This morning, under what could be mistaken for a pile of laundry but is actually his bed of old shirts and crochet rugs in our room, wearing his favourite jacket ‘cos the night was cool, is our Diesel-Dog aka The Deez, Woofy and innumerable other pet names.
Four years ago today Diesel awoke in a concreted, caged kennel at our local Coffs Harbour RSPCA shelter… He’d had a tough month leading up to that morning. Presumably misadventure led him to be there.
Two days prior to that day, the G.O. and I had returned from our four-month trip driving around Australia. During the last leg we’d decided after many kilometres of conversation that it was time for us to adopt a rescue dog, specifically a working dog breed. As we drove from South Australia to Victoria, I perused the Australian Working Dog Rescue website, locating a two-year old Kelpie-cross candidate in my old home town. We could detour there to pick her up. But sometime between stopping at my sister’s place in Melbourne and my Dad’s in NSW the dog was returned to her owners. On our last night for the trip Dad had the local paper open to the RSPCA page… he too had been thinking about adopting a dog.
On the Sunday that we now know was Diesel’s first birthday, we looked up our local Coffs Harbour RSPCA adoption website and saw a goofy little black face and blurb for a one-year old Koolie named Diesel. Oh, how in retrospect I wish I’d screenshot that photo.
From Dad’s, 390 km away, I called the shelter on Monday bang on opening time. Yes, the dog was available but they couldn’t hold him and were closed the following day. So, on the Wednesday morning having arrived home at Taylors Arm the day before we drove another 80 km and arrived as they opened the doors… The rest, as they say, is history.
With precious little input from the RSPCA – “you need a fenced yard not on the main road” – we pieced together Deez’s history. At the shelter he’d been microchipped & desexed, received four weeks of basic obedience training and two scant cups of kibble daily. There was lingering evidence of injuries: faint scars on his legs, broken teeth and soreness in his hips. He was small, skinny and hungry. His October 10th birthday suggested he was a Christmas puppy. He loves babies and children and once in Coffs Harbour in our first months together he nearly dragged the G.O. into traffic pursuing a woman with toddlers and a pram. He loves to chase trucks, motorbikes and cars… the noisier the better. He dislikes kookaburras, magpies and flies. He’s relaxed if he’s tied up with a lead but despite the G.O.’s best training efforts pulls badly when walked with one. He enjoys his dinner and any of ours he can cadge but will leave food if he’s eaten enough. He loves the beach and river… but doubtful he’d encountered either, and hates the garden hose. He’s obsessed with balls, and his teddy bears are his mates. Our only criteria… a cat-friendly dog. Sigh. Despite being cat-tested in our presence by the RSPCA, Deez enduringly detests damn cats, so it’s a good thing that Soossie the share-cat is content to reside fulltime with our neighbour.
Over the past four years Deez and I have done our best to wear down the G.O.’s preconceived acceptable dog behaviour notions… and the G.O. has mellowed considerably. Deez is now allowed to: be indoors whenever and wherever he wants; ride inside the cars not just in the back of the ute; wear canine-clothing… he particularly rocks his denim vest; have two beds indoors, in the living room and our bedroom; use the verandah futon as his day bed; come up on to the lounge to watch TV; snuggle with us on our bed on cold mornings on his blanket or on hot afternoons on a sheet under the fan…
Prior to Diesel coming into our life it had been a long time between dogs. Deez inherited my old dog Bo’s raincoat and crochet blankies… I’d held onto them for 13 years, and a water bowl belonging to the G.O.’s previous dog, Sal, from a dozen years earlier. For many years our thoughts on adopting a dog were that we should wait until we were not working, had quantity & quality of time to spend and had done with travelling to a greater extent. But on the road as we drove around Australia, we encountered many people with four-legged travelling companions. Dog Friendly is good business.
These days we muddle along. Some days in our downshifted life are busier than others and the Deez although we play three short games of dog tennis each day gets less attention than he’d like, i.e. fewer on-demand throw and catch the bear/ball games, and copes by taking more rejuvenating naps. But other than an occasional day where we have no-dogs-allowed business to attend to offsite, we spend our days in proximity. On his best days at home, Deez gets visitors. He appreciates visitors especially those who will throw a ball/bear, and in turn likes to reciprocate the visits where he makes himself quite at home in their home: after all these are friends, no?
In past years my daytime fears were inevitable future heartbreak & loss of an irreplaceable fur-kid and my night-time dreams were often ones where I couldn’t take care of my dog Bo who had gone to the rainbow bridge in 2003 after a long, good life. The night before we brought Deez home was the last time I had that dream.
Despite our heartfelt wishes we cannot give our four-legged besties extended lifespans but with responsible and care-full dog companionship we can make a difference by giving them the best lives possible while they are with us.
#gotchaday #adoptdontshop #dogsareforlife #rescuedogsrule