One year on

One year has passed since we said goodbye to our dear old Maxi. We have almost 16 years of wonderful and funny memories, at home we reminisce about her antics and have a chuckle and some bring tears to my eyes. Her nighttime dinner dance was always entertaining, she would stand in the doorway with a goofy look on her face, jump in and out and twirl around in excitement. We had our first storm of the season late last week, the thunder and lightning reminding me how much we used to dread storms when Maxi was alive. Storms terrified her, she would shake for hours, drooling all over the floor as she paced through the house and nothing would help her settle. It was so frustrating for me, there was nothing I could do to help her and when a storm hit in the middle of the night we all would end up a little on edge. I don’t miss those nights yet I would do it all again if it meant she was still with us.

I remember the first day we saw her as though it was yesterday, she was all ears and legs and she was the last of the litter. At the time we were living in an apartment, no pets allowed so we walked away convinced that we would not be getting a dog. Maxi was still there a few days later which had to be fate, she was meant to be ours. Too scared to walk to the car, I had to carry her in my arms whilst juggling bags of goodies that would help us get through the first couple of nights (in secret of course). Sneaking a dog in and out of an apartment isn’t easy and keeping cream coloured carpet pristine is impossible with a puppy around. The search for dog-friendly accommodation began and we made arrangements for her to stay with family for a few weeks until we could all be together in our own home.

For a long time after she passed I could feel Maxi’s presence in the house and would catch myself looking for her in her favourite spot under the Poinciana tree near the front fence. That particular spot provided Maxi with full view of our yard and she could also keep watch over our street, barking at neighbours, strangers walking past, and random cars. It was where we always found her when we got home from work, waiting for us with a happy face and wagging tail.

There is no replacing Maxi, she was not just a dog, she was our first dog and a member of our family, a beautiful soul with a soft and gentle nature. Maxi brought much love and laughter into our home, I wonder if she knew how much she was loved in return.

Gone but never forgotten, I will always love you my Maxi girl xxx

Maxi the dog

Memories of our girl

Monday marked six weeks since we farewelled our dear old Maxi. Some days it feels as though it was only yesterday when I held her in my arms and said goodbye, her not being here doesn’t seem real. Other days I feel her presence, I close my eyes and she is right next to me. There has been plenty of tears, but also a lot of reminiscing about the funny side of life with Maxi. I miss hearing the click clack of her nails on our tile floor as she paced through the house, and come dinner time I picture her standing in the doorway eagerly awaiting her food. I miss the happy dance that she did once she realised dinner was ready and I watch with sadness as Bundy heads to the garage alone when I go to work. I wish I could kiss her forehead again and feel her soft ears in my hands, did she know how much I loved her.

Yesterday the custom urn from Vitrified Studio arrived. After seeing their beautiful urns on the  oh melvin (and yo jake) (and hey doug) blog and reading the recommendations I knew that nothing else would do for Maxi. Such a special and beautiful girl, she deserved something special to rest in. On the back of the urn the artist has stamped (at my request) ‘you had me at woof’, one of my favourite dog related sayings and the most meaningful. At the moment the urn is on display alongside the Maxi photobook I created after sorting through hard drives and boxes to find all the photos. It makes me smile to see her face, the photobook is filled with hundreds of photos taken throughout her life and each photo has a funny story or a special memory that comes rushing back when I browse through the pages. Also in the photo is the silver memorial necklace from Earth Shine Designs1, it arrived today and even though it comes from the other side of the world it makes me feel as though she will always be close when I wear it. Gone, but never forgotten.

In memory of our dear old Maxi girl
Our Maxi, gone but not forgotten

Maxi on the mend

Maxi recovering on her bed
Maxi recovering on her bed
After spending two nights in hospital Maxi is now at home with us, she seems quite bright and her appetite has returned. Although the initial diagnosis was unclear, a second ultrasound revealed that Maxi does indeed have pancreatitis. It is worrying, but at least we know what it is and how to look after her, it also makes me feel better knowing that she hasn’t eaten something she shouldn’t. Maxi has a pain patch to make her comfortable and is only allowed bland, low fat food in small batches for the next few days and for the long term she will remain on a low fat diet. Bundy will be eating similar food, he has a tendency to be a chunky dog and being 7 he is more at risk of developing pancreatitis as he gets older. Most of the time our dogs get fed healthy meals of lean mince and dry biscuits but we have indulged them a litte with juicy treats on occasion, no more of that and it probably wouldn’t hurt us to reduce our intake of fatty foods as well 🙂

Thank you so much for all the good wishes and virtual hugs, it means alot to me and if Maxi could read I know she would be really chuffed.

Maxi waiting patiently for breakfast.
Maxi waiting patiently for breakfast.

As you can see Bundy is really excited to have Maxi at home
As you can see Bundy is really excited to have Maxi at home

A really sucky start to Easter

Maxi the dog out for a casual stroll on the beach

Easter has not started well for us, what was going to be a weekend of gardening and family has now turned into a waiting game. Our dear old Maxi girl has a pain in the tummy, not the normal gastro bug she gets from a change in diet or swimming in dubious water but the kind that requires strong pain relief, ultrasounds, a night (or two) in hospital and possibly x-rays. Needless to say we’re very worried and so is the vet. It isn’t pancreatitis and nor does she have growths or tumour, but her intestines, bladder and bowel are full and there isn’t a poo in sight. Maxi isn’t the type of dog to eat just any old thing, however we’ve had some disturbing incidents of late whereby the dogs have discovered both cooked and raw bones in the yard. Our dogs aren’t allowed bones because Bundy guards them ferociously so someone we don’t know is either throwing bones over the fence deliberately or our neighbours are putting too much oomph into their throws when they give their dogs bones. I prefer to think that it is the latter, whatever the cause, we remove them as soon as we find them.

At 13 years of age, surgery to remove an obstruction is not something we want to put Maxi through. Apart from this incident she is in such good health that to consider the alternative breaks my heart, it is not somewhere I want to go.

As you can guess, I’m not the happiest of campers at the moment so please forgive the melancholic nature of my blogging of late and thank you for the love and support you’ve shown me so far.

I wish you all a Happy Easter xo

Easter by candlelight
Easter by candlelight

Crazy dog lady and her camera

My husband gave me the nick-name of ‘crazy dog lady’ several years ago when I was lying on the living room floor surrounded by our dear Maxi dog and two foster puppies, one of whom is now our boy Bundy. I have always loved animals, but never thought of myself as a dog person until we got Maxi, from then on I became slightly obsessed with dogs and the obsession reached a peak with the adoption of Bundy. We now have dog themed calendars, notepads, artwork, stuffed toys, photo frames and I spend alot of time reading dog blogs, sharing stories of dogs on Facebook, talking dogs with other dog lovers and walking dogs at our local animal shelter.

Bundy and Maxi are pretty used to me taking photos of their every waking (and sleeping) moment, Bundy can switch between completely ignoring me or cooperating completely depending on what his focus is at the time – me or a ball/bird/rat/treat. Maxi has the innate ability to be able to identify a phone camera, whether I have my DSLR, point and shoot camera or iphone she turns her head away from the camera as soon as I take the photo. Photographing Maxi has to involve treats or the beach, both make her incredibly happy and easier to photograph.

I took these photographs last year and am quite happy with the result, Bundy and Maxi had their props, soccer ball and treat which helped take the focus of me holding a camera. The post-processing in Lightroom makes them look less like an every day photo and more like a piece of art, at least they look like that to me but I know that it isn’t everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. One day soon I plan to get them printed on canvas, however I am also toying with the idea of recreating them using pastel or oil paint after seeing doggy portraits on Treats A La Bark.

Maxi the dog
Maxi
Bundy the dog
Bundy

Maxi the dog

Bundy the dog and soccer ball

Maxi the dog

Bundy the dog

No Thanksgiving but still thankful

Yesterday I read a post on Twenty-Six To Life about being thankful, written in the spirit of the ‘Thanksgiving’ holiday celebrated in America. Although we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, I was inspired to think about the things I am thankful for and have decided to share them with you.

I am thankful for (in no particular order):

  • Having a free and easy upbringing surrounded by family who loved and supported me in all my endeavours.
  • Growing up in the country where I could roam the hills with my friends, swim in creeks and ride horses after school.
  • Being introduced to the joys of travel at a young age.
  • My generous, loyal, hardworking and loving husband who makes me laugh, often.
  • My parents, they taught me how to be independent but are always there when I need them.
  • Having a brother that both frustrates me and makes me laugh, he is a friend as well as family.
  • Our two black dogs, Maxi and Bundy, they give me great joy and entertain me with their antics.
  • Good health, mental and physical.
  • A good job that regularly drives me insane but provides me with many challenges and flexible working conditions.
  • A roof over our heads, having a place to call home that we can afford to keep.
  • Ability to travel and enjoy the occasional weekend away.
  • An amazing holiday in Europe during the Spring, 2011. It was a dream come true for my husband and I and I was so glad that we could share the experience with each other.
  • Working as a volunteer dog walker at our local animal shelter, giving each dog the chance to stretch their legs and experience love and cuddles as they wait for their forever home.
  • The internet, it has given me the opportunity to discover other worlds and other lives, exposing me to inspirational people and educating me about myriad of roles they play in the world.
  • The rain that is now falling, everything will soon be green again.
  • The marks on the window left by wet noses as my two black dogs peer into the house, letting me know that it is time for a walk or that they’d be happy for a cuddle.
  • My beautiful friends, I have known some of them all my life and they love me for who I am and not what they want me to be.
  • Memories of my Grandparents: the smell of home baked cakes and biscuits, visiting the stables at the race track, mustering cattle and herding sheep in New Zealand, lots of cuddles and interesting stories of days gone by.
  • Living in the ‘lucky country’, Australia has many advantages and opportunities, not to mention fantastic beaches, rainforests and fascinating wildlife.
  • Looking out my back door and seeing magpies, rainbow lorikeets, cockatoos and the occasional wallaby or koala.
  • Staffy snuggles from my boy Bundy and the soft ears and nature of Maxi.
  • Seeing Vernazza, Cinque Terre before flooding and mudslides devastated the village. Such a beautiful place and so peaceful once all of the daytrippers go back to their hotels.

There is so much to be thankful for, sometimes you just have to remember to stop and think about the good things in your life because the bad often overwhelms every thought and makes you toxic.

Bundy playing ball in the backyard
Bundy playing ball in the backyard

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate that holiday and Happy Thursday for all the Aussies and Kiwis!

Maxi, the reluctant subject
Maxi, the reluctant subject