And pay for any damage. Please. Please. Please.


None of them were dog people so it was very fortunate for us that one of them finally said, "Yes."


I can't tell you how relieved and happy we were, but I know you can imagine.


A week later, we all piled into the station wagon towing a trailer loaded with some clothes, our CVs and other essentials, and Jehan and Farouk's worldly possessions. The rest of our house contents were put in storage, waiting for a place to call home.


We started off at 5am. I remember that clearly. The journey took more than 13 hours, with many stops along the way for the boys to stretch and pee. They used to love going for car rides but after that epic journey, neither of them were ever keen on cars again!


It was dark by the time we drove into Sydney where we immediately got lost for another hour before we finally arrived at the rellie's.


And there we gratefully stayed for the next couple of months until I found a job and we got our own place. 


*


Our new home had a big back and front yard! 
Every day, the boys got to meet and play with other neighbourhood dogs in the oval and green field just across a side road. There were a few nature reserves nearby too! [I wrote about one HERE, not too long ago.] It was a happy time for all of us.
But it was shortlived because I suddenly lost my job. The circumstances of that loss still makes me angry today, but it isn't relevant to this story so I'll not write about it.


The economy was in bad shape back then and with a mortgage, we did what we had to. When I was offered a job overseas, I jumped at it. The Other Half stayed back to keep trying for a job, and to look after Jehan and Farouk. It wasn't an ideal situation, but it was the only way we could think of to keep our boys.


A few months went by. The Other Half had to have an operation to fix a perforated eardrum. I thought I'd come home to cheer him up. 


On the drive from the airport to the house, he told me that Farouk had been in an accident. 


On the morning of the operation, The Other Half  had wanted to give the boys a last walk before checking himself into the hospital. Rook had been hit by a car while crossing the quiet suburban side street to the oval. The impact was hard enough to fling him more than 3 meters away. The woman in the car stopped only long enough to raise her arms as if to say, "Why the hell did you get in my way!" Then she sped off. 


Should Rook have been crossing the road off-leash? No. Could the woman have stopped in time or swerved away? Yes. Why didn't she do it? We don't know.


Farouk's left front leg was badly damaged.
He couldn't use it but the vet didn't think it was time to amputate. So we fashioned a sling for him. [I now wonder about that advice. What was the point of it? The leg would just have atrophied.]




Eventually though [it may even have been more than a month later], the leg started to agitate Rook and we knew it was time to remove it.


I remember being amazed at how easily and quickly he adapted to his 3 legs! Before we knew it, he was running on them like he'd been born a tripod!



*


With no local jobs available,  The Other Half finally decided to join me. We would both be working long hours and staying in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a crowded city. It wasn't going to be any suitable place for 2 big dogs that had grown up with space. 


So we decided to rent our house out at "a very good price" with the proviso that the tenant take care of  our boys. Looking back now, it seems an absurd idea. But we were desperate and in a hurry.  


In actual fact, everything went well for quite a few months. Then one day, we got a call from our neighbour in Sydney. The tenants, they said, were no longer looking after our boys well.


So we took a month off and the next flight home to sort things out. 


*


Some dogs are born into a good life or are lucky enough to find one. We had hoped to provide that life for our pound puppies, but it just didn't turn out that way.


The boys were only about 3 years old then. This time, we were able to find friends who agreed to take them. Though we tried our best to find them a home together, no one wanted 2 big dogs. So Jehan and Farouk had to go their separate ways.


Jehan stayed on in Sydney with a friend. A year or so later, that friend was offered a job overseas as well, and left Jehan with his sister. I managed to visit Han one time and found him in poor shape. His fur had become mangy again because no one was brushing him. He felt grimy. He didn't seem to remember me. I know he was sad. The Other Half never managed to see Jehan again, despite repeated requests. 


You see, the friend had, over the years, become heavily addicted to drugs and was no longer the person he used to be. Sadly, he didn't even tell us when Jehan died.


Farouk was luckier. He ended up with friends who lived on a farm in Adelaide. He grew fat, fell into the pool chasing the family cats, was loved and died in the late 90s. 
Neither I nor The Other Half ever saw him again after he left our family.


That last day, when the pet taxi came to pick Rook up to take him to the airport, I remember helping him into the van, giving him a big hug and telling him, "Don't be scared, Rooky. You'll be okay. I love you. Be good and we'll be together again soon." 


I was still hopeful at the time that we would be home, maybe in a year. And because the boys had gone to friends, I thought we'd be able to get them back.


But then, you already know how it ends.


*


Jehan and Farouk never got to see each other again. And we never became a family again, as I had promised we would.
And for that, my boys, I need you to know something, however belated it is.


I'll always, always be sorry for the way your lives turned out. I wish we could go back to make amends, but we can't. So we're just going to do the best we can with the dogs we now have. Thank you for the lessons you taught us. Sorry for smacking you for the bromeliads, Rooky! And for blaming you, Han!


I love you both very much.








Afterword.
I want to end this post on a happy note so let me tell you a little joke. It was told to me by the friend in Adelaide who gave Farouk a home.


When she went to the airport to pick him up, the person who handed Rook over said to her -


I asked what kind of dog we'd be picking up today and you know what I was told?


"A 4-legged one."


 And then the crate arrived and we opened it up.




Thank you for reading and good night x









35 comments:

H and Flo said...

Sniffle.

Anonymous said...

As I see it, Jehan and Farouk are very fortunate to have you and your Other Half as their parents for a while.

Kristine said...

What a story. I am so glad you shared these memories and hope you feel better for doing so. Now Farouk and Jehan can live on in your readers' memories as well.

They were both very beautiful dogs and I know you did the best you could for them with the resources you had. Their lives may not have been what you originally envisioned but I know they were better off with you than languishing in the pound.

Ann Oon said...

This story is so so sad. It made me cry.

I know you really loved them.. but circumstances just didn't allow you all to get back together again. But Farouk did have a wonderful life right up to the end.

Dom & his brother did come all the way from Oz to be with his family. But circumstances did not allow them to stay as a family too. After 2 years here.. they have to be given away. Both brothers had to be separated.

Sometimes its hard when we look back.. and its ok to cry. Be comforted that you both did indeed give them a good many happy years.

Jean said...

Oh my goodness, you made me cry in my morning coffee and now it is all watery! Rook would not approve. :)

I think many of us dog people have stories in our past that we are none too proud of. I know I do. But as Maja Angelou once said "When you know better, you do better." And I think our dogs would agree that we do better now. Perhaps one day I shall blog about my past dogs.

I am glad Jehan and Farouk had at least some happy years with you, and thank you for the funny story at the end.

Off to get a fresh cup of coffee.

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

Oh sweetie, don't beat yourself up.

You did good by those two boys, and we all know that if you hadn't come along, their lives would have been shorter and far less joyful.

All of us dog people have stories like that, of animals we wish we had done better by. But we can only do what we can.

The most comforting thing a friend ever told me about this is that if you spend a lot of time trying to help a lot of animals, the odds go up that sometimes the outcome won't be ideal. The only way to protect ourselves from that sadness is to stop trying to help them...and of course you can't do that. All we can do is keep trying, and honor all the ones in the past, as you have done.

verobirdie said...

You really did your best for Farouk and Jehan. Few people would have tried as hard as you did. Surely, the love you gave them while they were with you make them stronger for the rest of their lives. They were vey loved, and many dogs do not have this luck. Life has not been kind for you and the second half either, and you don't have to feel guilty. Sad, maybe, guilty, certainly not.

Re the value of your life, you and the cushion build your couple, you make a difference in the life of dogs you cross, you make another one in your reader's life, you do capoiera.
And many, many other things too
Xxxx

Pamela said...

My heart goes out to you and to Jehan and Farouk. Your story made me cry.

I can relate to the sense of loss and regret. I suspect many of us will. Thank you for having the courage to share.

The good news is that in the past 20 years, we have so many more options when we're faced with tough decisions. People in their 20s can't understand how much has changed.

If you faced a similar situation now, you could put out a call online and probably get help pretty quickly. That wasn't the case when you were faced with tough decision about your boys.

I do think Farouk and Jehan were lucky to know you. And I know that Jordan, Rufus, and now Georgia, have all benefitted from all you learned from them.

As you know, I'm not a big hugger. But if I were, I'd send you a tight squeeze, my friend. :)

Ellen said...

My heart overflows after reading this post. Life isn't always the way that we think it will flow or dream.

What I appreciated most was your honesty over such a hard situation you were in. Trying to find friends who would take on and take into what you hoped would be loving hands...to trust...to hope for yourselves the quick return of your beloved pups...the tough decision we all make when we bring pets into our lives.

Gosh you pulled my heartstrings this morning.

May I say that they were handsome boys and your photos you chose....say more than words.

Now I have to go back and click the links you highlighted......

animal lover, quilt lover said...

I was married before and he brought a puppy home one Christmas for a present for our young boys.
He had him tied out back. I cried like a baby and said NO NO NO we are not going to have a dog that we do not have time for!!! I made him take him back were he got him.
I knew from my childhood that you never get a dog and tie them up out back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I cried for your dogs too-- I love dogs so much!!!!

Declan said...

Oh blimey, now Mum is crying. You do your best, it's all anyone can ever do. You loved them and gave them a home in good faith. Sometimes circumstances are just bigger than all of us. Deccy x

Jan said...

What a great story, she typed as she wiped the tears off the keyboard.

So often we are victims of the circumstances of our lives and we feel guilty when we can't do all that we want to do for those around us.

Kenzo said...

Typist and Other Half, you are my heroes. You did everything possible in difficult times. It must have took a lot of courage to share this. Jehan and Tarouk would have been glad I am sure. They will be a part of you forever. I am glad I have now get to know them.

Kim said...

Oh, now you've gone and made me cry...but it's a heartfelt one. For what it's worth, I doubt that there's a pet person alive who, at one point or another in their lives, did something or handled a situation about their pet that they now regret. I sure am one. Big hugs.
And I love the joke! LOL

georgia little pea said...

Thank you everyone. Couldn't sleep too well last night, can't see too well this morning. Chamomile tea bags day coming up lol. But I feel very relieved to have finally told their story. Hugs back x

What Remains Now said...

I read your post this morning and balled my eyes out. I had to go to work, so couldn't risk writing a comment with more tears. As some of the other folks mentioned, my tears were not so much for Jehan and Farouk, but more for you and for all of us that feel that we disappointed a pet. Mine was a kitty...sweet Whitney. I was a young-ish, single mom and I knew something wasn't right with her, but I couldn't afford a vet visit so I hoped for the best, but came home one day and she had died. I try not to dwell on what could have been, but I still feel bad about it. My daughter wrote a poem that I posted on January 22 and one of the lines was, "I’m sorry that those time I didn’t live up to what you thought of me, knew of me," and when I read that, I always think of Whitney. Thank you for this post.

georgia little pea said...

Dear Lori - Thanks for sharing Whitney's story. Regrets may be pointless but we still have them.

And can I just tell you...your series has provoked and inspired all sorts of thoughts in me. Even if I can't answer your questions! :) x

Shanna D said...

that made me cry xx

hero said...

Thanks for sharing the story with us, Typist. It made my hoomans weep too. Jehan and Farouk are very fortunate to have you and Other Half to care and love them, even though circumstances have it that you guys couldn't be a family. That's life sometimes, and we can only do what is best then... and there's no such thing as wrong or right decision.

Licks, hero

Pup Fan said...

Add me to the list of those crying. Your words really got me right in the heart.

You did the best you could - don't be too hard on yourself. There's no way you could know how things would go, and you adapted as best you could. We all have regrets and things we wish we had done differently, but they do make us who we are. Whether it's pups, parents, friends - we don't know how long or short our time with them will be or what life will throw our way. It's hard not to beat yourself up after the fact for not doing enough before that last moment. I know that one all too well.

I seriously want to come through the computer and give you a giant hug right now.

Bing said...

(with tears in eyes) I've just realised that I don't know about a large portion of your life after school days.

Tootsie said...

Your post made us cry. A lot. It's so very sad. Thank you so much for sharing Jehan's and Farouk's story. You blessed them. It doesn't feel like it, because the time was not long and the continuation was difficult, but you did bless them then -- and with this post. We're grateful for your heart.

Love,
Tootsie and her mom.

chandra said...

regrets. we all have them. i'm not brave enough to talk about mine. i truly admire you for having the courage to about yours. our lives are made up of so many parts, our dogs' lives too. and the part of farouk's and jehan's lives with you and the other half were very very good.

i love the quote that jean shared in her comment ("when you know better, you do better"). i'm definitely taking it to heart and will keep it handy for the next time my regrets come to visit me.

-c at ddy.

sagechronicles said...

What a thought-inspiring story. We do what we have to do at times in our lives...sometimes it turns out good, sometimes not. We do the best we can. I found a box of old photos myself that I need to do my own 'remembrances' about.

Jodi said...

I read this yesterday but was too weepy to respond.

First they were very beautiful dogs, when you had them you gave them a beautiful life and when circumstances changed you did the best you could.

If we all had foresight instead of hindsight, what a hugely different world this would be.

I hope that by writing this out it brought you comfort and closure. You can tell by reading how well loved they were.

Rose from Oz is Back! said...

Dear Typist and Cushion, for more than once in my life I wished I could weep daintily, but under the circumstances of your post I must loudly blubber my eyes out. Memory lane and regrets can shrink a time span of 20+ yrs in a micro second. I can only but imagine how essential it was for you to tell this story, I'm just so sad it was distressing as well. I appreciate the time and emotion that surely went into this post and the subsequent sleepless night. However, here we are today, a brand new one, with the glamourous Ms Pea awaiting her walk, Cushion - well whatever Cushion awaits.....and you my dear with a wee smile and a bounce in your step perhaps? Hugs, hugs, hugs.

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

I too have my own Jehan and Farouk guilts and regrets that I will carry til I die. One involved a Cockatiel who was as clever and loving as any dog I've ever had. Although I am kind of glad my dogs don't poop on my head and shoulders:) How to make amends? Well, I can't for those who are gone but can make sure I don't make the same mistakes again, learn from them. But it's so hard to not think about those who paid the price for what has happened in the past. You have some very wise readers. I'm going to hug Frankie and Beryl now and promise to never let them down.

Friko said...

Ahhhhh, I don't like stories like this one. Had the dogs been kids. . . . . . .
No, not really, kids or dogs, they're all the same to me. All part of the family.

I have a dog story which still haunts me, I can't put it in a blogpost.

Julie said...

When I think back to the dog I had growing up and the fact that the dog was outside all by itself, all the time, it breaks my heart. I have made my share of terrible decisions about pets in my younger years, but we were doing the best we could, right? And we are the pet owners that would do ANYTHING for their pets now, because of all of the sacrifices we made before . . .thanks for sharing and big hugs to you!!

Peggy Frezon said...

Although I try to get to a majority of blog posts on my list, I only have time to read a few posts a day and even then I lean toward the shorter ones. But I read this one all the way through, feeling for you at every paragraph, understanding your sorrow and regret. I just want you to know that I understand. You did the best for them that you could at the time and you gave them love and happiness according to your circumstances. They changed your life and you changed theirs.
Peggy

happybarkdays.com said...

Your story of Rook and Han resonates with pet lovers the world over. I may not have had the opportunity to grow up with dogs, but I did care for two hamsters and several goldfish. And, let me tell you, even to this day I still carry with me a guilty conscience about their short lives. [Hamsters typically live for 3-4 years. Mine only lived for 2.] They occasionally appear in my dreams, and often times these dreams involve the hamsters escaping from their cage and me frantically/helplessly searching for them (a nightmarish version of what actually happened in the past). The hardest part is letting go of our guilt. What you've done is very brave and is surely a step forward in the right direction.

Amy said...

We can only do the best we can with what we know. Circumstances sometimes dictate and things don't always go the way we'd hoped. Thank you for sharing Han and Farouk's story - it made me cry, but somehow I feel better for knowing it.

Scrappy said...

oh....there are no words...that is a beautiful story and i am quite beyond certain that they heard it as well and that they will run to you - healthy and happy - and cover you with kisses someday at the bridge...what a day THAT will be!

3 doxies said...

Well squirrel snot, if I have nevers cried befores I am definitely now!
I am so glad you shared dis story withs us. I hopes dat maybe by doin' so it has eased some of da pain and regrets. Howevers, things was different then and you felt in your heart you was doin' da right thing furs them and you can't be blamed in good conscious furs dat. I knows without a doubt da boys taught you more than you will evers realize and because we as dogs, we are loyal and I knows they nevers put blame on you.
Damn, I am cryin' nows.
Okays, hoomans are not perfect...just learn from da past and move forward.

Puddles
I love you guys! and I send you big hugs fur tryin' to make things right.

Kolchak Puggle said...

Well, I'm bawling, so way to go Typist. Thank you for sharing this and for your memories of two sweet boys.

Things don't always turn out as we hoped, do they? I suspect we all have dogs in our history that we wish we had done better by. Things we wish we could change. Even the Felix was not immune from my novice dog owner mistakes and nearly paid dearly for it.

The fact that your heart still aches for them just shows that you are the best sort of people and that your intentions were good, even if the results weren't - and Georgia is certainly better off for having you.