My goal in life is to become as wonderful as my dog thinks I am.

In the theme of the previous post being about the youngest of our furry friends, I have to talk about our eldest – Holly, the collie. Not because she  is outrageously funny necessarily (although as you get to know her quirks, they are kind of funny), but because she is really special to us and unfortunately also, not going to be around much longer, which makes me really sad. So this post is a celebration of a truly gracious old lady.

I had just moved back to Perth from Karratha with Dylan, after a long term relationship finished. We bought a house, a car, furniture, TV, computer, white goods…everything you needed to outfit a small house. Only thing missing – a dog.

I had always had a dog. Growing up I had Kippy the corgi, then Dusty the blue heeler, then when I left home, there was Jessie the German Shepherd (the most intelligent dog ever!) and Sam the Lassie dog (the most stupid). But now, I just wasn’t sure about having a dog. They are a lot of responsibility; there’s the extra costs and they “tie” you down…I almost had myself convinced.

Just too cute 2003

One weekend I was on my own and reading through the papers came upon an ad for rough collie pups, pure bred but no papers…and just down the road (well maybe a little further). The 3 hours I spent playing with the two that were left was the best fun I had had on a weekend for a while (sad but true). Two puppies – hard decision…so I left it up to them. Finishing playing, she chose me by laying down, head on my feet and that’s how Holly became part of our family.

Dylan came home & I told him I had a surprise for him. I said we had to share though & asked him if he wanted the front end or the back end. He chose the back end – but I would swear that I picked up more poop than he ever did, as well as fed her! She was the most laid back pup you would ever meet. So chilled out that one friend described her as having “flat batteries”.

She grew up like any puppy does. I took her to training as I had with all the other dogs I had had. We actually met her sister, Buffy, at these classes as well.  She wasn’t necessarily the brightest student in the class. Yes, she would sit, lie down, stand on command, come when called, walk off lead etc although all a little reluctantly. The only thing she seemed to be enthusiastic about was learning “tricks”. So I set about trying to work out what little things I could teach her.

I checked out the internet for some cooler ideas. The usual shake “Paws” was an easy one. “Touch” nose to palm was a bit more of a challenge…and then there was “Speak”. The writer who suggested this trick put it on the hard end of the scale, but for dogs who like talking, like collies do, it was easier than “sit”.

Over the years we have worked out there are many voices to Holly. There is the high pitched yipping, when we get home and she’s telling us all the naughty things the others have been up to. There’s the low wo-wo sound when she’s enjoying a back rub on the grass or a paddle in the ocean. There’s the warning bark, the telling off bark, the i love you bark.  I have rarely heard her growl or snarl and even now as old as she is, she is incredibly tolerant of change.

Bow to Queen Ivy 2012

She has moved overseas by plane & truck, changed diets, changed houses three times, had additional animals introduced and all accepted with her usual graciousness. Quite independent, she would throw herself the toys in the air and then bounce around happily chasing them. Always friendly and willing, it worried us considerably that she would be stolen – just a car and a bit of encouragement to get in would be all that was needed.

She loves the car! From a puppy with flat batteries, she certainly knows how to show enthusiasm – for the car, for walks, for squeaky toys and fire works especially. Now that she is older, she is just as enthusiastic, but maybe a little slower.

She is a beautiful dog and has been a faithful and wonderful companion to me, Dylan & Paul for so many years. She has taught me to enjoy simple things, like a sunrise walk as well as appreciate her unconditional love and loyalty.

And I think back on that day that I made the decision to buy a dog and I’m glad, because once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is just not as full.

POSTSCRIPT

Sleeping Holly 0313

Snooze time 2013

Sadly the day I was dreading came around and under tragic circumstances. We left Mauritius with all the girls sent earlier to quarantine in Sydney, via KL, via Singapore while we headed back to Perth, via KL. We had just arrived in KL, when we received a call from quarantine saying that Holly wasn’t well, could the vet look at her for us (extra cost). Of course that was a no brainer. He called soon after and told us he had discovered a tumour in the gland next to her bottom and it was very large and probably had been there a while, but he didn’t think it was something to really stress over. Two days later, another call – this time she had had a respiratory collapse, could they take her to the Sydney Uni Vet hospital to do some tests – a deposit of $1000 ah, but what’s money anyway, when it’s family. We arrived in Perth Monday morning and Tuesday morning we got the bad news that the tumour was malignant, her spleen and all her bones were riddled with cancer. So we did what any loving parent would do, and got on a plane and went to the hospital to see her for a final time. She was so happy to see us, it just killed me to think she was in pain. We hugged and cuddled her for a while and said our thankyous and goodbyes, holding her paw, as she went into a final peaceful sleep. Now she is back home with us and she will always hold a part in my heart.