Tuesday, 19 October 2010

More thoughts on dogs

It's been a good couple of weeks. Last time I wrote, I concentrated on the joys of having dogs in my life. Well, here is a list of the not so positives:

1. I will never get a line-in again. Spencer thinks 6.30 is a good time to get up even on weekends. Hmm...

2. I will never have a clean house. Even 10 mins after cleaning the floors, the usual piles of black hair and occasional slobber spots appear.

3. I will never be able to go on holiday/go running/go to the beach etc without the dogs, without intense pangs of guilt. Especially when they start crying as I drive/run/walk away.

4. I will never own a house with white furniture.

5. I will occasionally have to clean up what seems like tons of feathers from the back garden after the dogs have "attacked" and "killed" the pillow they were meant to be sleeping on.

6. I will never be able to pass another stray dog on the road, without feeling sad.

Still... wouldn't change them for the world!

We went running again this evening on the mountain. The dogs have learned to run next to each other and really enjoy the freedom of the mountain. As do I, of course.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

"My goal in life...

...is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am." quote by Unknown.

The biggest blessing from our new life in Greece has certainly been our dogs. It has been a big life change, a great challenge and continues to be one of the biggest sources of pleasure, every single day.
It is strange how D and I have now ended up with 3 dogs (and if all goes to plan there will be another one added to the bunch soon).

A few weeks after my dad died D and I had gone mtb riding on the mountain with a friend. On the way back D found Spencer (and his littermates). Spencer came home two days later and has become a course of joy, pleasure and occasionally frustration ever since.
He has grown to be a beautiful dog, kind and thoughtful, maybe a bit of a mummy's boy - he follows me around the house all the time and his favourite activity is lying on my while we watch TV, as well as running on the mountain. I cannot imagine my life without him now.

What we hadn't quite planned on was the other two dogs that have come into our lives. Fifi was my dad's dog. My dad saved him from a life on the streets about 5 years ago and he has also grown to be a big and strong dog. He had been missing my dad's company and ever since we moved into my family house last June he has been a much happier dog. Spencer's company has proven quite a tonic - Fifi turns into a small puppy whenever he is around Spencer. He loves walks on the mountain; he really is a mountain dog. He is big, yet I am sure perceives himself to be a puppy still - he has a tendency to try and jump into your lap, all 50 kg of him!

On top of that we also inherited my mum's dog, Rhoda. She was found, when she was a tiny pup, small enough to sleep in my brother's shoe, behind the wheel (rhoda, in Greek) of a bus. My mum took her and gave her a home. Rhoda is a very insecure dog and was never socialised, yet she is coping just fine with the addition of the other two dogs into her territory. She is a very nervous dog who will happily forgo food in favour of a cuddle.

As if three dogs were not enough, two weeks ago and while running up on the mountain with the two boy dogs, Fifi went crazy. He ran down a steep ravine and would not come back up. D followed him down there (despite my worried cries) and found a bag of 6 puppies. Someone had thrown the bag over the side of the mountain, no doubt hoping that they would die. Two of them had, unfortunately, been killed by the impact but the other four were still alive and crying out for help. D picked them up in the bag, which stank of decomposing flesh, and we took them back to the car. We drove home trying not to be sick, while the little tykes wriggled around by my feet.

The four pups were tiny, stank of death and were obviously very hungry and cold. We called the vet for advice and she suggested that the only option we had, seeing as they were less than a week old, was to put them to sleep. Of course D would not hear of it. We called again after a while, asking for practical advice, what should they eat, how much, can we wash them (the stink was sickening) etc. After a wash and a feed with syringes left from when my dad was still at home, they settled into a deep sleep in their basket, cuddling a hot water bottle and each other.r. Not for a moment did we think we had any other choice.

That night we drove out trying to find a late night pharmacy and bought bottles and dummies. The next day D bought formula and we took turns feeding them every four hours (though, truth be told most of the hard work was done by D who did not have to go to school the next day.) The next couple of days went by and a bit of a daze, as the pups took pretty much most of our time and energy. They would sleep for 3 or 4 hours, then wake up, demanding milk. They were totally reliant, even needing 'manual stimulation' in order to pee and poo. It was becoming obvious that in two days, when D would leave, I would not be able to look after them, as I would be at work for 9 hours every day. We were not sure what to do...

After asking for advice at school and asking colleagues and parents about what to do, we were coming to the difficult decision that we could not look after them and we would have to put them to sleep, otherwise they would starve to death. D could not take them with him to SA, I could not possibly take them to work to feed them several times a day, no shelter would take them as they were too young and we could not think of anyone who could undertake such a full time project. Thursday night was sad, as we contemplated taking them to the vet on Saturday morning.

Enter a friend, who came to our house to pick up my bike. She saw the little pups, then listened to the story. "There is no way you should put them down" she said and she proceeded to think about possible homes for them. Half an hour later we had a possible "foster home." A dear friend of hers had agreed to take the pups for a few weeks, until they would be a bit bigger and ready to be rehomed. The sense of relief was overwhelming and I spent the next day hoping and praying that K would not change her mind.

The puppies have now opened their eyes. They are happy and healthy. They are still being bottle fed, are able to walk and (apparently) are making more noise than ever! Unfortunately the runt of the litter (the small brown one from the pic above) did not make it and died couple of days ago. Still, she died in better conditions than in a bag on the mountain.

We are most likely keeping one of the little tykes, and we seem to have found homes for the other two as well.

I never thought I would be so happy to have some many dogs in my life, but as Ben Williams (?) said: "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."

Sunday, 3 October 2010

On Silence

I have been enjoying the silence this week. D is away, he will be in SA for a couple of months, doing his practical training as part of his postgraduate course. I had been dreading the time, not having been alone for a very long time.

It has been such a surprise, loving this silence. I have enjoyed getting home to a quiet house, especially after the constant noise of the primary classroom. I have enjoyed doing little, reading on the sofa, going to bed early, waking up even earlier. So much so that it got me thinking: Am I the sort of person who is better alone?

The truth is it has been an enlightening period, yet D is still with me even when he is not. I sleep in his shirt at night, as I find his smell comforting. I still, even after a week, wake up in the night thinking he is close to me. I feel his love every time I take the compost out - he has put little stepping stones on the earth so that I can walk to the compost bin without getting muddy feet.

I am enjoying my time of silence, yet at the same time feel so lucky that I have someone to share my life with. Life is so much more fulfilling when you share it. As for training, it is no fun on my own (especially the swimming!) Can't wait for D to get back.