Approaching her 84th dog-year birthday Sambucca started with a red eye which started to bulge. This followed a long slow period in which she went grey, then white, then hard-of-hearing, then hard-of-seeing. She’s still full of beans and has a robust appetite, but the intermittent bulging red eye was not normal. A trip to the vet was called for. Between making the appointment and going the old duck clocked 84. Twelve calendar years. Born 23 August 2006. It says so on her papers from The Kennel Club. ‘Jena’ born out of ‘Yellow Daisy’ by ‘ZinZan Kilgobbin’.
‘Strue. She’s our first non-brak. Amazing. I always thought she was 12% greyhound judging from her sprint round the trailer when I get home evenings.
Tobias rounded her up, so she thought AHA! I know him, he wants to shampoo me! To avoid him she leapt into the back seat of the Ranger like a teenager. Tobias just grinned, mission accomplished! Jess accompanied me and even though old Sam very seldom gets a ride she was a star on her dog mat in the back seat; calm, unfussed.
We also had best behaviour at the vet except when an intruder – an inferior goldenretriever! – dared to leave the consulting room and cross the waiting room floor. How dare it come to the vet on a black labrador day?
Sam advanced on it menacingly. “Hey, act your age!” got her to subside. “You’re not on guard duty now”, I told her. I kindly didn’t mention that she’s never on guard duty.
The verdict was a retrobulbar mass which will probably grow. And ears that need a good cleanout.
Otherwise she’s in really good nick; happy, healthy appetite, shiny soft coat and good joints for an old duck.
“What a lovely dog”, said the vet Laura and her assistant Nikki, giving her another treat. Sambucca bristled when Laura mentioned she could have a cat scan, A WHAT!? but then her thick tail signaled enthusiastically that the lab report agreed with the vet report when we all agreed not to do any major surgical heroics.
So she’s had her first home ear washout, four to go.
Update: She can hear again! Sometimes.
Update: she’s gone . . 6 January 2019: Aitch’s birthday.
When Aitch rescued her from the vet – who gave her a sob story that the poor dog faced imminent execution due to persistent wandering which had driven more than owner to despair. Jessica called her Honey, for her lovely blonde-y coat. But when I inspected his undercarriage I explained Honey was a him, but Jess always called him Honey. I changed my name for him to Houdini for his escape artist feats.
He’d been found and unclaimed and we were to find out why. Houdini was the gentlest, friendliest mutt you could imagine. A consummate diplomat with humans and canines. He just did not like being constrained to one small half acre of land. He had places to go, things to do and new friends to meet, so he would bolt down his meal and – as soon as Aitch and I had left to work – look around, decide things were boring and off he’d go, escaping under or over any fence in his way.
If left to his own devices he’d always be home for supper, so no problem. But often he’d be found and ‘rescued’! He would hop into any car with alacrity, so we would then get a call from someone – citizen, vets rooms or the SPCA saying – sometimes in accusatory and disapproving tones – “you negligent, uncaring owner, we have your dawg”, as he now had a collar with our home number on it they could phone us and berate us. So off we would go, time and time again, to fetch Houdini. And we’d explain, and sometimes we’d get the “Yeah! Right!” look.
We went around the perimeter closing any possible gaps and holes but Houdini simply relished the challenge. His greatest escape was when in desperation – and chastened – we locked him in the garage at 10 Windsor. We put his basket, bowl and water in there, much against our better judgement, as we were actually relaxed about his wandering, as we knew he was traffic-savvy and just had strong wanderlust. If only people would just let this mutt roam free!
Quite unbelievably, he climbed up various paint tins, structures and shelves, got onto a high window ledge and forced his way between the burglar guards and escaped again! He was a legend, every bit worthy of his stage name! And so unassuming. Butter wouldn’t melt in his beak. After that escapade we had special tag made that said “I’m Houdini. I wander. I’m fine. Please phone Pete or Trish and tell them where I am”. That helped a bit when people phoned us: We got less “tut tut”-ing. The wandering, however, continued.
One day he didn’t come back. We searched high and low and phoned the SPCA and the vets rooms. No sign of Houdini, who they all knew so well by now. I hoped he wasn’t imprisoned by a new ‘caring’ owner. I like to think his new ‘owner’ is tearing his hair out about how to keep his new delightful vagabond in, and – I hope – failing.
I hope Houdini is still wandering off freely, visiting new places and new people, blissfully unaware of what the fuss is all about.
Its really dry here in Westville. Our resident troop of vervet monkeys are feeling it badly as they glean the area for food. I decided to put food out on the boundary away from the house for them to ‘fortuitously find’, but since the jungle gym has gone off to the grand-niece I had to find somewhere to place the food.
I put it out in a long trail from the garden bench to the corner of the yard, spread out so the big powder-blues don’t grab it all. Try and give the females and teenagers a chance at it too.
As I turned round I realised I had been followed by the plump black labrador. She’d hoovered up all the choice bits! She’d left the fruit, but even the bread had been labradored. Ah well, I’ll have to think of another way.
I gave her the bowls to lick.
Sambucca the Needy
Here’s the dismantled gym on the farm with its new owner:
When the new boy moved in I experienced times of being firmly relegated to 2-IC, second-best, sidekick, supporting cast – in Aitch’s life. Me and TC had to step back as she fell deep and hard in love with Matt. Here’s when she found and chose him:
He was not glossy, so we called him Matt.
Then he grew. And his coat became glossy on the expensive vet’s food Aitch fed him. He was at the tail-end of the docked-tail era.
This was back when these dogs were our children (prior to adopting two of the longer-lasting, more expensive, less appreciative, two-legged kind!).
I found Matt on the freeway late one rainy night. He was probably after an intriguing new smell which enticed him out (he hadn’t wandered before). He was a growing boy, after all! Hit by a car on the M13 when he went loping off thinking “Love Is In The Air”, he was dead. His collar with our details on it was still attached.
We shed tears. I dug his grave. We buried him in the garden.
Then we got a lawyer’s letter and the guy who hit him sued us for the damage to his car. He was entitled to do that, and we paid. Felt crappy, though.
True love – Aitch & Matt; Matt about 1989 to 1991.