Friday, 4 September 2020

Life without Penny

Life goes on, after Penny's death, but we still miss her. Walking has stayed as a part of our daily routine, because of the Covid pandemic and the lockdown that says we can only leave our home for an hour a day. Of course, if we can only go walking for one hour, we want to do it! We did think that without Penny to galvanise us into action, we might not walk, but the pandemic has motivated us to get out.

Gardening is one of my great loves, and in many ways we are keenly aware of Penny's absence. For one thing, I can put down compost and not worry that she will be there like a shot to gorge herself on the delicious half-rotted stuff.





But... the rats have realised that Penny-the-Killer isn't around, and they are munching our plants to the ground.

We walked in one of Penny's favorite places the other day. (Well, every place was loved by Penny.)

Way back in 2012 we felt irritated that one of our short-cuts had been fenced off at Quarry Park. Well, now we see that it was a great idea to fence the area off, because the boring expanse of grass has been replaced by a lovely planting.



Tuesday, 21 July 2020

A timeline of grief for a beloved dog

I has been a long time since I could even think of adding to Penny's blog, but today seems to feel right.

Here's a recap of our grieving for Penny, in the hope that if another bereft dog owner stumbles across this post, it might help in the first sharply sad days and weeks.

Initially, it was a great comfort to hear from our friends and from those who had loved Penny. We left her ashes on the front table.


 We received a beautiful gift of a wood-block print of her, and roses.


As the petals fell, we left them beside her ashes and photo.


 Then came the sad decision to bury her ashes. We came up with the idea of making a new garden in a spot that had been neglected, but which was just outside the unused doorway where she had taken to sleeping most of the time in the last few weeks of her life. She liked that spot because it gave a view of the driveway and the front street, and was just beside the computer where one of her humans worked.

Here's one of my favourite photos of her in that spot:



 So we covered over the hole that held her ashes, and waited...

...because another friend had promised to give us a gift of a plant - a hellebore called 'Penny's Pink.' But it wasn't available in nurseries yet.


 Over the next few months we had to learn to walk in the places where we had always gone with Penny - without her. Sad, but filled with loving memories of a wonderful dog. This spot is Heide Art Gallery kitchen garden, where Penny strolled in her old age and I browsed the interesting plantings.


 And we visited some of the places where she had swum so often.


 We walked to new places, ones that had no memories of Penny, but brought her to our minds - she would definitely have plonked herself into that puddle!


 Finally, Penny's special plant arrived.


Now 'Penny's Pink' hellebore is growing in Penny's memorial garden.

And Penny is remembered with love. No regrets, though, because she had the best care all her life from the team at our vet and from us, and knew she was safe and loved. But her time had come.



Wednesday, 11 March 2020

A good dog has gone free

Penny's training release command to do as she pleased has always been, 'Go free.'

Tonight, as the vet euthanised her, her two humans stood on either side of her, stroked her and whispered into her ear, 'Good girl.'

I believe, as she faded, the last words she would have heard were her two humans whispering, 'Go free.'

We've been blessed to have such a marvellous dog in our lives. Even in this last week, she was calm through everything, the rush to the emergency vet only to discover a large mass in her abdomen; the visit to our own vet three times in the hope it might be benign and operable; today's last visit when she must have begun to bleed internally and had not even the strength to stand up.

I'm ending her story with two photos from today:

Out into the garden in the morning for a wee, and a lie down in the sunshine...


Gone free in the evening...


Saturday, 11 January 2020

Changeable weather makes it hard for an old dog

It's difficult to feel positive these days, with the tragedy of the bushfires here in Australia, and the terrible loss of life - too many humans and an estimate of a billion animal deaths.

But we keep on trying to have a normal life here, fortunately living in the safety of a big city. Penny's missing her regular walks the last couple of days, because the air is smoky for an old dog (and her old humans). And sometimes it's too hot for her. She struggles if the temperature is higher than about 20°C.

Yesterday we didn't go out early because it was too hot. Here she is briefly visiting the front yard, where some of our plants are protected by our newly purchased beach umbrellas (only useable if the wind isn't blasting like a furnace).

 And then, when we thought of going out in the late afternoon, it was cold and raining.

Hooray for the rain. Here's hoping the exhausted fire fighters can get a bit of an advance on the flames while the cooler weather is here.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Gel cooling mat on a hot day

Two days ago it was 44°C (111.2°F) outside in our yard.

Penny was inside, but that was a dangerously hot day, and we were worried about her health, so human number two came home with a gel cooling mat. We wondered if Penny would use it, as she's averse to finding new bedding on her Coolaroo pet bed. We've never been able to convince her to lie on it without layers of bedding, which is a nuisance, as it would be cool in summer for her with just the mesh.

We put the gel mat on top of the blankets on the bed, and she stayed away from it. Frustrating for us, as the temperature climbed throughout the day, reaching 30°C inside the house. Eventually I had the idea of ripping apart the cover of one of her old doonas and placing the thin layer of cotton on the gel pad.

And, hooray, at last she decided to lie on it.

I was wondering how these things work and whether they are actually effective, but this review seems to be quite positive.

If we're in for more hot days like that one, as the science seems to suggest, we might even try putting the mat in the freezer for a little while before laying it out for Penny. I'll come back to this blog and add any future info as we go.

By the way, the next day the temperature only got up to 20°C (68°F) - around noon - so in the  evening it was more a question of whether Penny was snuggled up into warm enough bedding.

That's Melbourne weather for you!

BTW, we do have cooling in the house,  but it struggled to deal with such a hot day.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Old dogs and new behaviours

Wow! Nearly two months since I posted about Penny and her adventures.

Well, at her age - and mine - just getting out of the house and walking is an adventure.

We're finding that although twenty minutes' stroll is enough for her, it's not sufficient to maintain our own health, so today we humans took a long, brisk walk separately, after taking Penny to Heide Museum of Modern Art in the morning for an amble around the outside artworks.

Here she is posing in the strangely cool evening. How weird that parts of Australia are burning up in bushfires and other areas are so cold that some are even predicting there could be snow on the mountains at Christmas!


As you'll see in this photo, she's quite grey around the muzzle now. I'm not sure when I noticed that - perhaps it was after her latest clipping. 

Friday, 4 October 2019

dog and tree

What a beautiful sight...

A gorgeous dog and a wonderful tree  trunk.