Remembering a special birthday

Today would have been Maxi’s 16th birthday, roughly 112 dog years. I miss her and think of her every day, sometimes I imagine her still standing at the front fence, barking at me as I pull into the driveway. Although some memories bring tears to my eyes it is easier to remember the happy times now and I want to share them you. Happy Birthday my sweet Maxi girl, may you be happy and pain free wherever you are ❤

Our beautiful Maxi girl
Maxi hated selfies
A golden sunrise and a splash in the surf
Maxi’s favourite spot for an early morning run

She loved a good roll
Maxi loved the beach and rolling in smelly things
Running free by the water
Maxi doing her happy dance at dinner time

Wordless Wednesday: Happy

The year that was.

January

A relatively quiet month punctuated by time spent cuddling gorgeous shelter dogs waiting for their forever homes. Bundy celebrated his 9th birthday and unbeknown to us Australia Day was the last time we took Maxi to the beach, she loved splashing around in the surf and afterwards would sleep for hours.

February

A python and lots of cute puppies plus a lunch date with friends by the water. A short, sweet in stinking hot month.

March

Maxi’s 15th birthday is celebrated, Easter fun and games with the fur kids and a new car.

April

Sadly, we said goodbye to my father in-law who had been unwell for a couple of years. Even though he had been married to my mother in-law for a few years he was entrenched in our family and is greatly missed.

May

A much anticipated trip to Scotland. Traveling with a group of artists on a paint-along with my art teacher for two weeks was an amazing experience and provided me with lots of inspiration for my art and further travel in the UK.

June

Always lots of dogs waiting at the Animal Welfare League, I love my Sundays with them and it is hard not to fall in love with all of them.

July

Commissioned to do a portrait of Rumpole the chocolate lab in pastel, stalked by a pigeon on our morning walk and an art class focused on drawing birds. Finally winter seems to have arrived bringing with it some spectacular sunrises and the fur kids are loving their new blankets.

August

The weather starts getting warmer and Hubby celebrates his birthday with traditional fire making and drinks with family and friends. Walks with Maxi are getting shorter and she happily shares the rug with Bundy.

September

Losing Maxi broke my heart, such a vibrant and happy girl. Gone but never forgotten.

October

After losing our dear old girl, time with friends was especially important.

November

The festive season started early at work, our team heading to a winery for a long lunch to celebrate a good year with good people. There are always dogs waiting to be adopted and every Sunday I take photos of them to raise awareness on social media in the hope that it will assist in finding them a family faster. I also finished another commission, Honey the cat, sibling to Rumpole.

December

A quick trip to Newcastle to visit my brother and his family as well as meeting my new niece. So nice that the two families live in the same city, makes it easy to fit in quality time with all of them. Christmas was perfect, good company and good food. Now I am in need of a break, some quiet time at home after a busy and emotional year.

Walking the dogs and lessons learned

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Bundy putting on the pace

Today it is cold and wet, too miserable for taking the dogs out for a walk and they seem quite content curled up on their beds. Normally, Bundy gets a long morning walk and then we take both dogs out in the evening for a short walk. Maxi is over 15 and suffers from arthritis so long walks aren’t recommended, however she does love escaping the confines of the yard.

15 years of dog ownership and I’ve learned a few things about walking dogs, although I’m sure that there is always more to learn. With Maxi hubby and I went through training with a ‘dog whisperer’, helpful however I learned more when Bundy came along and I took him to  weekly training at a local obedience school. Obedience school was a definite improvement over the dog whisperer training, Bundy was exposed to all sorts of dogs and people plus we learned how to walk a dog properly. Maxi can still be hard work when walking but we can take Bundy anywhere.

There have been plenty of times when something goes wrong as a result of us not knowing any better or getting complacent. Maxi loves to say hello to everyone, as a puppy we would take her to a local park which was off leash but her recall wasn’t great. Sometimes it would take us 20 minutes to get her back and other times she would run off to say hello to strangers and not everyone likes dogs. As for Bundy, we can walk him past a yard that contains barking dogs and he could not be less interested. Off leash Bundy is happy and carefree, until another dog decides to get amorous, he will not tolerate such bad behaviour and lets them know. I like to keep an eye on things and make sure that I’m close enough to withdraw him from a tense situation. Hubby is much more relaxed and thinks that all dogs should be able to say hello, needless to say we do have the occasional argument about the topic.

I am not a trainer, the points listed below are things I have learned over the years from having attended obedience classes, volunteering at our local shelter and reading.

What have I learned?

  • Take your dog to puppy kindy and obedience school. Socialisation is essential and you will learn about your dog’s needs and how to walk your dog properly.
  • Practice walking your dog and consistently applying the techniques learned. Walking your dog will be more pleasurable if they’re not constantly pulling you around.
  • Practice recall and don’t let your dog off leash if you are unable to recall them.
  • Ask permission to approach another dog with your dog. Don’t assume that all dogs are dog friendly. A wagging tail is not necessarily a sign that the dog is friendly.
  • Carry a plastic bag (or several) with you and pick up your dog’s poo. Dispose of it in a bin.
  • Be aware of you surrounds when walking. You can prepare your dog if something unexpected happens.
  • Stop and wait at the curb before crossing the road.
  • Pay attention to other dog walkers. If they are trying to constrain an over-excited dog don’t add to the problem. Cross the road and give them some space.
  • Don’t let your dog off leash in an area where is is on leash only. Your dog might love to say hello to everyone but a reactive dog on leash will not appreciate your friendly dog bounding over to them to say hi. It can end very badly.
  • Don’t suffer through a walk with a dog that constantly pulls, consider getting help from a professional and/or get the dog fitted for a sporn head halter or sporn harness. For an example of a sporn halter or harness check out OzPetShop online, but do some research to make sure you get the right ‘tool’ for you and your dog.
  • Reward your dog with time to sniff. A walk is not just exercise for dogs, it is an opportunity for them to experience life outside their yard.
  • Use a leash that allows you to maintain control over your dog, preferably nothing longer than six feet. I personally don’t like the extendable leads, if they malfunction your dog could quickly find themselves on a busy road or tangling themselves up with another dog.
  • Let people know if your dog is not dog friendly or gets anxious around strangers. You can attach a yellow ribbon or consider accessories that tell people about your dog such as those available at Friendly Dog Collars.
  • Don’t walk your dog in the middle of a hot day. If the road or path is too hot for your feet it will be too hot for theirs. Wait until it cools down or go early in the morning.

In addition to being a good form of exercise, we’ve made some great friends through our dog walks: Lachie the Blue Heeler, Danny the Staffy, Nala the Golden Retriever and Spartan the Rhodesian Ridgeback. If you can’t take your dog for regular walks but you’re committed to doing what you can to have a happy dog then consider using a dog walking service such as those available through Rover.com. Dog walking services are invaluable for the time poor dog owners and professional dog walkers love their job!

Dogs these days are truly part of the family so it makes sense to do what you can to live a peaceful and easy life together.

Enjoy your walk!

walking the dogs at sunset
Sunset walk with the fur-kids
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Off leash at the beach and loving it

 

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.

A Merry Queensland Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all from Two Black Dogs! In contrast to the snow and Gluhwein we enjoyed at the Christmas markets in Europe, our Christmas day began with a trip to the beach. Breakfast was baked ham and eggs on toast accompanied by a glass of Australian sparkling wine. Thankfully the weather has been good to us and it is a mild, slightly breezy day with moments of blue sky and sunshine.

Maxi and Bundy love the beach, Maxi returns to her puppy-hood and bounces across the sand and through the water. The dear old girl never looks happier than when she is at the beach. Bundy just enjoys running, sniffing and splashing around, a swimmer he is not. At home they’re sleeping soundly, recovering from an exciting morning and dreaming of their next adventure.

Wishing you a day filled with love and laughter! Be safe and be happy xox

two dogs in car
off to the beach on Christmas morning

Bundy is a splasher not a swimmer
  
Bundy and his new stuffy
  
Maxi loves the beach
  
Santa comes to Bundy
  
Bundy and his Mama in her new Christmas shirt