Thursday, 1 February 2007

The high-jinx of Jack and Russell

We have two dogs. I guess we are gluttons for punishment - they are both Jack Russell Terriers. I can't tell you exactly how many smart arses have asked me, "which one is "Jack" ,and which one is "Russell". These people crack themselves up over their own lack of originality. I feign a laugh to the side of my mouth, for politeness sakes. The joke gets old after a while.

Their names are actually Angus and Cobie (as in coe-bee, not cob-ee as everyone assumes...we thought it a relatively simply name at the time). They are 10 and 8 years, respectively.

They are international travellers.

We packed them up a few days before we left Australia and hauled them onto a plane, bound for Canada.

It was such a frenzied week, where everything we weren't taking with us was sold off at a garage sale on the front yard. The rest was packaged up in a multitude of paper and plastic protective layers, loaded into a shipping container and trucked away to Port Melbourne, where the container sat awhile, before being loaded onto a ship bound for the Great North.

The dogs were next. A white van visited; unceremoniously shoved the dogs into kennels and motored away quickly to spare us, and the dogs, any additional trauma caused by prolonged and teary goodbyes.

Then we packed up our zillion bags, and stuffed them into the tight hotel room where we would spend our final two nights in Australia; in a hotel that just happened to be holding auditions for Australian Idol, the same weekend.

A league of would-be hopefuls were lined up for miles down the road. They sang and yakked and yelled all night long - mustn't be the best preparation for the honey toned voices of Australia's Next Singing Sensations, but never mind. The smart ones booked a hotel room and had Mum and Dad hold their place in the queue, while they got their beauty sleep.

Nevertheless, I digress....

On our first night in the hotel, I overheard Mister, who was two and a half at the time, talking to his beloved bear "Tippy". He was trying to make sense of the flurry of activity that had taken place like a whirl wind that week, the disappearance of a home...the not-so ordinary occurrences, the sudden lack of familiarity, the looming threat of change.

We had spoken to him about the big move, but it must have been awfully confusing for him. Anyway, I heard Mister explaining to his bear, in a barely audible voice, "don't worry, we'll get new puppies when we get to Canada".

Oh, it nearly broke my heart to hear that. I had to interrupt and set things straight. He told me he was very sad about sending the dogs away, and thought we had callously gotten rid of them - as if they were disposable objects that had become burdomsome, or items that no longer matched the couch and cushions.

I did reassure him that we would see them the day after we arrived in Vancouver, and why's about them being unable to travel with us. I even had a photograph of the dogs and let him have it while he was separated from his pups. This seemed to help, but Mister's distress made us anxious and wanting to be reunited with our dogs once more - there was a sudden need to reclaim and be reunited with something that connected the old life to the new - loved ones....

We didn't have a home to go to when we arrived in Canada. In fact, we spent our first two months living in a small hotel wasn't pleasant. Two adults, two kids and two yappy dogs, living in confined spaces on the 13th floor.

When we went to the airport to pick up the dogs from the animal cargo depot, we immediately recognised Cobie barking; he could be heard from the other end of the car park.

I waited in the car with the kids, who were asleep. It took my husband ages to fill in a phone book worth of forms, in order to collect them - actually we were just thankful that they didn't have to spend anytime in quarantine. Should we ever go back to Australia with them, they will have to spend 6 months in quarantine.

When my husband eventually emerged with the dogs, I was in utter shock at their appearance. They were completely soiled from their experience - and the stench - Oh they were putrid, PUTRID I tell you! They were so foul we were retching in the side on the road - I can't even describe what they smelled like, it was unnatural.

We decided that they needed to be cleaned up before they entered the hotel, it wasn't exactly clear, whether we were really allowed to have the dogs in the hotel with us. The staff seemed confused and surprised when we explained we would be staying WITH dogs, and most of the house keeping staff seemed to be petrified of dogs, almost like it was job requirement. I woudl have to leave with them or lock them out on the balcony while they collected the laundry.

Anyway, the dogs being in the state that they were, we were forced to employ a pet groomer; they were happy take on the spruce up job, and even suggested that they had encountered such a dilemma before. Now the next to get them there.

We had car rental for the first week, but only one of the cages could be squeezed into the back, the other cage would have to ride in front and it was unfit for the pristine interior of our brand new rental - seriously it was like a slushy, toxic bog...and rotten dog breathe would have been circulating all through the car.

We rang a taxi company, challenge them to the job. We were completely honest about the situation and the guy was cool. What a champ! The next time we saw the dogs, they were gleaming white and fluffed, with nails clipped an breath as fresh as it was ever gunna be.

Unfortunately, the areoplane had totally freaked Cobie out. He is a bit neurotic at the best of times - bit of a Nervous Nelly. On first morning after the dogs arrived, we attempted to leave them in the room while we went down for our "complimentary breakfast". Neither dog was going to have that, they barked continuously the entire time we were gone and we were nearly thrown out of the hotel. So for three months, two in the hotel and the third when we stayed in a friends apartment before moving into our own home, we had to take the dogs EVERYWHERE!

We got very good at exiting our car and sneaking away like it wasn't ours, and pretending those dogs snarling and barking like wild animals were in no way connected to us, if we had to wander back past the car for any particular reason. And when we got back into the car, we pretended that we coudln't hear the racquet in the back.

Once I HAD to leave the dogs in a doggy daycare while I away for the entire day trying to sort out our life. Cobie freaked. He apparently spent the entire time, shivering in terror of the other dogs, huddled under a chair. He was so traumatised by that experience that he vomitted adn pooped everywhere and woudl not stop. I had to put him in the vet hospital overnight on an IV drip to re-hydrate him, but the separation from us made it worse. We had to do the same thing when we first arrived in Canada, he was so traumatised by the air travel experience.

The same weekend as the doggy daycare episode, Angus, while Cobie was on the drip, found a block of rat poison in the basement of the place we were staying in. So while Cobie was in IV drip, I had to take Angus to the vet to have his stomach pumped. The entire weekend cost us $1200 in vet bills. Angus was fine, but had to be put on vitamin K for a month to help clot his blood.

Cobie didn't not fair very well with the drip experience, and I was requested to leave him on in the vet for another day. Since I couldn't afford the emergency vet bills, I opted to care for him at home - it broke my heart to make that decision, but I honestly had no money left.

Anyway, so here's Cobie and I spending the night sleeping on the kitchen floor. Every growl of his stomach saw my eyes flinging open and running with Cobie, at arms length to the lawn outside....we had already had one explosive dog shit hit the carpet of our unknowing friend's house - we didn't want another - then every 15 minutes I syringed 5 mils of water into Cobie's mouth. Basically he lay there the entire night barely able to move, when I took him outside to do his thing, he quivered on shaky legs like a new born giraffe - he had no strength, the poor little guy.

I thought he was going to die, the night before he just couldn't retain anything. But slowly, slowly...with that tiny, yet frequent amount of water, he managed to hold it. The IV did give him a good start and in the morning of the third day I offered him a small amount of food, and he took it and retained it.

We heaved a HUGE sigh of relief when we finally did move into our own house and unpacked everything. Unfortunately, we had to go back to Australia only three weeks later, to attend my brothers wedding. We had to place the dogs in the care of a friend, the same friend whose house we had been staying at only weeks before - it was a familiar environment, so we thought the dogs would be happiest there.

We were away for a week. Cobie ran away on the second day.

Of course our friends didn't phone us and tell us, thank God. They informed us when we got back and went over to pick the dogs up. We couldn't believe it. Apparently Cobie was a mess with us gone and bolted at the first available opportunity. I was so upset about our missing dog, but felt equally bad for our poor friends - how awful must they have felt about losing our dog.
They had contacted every organisation they could think of, and had rung everyday in the hope that he might have been turned in, but nothing....

I was in tears that first night knowing Cobie was missing. Mister didn't understand where Cobie was. I was truthful and told him that Cobie had run away, which lead to more questioning. It was just awful, all I could do was pray about it.

I had to wait until 11am the next morning to ring all the shelters. I did, nothing....I had one more place to ring and that was it. I rang the number and spoke to a woman, told her my dogs name, "have you seen him, he had a tag with his name on it "c.o.b.i.e." I spelled out to her. "Tan and White Jack Russell, lost in the Burnaby area". I had all but lost hope.

"Yes", came the voice on the end of the line.
"What, yes!", I could hardly believe it.
"Yes, a man just phone 20 minutes ago to say he found a little dog with "Cobie" written on his tag. Please hold and I will give you his details."

I was shaking with relief- if that makes sense. We immediately jumped into the car and headed down to where the man was holding Cobie, in his store.

When we saw him, he was so skinny. It was obvious he had been on the run and hadn't eaten much at all, during his ordeal. But other than that, he was just fine. We feared he might be a bit traumatised by his ordeal - he might have gone a bit nuts, but once he saw us he was so happy. He just wanted to be with us. He is a very loyal dog, a one owner dog and we are so happy to have him, and Angus.

We love them, and they have been 100% ever since. Although we haven't left them since.
We are planning to go to Disneyland for a week in October; our one dilemma is - What do we do with the dogs?

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