15 years young

15 years ago a little black doggy was born, we had no idea she even existed until we saw her big floppy ears and spotty chest in a local pet store. She was the last one left and although I know better than to support pet stores now, at that time in my life I just had to have her.

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We named that little puppy with the big ears Maxi, she spent her first few weeks hanging out with her gal pal Murray at my sister in-law’s house while we found a more suitable place to live. Maxi didn’t go to puppy school or obedience classes but we did call in a trainer to help us learn how to walk her properly because she had a tendency to pull and we knew nothing about training a dog. Many mistakes were made however Maxi’s nature was so sweet that she won the heart of everyone we knew, my Mum is particularly fond of her and would have been happy to make Maxi hers.

Maxi was a high energy puppy and loved to play, this didn’t change as she grew into a large dog however her favourite thing to do was race around in huge puddles of water. When our local park was flooded, she would do zoomies through the water, mouth open and tail tucked under. Occasionally she would throw herself on the ground and do what we called her commando roll on the slippery, soggy ground. When she was bored or feeling the heat, Maxi would dig. She dug holes in the lawn, in the garden and in the sand at the beach. Maxi still digs, evidence sticks to her nose and her nails and in one corner of our yard there is a huge hole and it is getting bigger. Maxi is the ‘diggingest dog‘.

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Maxi as a puppy and chewing on her first bone.
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Maxi enjoying the last few licks of a Magnum ice cream

Our dear Maxi girl is now 15 years old, her face is almost all grey and her hearing isn’t great however she still loves her walks and tries to coax Bundy into playing with a stiff but meaningful play bow. Arthritis means the walks are short and even though she starts out strong, after 15 minutes the pace has slowed dramatically and Maxi is ready to take her place on her bed. As a geriatric dog, doggy dementia has become a reality. Maxi has a tendency to wander off halfway through her dinner and needs reminding to return to her bowl, leftovers are not something that our barrel shaped boy needs to indulge in. During the night, I hear her nails click-clacking on our tile floor as she paces through the house and when I get up to let her out she looks at me as if to say “What are you doing Mum? I don’t want to go outside”. She has a knack of knowing exactly when I get settled in bed, because that is when she actually wants to go outside and sometimes then she will walk out the door, turnaround and immediately want to come back inside.

None of this is a major problem, Maxi’s vital signs are still good and since having a couple of bouts of pancreatitis she is on a strict diet which helps keep her weight down and in turn, make it easier for her arthritic legs. We are so happy that Maxi is still in our lives, she was our first fur kid and has been with me through many ups and downs. Maxi is the reason I became an obsessed crazy dog lady and proud dog Mum. At the moment she is sleeping soundly on her bed in her favourite spot near the front door, she likes the view from there and the slight breeze helps her stay cool.

Happy Birthday my beautiful girl! Thank you for the unconditional love and the joy you have given me.

Living with the local wildlife

We all think of Koalas as the most cute and cuddly of creatures, they’re one of the most popular Australian native animals and there are many opportunities for visitors to have their photo taken cuddling a Koala. Did you know that they also bite? Well they do and a couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of one grabbing hold of my thumb and not wanting to let go, nothing serious but gave me a fright and antibiotics were prescribed as a precautionary measure. It wasn’t the Koala’s fault, he was casually sitting on the side of the motorway minding his own business and I was on my way to the shelter. Koalas are often victims to traffic and there was no way I was going to leave the little fellow (not sure what gender actually) in such a precarious position, I pulled over and with towel in hand walked over to the Koala hoping that he wouldn’t make a run for it and end up under a truck. Not knowing whether the animal was injured or just frightened, I threw the towel around him, picked him up with every intention of taking him to the vet for a checkup and that was when he decided to bite me on the hand. I swore and wondered if he was ever going to let my thumb go, nobody bothered to stop and help and seeing as though he was starting to struggle I let him go into the bush. Apparently a Koala that doesn’t struggle is either in shock, badly injured or very unwell, and this little fellow took off into the bush and up a tree so I am assuming that he was ok. Having a wild animal loose in my car probably wasn’t such a good idea anyway.

Getting bitten by a Koala isn’t terribly common, most people look surprised when I tell them and then start laughing, Hubby being one of them. Even the Doctor and Nurse at the local medical centre found it interesting, they’d seen plenty of other types of animal bites but never a Koala. It makes for a great story, and if I ever have to rescue another Koala I will know to be wary of his mouth as well as the claws and I’m tempted to leave a pair of thick gloves in the car just in case.

I don’t have any photos of my Koala experience, instead please enjoy a cuteness overload of ducklings out for a morning stroll and a curious Wallaby that visited us one afternoon.

One of these things is not like the others…

On a memory card filled with photos of birds I discovered a forgotten image, captured from within the boundaries of our yard. As you can see it is the odd one out.

Baby Lace Monitor - Goanna
Baby Lace Monitor – Goanna
Geese at the lake
Geese keeping a watchful eye on visitors to the lake
Black Swan and duck
Black Swan and duck
Duck
I call him Donald
Black swan
Majestic and friendly Black Swan
A sunset swim for a local flock of geese
A sunset swim for a local flock of geese
Black and white Magpie Geese
Black and white Magpie Geese

Our night time visitor

We get many night time visitors to our yard ranging from cane toads, huntsman spiders and geckoes to tawny frog mouths and brush tail possums, not all of these visitors are welcome especially the cane toads. Recently our night time visitor has been a brush tail possum, sometimes with her baby in tow but often she is alone and her presence riles our dogs more than any gecko or cane toad. The brush tail is one of the more common possums we see and also one of the largest, their grunting can set the dogs off in seconds and should they decide to take up residence in your roof, it will take a professional (more often than not) to capture and release them.

I love seeing these furry native animals so close, last night my husband held the torch so that I could try and get a few photos of the possum, thankfully she stuck around for a while – possibly frozen in fear. Our dogs were extremely interested, Bundy sat in the garden at the base of the fence, watching and Maxi found the perfect spot on the lawn, they stayed outside for some time, watching and waiting. Eventually the dogs tired of being on possum watch and Bundy turned his obsession back to the little creature hiding out in the retaining wall.

The common Brush Tail Possum
The common Brush Tail Possum up a gum tree
Possum sitting on fence
Up close and personal, possum watching us, watching her
Possum on fence with tail dangling down
Possum teasing Bundy with dangling tail
Bundy watching possum
Bundy patiently watching, waiting…
Maxi watching possum from her favourite spot
Maxi watching possum from her favourite spot
Bundy sitting on the bed
Bundy relaxing after a night of possum watching

 

 

 

 

 

Sea World on the Gold Coast

Sea World on the Gold Coast is one of four theme parks frequented by visitors to this region and one of three owned by Warner Bros: Sea World, Movie World and Wet ‘n’ Wild. Situated on the Broadwater, not far from Surfers Paradise or the six star Palazzo Versace Resort, Sea World provides a variety of entertainment for guests of all ages: 3D Spongebob Squarepants; rollercoaster rides; water slides and diving with sharks and although there are food outlets selling the usual fare of fish and chips, hot dogs, pizza and sandwiches, families can save money by packing a picnic.

If you don’t like rides you can relax and watch the stunts on the lake, sit by the pool, circle the park on the monorail or check out the Dinosaur exhibition, helicopter rides over the coast are also available for those preferring an aerial view. I personally love seeing the polar bears, seals, dolphins and penguins and I know that for some, the idea of paying to see animals in captivity is abhorrent, Sea World has a good reputation for the research and rescue of marine life and if seeing such amazing creatures up close in this environment teaches people love and respect for them (and their environment) then I’m all for it.

On the day we were there so were hundreds of school children, that’s right, crazy as it might seem we went to a theme park during the school holidays and we don’t have children. Hearing them squeal in excitement over the pelicans catching fish or as they watch dolphins perform reminds me how special these experiences are and I have to admit that on the inside I’m squealing in excitement too! Watching the seals I can’t help compare them to my two black doggies with their long noses and whiskers, at Sea World there are three types of seals in Seal Harbour: New Zealand Fur Seals, the golden maned Australian Sea Lions and Californian Sea Lions but it is impossible for me to figure out which seal is which. Polar Bear Shores is the other area I like to spend my time in, today it is quiet and we can easily get a good position to see the polar bears and it soon becomes obvious why, only one polar bear is out and about and he or she is not budging from their shady spot under a tree. The environment that the polar bears live in was created ten years ago and it is set up to provide them with the appropriate temperature, stimulation in the form of waterfalls, deep pools and trees, to see them diving into the water and placing their huge paws on the viewing glass is amazing but alas it is not going to happen on this visit.

For the love of dogs

Volunteering at an animal shelter gives me much joy, for several hours each week I get to spend time with dogs of all shapes and sizes, often going home covered in slobber, dirt, poo and a variety of dog hair. Whether my job is cleaning their kennels or playing ball in the exercise yard it really doesn’t matter to me but knowing that each dog has had some positive, caring interaction with a person makes me happy.

These are some of the beautiful creatures that I’ve been lucky to spend time with, some of them have found their furever family and some are still waiting but in the meantime I will love each of them.

One of my dearest friends (who I refer to as the crazy cat lady) gave me a great book called ARFfirmations, Meditations for your dog by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman and for this crazy dog lady, it was the perfect gift. This book is written for dogs, the aim is to inspire them to feel confident and to help them avoid feeling shame or guilt as a consequence of their actions (such as sitting on the sofa), I’ll leave you with one of my favourite ARFfirmations from their book.

I whine when you leave the home because I know how much you will miss me

Why do I whimper every single time you walk out the door, even just to get the paper? It is because I am blessed with empathic sensitivity. I know, even before you leave, how much you will wish you were back home, glorying in the magnificence that is I. It is only natural and fitting that you feel this way. I know, as you know, that I am the cutest thing in the universe. I combine adorableness and genius. If I were not myself, I would miss me, too.

 

Take your dog to work day

Shelter Dogs, Animal Welfare League Queensland

Last Friday was Take Your Dog to Work day, a fantastic initiative that celebrates the contribution that dogs make to us and society in general and also to encourage  people to adopt from shelters and rescues. It is well known that having a pet can lower stress levels, blood pressure and improve activity levels so surely bringing them to work can assist with productivity and morale, providing you don’t have any dog haters in your office environment.

Dogs are not allowed in our workplace, for many reasons but the main one appears to be health and safety. To get around this I implemented a ‘Bring Your (Virtual) Pet to Work’ day and encouraged staff to bring in photos and fluffy toys that represented their pets and to decorate their office space as they saw fit. That day was today and it has been lots of fun, many of my colleagues are dog lovers so the majority of images and toys were dog related. We tied the event to a fund-raising morning tea for the Animal Welfare League Queensland, they rely heavily on donations of cash and goods from the general public and are always in need of old blankets, towels, pet food and kitty litter. I don’t know how much we have raised, the collection of donations has been extended to a week to give all of our work mates the chance to make a donation but every little bit helps. In the meantime everyone got the chance to eat cake, talk about their beloved fur-kids and contribute to a good cause – what a great day to end the week 🙂

Puppies

Crafty computer cat

Morning tea

Two black dogs

Voiceless victims of great flood find life at Noah’s Ark

Voiceless victims of great flood find life at Noah’s Ark.

It’s great to see that our furry and feathered friends are being looked after, I hope they find their families soon.

Resolution or not?

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NYE celebration by candlelight

Dragging myself out of bed was a little more difficult this morning and not because of overindulging as part of NYE celebrations, but because Bundy had decided that the noisy fireworks were all too much to bear and he just had to take up any spare space on my side of the bed. Maxi, also frightened by the loud explosions from nearby fireworks displays, had chosen to sleep on the floor next to the bed, making navigation to the bathroom in the early hours of the morning a tad difficult. I love these two black dogs, but it is time that they started sleeping in the garage and not in the house, something we’ve tried doing before however it never lasts long.

When is a resolution not a resolution? Apparently the tradition of making a New Year’s resolution dates back to ancient Rome, Janus, the God of beginnings appeared at the beginning of the calendar and was depicted with two faces allowing him to look forward and back into the past simultaneously, Janus became the symbol for resolutions. So far, I haven’t made a resolution because I have already committed to a number of actions and behaviours and really just have to stick with them. So, does that mean that ‘following through’ on decisions I had already made, equal a NY resolution or is it really just a to do list? Perhaps it would help if I mentioned the decisions I have made:

  • Travel to Europe and see more of Italy – flights booked, still to organise accommodation, insurance and transport.
  • Study – enrol in 4th course in June after returning from Europe
  • Dogs to sleep in the garage and me to demonstrate more ‘leader of the pack’ behaviours.
  • Attempt to demonstrate more discretion and/or professionalism in the workplace, follow through on projects and administrative duties and clean up my office.
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter.
  • Continue to look at options and opportunities for a change in career.

These decisions/resolutions/items on a to do list, are all things I want to do to enrich my life and will hopefully result in having a positive impact on someone else, maybe they are resolutions, just not the type you make when waking up with a hangover on New Years day.