Dr Jessica Read, D.C.
My own companion animals over the years
My own companion animals over the years
A childhood without animals
I grew up in a small three bedroom apartment on the top floor of a four-storey building, in the South of France. One of those bedrooms was my father's office so my two sisters and I shared a room, the third bedroom being my parents'. Our bedroom was so small that there was no room for bedside tables, just three beds with night lamps attached to the wall above our beds.
Taking care of a family of five, with no garden, was well and truly enough for my mother to handle without adding pets to the mixture. I longed for a puppy or a kitten but that was out of the question. I did have a small tarantula, a tiny water tortoise about four centimetres in length, at one time. You couldn't do much with it, no cuddles and no training! We also had some birds after I won one at a fair. We added canaries to my small bird. Keeping the cage clean and the birds fed was left to my mother as well.
Many years later, I found out that both of my parents had experienced severe grief at the loss of family pets in their childhood and I can see now how they would have wanted to avoid their children experiencing the same sadness. Whether this was conscious or not, animals were not part of our existence and were not considered of any importance. I mostly feared them, through lack of exposure.
When I was about nine years old, we were visiting some people my parents knew. I was in the little girl's bedroom, just outside the main living area, when their German shepherd decided that I shouldn't be there and bit me on my bottom. Luckily I had thick winter trousers on and only sustained a bruise. However this did leave me with an even greater fear of dogs!
My first cat, Jessie
During my last year at chiropractic college in England, my boyfriend found a cat wandering around one evening. It looked cared for but lost, so he brought it home. Within a few days we located his owners who were glad to have him back. However, my longing for a cat had been awoken and I couldn't wait any longer. I knew that this was a decision that would lead to pain down the road. We planned to emigrate to Australia after my graduation and would have to leave the cat behind. I decided to go ahead anyway. The call of my heart was too strong. We soon found a lovely tortoiseshell kitten, whom I named Jessie.
Jessie was an exceptional cat. She was an indoor cat as we lived in another top floor flat. We adored her and if one of us was sitting with the cat on their lap, that person was to be waited upon so as not to disturb Jessie. She often sat on my lap while I studied too. We took her to France with us when we returned there at the end of my studies and prepared our plans to emigrate. Jessie had a wonderful summer. My boyfriend worked as a chef at my father's hotel that last summer and Jessie got the best food available - roast beef, carnation milk, fresh fish, etc. No tins for this little lady!
We tried to keep Jessie inside but she found a way to escape. As we had not had her de-sexed, she soon found a handsome French pussy cat to mate with and gave birth to kittens, on our bed, between us. We kept two of them. My reasoning was that when we left her, at least she would have her kittens with her. At the end of the summer season, we drove north to my boyfriend's parents home, before returning to England. We could not take Jessie with us so we left her and her two kittens with my boyfriend's parents. They didn't really want them but ended up adoring them. The first thing my boyfriend's parents did was to get her de-sexed. That was definitely the right thing to do!The kittens were so entertaining and smart. They worked out how to jump up and open doors by pulling the door handles down. They went on family camping trips and it was on one of those outings that one of the kittens, now a cat, disappeared. Eventually, Jessie ended up with an uncle who lived in the country, again very loved and appreciated. She died age eight, quite young for a cat.
Deep down, I know that Jessie never forgot me and that that lead to her early death. I dealt with my grief by burying it, like I buried so many other painful feelings over the years. That's just how it was done in those days. Sweep anything unpleasant under the carpet... Years later, I was in a kinesiology session when my kinesiologist said there was something that happened about twenty years earlier that was holding me back and that I had to remember. I couldn't think of anything at all for quite a long time then it suddenly hit me. That's when I had had to abandon my 'first born child', Jessie, never to see her again! I cried solidly for ten minutes straight. The grief was extreme.
My kinesiologist explained to me that we don't so much bury feelings we can't handle but we hang them up outside of our body, as if on hanging hooks. Keeping these hooks functioning, and in the process keeping the bad feelings at bay, takes an enormous amount of energy. Considering my childhood had been emotionally very painful, and that the way my parents dealt with feelings was to teach us to ignore them, I had a lot of hooks around my aura! No wonder I was suffering from chronic fatigue!
I don't regret choosing to have Jessie even though I only had her for one year. At least for that year, I was able to express my love for small beings. I was already suppressing my desire for a baby so adding to that could have led me to become bitter and sour, leading to another kind of health problem. It was fortunate that I discovered kinesiology when I did or I would probably have developed serious physical malfunctions with all the emotional turmoil I was harbouring.
Mitzy and her kittens
We arrived in Melbourne in November 1976 and by early the following year, once we had found a house to rent, we went out in search for a kitten. I was just looking to replace Jessie...This time we chose a tabby cat and named her Mitzy. In ignorance, we didn't have her de-sexed either, and she soon gave birth to kittens. We kept two, repeating the pattern we had begun with Jessie. But it wasn't the same. We were both busy, me with teaching and my now husband with studying. Mitzy lived her life and we lived ours. We were still mindful to allow her to stay in an armchair if she was comfortable there even though it was where we might have liked to sit. And we fed them well, often driving a long way to get their favourite kangaroo meat roll. Mitzy and her kittens often slept at the foot of our bed. We loved them but they were not Jessie. Eventually one of the kittens, now a cat, was hit by a car and died instantly. We buried him in the garden.
My daughter was born three years later and I found that I couldn't handle cats (and a dog, Jade - her story to be told later on) and a baby with colic who never slept. And I mean, never!! We found a lovely cat rescue organisation nearby and donated Mitzy and her grown-up baby to this centre. I was so sleep deprived by then that re-homing these two cats was a relief more than a loss.
Jade, the kelpie
I was teaching at the chiropractic college in Melbourne and became friends with some students from Western Australia. One term break, they flew home to fetch a station wagon one of their parents was giving them. They drove it back along the Nullarbor Plain. One of the students' relative had a kelpie who had just had puppies. Knowing my desire for a puppy, this student decided to bring one of them back for me. It's not a good idea to suddenly land someone with a puppy! I really didn't have time to take care of a growing dog, let alone a kelpie, a working dog who requires a lot of training and exercising. Poor Jade spent all her days locked out in the back yard and barked a lot at night. I am so ashamed now as to what I put my neighbours through!
Then my first baby, my daughter, arrived, unplanned needless to say, as I was hoping to wait until my husband finished his studies before starting a family. So I now had a hyper active puppy, two cats and a sleepless crying baby! Eventually, after trying dog obedience classes to no avail - the trainer himself said that he couldn't handle Jade - I decided to have her de-sexed (finally I was getting the message that this is the right thing to do) and I advertised her in The Age. A lovely retired gentleman responded, saying that he was looking for a companion to go on long walks with him. This was an ideal situation. Jade was physically healthy as I had made sure she was fed good quality food, she was exceptionally attractive with bright intelligent green eyes, shining out against the rusty red colour of her coat, and she was very affectionate. The man and the dog fell in love at first sight and Jade drove away happily sitting up in the front seat next to her new owner. It was a match made in heaven and I was so happy for her.
So I was without pets again for the first time in about six years. My daughter took up all my time and all my love. I adored being a mum, even though it was exhausting.
Eventually, when my daughter was about two years old, I realized that my marriage was not a good one and that it was getting worse. It had never been great but I thought that when my husband graduated, things would improve. Then our conversations began to sound like the ones I had heard my parents have as I was growing up. Bells began ringing in my head and red flags appeared in my sight. There was no way I was going to put my child through the emotionally twisted home environment I had grown up in! So I left while my child was still young enough to adapt to this huge change. She had had an unstable life so far in any case, not seeing her father very often, and being left in the care of others much more often than I would have liked.
I met my second husband within months and moved in with him. Not because we were an ideal match, but I was in such a state of exhaustion, physically, emotionally and mentally, that I could not be choosy. He was kind to my daughter and kind to me, and cared about us a lot more than we had been cared for by anyone in the past. My daughter took to him straight away and that was the key factor for me. Her well being was now the priority in my life.
We lived in the Dandenongs, north of Melbourne, for a while, then bought a caravan and went to northern Victoria, in the Bendigo Echuca area, living in caravan parks. It was a good time for us. Both my new partner and I were experiencing adrenal fatigue from all the stress in our lives up to this point, and my daughter needed time to recover from her early years of being left with various people while I worked, as I had been the main bread winner of the family until this time.
We eventually sold the caravan and returned to Melbourne for one year, when my daughter was four years old. She was an only child and badly needed a companion animal. Knowing how much I had wanted a pet when I was a child and how badly it had affected me not to have had one, I decided that we had to take the risk and acquire one, even though our living situation was precarious. We chose an Australian terrier, Silk.
Silk, the Australian terrier
Silk was a beautiful Australian terrier, with papers. Unfortunately, we really didn't know anything about puppies and how to treat them according to their needs, so we just did the best we could as we went along. Within four weeks of Silk joining our family, we were driving across the Nullarbor Plain ourselves ( Jade's journey all those years ago in reverse) to try our luck in Western Australia. So here we were, all four of us in a tiny Mazda, crossing the desert in the southern part of Australia. My new partner had broken his left ankle a few weeks before we left - luckily the car had an automatic transmission so only his right foot was required to operate the foot pedals. My daughter was just under five years old and Silk was barely three months old. It was a long five days as we only travelled during daylight hours, and there was fighting from boredom in the back seat of the car at times!
Eventually we arrived, started a new life in Bunbury to begin with, then later moving to a small farming area inland from Mandurah, just outside the then small town of Pinjarra. We stayed six years in Western Australia, harsh but wonderful years, as so much emotional growth took place while we took time off from ordinary life. My son was born in the little farm house we were renting and he brought so much joy to the whole family. Silk adored him and would sit by him, guarding him, when he was in his bassinet or rocking chair.
Silk was my daughter's dog and when my daughter was upset and crying, Silk would howl in unison. It would have been funny if it wasn't so sad as well! She came everywhere with us when we went on drives to other towns nearby. She was an integral part of the family but she really didn't have a dog life as such. The dogs I have had in the last twenty years have had much more settled lives than poor Silk ever had. We moved house very often as well so she had to keep adapting. Along the way, Cindy, another tortoiseshell kitten, joined us. Her story will be told next.
After six years, we returned to Victoria and eventually settled on the Mornington Peninsula. Silk lived a few more years. She missed out on attention as I was now doing kindergarten runs with my son and was so busy all the time. I would tell her that once my son started school, I would have more time for her. My husband and I often walked her at night, after we had finished work in our business and taken care of the children and the household needs. Our neighbour once asked us if we didn't like daylight hours, because we only walked the dog at night! It wasn't that at all, we simply didn't have time.
Silk would often come up to me and I could hear her say that she didn't feel well, but I didn't know what to do. I didn't trust vets and when we did eventually take her, they could find nothing wrong with her until it was too late. I felt helpless.
In her last year, Silk developed really bad skin problems and lost most of the hair on her back. The vet(s) didn't know why. The internet wasn't available yet so I couldn't do my own research the way I could now. And there were very few natural healers for animals, I certainly couldn't find any. Eventually, one vet decided to give Silk acupuncture treatment. She developed a huge hematoma - a pooling of blood just under the skin the size of a large egg - at the site of the needle insertion. This was not normal. More blood tests were done and it was finally found that her blood was not coagulating properly. With my present day knowledge, I suspect that all the emotional trauma Silk had both witnessed and experienced had taken its toll on her body and this is what was making her sick. I could probably help her with the healing work I do today. But back then, it just wasn't to be.
Her last few weeks were spent listless and unable to walk. She was also panting. I would take her out to relieve herself in the grass several times a day. I didn't think about euthanasia and no one suggested it. (The acupuncturist vet took no responsibility for what had happened. He just scratched his head in bewilderment saying that his had never happened before.) It probably would have been the kinder thing to do. In the end, she bleed to death and I am ashamed to say this. My ignorance and the lack of good advice and care were contributing factors. She was only eight years old but had had a very full life. Too full really. She had been loved and appreciated, just not given the care a dog really deserves to have.
Silk was buried in the garden and a miniature rose bush planted over her grave. We did not grieve properly. I didn't know how to and so I couldn't teach my children. My husband closed off, as he usually did when it came to emotions, and said that she was 'just a dog, so stop making a fuss'! I find it hard to forgive that attitude but 'karma' did get him a few years later, while the children and I were away on holiday. Another dog died under his personal care and in great part because of his actions, and he was shocked into feeling deep and painful grief. I don't regret thinking 'it serves you right'. Hey, I'm not perfect!!
Cindy, Jessie's reincarnation
Cindy, my second tortoiseshell cat, joined our family while we were living in Bunbury, Western Australia, a few months after we arrived there. I saw her in a pet shop and was irrevocably drawn to her. She looked exactly like Jessie, the cat I had had to leave behind in England! Without a second thought, I bought her- she didn't cost much - and took her home in a cardboard box, which she deftly escaped from... I gave her to my daughter, who by then was five years old and attending kindergarten, as a gift. Years later, I realised that this had been a mistake; I should have taken ownership of her myself. After all, Silk belonged to my daughter, it would have been easy for me to say that the cat was mine. This mistake prevented me somehow from bonding properly with Cindy, the way I had with Jessie.
Like Jessie, Cindy was an exceptional cat. Very smart and independent, she was an outdoor cat right from the start. She and Silk became best of friends and often slept together. As the children grew up, Cindy would always sleep on the bed of the one who was feeling unwell or upset, and continued this ritual until they were well again. She could walk on surfaces that had fragile objects on them and never knock anything down. My daughter loved doing puzzles, which must have annoyed Cindy somewhat as she was getting no attention, so she would deliberately sit on the part of the puzzle being worked on, or mess up some of the pieces that had been sorted by colour or pattern.
We moved house frequently during our six years in Western Australia, six times in all. Cindy would go and hide when she saw the cases and boxes coming out for packing. It was nerve wracking trying to find her at the last minute, and my husband would often suggest we leave her behind. We did finally locate her each and every time.
Once, when we were living on a farm, she disappeared for three weeks. I really thought she was gone for ever and gave it up to God to find her if it was at all possible. When she finally returned, she had a gash at the top of one of her back legs but seemed to have been fed as she wasn't disheveled or overly thin. We never did find out what had happened.
When we made our move back to Victoria, we left both Silk and Cindy in a boarding facility for pets, with the proviso that they would ship them over to us when we had an address to send them to. We took the train back instead of driving this time. We left some Bach Flower remedies in bottles for them, to help them with the stress of the boarding kennel/cattery and to prepare them for the flight. Very clear instructions were attached to the bottles. These were completely ignored as the bottles were returned to us as full as when we left them, and our two pets were in a terrible state. Silk had barked herself silly and had completely lost her voice. They both had daily diarrhea until, after six months, a homeopath made a tincture for them, using the vibration of their own hair, and they finally recovered. Well, at least they didn't have runny bowel movements anymore but I am sure that this terrible experience marked them for life and contributed to the illnesses they suffered in their later life.
Another four moves were in store for Cindy although this time they took place over ten years instead of six. When Silk died, Cindy grieved but we didn't notice. My neighbour did however, the one who thought we didn't like daylight hours. He was more attuned to animals than we were at the time, and told us that Cindy had been beating up his cat. He knew that this was her way of expressing her grief. So often anger is a cover up for sadness; this is true for animals too.
Three months after losing Silk, we adopted a Red Heeler from the local RSPCA branch. I was the one who wanted another dog. The children were growing up and had other interests now. I couldn't stand the empty spot on the carpet. This puppy, whom I named Lady, was about six months old and had been mistreated by her previous owner. The RSPCA person said that he gave her one last kick on the way out! Her life story will be told next.
Cindy and Lady bonded very quickly. They would lick each for ages and sleep together. I had always expected my pets to get along and so far they had. In her later years, Cindy became a fussy eater. She also developed stuck tufts of hair on her back which I would sometimes comb out. She was obviously not well. This time I managed to find a Reiki practitioner who also made up homeopathic remedies for animals. I began treating her this way.
When we added another two dogs to our household, one of them, a Maltese cross silky terrier, would chase Cindy, so she became a recluse. I was very upset by this but there didn't seem to be any way out of the situation.
Once the family split, my daughter moving into her own place, and my husband and I divorcing, my son, who was now thirteen, and I moved into another house together. We kept Lady and Cindy, and my daughter took the two other dogs. This was much nicer for Cindy, as she and Lady were able to rekindle the closeness they had lost and her last two years were a lot calmer.
She lived to seventeen years of age but never really looked old. She could still jump up on the kitchen counter even days before she died. She continued to enjoy the outdoors and her special places in the sun. One day, I felt she was really not well so I called the mobile vet. After examining her he said that she couldn't see anymore and that she was not at all well. He wanted to put her to sleep right away! I was not prepared for this and went into shock. I asked him to return the next morning at eleven o'clock in the morning. That turned out to be a mistake, which I learned from when it came to Lady's departure.
That night, Cindy had a seizure. It was terrible. My son and I called the emergency hospital and they recommended we give here a Valium, a type of sedative. I didn't have any so I knocked on my neighbours' door, at two o'clock in the morning! I was lucky that they answered the door and even luckier that they had a Valium. We gave her half a tablet rather than the whole one that had been recommended. She settled down right away. I think a whole tablet would have killed her.
By this time, my son, Cindy and I were all in his bedroom. Cindy was sitting by the window, in a sort of daze with laboured breathing. I was lying on the small couch facing the door and my son was in his bed. Half way through the night, I clearly saw Cindy walk out the door. I was too upset to turn around to see if she was still at the window so I asked my son to look. Yes, she was still there! I am quite sure that what I saw was Cindy's spirit body leaving her physical body. She didn't wait for the 'needle' which was due to arrive a few hours later. She just left of her own accord.
When the vet arrived, it was a quick end. Cindy was hardly conscious. This was my first time seeing an animal being euthanized but it was the most peaceful ending I could have hoped for. If only we were as kind to humans as we are to animals in this regard! First a sedative is given intravenously. Once this has taken effect, the lethal injection follows. Cindy just looked asleep. I had to check that she wasn't still breathing because she just didn't look 'dead'.
My son and I buried Cindy in the garden, in a spot out of the way, in a corner that she would have really liked. We were both in shock and deep grief. I believe my son suppressed his, as he had been taught to do by his father and society as a whole. I was of no help to him. I lost my short term memory for several days. Lady was terribly distraught too but I will relate that as part of her story.
I hadn't expected Cindy to live to such a ripe old age because my previous experience had been of Jessie dying at age eight. But I still wasn't ready to lose her. I don't think you can ever prepare yourself for the loss of a beloved pet. I tried to ready myself, in more recent years, imagining my life without my beloved animals, but when the day came to say goodbye, it was just as awful as it had been every other time. I did learn to grieve better and probably the grief I had suppressed with my earlier losses was added to the more recent ones. Grief just has to be expressed, it doesn't go away if you keep it in. It just festers, makes you angry, chronically sad and unpredictable. No one should ever be told that what they lost was 'just an animal'. Your pets are like children who never grow up. They remain dependent on you for food, shelter, exercise and love their whole lives. You can't just lose that connection all of a sudden and not feel the immense emptiness they leave behind! I will explain how I approach the grieving process when I relate my most recent losses.
Lady, the Red Heeler
After Silk died, the rest of the family, my husband, daughter and son, would have been content not to acquire another dog. But I just couldn't accept this. I had a hole in my heart where a dog should be and I needed a new companion. So three months later, we went to our local branch of the RSPCA and looked at the dogs needing a home. When we passed the pen with a Red Heeler in it, I was pulled towards this beautiful dog. We asked to meet her, and she was so calm compared to all the other dogs. She came up to each one of us, one by one, and licked our hand as if to great us. I fell in love with her immediately and because of her incredible good manners, decided to call her Lady. We went home without her as we thought we should put up some kind of fence around a space in the garden. There were no fences either to the road or between our garden and the neighbours' gardens in the property we were renting. We bought some chicken wire and put up a semblance of a fence. This turned out to be a completely useless exercise as it was so flimsy.
We went back the following day and brought Lady home. She sat in the back seat of the car, very nervous between my son and daughter. I wish now that I had sat in the back with her because the children didn't know how to reassure her and the trip was quite stressful for all the occupants of the back seat.
I loved Lady so much. She was different from Silk, much bigger of course, but she also had a deep calmness. She had had a tough start to life and I felt like I understood this as my own early life had not been very nice either. She was also an escape artist and we found out from neighbours that while we were out, she would roam all over the place, even crossing roads, but she was always home when we came home! She also felt the need to guard our 'property' and would bark at people walking by. In the end, we received complaints so had to invest in a better holding pen for her. My husband built one in the back part of the garden and we made sure she was locked inside whenever we left the house. It was reasonably
large so she was quite comfortable.
Before the pen was built, Lady, in her travels, would pick up shoes, boots, trainers from outside the neighbours' houses. We accumulated quite a pile and began knocking on doors to see if we could find the owners. This proved to be totally unsuccessful. The enclosed pen solved the problem. I did feel bad for all the people who lost a shoe because of Lady though.
Lady was always my dog whereas Silk had been my daughter's dog. When the family broke up, she stayed with me as did Cindy. They were very close just as Silk and Cindy had been. People were amazed when they saw them huddled up together. I took this for granted.
When Cindy died, Lady grieved too. She had already lost the companionship of the two other dogs we had adopted, even though they were a bit too agitated for her. In one of our moves, she had also left behind her good friend, a border collie, who lived next door. I was so upset myself that I didn't know how to help her. Exactly one year after Cindy died, Lady became even more quiet. I asked a naturopath I knew to have a look at her. He said she was grieving. I told him that her friend, Cindy, had died about this time one year ago. He agreed that this was probably what had triggered Lady's depression and gave her some flower remedies to help, which they did. If I had known what I know today, I could have helped her myself.
Something very strange happened one day when Lady had been with us a few years. She became very quiet and looked unwell. It wasn't worrying enough to warrant a visit to the veterinarian though. This lasted one whole day. I prayed for her to be okay. I couldn't lose another dog and she was still only three years old. By the end of the day, she perked up but seemed to be different somehow. That evening, she jumped on my daughter's bed which she had never done before and pinched some chocolates that were nearby. Silk had been a chocolate lover, which of course we avoided her eating as much as possible, but Lady had never shown any interest previous to this day. (Chocolate is supposed to kill dogs but ours never had any side effects from the stolen pieces they managed to get hold of). Silk had also spent a lot of time on my daughter's bed. I believe that when Lady was looking unwell, Silk's soul was returning and joining Lady's soul in Lady's body. I have read of this happening. From then on, Lady seemed to be both herself and Silk in her attitudes and mannerisms.
Once the 'dust had settled' and our split family had taken on its new shape, my daughter living on her own with two of our dogs, my now ex-husband off doing his thing, and my son and I living together while he finished high school, Lady and Cindy started a new calmer phase of their lives. Cindy had a lovely garden to enjoy. She had her favourite spots. As there was so much less stress in the house, she was able to enjoy her life more. This was to be her last year of life but at least it was a pleasant one. Before she died, she spent some time in each of her favourite spots. I noticed Lady doing the same leading up to her passing.
Lady lived another seven years. She was depressed, I believe, but I didn't know how to help her. I was exhausted and didn't have the energy to walk her for the first few years of our new life. Luckily I had a wonderful neighbour who walked her every day, sometimes twice a day. This lovely lady needed a respite from her home life and was happy to take slow walks at Lady's pace.
When I regained some of my strength, I would walk Lady at night because that is when I had the most energy. I needed to walk faster then Lady. She was a sniffer so her walks weren't so much a walk but a painfully slow investigation of every bush, tree, flower she came across. I didn't have the patience to walk so slowly so we would start off together, then I would walk on ahead and meet up with Lady on the way back. She was so smart that I knew she was okay even if she crossed a road. We lived in a quiet area and there were usually no cars around at that time of night. I would never have done do this with my next dogs, or with Silk, but I knew Lady was okay.
Once we went for a walk down the end of our road and down the cliff leading to the beach. I was talking to a friend on my mobile phone and not taking any notice of Lady when all of a sudden I realized she was nowhere to be seen. I panicked and called her to no avail. So I made my way home and met her half way up our street. She must have become bored with my talking and decided to go ahead home without me. This had meant crossing one quite busy road but she was fine. I was relieved to find her safe but also vowed to keep a closer eye on her in the future.
Another time we had gone for a walk in a big nature park near where we lived. Again, Lady was off the lead even though this was not allowed. She disappeared while I wasn't paying attention. It was nearly nightfall and I was out of my mind with worry. There were two or three paths she could have followed into the bush as I had checked that she hadn't returned to the car. The only thing I could do was trust my intuition. I asked to be shown the path to follow. My instinct gave me an answer and even though I didn't think she would have gone that way, I walked along that path. And within a few minutes, I found her! I thanked my guides and my lucky stars that day!!!
We would often go for walks on the beach. There are rocks at one end and Lady would climb them as if she were a goat! Sometimes I would buy a bag of jersey toffees, nice soft ones, and we would share them as we walked. We had a telepathic way of communicating and knew how much we loved each other. As time went by, she couldn't climb the rocks as well and then not at all. In order for her not to feel her disability, I would turn around and walk back before we reached the rocks. As the years went by, her walking became slower. She didn't seem to be in pain so I didn't get any medication for her. When she could no longer jump into the back seat of the car, I would lift her back legs in for her, without making a big deal of it. We had an understanding. Yes, she was getting older, but we wouldn't let it change our life too much. When I took her for a general check up to the veterinarian as she had developed a lump on her side, he said she was in excellent health for her age. The lump was a lipoma, a fatty tumour, and wasn't anything to be worried about.
I knew when it was going to be Lady's last summer. She was fifteen years old by then. We went on many slow walks down the road and stopped to admire the lovely sunsets together before making our way home, equally slowly. By then I had regained my strength and was able to take her on day-time walks.
In early April, she stopped eating. She also did what Cindy had done before her passing, and lay down in her favourite parts of the garden, one after the other. She spent time by Cindy's grave too, which I took as an ominous sign. After two days of this, I called the vet. He examined her then told me that her systems were shutting down and that it was time to let her go. I was devastated. However, remembering my experience with Cindy's passing when I had not listened to the vet's advice to let her go, I made the decision to have her euthanized then and there. I hugged her tight and thanked her for having been so good to me all her life. She was given the needle and it was just as peaceful a departure as Cindy's had been.
I was alone with my dead animal this time. My neighbour, the one who had walked her so often, was out for the day and my son had left home by then. So I had to dig a hole myself for her burial. I chose a spot right next to Cindy's grave. The earth was very hard and full of stones so it was very difficult. Lady was lying next to me, covered with a blanket and I was crying so much that I could hardly see.
Eventually my neighbour returned and she helped me finish the digging. We placed Lady in the hole gently and lovingly and put flowers picked in the garden over her. Then we covered her up. We were both crying by then. And then, I heard Lady talk to me in my head! She was there, watching us as we tried to work out what to do with the excess soil we had dug out. We ended up using it to fill some of the pot holes in our dirt road and I could hear Lady laughing at us as we did this.
For two weeks after Lady passed, I felt very vulnerable in my house all alone. She had been such a good guard dog and made me feel safe and protected. She knew how to recognize good and bad tradesmen. Only once had she barked at one, and that was in our previous house, and this person did have very weird vibes. Often tradesmen would ask me if she would be okay with them entering the premises. My answer was always: 'If you're an okay person, she will be fine.' They knew that red heelers don't take kindly to bad people.
I was seeing a kinesiologist at the time of Lady's passing. One morning I was sitting on the couch having my breakfast when I saw a small citrine crystal on the floor just at the corner of the couch. I picked it up wondering how on earth it had got there. That day, when I went to my kinesiology visit, I was talking about my sadness at losing Lady when my kinesiologist said:'Lady is telling me that she left a gift for you this morning by the couch.' I could hardly believe it and described how I had found the crystal in that exact spot! This confirmed to me even more that Lady was still around watching over me.
I didn't know what to do with myself for a few weeks. Lady had been my best friend and my guardian angel. Her loss left a huge gap in my life. She was six months old when we adopted her and died at fifteen and a half, just before Easter. Fifteen years is a long time to live with someone, even more so in the last seven years as she had been my only dog by then.
I started looking at different breeds on the internet and even went back to the RSPCA to see if any dog appealed to me. But there was nothing there for me. Then I had a vision. I saw myself lying on my bed hugging a big blond coloured dog which I didn't recognize. In the corner of the bedroom near the ceiling, I saw Lady's smiling face! This left me perplexed. Who could that dog be and why was Lady smiling at me like that?
Three weeks after Lady's death, on Anzac day, my daughter called me out of the blue. She said that one of her friends was in a bind. He had a thirteen months old female golden retriever that he couldn't look after any more. She was getting into trouble back home and his housemate didn't want her anymore. She wondered if I would be interested. She was being shipped down to Melbourne from Canberra that very day and he didn't know what to do with her when she arrived. My daughter had suggested to him that I might be interested in taking her on as I had just lost my own dog.
I immediately knew that Paige would be mine. I could feel her calling out to me. She was delivered to me that evening. It was already dark by the time she got here. She was in a terribly nervous state, having just come off a plane and not knowing what was happening to her. As her previous owner said goodbye, she stood up and hugged him with her two front paws. I had never seen a dog do that before and it was a few days before I made the connection with my vision. Paige was the dog hugging me on my bed and Lady had organised our meeting. The love Paige and I developed for each other was of another world. Her story will come later on.
Bobby, Robbie and Sarah
Paige, the Golden Retriever
Mitzy and her kittens