Saturday, April 30, 2011

Little menial things.

A very long time ago, when we were first told that Rufus wouldn't be with us much longer, I started preparing a post, an obituary for a dog. I filled it with stories and pictures about him. It was quite long.

Weeks passed. Rufus ate pap and thrived. The vet ate his words, and was no doubt pleased to do so. Once in a while, I would edit the draft, just to be ready. The weeks turned into months. The draft got further and further down the list of posts to edit, until eventually, it was no longer on the 1st page, or the 2nd or even the 3rd.

I just found it a couple of minutes ago. The date on the draft was 7.06.10.

There's nothing in it that I want to use today. Maybe it'll get published another day. Maybe it'll just sit as a draft in perpetuity, a reminder of how long Rufus survived and what a great fight he put up. 

Instead, I'm going to tell you about the little menial practical things we've been doing since Rufus went away.


The First Day.

We took down the barrier that had divided our house for so long.
We moved the dining table back to its original position, though neither of us really remembered exactly where that was anymore.

We kept going around the table to get to the kitchen instead of walking directly into it.

We stared at the new-found space and marvelled at how empty it looked.

We cleaned the nonslip rubber mat and put it away.
No doubt Georgia will one day need it.

We hugged Georgia and told her she was a good girl and not to be sad.
We washed the soiled towels, old rag Tshirts and bedsheets. There'll be no more daily dog laundry.

We rolled up Rufus's bed and his backup bed, and put them in a corner. When the rain stops, one will probably become Georgia's sunbed.

We mopped the urine off the floor for a last time, and wrung out the mop to finally give it a chance to dry.

The Other Half played fetch in the house with Georgia and she surprised us by bringing the ball back every single time.

He googled what size Revolution we would now need to buy since there are no longer 2 dogs to share 3 pipettes.

I applied Revolution on Georgia and threw away the excess 1/2 pipette.

I put aside Rufus's glucosamine and green lip mussel powder to give away.

I reminded The Other Half to pop over to the vet's to pay the bill and to return Rufus's thyroxin tablets.

We told Georgia she was a good girl and not to be sad.
We talked about how we would now only need to buy meat once in 2 weeks instead of twice a week.

We talked about re-introducing fish, cheese, eggs and yoghurt to Georgia's diet. Though it may be a while before we get there because the freezer is chock full of meat for 2 dogs.

We fed Georgia the leftovers from Rufus's last meal and she gobbled it all up.

I took Rufus's collar and leash down from the dresser hook, and put them next to Jordan's.

I washed his food bowl, but couldn't make myself put it in the shed.
We closed some windows because there's no longer a snow dog that likes a cold windy house.

We turned off the kitchen light because there's no longer a dog on the other side of the barrier that needs it on at night.

We closed the back door because there's no longer an incontinent dog that needs 24-hour access to the backyard.

We woke up late this morning because there's no longer an incontinent dog anxious for his early morning walk.  

I didn't top up the water bowl because there's no longer a dog that drinks copious amounts of water every few minutes.

We fed Georgia a hearty breakfast and she gobbled it all up.

We stopped telling her not to be sad. We stopped worrying about how she might adjust.

I deleted the daily feeding time reminders on my mobile phone.

I thought about what I can do, now that I don't have to be home to feed Rufus his small meals thoughout the day.

I got scared thinking about how much time I now have.

The Other Half thinks he might clean the car today, if the sun comes out. It's a bit furry and smells of urine.

We think we might plan a little weekend away soon, now that we can.

I find time for a few regrets.

I regret that Rufus didn't have time to eat his chicken wing, a cheesymite scroll or an egg. But there's only so much you can stuff into a dog in 24 hours.

I regret that Jordan had to be alone in a kennel at the clinic, with a needle and drip in his leg, on his last day.

I regret that he didn't get to eat all his favourite foods like Rufus, and only got one dried something or other from the vet's treat section, that he asked for himself.

I regret that Rufus didn't get carried out through the house and the front door. A door he hadn't used since his incontinence made it too messy a prospect.

The Other Half takes Georgia out for a long walk to Callan park, the organic food market, and the vet to pay the bill and return the thyroxin. They come back with greasy chorizo rolls and Georgia gets to eat some too, for the first time in a long time.

I discover that I was wrong about Rufus's birthday being in early May. It's actually today.

In a way, I find that most appropriate.


The Last Day.

The rain held back long enough to take Rufus to Elkington, one of his favourite parks.

He spent the afternoon with his favourite person in the world [not me], at his favourite pub.

We woke up to a blue sky on Friday morning and went to Callan park.
We filled the hours between coming home and 12 by stuffing him with more food. He ate all the things he hadn't been allowed to for a year - rubbishy treats, a fruit bun, cheese, a lamb shank bone - until his stomach looked like he'd swallowed a soccer ball.

I gave him a last brush and wipe down, hugged him and told him what a good boy he was.
We left strict instructions for him to be nice to Jordan and not to bully him. We told him to tell Jordan we missed him very much.

The clinic called at 15 to 1 to say the vet was coming over. I went out to the front porch to wait for him. As I stood there, it started to bucket down. The vet arrived with an assistant.

We told him how Rufus had perked up in the last 24 hours. Were we being too hasty to let him go? He told us many things, the short answer was no.

He explained what he was going to do. He described how Rufus might react. He told us how long it would take. He advised us on whether and when to let Georgia witness and be a part of the procedure.

Rufus got up to have a long, long drink. When he came back to his bed, the vet gave him a sedative. The Other Half cradled his head as he fell asleep. It took almost 10 minutes. The vet shaved his back left leg and gave him the final injection. Like Jordan, he was gone in seconds. Less time than had been anticipated for a dog his size. It was all over by about 1.20.

He was ready, the vet said. It was the right time.

Right on cue, the sun came back out.


To friends, and the many strangers who dropped by over the last few days - 

Thank you. Your thoughts and well wishes have all been gratefully received. Whether you realise it or not, and in ways you might not imagine, your kindness has been helping.

Love and peace back xox

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The last day.

The vet says it's time.

He'll be here tomorrow between 12 and 2.

It's not like we didn't know this day was coming. It's been a year since he told us the end was near.

We expected it. We imagined it. We feared it. Some days, I even longed for it.

So what do we do, on a last day that won't stop raining?

Go to some favourite parks.

Sing some Rufatso songs.

Dwell on memories.

Ponder the future.

Eat lots of treats.

Tell him he's a good boy.

Have regrets.

Have a cry.

Have a lamb shank bone.

Take one. long. deep. breath. after. another.

Ask each other if it could wait till the weekend. Or till next week. Or the end of next week.

If it really is true, that it's better to be a week too soon than a day too late.

What else is there left to do really, but say goodbye?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The day everyone forgot.

One day last week, My Typist got a message from my out-at-work human on her mobile phone. It said -


It was sent at 5.40pm. She only got to read it at almost 8pm while waiting for the bus after her capoeira class. By the time she got home, she'd forgotten all about it. My out-at-work human didn't mention it either. So they both ate some takeaway dinner in front of the telly and went to sleep soon after.


A few days later, our vacuum cleaner died. My out-at-work human could see how sad My Typist was [also how filthy the house was], so he wasted no time. He googled and called around, and managed to find the vacuum cleaner she wanted at a very good discount! Whoopee for Easter sales!


- he said again to My Typist, pleased to have gotten her her heart's desire [at such a great price].
"Are you sure about this? Shouldn't there be some flowers or chocolates or an airticket to Bora Bora in there somewhere?"

My Typist saw that the vacuum cleaner had a turbo head, picked up our furballs easily, worked well on carpets and hard floors, was quiet, and even fit under cupboards and dressers [not like the clunky old Dyson she used to have].

" IS quiet."
She was so happy!

"This is the best 24th wedding anniversary present ever!" she exclaimed over the gentle hum of the vacuum cleaner as she set about sucking up our furballs. "So much more useful than an airticket to Bora Bora!"

To which my out-at-work human sensibly replied, "Only the best for you, my dear."


And they say romance is dead.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My fears for the long weekend.

For those who've been asking, Rufus is deteriorating quite quickly.

In the last couple of weeks, he's started to randomly drop, falling onto his side. Like a plank, as The Other Half describes it. Sometimes he flails about trying to get up. When he can't, he just gives up, lies still and starts to cry.

Last week, he collapsed in the middle of a road. How lucky were we, that there were no cars about. He lay there for almost 5 minutes. There was a moment when I thought he was dying. I tried to move him to the side of the road, but he was such a deadweight, I couldn't budge him. It was dark and there was no one in sight who might have helped. Fortunately, it wasn't too far from the house, so I called The Other Half who turned up with some liver treats. One sniff, and Rufus made a miraculous recovery.

So there are 3 things I never leave home without now, when walking Rufus. A mobile phone, a bag of treats and great trepidation.

I also make sure I stay on the sidewalk, and minimise walking across roads.

The last few days, Rufus's back legs have become too weak for him to do a proper toilet. Maybe that's why he often voids himself in his sleep. His bladder incontinence has become a non-stop drip. I've given up putting his bed down because it becomes soggy within the hour. He prefers to sleep outdoors anyway, on the pavers. Still a cold-loving malamute, despite his arthritis. I've started to put a mat and old T-shirt down on the pavers, so they can help soak up some of the urine. His belly and leg fur are always damp. He seems to like the mat. He doesn't move much from the spot and often eats his meals there, lying down.

His appetite for anything other than treats is pretty much gone now. Rice? Yuk! Poached chicken. Nah. Grilled steak and raw beef? Okay. Maybe. Given his recent colitis flare-ups and pancreatitis, we don't dare to offer him anything else. If we're lucky, he eats 2 of his 3 little meals in the day.

I've spoken to the vet and there's nothing more really, that we can do or give him.

The Easter-Anzac break starts tomorrow. A 5-day long, long weekend. I called the clinic this morning to check if it might be open. Only on Saturday. And for 3 hours on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Rufus's vet, who has so ably seen him through his years of ailments, will be away. So there'll be no chance of a house call if there's any night time emergency.

Murphy's law looms again.

To say I'm terrified and can't wait for the weekend to be over, would be an understatement.

Will there be a resurrection for this old dog? Who knows. He's already beaten the odds to have come this far.

The Other Half and I are finally in agreement that the end is near. Rufus will be 11 in early May.


Thursday arvo 
2 bad tummy upsets. The second, very bloody. It happened at about 5pm. Luckily, the veterinary clinic was still open, so we were able to pick up some meds. No appetite. Didn't eat all day.

Good Friday  Had a good morning walk! Came home famished. Ate 4 little meals throughout the day, cleaning the bowl out every time. 

Couldn't wait to go out for his evening walk.
Perked up even more when he saw a cat!
Poor cat.

Went round the corner
and collapsed on the sidewalk. Wouldn't get up for treats. Took about 10 minutes to get him back on his feet. Went to sleep when he got home.
No interest in having dinner.


After the evening walk, I decided to do some cleaning. I turned the vacuum cleaner on, there was a smell of burning plastic and, just like that, it died.

The clip on Rufus's leash, which he's had almost all his life, broke this week.

My drama queen mind is full of omens.
Sunday night  A peaceful weekend. 2 more days to the end of the holidays. Thank goodness :)

Tuesday night  We made it! The holidays are over. Rufus's vet is back tomorrow. Normal clinic hours again. I'm horribly relieved to have made it through the 5 days with no major incident.

Rufus has hardly eaten in more than a week and is very wobbly when he walks. He still skips for treats though! There have been more fits. We're calling the vet tomorrow to update him and will go from there.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The wettest April day in 10 years.

It started raining on Friday night. It was so heavy and loud, it gave us all a fright.
When we woke up the next morning, it was still raining. To my surprise, I got to go for a walk.

"Oh, come on! Who goes out in this kind of weather?"
"Me. That's who."

Mr T had an evening walk as well.

It was only 5 something but it was already dark.
Poor Mr T. It's a wonder he didn't catch a cold.
I do hope I have a happier story for you soon.


A Note from The Pain-In-The-Neck.

I couldn't resist making a quick post about this once-in-a-decade rain! Thanks everyone for your well wishes and advice :) xox

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blogging has become a pain in the neck.

Dear Friends and Random PassersBy,

I'm typing this standing up, with my chest puffed up as best as I can manage. I'm also being very surreptitious about it because The Other Half is home today, down with the flu. And if he saw me at the computer, he'd have a hissy fit. Sick or not, he's a very accomplished debater [as he calls nagging].

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I think I may have some RSI from blogging too much. My neck hurts. My shoulder hurts. My right arm is all tingly. And I haven't slept properly in days because there's no comfortable position to rest my head. In short, whinge, whinge, boohoo. I'm in pain, please feel sorry for me.

I'd like to be able to blame this pain on my capoeira master who, this week, gave us some fantastic new explosive push-ups to do. Only 5 at a time, repeated a few times. If the spring chickens in the class had problems doing them, imagine how this old hen felt. Yes, I'd bravely like to blame him, because the chances of him reading this post are nil. [Unless of course, some other friend reading this does a Julian Assange.]

But I fear I cannot. It is, without doubt, the hours I spend in front of the computer [mostly blogging] that's done me in.

Oh no, I hear The Other Half moving about. He's woken up and come downstairs and I may be in mortal danger.

So I'm quickly going to finish up.

I have to take a break from posting and commenting for a while. Just till the neck sorts itself out, which may be by the weekend for all I know, in which case I would have written and published a perfectly useless post. I'll try to read and comment as much as I can, but you know how verbose I can be, even in my comments, so that may or may not work.

Crap. I think I've been caught out. So okay, goodbye for now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Speechless Wednesday. [Or, how to get your day off to a really bad start.]

There aren't any words I can use in my family-friendly dogblog to convey how I feel about this.

When did we humans get so stupid?
Update 12.07pm  I have a word now. Sad. It makes me feel sad.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Excuse me, please.

Have you, by any chance, seen my sunny spots?

I used to have so many. There was one right here.

And how about the one here?
 And here!
Even Mr Thumper had a couple.
I don't know how I could have been so careless and lost all my sunny spots like that. But I'd be most grateful if you'd help me find them.
This is one of them, you say?
Are you sure?
It's not that I don't believe you, but I really don't remember it being so uncomfortable.

I don't know about you, but I miss summer already.