dogs, life

For Bear Dog…


In life, there is loss. It is painful and it is at times, grossly unfair as some experience great loss while others experience very little. It’s just the way it is.

And if I’m to be honest, thoughts of unfairness hijack my thoughts as of late, there has been many losses, in many forms.

But please understand I’m not writing this from a ‘poor me’ or self-absorbed perspective, quite the contrary. I’m writing this because I find writing to be therapeutic and consoling. I guess in some ways it’s my own personal therapy session. Tapping words onto a screen seems to somehow ease my grief as I discovered the hard way that internalising pain is not conducive to the healing process.

Many years ago I experienced immense loss and rather than express my grief, I internalised it. I wept in private, I didn’t speak of my grief, rather, I spoke of Meg’s death in clinical phrases. I could explain in detail the intricacies of her heart defects and the consequential operations. If you asked, I would tell you. Yet if you asked how I felt, the wall would immediately build. Feelings were off limits.

After keeping my true grief private for 16 years, a small issue sent me spiralling into a breakdown, which thankfully forced formal counselling. From that, I now know internalising grief or pain is detrimental and if you can find a way to unburden if you will, only good things can result.

So I write. And now, I write about the despair and all consuming grief at having lost again, and this time he was one of my best friends and my soulmate.

There are many who may baulk at that last sentence, for my best friend and soulmate was a dog. But to me Oscar aka Bear Dog was my best friend and my soulmate, and his loss is immeasurable for me. And this grief I feel is real, it is intense and at times, it hurts so much, and is comparable to the loss of Meg. That may be hard for some to understand, but that’s okay. Views differ and always will.

But Oscar’s loss has truly broken me.

The following words were written a few days after Oscar’s spinal surgery. I believe a part of me knew I was losing my friend. I tried to fight the negative feelings. I tried to tell myself that he would not be in that 5% who would succumb to myelomalacia, following Grade 5 IVDD, but like Meg, I somehow knew. I knew goodbye was looming on the horizon. I didn’t want to say goodbye, but in my heart, I knew goodbye was coming. And it did.

For Bear Dog

Your morning ritual of waking, shuffling over to the carpet, having a big shake which made your collar jingle, then you’d roll for ages and make your bear sounds:  ah kar kar, before leaping onto the bed, and onto me and showering me with your unique ‘chin chews’.

At breakfast you’d always come into the kitchen and make more Bear noises, voicing your impatience at the time it took for me to make your breakfast. They were unique and so you. Arhharhhh

After eating you’d walk around and check the other bowls, then often you’d go onto the verandah and look at what was happening on the street.

You’d shuffle over to the bean bag and make a leap, it would take a few shuffles before you got your spot.  Then you’d sit like a human and look sideways at me with those beautiful, brown eyes.

The moment I sat down on the couch with my coffee, you’d rush over and ask for help to get on the couch.  You would sometimes do little half jumps and your front paws would tap, tap tap on the floor. Once up, you’d often snort at me if I’m in your way, or if I am in the ‘best’ spot. Yet you always, always would sit directly beside me. I could always feel your gentle breath against my leg.

You would come into the bathroom, peer around the door, see me in the bath/shower and give a short, loud snort before leaving. As if you’re saying pffff, guess I’ll go out here.

You would sit like a human in the front seat of the car, and the joy you’d get from having the window down was pure bliss.  If I put it up, you’d shuffle and the turn your head to look at me and give me the white eye, downward look.

The soccer fields was one of your favourite places, besides the car.  All I’d have to say is run and run and run and run…  and you’d run, then you’d find the best place to roll. The cricket pitch with its fake grass was a favourite.  But if you’d find bird or kangaroo poo, that was the best place for a roll.

You’d always want me to share my breakfast, that was a given. None of the others do, just you.

Down in the backyard you’d always help Stanley search for lizards, then if you got bored with that, you’d find a good digging spot for eating dirt.  If I pulled out the piece of shade cloth, you’d run over, step on it and try to bite it as I pulled you along.  When I stopped pulling, you’d roll and roll; the look of joy on your beautiful face was priceless. It was one of your favourite games.

If I mentioned the car, your ears would prick up and you’d start your Bear noises, and if I put my runners on, well that that was pure bliss and signalled more intensive Bear noises.

You are the one who loved cuddles the most, and I loved running my fingers through your shoulder hair, it was so full and fluffy. And you loved your head being scratched and if you wanted more, you’d raise your front paw, look at me with those eyes and head cast downward and demand more pats.

 You had a funny way of eating.  You would curl your neck, so your ears flopped forward, then you’d sniff, walk around the other side, sniff again, then begin eating. Your way of drinking was unique, I always knew it was you drinking even if I couldn’t see.  There was a rhythm, lop lop, – lop lop lop, – lop lop.

You were and still are one of my greatest loves Bear Dog. You are my bubba, my Bear, my best friend.

Oh Bear, I’m broken, truly broken.

My Bear Bear, I love you so much and I will miss you forever…

life

Home…


We all know the old saying; home is where the heart is, and I’ve always found those words endearing as home can be wherever your heart is happy, irrespective of geography or material possessions.

My heart has been happy living in many spaces, but right now, it is happiest simply being in the space I’ve created over the last 10 years.

So in light of Co-vid19 and its restrictions, spending time at home without visitors has not been a concern. As an empath, I find being in my own home with only my dogs & family as company, gratifying and empowering.

Yesterday restrictions were lifted slightly, allowing up to 5 people to visit your home. These restrictions came at the perfect moment for it was my youngest sons 22nd birthday the previous day. And unlike me, he often prefers the company of his friends, rather than time alone. So with the combination of a birthday and lifted restrictions, he invited 5 of his friends over for a few celebratory beverages, to be shared in front of a fire on a cool May evening.

As twilight descended, I stood for a moment and took in my surroundings.

And as my son’s friends arrived, their joyful chatter and laughter filtered through the garden and the sound warmed my heart. A little later as they settled around the fire, I decided to capture this moment in time, for being a silent observer to that beautiful moment made my heart happy.

Yes, home is definitely where the heart is happy…

life

Stay home, be grateful, and embrace this new way of living…


Today I had to go to work. But today was different, very different, as along with 4 of the most amazing, beautiful and honest women I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, it was our last day.

Me, Proooo, Tanya (manager extraordinaire), Merrin & Grace

The company we worked for, like thousands of other businesses, has closed as a result of the economic downturn brought on by Covid19.

Sadly though, we have not been asked to take paid and or unpaid leave with the hope of returning in the future. The company went into Voluntary Administration, and along with all stores Australia wide, our store has been permanently closed.

And whilst I feel immensely sad that I’ve lost a great casual job and I’ll no longer share my working hours with those fabulous women, we all still have our health and our families, a sentiment countless thousands of others around the world cannot share.  

Unfortunately, this scenario is being repeated, not only in Australia, but throughout the world.  So many people have lost their jobs, and as I walked through Sunshine Plaza with my son today, to drop off my shop keys, the reality of those job losses was evident.

The massive shopping plaza that houses over 340 stores, was deserted. Over 95% of stores were closed.

Yet, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. From a financial perspective, I am able to comfortably stay at home and share this difficult time with the best family anyone could ask for. I am not alone; I have food on the table and an abundance of love from human and canine family alike.

So please, whilst it may be difficult that we cannot travel, go on holidays, see friends or simply do what we took for granted, be mindful of what you can do.

You can simply take the time to embrace what is really important. Time. Time spent with those you love and who love you in return.

Stay home, think about those not as fortunate, and embrace this new way of living…

photography, travel

Not all who wander are lost…


Wandering excites the senses and creates a myriad of experiences.

Emotive, exciting & reflective experiences that shape who we are.

What follows is a small snapshot of experiences that have shaped my greatest loves: travel, animals and photography…

dogs

Dogs do speak, just listen to their ears…


Dogs can speak. Just as humans use sign language, I believe so do our 4-legged friends, but instead of using their paws, they use their ears.

If you take the time to listen to their ears, you’ll see they actually speak volumes.

I decided to gather a few images of doggy speak, and who better to demonstrate that speak than my beloved Stanley, Eddie and two other 4-legged friends I met on recent travels?

As I went about my business, so did they: sniffing, sleeping, catching a few winter rays, or simply going about the important business of being a dog.

But I did manage to capture a little of how their dogships communicate – with a little caption ‘translation’…

 

dogs

A house full of Sausages…


I have a house full of Sausages. Not the greasy, squishy, edible variety, but more precisely, the loveable, quirky Dachshund variety.

Having my home filled with four sausages was not something I’d ever planned: it just kind of happened, as most things do in life.

And it all started with Kiri, or Saus as she was affectionately called.

Saus was a beautiful mini-wire haired dachshund who came to live with me by chance 10 years ago.

After having had 3 litters (grrr) and still only 3 years old, she was apparently no longer of  any ‘use’, therefore she was in desperate need of a new home. Mum had heard about her from a friend, so Mum called me asking if I’d consider adopting her. On hearing her story, I was more than happy to go and meet her to see if we got along.

The meet and greet did go well and Saus entered my life and touched my heart like no other. Her spirit had been severely broken at some point in her life, however she came to trust me and my love for her, in doing so, we became one. sunset and dogs 033

There are no words to describe the depth of her beauty and my love. She was simply Saus, a beautiful, yet incredibly shy being who gave me permission to be the centre of her universe.

I am, and always will be humbled by her trust.

We shared 5 magical years together, years filled with so much love, so much laughter and so many discoveries of her quirky, sausage ways.

Her passion for cheese. Her need to burrow into her doggy sleeping bag and most of all, her great love of being in the car. She didn’t have to go anywhere, just getting in and being in the car was her pleasure.

It was the getting out and walking bit she didn’t fancy: and her hilarious antics surrounding getting in and being out of the car can be read about here.

But sadly, on one tragic summer morning, I lost my girl unexpectedly from complications of the heart.

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I was devastated. And there are truly no words to describe my grief. In losing her, I too was lost.

She had become my world and when she died, part of me died with her. I was inconsolable.

Then the day after my Saus died, I had a call from a rescue organisation asking if I’d be interested in re-homing a male, mini-wire.  My response was instant. No, I could not imagine taking on another right now.

Yet a good friend had other ideas.

Despite my inconsolable grief, my friend talked me into going to meet this little fellow. ‘Jen, you might need him as much as he needs you…’.

As I sat on the grass in a park where his current owners and I had agreed to meet, I watched Stanley (then known as Joey) jump out of the car and cautiously walk toward me.  With his little wiry head darting from side to side, his body language seemed to scream fear, clearly he was frightened of what lay ahead.

Standing momentarily beside the man who held his lead, he looked around before tentatively walking toward me, cautiously sniffing the area around where I sat.

I didn’t speak, I simply let him do his thing.  Then without warning, he climbed onto my lap and buried his head in my arms. I was completely taken aback, yet held him close, hoping my touch would lessen his fear.

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A little while later I placed him gently on the grass, stood up and walked toward the picnic table to retrieve a bottle of water.  Stanley followed and would not leave my side. At that moment I realised he had made his decision, I was his person.

So Stanley came to live with me, and just as my friend said, we needed each other. In his company, my grief over losing Saus slowly subsided and I believe his memory of a life less than perfect also faded.

Four years on, his loyalty has never waned.

However in the early days of him being with us, that loyalty also seemed to cause him to suffer from separation anxiety.  Family told me that when I left the house without him, he would wait by the window, forever watching for my return.

And it was this anxiousness that led to Oscar’s arrival.

At the time I was also still working for an international airline as cabin crew, which had me jetting off to various destinations for up to 4 days at a time. This was hard for Stanley (and me, I might add), so I decided a companion may help ease his separation anxiety.

Enter Oscar aka Bear.

Oscar came to us as a pup, full of life and love and the perfect companion for Stanley. In an instant Stanley was his protector and the two became firm friends.IMG_1479

Whilst I’m told Stanley still ‘waits’ for me, it is not as prolonged as it was before Oscar’s arrival.

Oscar is a standard wire-haired dachshund, so now as an adult dog, he is quite a bit bigger than Stanley and gloompfs along like a big ole bear.  And that’s how he came to acquire his nickname, Bear.

About two years after Oscar’s arrival I had another call from Devoted to Dachshund Rescue (D2DR) asking if I would foster a male black and tan smooth, whose family were going through a divorce and could not keep him.  At nine years old Simon had only known one family, however within minutes of him coming to us, it was if we were that family.  His owner dropped him off and he didn’t look back. Simon seemed to love being with his new brothers, so the decision to keep him was made and Simon became part of our family.

A year later I had another call. Would I foster again?  Yes, of course, however Eddie was different. Whatever had happened to him was beyond tragic. You really have to wonder what possesses someone to subject a defenceless, sentient being to such cruelty.

Eddie, as we chose to later name him had been found in an industrial waste bin wrapped in wire. Extremely emaciated and terrified, he was allegedly taken to a pound where he stayed for 6 weeks before D2DR was called. On getting the call they drove 3 hours to retrieve him, and then called me.

When I first saw him I melted. The fear is his beautiful amber eyes was absolute. Ribs and spine protruded through his rich, copper coloured coat and on closer inspection, he had a severe overbite.IMG_3925

I knew that in time, his physical issues could be mended,  yet his emotional trauma was another story and would obviously take time to heal. His fear of people was deep seeded, but interestingly, just as Stanley made me his person, it was my son Max that became Eddie’s.

Two years on, Eddie still has an intense fear of strangers and also being outside of his comfort zone: his home.  Going for walks is not his thing, nor is being anywhere that involves mixing with people other than his own.  He is content to be at home, with his family.

So now I have a house full of Sausages: and what a house it is…

sausages1#
Simon,   Oscar,   Stanley,   & Eddie

 

 

life

A bittersweet arrival…


As the aircraft descended through a haze of pollution, my first glimpses of Udaipur came into view.  White stucco – like buildings dotted the landscape, and the lakes synonymous with the city, sparkled in the early morning light.

Purchasing a pre-paid taxi ticket inside the clean, modern airport, I exited to find drivers waiting to be called to take the fare: a site contrary to what I’d expected. In a very orderly manner, one fellow (who may have been the supervisor) took my ticket then gestured to one of the many drivers.  My designated driver nodded respectfully, took my case and motioned for me to follow.

On the 40 minute drive to Animal Aid, the India I had expected presented itself. Horns blared, cows mooched and people jostled with cars, bikes and truck for the same piece of space on roads and paths. It was manic, yet not frightening or confronting. It was India.

After passing through the small city, winding roads that carved through small hills deposited us at the gates of Animal Aid, where a cacophony of animal voices alerted me to the fact we had indeed arrived.

Dogs, donkeys, goats and cows all milled about, some oblivious to my arrival, whilst others inquisitive: sniffing, smooching and seemingly quite interested in finding out just who I was.

A little later in the day, after being warmly welcomed by the family, I wandered around the shelter meeting the many animals whose lives have been transformed by Animal Aid.

Helping to feed a group of calves, I felt a gentle but firm nudge on my left thigh.  Expecting to see one of the numerous donkeys who were milling about, I was surprised to find at my side Buff, a baby water buffalo.  Roughly the same size as a small cow, Buff was determined to have my attention and let it be known by continually nudging my arm whenever I stopped scratching behind his ear.

Who would have thought after leaving Australia feeling excited and also a little sad at the thought of leaving my beloved family that 48 hours later I would be making friends with a water buffalo?

Afterward as we sat in the garden drinking chilled Pinot Grigio and dining on a delicious lentil curry at twilight serenaded by the sounds of animals, I felt content.

Similar to my departure, my arrival was bittersweet.  I do feel content and happy, yet also wish I could share this contentment with my best friends: Stanley, Oscar, Simon & Eddie.

Yes, a bittersweet arrival indeed….

 

 

 

life

A bittersweet farewell…


With the arrival of a long-awaited Indian visa, the day of my bittersweet departure has dawned.

I say bittersweet because I’m torn. Torn between the joy of fulfilling dreams and the pain of leaving behind those who complete my world.

Max, Rob, Stanley, Oscar, Simon, Eddie & Mum, fill my life with love, laughter and joy: leaving them, albeit temporarily breaks my heart.

“I feel so selfish,’ I said to Mum this morning. “I desperately want this job in India, but I don’t want to leave you, the boys and the pups”.

My ‘pups’ are my adored four-legged family and they will not understand. And that breaks my heart.

A few years ago I went to live in Taiwan for 3 months and I wrote the post,  wish I could speak Dachshund  .  The feelings expressed in that post mirror my feelings today.

Interestingly enough Oscar, the patriarch of my canine pack is decidedly different today. Normally he is a very chilled, laid back chap who sits alone and simply surveys the day’s events without too much ado. Yet today, he has not let me out of his sight.

I believe he knows.  Yet he does not appear to be sad, which is comforting as part of me feels he is giving me the reassurance I need.  Letting me know it will be okay, and that I shouldn’t worry. As I write now, I can feel his gentle, rhythmic breathing – it is indeed reassuring and comforting.

Fast forward a few hours and I am now sitting at the airport waiting for the first on my four flights that will see me finally in India in 48 hours. And whilst I walked out of my door earlier this afternoon with quite a heavy heart, I also left knowing that all will be okay.

Bittersweet farewells indeed.

 

 

 

photography

Family…


It has been sometime since I have picked up my camera and captured images of wonderful people and places.

Not because I haven’t wanted to, but quite simply because life is what life is. And sometimes it takes you down a different road, if just for a little while.

The other day a message asked me back, back to a place where laughter and love was in abundance and where I captured it for prosperity.