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Rupert The Brave

“Rupert The Brave”

(The Protector)

By Kylie Southgate

Every night before going to sleep, my baby sister Chelsea asks me the same thing.

‘Please tell me the story of ‘Rupert the Brave’.

‘Aren’t you tired yet of that story Chelsea?’ I sigh in mock disbelief, I am secretly thrilled she still likes to hear it.

‘Noooo.  I love that story.  It helps me go to sleep and to feel safe,’ she says, her big brown eyes looking at me through her long dark lashes.

‘Okay then, as long as you promise to go straight to sleep afterwards, and don’t get up to wander through the house during the night.’

‘I promise, I promise.’ Chelsea bounces up and down excitedly on the edge of her bed.

‘Settle down young miss, lie on your bed and curl up nice and small,’ I say in my best big-sister voice.

Chelsea hops into her bed, puts her head on the pillow and tucks her long legs up beneath her.

Chelsea asleep

‘I’m ready Billie. See I’m being a good girl.’

‘That’s very good Chelsea.  Now, where shall we start?’

‘At the very beginning Billie. I want to hear the whole story.’

I settle on to the bed next to Chelsea and reach out so my paw is resting on hers.   The story of ‘Rupert the Brave has been passed down through the generations and has become legendry amongst our greyhound friends.  I never tire of telling the story to Chelsea and hope one day she will tell it to her children, and so on.

‘Once upon a time, a long time ago, when your great, great grandmother was a girl, greyhounds were forced to race around a track. Some of them had to chase terrified possums or rabbits and even cute piglets who were tied to a lure, squealing for mercy. Even back then, greyhounds were gentle creatures and didn’t want to hurt the poor little animals. They didn’t want to run for money either. But if they didn’t win, they were treated badly by their keepers. They were given poor food, little shelter and only had concrete floors for a bed.  There was no time for fun or long walks in the park.  Some got bad injuries and were left maimed and untreated.  Some were taken out to the bush and shot, with their ears cut off, their identities stolen forever.’  I pause for a moment to let Chelsea wrinkle her nose and shudder at the horror, as she always did.

‘But others were much luckier and were rescued by kindly folk who found them lovely homes.  They were allowed to meet with their friends, go on long walks together and sleep on warm soft beds inside nice houses’. Chelsea smiles, glad she has only ever known kindness, compassion and love.

‘One day, early in summer, a group of rescued greyhounds met at the park for a walk.  As each one arrived, they gave the customary greeting; a wag of the tail, a sniff of the bottom and a little kiss on the muzzle.

Jeffery was the only male in the group that day.  He was a big fair haired boy with kind eyes. Jeffery liked everyone and everyone liked Jeffery.  The big scar on his back leg was evidence that his life had not always been as happy as it was on that day though. He didn’t like to talk much about what had happened to him, but he was not one to hold grudges and was a fine example to the newer members of the group of how to remain dignified despite a difficult past.

Jeffery and Molly

Jeffery shared his home with Molly and sometimes he gave her snippets about his racing days.  She was normally a shy girl but knowing a little of what he’d been through she was protective of Jeffery, and thought of him as her big, gentle older brother.  She was petite and pretty with dark hair and dainty white feet.  Molly had been in some races too, but she didn’t like it, and she didn’t like having to share her food and her racing kennel with anyone else. Now that she was safe, Jeffery was teaching her to be tolerant and kind to other greyhounds.  She liked everyone else in the group well enough once she got to know them, but was still wary of strangers.

Lady was a gorgeous, quiet girl with blue hair and enquiring amber eyes. She had been too small to race fast enough so was given up by her owner, to whom she was of no use, to a rescue group. She now lived in a lovely, safe warm home.  She had fallen for Jeffery the moment she met him on her first group walk. He returned her affection in a way that made her feel special, but she noticed he was careful not to exclude the other ladies either.

‘Hello Jeffery,’ Lady said demurely, as she gently nuzzled his face. ‘Hello Lady, it’s lovely to see you again.  Would you care to walk with me today?’

‘Thank you, that would be most pleasant Jeffery’ she said, blushing profusely.

Casey was the senior of the group. She had been dark haired in her youth but was now greying around her long muzzle and her flanks.  Her eyes were kind but becoming hazy with age.  Casey had raced many years ago; almost too ago long for her to remember the bad things that happened. All she knew was cold water made her nervous, but she wasn’t sure why.

‘Okay, ladies, I think we’re ready.  Don’t get too far apart and we can have a lovely time today,’ said Jeffery as he moved majestically towards the path.

I paused to see if Chelsea was asleep yet.  ‘Don’t stop there Billie. This is where the good bit starts.’

‘Just rest your head Chelsea and I’ll tell you the rest of the story.’

‘Before the group had walked very far, a strange looking dog appeared, almost as though from nowhere.  To the tall, lean, elegant greyhounds, he looked quite odd. He had short legs, a stout body and a very short nose.  His hair was blonde and coarse and his head was square.  ‘Who are you?’ asked Jeffery suspiciously, the girls lining up behind him.

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‘My name is Rupert.’ His was voice loud and gruff, which startled the group.

‘What do you want with us?’

‘I would like to be your friend. I would like to come on your walk, and to show you how to have a good time.  I won’t hurt you.  I can protect you.’

Molly looked at him and scoffed.  How would this short, stout, ugly dog protect them?  They were large and fast and could outrun anything.

‘We don’t need your protection thank you Rupert. You can join us though, but if you upset any of the ladies, I’ll make sure you are banished from this park’ Jeffery growled.

‘Can’t say fairer than that.  Let’s go then,’ called Rupert cheerily over his shoulder.

Jeffery and Lady walked together, brushing shoulders occasionally. Molly sulked close by, unhappy Jeffery had let Rupert join them and spoil their walk. She didn’t like the look of him and wanted him to go away.

Casey walked quietly not far behind.  They all ambled slowly along the walking track, stopping to sniff bushes and trees along the way.  The creek meandered beside them, bubbling over rocks and around fallen branches.

Rupert stayed just ahead of the pack but every now and then he would dart back to make sure no-one was left behind.  He slowed his pace to fall in beside Molly to make sure she was alright.  He could sense her dislike of him, and had experienced this kind of discrimination before.  He couldn’t help the way he looked.  It wasn’t his fault that people were suspicious and frightened of him when they met him, even before they knew him.   He was an easy-going chap, but sometimes others wouldn’t even give him a chance to prove it.  He was determined to show the greyhounds, especially Molly, that he was not a threat to her, and that he was in fact quite nice.

‘Is everyone else okay?’ chirped Rupert.  ‘Yes were fine, thanks’ said Casey.  ‘We may walk slowly but we are happy to keep going’.

‘I’ve got an idea .  There’s a good place up ahead where it’s safe for us all to have a run and a play.  Who’s ready?’ Rupert asked enthusiastically, already bounding ahead.

‘We are.’ With Jeffery by her side Lady was feeling quietly confident.

Rupert led the group up a hill to a hole in the fence.  He ran through easily on his short legs, but he was startled to see the greyhounds had to get on their knees to crawl through.  How funny, he mused.  He thought of them as such elegant, graceful creatures but now they just looked plain silly; their long legs stretched out in front and their backs crouched down in a sphinx-like pose. One by one they squeezed through and when they topped the hill, there was open space as far as they could see.

‘Come on everyone, go crazy. Run. Just run for the fun of it.’ called Rupert as he darted from here to there and back again.

Greyhounds had not always been allowed to run just for the fun of it.  They had been made to run on a track and chase lures and be jeered at.  They had to run further and faster than they were able.  Sometimes they collapsed with exhaustion at the end of the race and even after they had given it their all, they were told they were useless and good for nothing.

But now, after many years of campaigning to close down the repugnant industry, greyhounds were finally free to run and run and do zoomies and spins, just because they wanted to.

greyhounds in park

Jeffery, Lady, Molly and even old Casey had a wonderful time playing in the sunshine.  But after ten minutes, everyone was pooped and had to lie down to rest for a while.

‘It’s time to head back down the hill now’ said Rupert. He ran around to everyone and gently nosed them to their feet.  ‘I’ve got a few other fun things to do before we’re done .’

Rupert’s enthusiasm was contagious, and although the greyhounds were feeling tired, they followed his lead and headed towards the creek.

At the bottom of the hill, there was a crossing made of large rocks that had been placed across the creek.  Rupert bounded ahead, very sure of his footing, and waited on the opposite bank.

‘Come on, it’s easy.’

‘Ladies first.’ Jeffery was always the gentleman.  ‘I’ll wait here to make sure everyone gets across safely.’

Molly, usually shy, was the first to try.  She put one long leg out and then the other and gingerly picked her way over the rocks without getting her feet wet. She was very pleased with herself on reaching the other side ‘Did you see how well I managed on my own, Rupert?’

‘You did very well Molly. Now please tell the others to come too’.

‘Come on girls.  It’s okay, even a bit fun.’ Molly called out across the creek.  She was enjoying herself immensely and was surprised at how nice a non-greyhound could actually be. Perhaps she had been too quick to judge him.

Lady came next and reached the other side easily, even stopping for a drink of the cool, clean water half way across.

Casey was more reluctant.  ‘I don’t think I can do it Jeffery’ she said, embarrassed.  ‘I’m too old to learn new tricks and I’m scared I might slip into the cold water’.

‘It’s okay Casey, I’ll follow right behind you, and I won’t let you fall’ he said, nudging her gently.

Rupert, ever the optimist, encouraged Molly and Lady to give Casey some support. ‘Ladies, let’s make Casey laugh and forget her fears’.

Come on Casey, come on, come on, come on Casey come on!’ he led them in song.  Despite her apprehension, Casey couldn’t help herself and barked out loud.

Slowly but surely, and with Jeffery to steady her, Casey made it to the other side without incident.  ‘Now we know where the saying comes from – you can teach old dogs new tricks .’ Rupert quipped. ‘Well done Casey, we’re proud of you.’

‘Thanks everyone.’ Casey smiled to herself, realising she must have finally overcome her fear of water.

On the way back to where their walk started, there was green, lush grass under big shady gum trees. They had another lie down, a roll on their backs and a frolick.

‘The sun is now high in the sky and we’ll start to get burnt.  I think we should go home now; it’s time for our mid-day nap anyway.’ Jeffery took charge as usual.

‘Yes, I’m tired and thirsty; it’s been a big day so far’ said Casey. ‘But a lot of fun.’

‘I know a place where we can have a drink and cool our feet on the way back.’ Rupert seemed blessed with boundless energy.  His eyes were bright and his little legs had to go at double speed to keep up with the long strides of the greyhounds but he didn’t show any signs of tiring.

They rounded a bend and before them was a beautiful sight.  There was a big swimming hole and the creek spilled gently over at one end, creating a little waterfall. Large gum trees flanked the banks of the creek and their rugged boughs stretched out, dappled shade providing protection from the hot sun. A huge flat rock bordered the water and allowed the greyhounds to stand comfortably to drink and to paddle to cool their tired feet.

‘This is a lovely, peaceful place Rupert, thank you for bringing us here.’

‘It’s my pleasure to show it to you, Molly.  It’s one of my favourite places to rest and paddle and I’m glad you like it too.’  It seems he was finally winning her over.

Rupert went for a wander and a sniff further down the creek where he knew some of his other friends had been earlier in the day, and checked his wee-mails.

The greyhounds replenished themselves with the clear water and stood quietly for a few moments.

Without warning, their peace was shattered.  A small, angry, fluffy, dog, full of self-importance came hurtling over the creek bank and ran straight into the middle of the greyhounds.  He yapped and yipped so loudly and fiercely nobody could understand a word he said.  His voice was loud and squeaky but he sounded angry. He darted from here to there, nipping at heels and jumping at faces.  Nobody knew what to do. They were not used to being attacked by other dogs.

‘Get this annoying little thing away from me.’ Molly finally found her voice, no longer able to contain her disdain for something so small.  She reeled around and snapped back at the little critter, making him more angry. He screeched at her and bit her painfully on her hocks.  ‘Ouch, that hurt. Go away you little monster.’ Molly, with ears flat back and her head stretched out, was ready to strike if he tried to bite her again. ‘Jeffery do something, don’t just stand there.’

Jeffery, usually calm and composed, was terrified that Molly and the other ladies would be seriously hurt. He wanted to help, but he didn’t like confrontation and didn’t know what to do.  He stood rooted to the spot, himself frightened of the crazy rampaging fluffy dog in their midst.  He remained standing still, his tail between his legs, embarrassed by his incompetence.

‘Help. Help. Rupert where are you?  Please help us,’ Lady called out desperately.

Rupert was busy sniffing in the bushes, exploring new scents.  He was vaguely aware of a kerfuffle going on back at the creek, but assumed Jeffery, as their leader, would be able to deal with it.  But on hearing his name, Rupert jerked his head up high, cocked an ear to the sky and immediately knew what he had to do.

‘I’m coming.’ Rupert charged out of the bushes like a mad man, his tail held high, his chest puffed out in front of him, and his square head looking formidable, ears pricked forward showing he meant business.

He ran full pelt at the angry little dog, shouting at him with words the gentle, gracious greyhounds had not heard before.  The plucky little dog saw him coming and for a moment contemplated tackling him head on; but quickly had second thoughts when taking in Rupert’s strong jaw line and deep, menacing eyes.

He took one last nip at the shuffling, nervous feet of the greyhounds and then high-tailed it up the bank, Rupert in full-flight only metres away.  The little dog was nimble and sure footed, but his strength was no match for the stocky and powerful legs that propelled Rupert.

Rupert was on his tail in a few paces; there was no need for violence; harsh words and threats were all that was required, and the little dog was no longer so self-assured.  Frightened and intimidated, he ran for his life.

‘Go away and stay away. You’re not welcome here if you’re going to be nasty to these lovely dogs.’ Rupert continued to follow the yappy dog, angry and threatening. He knew it would not come back.  He stopped and watched for a while longer until it was out of sight. He returned to the creek bank and stood at the top, looking down at the huddle of greyhounds, still unable to move.

‘It’s okay, he’s gone and won’t be coming back.  You’re all safe now.  Is anyone hurt?’ he called down.

‘My foot is sore.’ Molly held her hind leg up for effect. ‘But I’ll be okay. Thanks to you.’ Molly bowed her head, glad to she had given this larrikin a chance to be her friend.

‘Thank you Rupert.  You were so brave.’ Lady sidled up to him and gave him a peck on his cheek.

‘Oh Rupert, thank you.  I was afraid the little dog would pick on me next as I’m old.  But you made sure I was safe.’ Casey kissed him gently on his short muzzle.

Jeffery had finally recovered his composure. ‘On behalf of myself and the ladies, I would like to thank you, Rupert, for your courage and bravery. You must come on all our walks and be our protector.’

“It would be my pleasure.” Rupert puffed out his chest, ran around the group, giving each greyhound a friendly lick on the nose. “I will make sure greyhounds are free to run without fear whenever they want,” he vowed.

And so the legend began – ‘Rupert the Brave, Protector of the Greyhounds’.

‘THE END’

I looked at Chelsea. She had tucked her nose under her paw, a smile on her long lips. Her eyelids fluttered gently. I knew she was already having sweet dreams; looking forward to the time she’d be old enough to have an adventure like Jeffery, Molly, Lady and Casey. And of the plucky little fellow who would keep her safe.

‘Good night baby girl, sleep tight.’ I brushed my lips across her forehead and lay down beside her.   We surely are the lucky ones.

 

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Chelsea (left) and Billie (right)

 

 

 

 

 


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10 Years Young

I can’t believe it is 12 months since I posted “Birthday Boy”!  The year has gone so quickly, and I haven’t managed many posts since! Sadly there has been a change to the mix of our household since then (RIP Miss April) but on the whole it’s been a pretty good year. But it was a special weekend for our Rupert (Rupie) – he turned 10 years old, but is ageing very gracefully!

Rupie when he was a puppy - sooo cute

Rupie when he was a puppy – sooo cute

 

He maybe a little whiter around the face, and his run is not quite as spritely, but he’s happy, healthy and loving life, which is so wonderful to see.  He chases his sister Billie, but has no chance of catching her (she is a Greyhound after all, so I don’t think his age has anything to do with it!).  He chats away to us in the mornings and when we come home from work.  His favourite thing of all time is to ride in in the car, sitting like a little old man looking out the window.  He makes us laugh with his clown-ish ways, and we’re so grateful  he  came into our lives nearly 10 years ago.

Rupie (and his brother Ralphie – RIP) were wedding presents, which means it’s also our 10th wedding anniversary this week!  We’re both a little plumper and a little grayer too, but we’re still loving loving life and looking forward to a weekend away with our closest friends.

Rupie doesn’t like party hats or balloons, so we got him his two favourite things – a treat in a box!  He loved ripping the box, but loved the treat too!

Although the weather was cold this past weekend, the sun was shining so we took the opportunity to get out in the fresh air with Rupie and Billie.  When we were all tired and slow at the end of our long walks, Rupie was still jogging along, sniffing and playing with any other dog we came across!  We call him our Eveready Bunny! But he did have a snooze in the afternoon before bouncing around waiting for his dinner!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY OUR BEAUTIFUL BOY XXXX


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Little Wilbur

A blog post that my friend Paulette at The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap posted recently inspired me to tell a lovely story about what love and compassion can do for a dog, especially an old dog.

I work in the office of a pet minding business, Lonely Pets Club.  A couple of weeks ago we were contacted by a lady in distress. She owned a little 16 year old Jack Russell called Wilbur. She’d had a bad car accident 12 months prior and was unable to walk and unable to care for Wilbur. So he was staying with her ex-hubby but he wasn’t caring for him properly and wouldn’t let him in the house due to his incontinence. So poor Wilbur was left outside in the cold with little shelter.
Wilbur2
His mum Katherine was desperate to get him somewhere safe and warm.  So we put the call out to our beautiful carers and so many offered their help.
Jess, who had recently lost two of her own little dogs,  was the first to offer her love and is now his foster mum. She is caring for him until his mum Katherine can find a place where she can look after Wilbur again. When he first arrived, he was in a bad way, and Jess got him straight to the vet.  He had excess fluid on his lungs from lack of medication, poor conditions and cold weather. He  needed to wait another week while she fattened him up and got him a little better to have his vaccinations done and he required a blood test to check on his kidneys.  He also got a top up of medication and an arthritis injection and while he was violated for a temperature check and then again for a prostate check… he was willing to accept the apology treats the vet was spoiling him with!!  Wilbur is partly deaf and partly blind but he can still see well enough to avoid collisions and hear well enough for when Jess tells him to go wee wee’s. His incontinence is severe and it prevents him being able to follow them around the house and snuggle for very long… he hates having to get out of bed or up off the couch in the cold.
Wilbur with Jess on the day he arrived

Wilbur with Jess on the day he arrived

A couple of days after his visit to the vet, little Wilbur was looking so much better! His real mum Katherine was being a wonderful support to Jess and providing for all his medical costs.  Jess arranged for Katherine to visit Wilbur, the first time she’d seen him  in 12 months!!

Foster mum Jess said “It was beautiful to see how happy Wilbur was to spend Saturday with Katherine (his real Mum) – he was running around like a mad rat haha.

Unfortunately we have had some bad news from the vet though, Wilbur has been diagnosed with kidney disease and has been put on a special diet to take the stress off his kidneys. Luckily he loves his new food!

Happier news, he has put on more weight, his chest infection has cleared and he is running around my house and playing like he is a puppy again”.

Jess hasn’t been able to take many photos as he looks like a blur roaming around after her cats!! He has also been playing with all the toys they have around the house and loves tug of war!

He has some new jumpers to keep his little body warm when he’s not snuggling up to his hot water bottle, and wears a little nappy to prevent accidents due to incontinence caused by his medications.  So he now has free roam of the house, and love to snuggle into Jess.

So, at 16 years young, Wilbur is again feeling loved, warm and secure. And Jess has fallen big time for the little man!!

Thanks again Jess for everything you’ve done for Wilbur and Katherine xx

Wilbur and his guardian angel Jess

Wilbur and his guardian angel Jess

Wilbur in his warm bed in his nappy

Wilbur in his warm bed in his nappy

Wilbur in his stripey jumper

Wilbur in his stripy jumper

Wilbur in his red jumper

Wilbur in his red jumper

 

 

 

 

 


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The Little Book of R & R – Chapter 1

The Little Book of R & R (a dog’s tale by Ralph and Rupert)

 

Our story began in September 2004 when thirties-something couple, Kylie and Mike, went to the Lort Smith Animal Hospital to choose a dog. They had been given a voucher to adopt two dogs as a wedding present from their siblings.  It was not the first time either of them had owned pets, but it was to be the first time they owned any as a couple.  So, a day after returning from a five week honeymoon, they went to the Lort Smith to see which dogs needed a new home.  It was sad for them to see so many lovely dogs desperate to go home with them but when they came across us in the inside pens, the choice was obvious.  We were in a pen together, snuggled up, or chewing each other’s ears.  There were two little girls, our sisters as it happens, in the pen next to us but they had been mean to us and had to be kept away.

Adam the kennel manager  had quite a long chat to Kylie and Mike about what sort of dog they wanted, how many, their prior experience with dogs, and quickly determined they were a responsible, caring couple who would be perfect parents to two needy little fur babies.   Kylie and Mike wanted two dogs but hadn’t decided whether to get one first and then six or so months later introduce a second dog to the family.  We’d obviously charmed Adam and he didn’t want to separate us – he said he’d been watching us and we were such great little mates that if they wanted two puppies straight away, they could take us home the following week.

Kylie and Mike’s sisters came to meet us the next day – we put on as much cuteness as we could muster – and the decision was made.  A few days later (after our little ‘op’ to make sure there were no more unwanted puppies) we were on our way home to start our new life.

We were very small but big on cuteness!

We were very small but big on cuteness!

 

 

My name is Ralph and I’m going to tell you our story.  My little brother Rupert will pitch in now and again but he doesn’t know quite as many words as I do.

After a short car ride which was fun – we just sat in the back with Kylie, our forever  Mum,  hanging on to each other, wondering where we were going – we arrived at our new house.  To little pups – we were very small and no-one really knew how old we were – it seemed like a palace compared with the pen we were in at the shelter.  Kylie and Mike, now we call him Mikey, had created our own play area at the back of the house.  We had access to the garden for wee wees, a long hallway to run and chase along, a very comfy cardboard box with blankets to sleep in, a clock, toys and a hot water bottle. For two abandoned pups who didn’t know which way their life would turn, we were in heaven!

We only cried a couple of times for the first few  nights – not for our previous life, as that wasn’t much fun, but for our birth mum – we still wonder what happened to her and what she looked like.  However,  we soon settled into our new routine with Kylie and Mikey and became model fur-babies.

I bet you’re wondering how we came to having such cool names?  Well, Kylie and Mikey got married at Rupertswood Mansion the month before we met them.  As we were wedding presents, it seemed only logical that one of us would be called Rupert.  I’m not sure how Rupert got to be called Rupert, but now that I know him better, it suits him.  And of course they needed another ‘R’ name and Ralph just seemed to fit my cheeky face to a tee.   So, from then on, we became Rupert and Ralph, the terrible twins!  As with all good Aussie families, we had to shorten or lengthen our names, so we’re often called Rupie and Ralpie, even Scupie and Scalphie! Is it any wonder it took us a while to learn to come when we’re called – we’re not sure who they’re calling sometimes!

 

Our first week was relatively uneventful – Kylie and Mikey took it in turns to race home from work at lunchtime to give us our mid-day meal and check that we were ok.  There was lots of changing of newspaper on the floor too as we hadn’t learnt to go outside yet – we were way too little to be out on our own anyway. In the evenings, we’d al l get to play together and learn about each other.  Sometimes when we woke from a snooze, we’d notice Kylie and Mikey just standing together watching us – it was very sweet and we knew then that we had fallen on our feet and were going to love being part of this family very much.

A week later, Mike and Kylie were taking us to puppy school for the first time.  We were nearly there – it wasn’t far, but too far for our little legs – when I heard Rupert groaning in his corner of the back seat of the car.  “ Ooooh Ralphie, I don’t feel very well. My tummy’s sore and I think I’m going to be sick”, he said, just before he threw up all over the place.  Mikey stopped the car but before he could take Rupert outside, he threw up again, and again and again, all the way back to the Lort Smith Hospital.  I said, “what’s wrong little brother?  Are you going to be ok?”.   Rupert looked at me with very sad and sorry eyes and said “I don’t know what’s wrong Ralphie but I feel really sick and I’m sorry for the mess but I can’t help it.  Please get Mikey and Kylie to take me to the hospital quickly so they can find out what’s wrong with me.  Oooh, my tummy…”.


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Spring Is In The Air

In our part of the world, new seasons start at the beginning of the month.  So, today is officially the start of Spring.  And Mother Nature must have been checking her calendar!  It’s been 24 degrees Celsius, sunny skies and a northerly wind blowing.   The blossoms are out on the trees, they’re sprouting fresh leaves; the daisies and tulips are waving their heads in the sun; and the dogs are enjoying lying in the shafts of sunlight streaming through the windows.  And with the first burst of Spring sunshine, the flies are already buzzing around!

I remembered writing a similar post last year, and yes, almost to the day, the weather came good then too.  We’ll still have some cold and wet days, but the promise of warmth and holidays is in the air.

It’s just over a year ago that we fostered our second greyhound Billie.  Back then she was dirty and woolly, frightened and shy.   A year on and she’s still a bit nervy when she’s out of the house, but at home she’s playful, affectionate and beautiful!

It’s been an interesting year – some good things have happened but some sad things too.  We’ve loved having Billie as an addition to our family, but my Mum passed away after suffering from Lewy Body Dementia for a number of years. It still doesn’t feel real and I often think of things that ‘I must tell mum’, and then with a stab of reality, realise I can’t.

A very special lady

A very special lady

On a more positive note, we, along with my Dad, are going on an overseas holiday and we leave in 3 days!  It’s the thing that’s kept us looking forward and not drowning in the sadness of the past.  We’re going to Europe and doing a couple of cruises on the Mediterranean.  We’re having a stopover on the way home in Dubai, and Dad is going on to England to visit his and Mum’s relatives; something he didn’t think he’d get chance to do again.

My next blog post could well be strewn with  images of ancient cities, blue oceans and opulent cruise ships!  As much as we are looking forward to this wonderful holiday, however, it means we have to leave our doggy family behind for a month; the longest we’ve ever left them.  We have a house-sitter coming to stay and I know she’ll take good care of them, but it still causes me anxiety.  Thank goodness for social media and text messages!

I’ll finish this post with greetings of the season, whichever one you are currently experiencing, and some images of our Spring, and our dogs – well, dog, as Rupie and April were camera shy today.

Spring daisies

Spring daisies

Lavender's first bloom

Lavender’s first bloom

Yellow daisies being battered by the wind

Yellow daisies being battered by the wind

Fishbone ferns thriving

Fishbone ferns thriving

Beautiful Billie

Beautiful Billie


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Story of Adoption

Our love affair with greyhounds started in September 2010.  We had previously decided that our next dog would be a greyhound as we had a friend who had adopted one and she was beautiful. We’ve always adopted pets from shelters so saving the life of a greyhound fitted with our beliefs. But we didn’t realise that day would come as quickly as it did, as our two dogs, Ralph and Rupert, were only three years old.

Instead of telling you all about us and how much we love greyhounds, we’ll let April, our first greyhound tell you our story.

Hi, I’m April!  It all began in NSW in 2002.  My mum Stacey gave birth to my sisters Shawee and Baby, my brother Milagro and me.  When I was being born, I got a bit stuck and had to be pulled out.  Unfortunately it did some damage to my foot and it’s never been normal since. We grew up with a trainer and he and his wife were good to us.  As we grew from gangly, short-nosed pups, our owner could see that my siblings had inherited their mum and dad’s good racing pedigree and started their training.  It all seemed very glamorous to me, but because of my club foot I did not join them.  I had to wait in the backyard for them to come home and tell me all about the outside world.  They were given lovely racing names, but I was only ever called April, after the month in which we were born (not much imagination there!) as it had become obvious that I would never race.  I could only hop around on 3 legs most of the time as it hurt to put my foot on the hard services.  If was on grass or chasing my siblings, I forgot about the pain and used all 4 feet!  Despite my obvious disability, I grew into a handsome girl who looked just like my mum and sister and was pretty happy about life – nothing much fazed me and I enjoyed spending time with my family.

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We were some of the lucky ones – our owner kept us even past the time we could win any races, and of course I couldn’t ever do anything but be sweet and hop around a lot.   Eventually, however, in early 2010, hard times fell on our owners and they couldn’t keep us anymore.  Janet and Peter from Greyhound Rescue took us in as a family (including Princess who is my half sister from an earlier litter) and let us live with them for a while with all their other dogs.  It was fun, but there were so many of us they had to find us new homes. Shawee, Baby, Princess and Milagro were all found lovely forever homes quite quickly but mum and I were going to be a bit of a problem.  Mum was now nearly 14 years old and I was 8 and had special needs as far as my leg was concerned.

On the saddest day of my life, my beautiful mum Stacey passed away in September 2010.  I didn’t understand what had happened and was very stressed.  For the 8 years of my life I’d never been apart from mum and my siblings and now I found myself alone.  What would become of me?  Who would want an old girl who couldn’t go for very long walks?

And then it happened – the start of the rest of my life!  Kylie and Mike in Melbourne had been considering fostering a greyhound a year and a half after their beautiful dog Ralph passed away aged 4 from lymphoma.  They didn’t know if they were ready to have another dog but Ralph’s brother Rupert had been depressed since the loss of his best mate and they thought a new friend might cheer him up.

So they contacted Greyhound Rescue and thought they’d try fostering for a while to see how everyone got on.  Next thing I knew I was on a plane (that was a bit weird!) to Melbourne and a couple of days later Kayleigh from Greyhound Rescue took me to meet my new family.  Rupert (I now call him Rupie) is a cutie – he was a bit wary of me at first and bossed me around a bit to let me know it was his place and he’d lay down the ground rules – fair enough, I reckon.  I was just happy to have a new friend and some owners who really love me.

When it came time to put me up for adoption, it seemed I had wormed my way into the hearts of my new family – they say I am quite a character and make them laugh – and they decided they could not let me go to yet another home, so they made the adoption official.

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Two years later, Martina from Kay’s Greys (now Amazing Greys) put out a desperate call for a foster carer for a young dog who needed rescuing from a trainer’s kennels.  Kylie and Mike had fallen for me big time (and who wouldn’t??) and they couldn’t bare to see a dog at risk of being killed.  So, they offered to take in New Girl (she didn’t even have a name) and in a few days, we had a skinny, dirty, woolly, frightened young girl living in our house.

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Rupie liked her straight away and I guess I did too, but she was a bit scared of us, of Kylie and Mike and every single noise that she heard.  We named her Billie, and gradually, with lots of love, encouragement and space, she came out of her shell and became part of the family.  When it came time to put her up for adoption… well, Kylie and Mike foster failed again!  So she was officially adopted by us in October 2012.

Now we couldn’t imagine life without her – she’s always wandering around, checking to see that everyone’s ok, gives gentle little kisses on noses, hogs the bed and steals all the attention when we have visitors because she is now so beautiful.  The ugly duckling has grown into a graceful swan.

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She’s only three years old and likes to play which has kept Rupie and I from growing into old grumps.  We have a lot of fun together and we’re really grateful that we have a nice happy home in which to live the rest of our lives.  We hear that some of our kin are not so lucky.

So the moral of the story is that we’ve all given something to each other – Billie and I have a lovely new home full of love, Rupie has two new friends to play with (and boss around!), and Kylie and Mike have had the opportunity to experience the joy of caring for us and watching us flourish into wonderful pets.

Thanks for reading our story – please consider adopting a greyhound when your circumstances allow.

April, Billie, Rupie (and Kylie and Mike)

The gang

 

 


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Birthday Boy

It’s our gorgeous boy’s 9th birthday today!!  It’s hard to believe –  the years have gone by so fast – it seems hardly any time since he and his brother Ralph were little pups.  For those who don’t know the story, Rupert and Ralph were given to my husband and I as wedding presents 9 years ago.  The day after we returned from our honeymoon, we went to the Lort Smith Animal Shelter in Melbourne and found the two adorable pups cuddled up together.   We hadn’t decided whether we wanted one or two puppies, but they were so gorgeous together we couldn’t resist.  And the kennel manager said he couldn’t bear to separate them because they were such good mates.

So, we came home with two tiny puppies; no-one really knew how old they were, or what they were.  All we knew was that they were adorable and completely the cutest we’d ever seen (we were a bit biased, and fresh from our honeymoon!)

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They grew into beautiful boys and great mates, though in their terrible twos when the adrenalin started pumping they did have a few brotherly scraps (well, more than scraps, stitches were sometimes involved!).

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Best mates

So you can imagine how devastated we were when at 3.5 years old, we were told that Ralph had lymphoma and without treatment only had weeks to live.  Of course we couldn’t let our boy go that easily, so we gave him treatment and had a happy healthy boy for another 18 months.  Eventually however, the disease took over and we had to let him go.
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I was distraught, and whether Rupert picked up on that, or was also deeply affected by his brother’s loss, he seemed to go into a depression for at least 6 months.  He went quiet (and he’s usually quite noisy and vocal), sat in his beanbag and took no notice of things going on around the house or garden.  It was terrible to see and we didn’t know what the best thing to do for him was – should we get him a friend (he seemed frightened of puppies he met), or was he happier being with us, as we started taking him everywhere with us.

He, and I, gradually recovered.  He started to come out of his shell and engage in some of his ‘clown’ antics.  We could see our happy boy re-emerging.

Eighteen months on, we decided to see how we’d all get on with fostering a greyhound in need.  Well, I need not go into too much more detail!  Three years later, our family now also consists of our lovely 11 year old April, and our 3 year old Billie (also a foster fail).  And we have our boy back!  Rupie is again the clown of the family; noisy, chatty and bossy!  He loves having the girls to push around (but he has taught them manners – he is very polite with food and requests).   He plays with his toys (well, more like destroys his toys), and barks at the girls while they run rings around him.

It’s a happy house again and a joy to be met at the door by three wiggling bodies.  Ralph will always be deeply missed (on their birthday I often wonder what he would have been like as he aged;  he will never grow old and will forever remain young in our hearts), but I’m sure he’s glad that his little brother now has some sisters to keep him company.

They’ve been running themselves ragged tonight, so this is the end of their playtime – Rupie always has the last word!

This is Rupert enjoying his new toy – no wonder I don’t buy him expensive ones – he does this to any toy, regardless of the cost!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY OUR BEAUTIFUL BOY!