It was my brother, hysterically crying on the phone to me. Bonnie, our 9 year old Miniature Poodle had suddenly died.
As per usual, my brother and mother had gone down the local dog beach with the 2 family dogs, Bonnie and Billy, a 2 year old Spoodle. They had all had a great time, running through waves, climbing rocks, chasing balls and just generally running like loons, something both dogs absolutely adored. All of a sudden Bonnie began yelping, but quickly stopped and began to run again, causing mum to dismiss any problems with the wussy poodle. Yelping, after all, was her favourite past time. The next time she yelped however, she didn’t get back up. In fact, she stopped breathing and her heart failed. She died on the beach. As they had not parked near by, mum had to carry the rapidly stiffening beloved family pet in her arms to the car, while walking back a hysterical boy and oblivious puppy.
She was buried next to another beloved pet in their back yard.
As I live away from my mother, my brother called to inform me of what had happened. It was completely unexpected. She had been to a vet recently who had given her a clean bill of health, and asides from becoming a bit slower throughout the week, she was fit as a fiddle. So it has been decided it was either a surprise heart attack or a sting from something at the beach. Either way, she went in a desirable way, doing what she loved, running down a beach chasing a ball with loved ones.
This has hit my family hard, with all of us bursting into sobbing at very random intervals as we remember something that the poodle has done. With me, it’s remembering the quiet moments of cuddling her as she sat upon my lap. Bonnie was the ultimate lap dog and she would often climb legs like a cat, digging in her little claws to clamber onto a lap, curling up tight and demanding pats. The little black dog was smaller than some other mini poodles, and thought of herself as a human being. Maybe even master of the house.
This loss has caused me to look through old photo albums which contain her to help me remember and grieve. The one containing the most pictures of her starts oddly enough with my dad pelting a cricket ball at one of my camps, a ball which seems to have been bowled by Harvey Jolly, the father of one of the boys on my camp. All of us girls have scattered as the ball has been lobbed off the picture screen. The other photo on the page is a goofy one of my grandpa wearing a crows beanie, looking quite odd. It also highlights the fact he needs a new wardrobe as he still wears that same shirt. As I flicked further through the album, I saw how much my brother had changed over the years, and that all the pets in this album are dead. Scary, as it started in 1999.
When we bought Bonnie as a puppy, she fitted in 2 cupped hands. This little black ball of fluff was aloof even then, thinking herself better than most humans. Upon meeting her parents, it was very obvious she took after her moody mother. Later on, she even began to look like her, as her coat became grey. This little ball of fluff was eagerly accepted into a household which contained 2 pet cats and a turtle (for my 7th birthday I asked for a puppy, and got a turtle.). The cats, Moggy and Sox, already established in their routines were not so impressed by this yappy black dot, which wanted to play with *shock horror* water. Moggy, who had already made her territory in the front yard, was affected very little. Sox however, as she was the younger cat, had been issued the backyard, and this is where Bonnie was released into. Sox began to live on the fence and the outdoor furniture, watching the weird ball of fluff that barked at her.
Bonnie was introduced to the Grandparents and their dog Tammy. Tammy immediately became Bonnie’s favourite toy. Tammy, a reasonably submissive dog, quickly became chewed upon and generally attacked by Bonnie, leading to a very funny incident when Tammy managed to kick Bonnie across the yard. Tammy, who had been pinned upon her back with Bonnie on her chest, gathered her back legs under the dog and kicked out, sending the puppy flying across the back yard.
Tammy died just over a year ago in tragic circumstances. As she stopped wanting to eat, the grandparents took her to the vet. The vet said there wasn’t anything wrong, gave them some pills to give her and sent them away. As Tammy grew worse they took her to another vet, who said something was very wrong and gave them different pills. The grandparents then went away on a long planned holiday, leaving Tammy with my mother. Tammy quickly grew even worse, not moving at all, not eating and then loosing control of her bowels all over the floor. Mum quickly took her to her local vet who diagnosed very advanced Cushing’s disease, saying Tammy had been displaying symptoms for quite some time, gave my mum some better pills and suggested that surgery might be the answer when Tammy became strong enough to handle it. Tammy died the next night, after she had deteriorated too much to recover. Needless to say, no-one in my family is ever using that first vet again.
After moving house from where we had been when we first got Bonnie, we moved into the grandparents place. The only serious pet occurrence to happen there was when Sox got stuck up a tree for several days leading us to believe she had gone AWOL, until she was found and rescued by a very scratched up mum, and the departure of Moggy from our lives. Moggy had been with the family since a year before I was born. She was a tough cat, willing to take on anything, like Tammy, who hated cats. Tammy and Moggy got into a scuffle, which injured both pets, however Moggy did end up worse for wear when Tammy managed to bite hard into her back leg. Moggy did get quite a bit of Tammy under her claws, so some justice had occurred. Moggy escaped from her room a short time after and never returned. The theory that she ran away to die was generally accepted, but Grandpa would insist that he would occasionally see her on his morning walks and that she had been adopted by the crazy cat lady down the street. Either way, she never came back.
We moved again, this time to a place where Bonnie and Sox became closer friends/enemies. I remember vividly one time when Bonnie decided to play with the small cat, something the cat was not amused with. One quick clawless swipe up the head later, one poodle ran inside, yelping like she’d been shot and the cat sat there, looking quite pleased with herself, guarding my feet.
Another move led to new friends for Bonnie. She was quickly introduced to Trippa, an obese, old Blue Heeler. This old dog and Bonnie quickly made a pact; you don’t get in my way, I won’t hurt you. This pact was maintained until they became solid friends. They would occasionally get visits from the mother’s ex’s parent’s dog, a tiny little partly blind and deaf terrier named Gem. Gem has also departed from this world after becoming very old. Bonnie had no problems with the smelly old dog, as it would leave after a short period of time, and therefore not worth removing from the household. As this place was a farm, I introduced to the family Baby, a Jersey calf who thought it was a dog. It would respond to commands and the cute calf watched how dogs played, and tried to emulate it. Bonnie would sprint away as Baby would run after her, thinking they were playing chasey. Bonnie however, was not playing chasey. Bonnie was terrified of the thing with big legs. Baby also had an infatuation with Sox, falling in love with the cat it shared the hay shed with. Sox was also afraid of the gangly calf, not wanting to be squished under its hooves.
Baby was, as is the fate of most farm animals, taken to the slaughter house when he was big enough. Eaten as someone’s BBQ chops, he was removed from our lives, and our beautiful calf only lives on in our minds and photos.
As Trippa was very old and ailing (she had arthritis, was very obese and suffering general old age ailments), Amber was added to our family. Amber pup immediately became attached to me and Bonnie, becoming Bonnie’s best friend. These 2 dogs were nearly inseparable, and Sox loved Amber as well. Amber was afraid of the small cat (and most other things) to the point where Sox would walk up to the dogs bowl, threaten her with a claw and eat her food, just because she could. Amber would then have to sit back and watch this happen, while hoping Bonnie would leave some food behind for Amber to pinch once she had finished. It was a highly amusing scene as the cat, which was the size of some kittens, would eat the Kelpies food while it watched on.
Trippa died, and it was again not a pleasant death. One day, the usually hungry dog simply stopped eating. For over a day. The vet was called in and advanced liver cancer was diagnosed. The very old dog was put to sleep after saying a tearful good bye to all around her to save her a painful death.
Mum moved out of the farm, leaving behind Amber, as it was not our dog in name, but taking all the other pets (save Torty the Turtle. He had died during a cold winter outdoors at the farm. There is still a lot of hate directed at one man after that incident) with her. Amber was left at her place while her owner went away for a week, so Bonnie had her playmate again briefly, and this was the week that Sox died. Sox, after having stolen Amber’s food once again the night before, and just terrorising the dogs as she always loved doing, simply meowed once one morning and died. It was suspected to be a heart attack, and was very sudden, but not unexpected when you considered how old she was at the time. She was around 14 years old, a very long life for a pampered cat, and she is still sorely missed.
Once Amber was returned to her owner, Bonnie became very lonely. With people out of the house all day, she was left alone outside, to sit and do very little. To solve this problem, Billy was bought one Christmas, and Bonnie immediately hated him. Once she realised that this annoying young male puppy wasn’t leaving, Bonnie would sit in a corner and growl whenever he would approach. He then turned it into a game which would annoy all humans. He would crawl on his stomach til he got close enough to make Bonnie growl and start barking happily at her til someone attacked him with a water pistol, which he also loved. He became mischief incarnate, and will still destroy anything which is left in his reach, or any plant which has been shown affection. The pup, which has separation anxiety, was the bane of Bonnie’s life for a while, until Bonnie realised that she could act up and the puppy would be blamed. She began with pooing in cars to watch the younger dog be yelled at, who would look confused. She would encourage him to enter the chicken pen, escape and watch as the lighter coloured dog, covered in mud would be told off for chasing the chickens and so on. She would take great delight in causing as much chaos as was physically possible, and blaming him, but they still became great companions, playing with each other and thriving on each others company.
Now that Bonnie has left us far too young, she has been buried out in the garden next to Sox, and arrangement that neither pet would have preferred in life. Our family still grieves for her, and Billy’s anxiety has increased greatly. My mum, brother and Billy came and visited me Sunday night, and the poor dog was waking us ever 2 hours, afraid that we had left him even though he could sleep in the same room as 2 of us. Every time mum went to the toilet, he would sit outside and whine until she would emerge. This poor dog who has never been alone long term before in his life is already pining for Bonnie, though this isn’t affecting his diet as he swallowed a lamb cutlet in one bite.
Never again will any of us be able to cuddle Bonnie, or even just have her comforting presence barking at neighbours walking down the street again. I will forever remember her bark, the sound of her disapproving growl and her snobby behaviour to new dogs, and to anyone who returned after having been gone for a week. She was the personal warming device at hockey, when you could just lift her up and place her in your coat. She looked great either scruffy or shaved. The amusing way she would cock her leg and squat to pee after the incident of the first shave she ever got and squatting on frosted lawns with a bald rear end. I will remember always how she could tell when you were sad, or lonely, or scared and would sit closer to you, or lie in the room. I will always remember scaring her for life with a quilt, resulting in her being afraid of quilts, but she would always sleep on a sleeping bag, taking up all the leg room and trapping you in one position. We will never forget the sprinkler when she was a puppy, when she would try to kill what was spraying water at her, to cop another burst on her chin. We will never forget her athletic ability, as she was able to catch up to cars, out run people and jump great heights. I will never forget the annoying pained yelp she would do whenever she thought she could score more pats out of patsies. I will never forget how she would eat, as every meal was amusing as to how she worked out how to fit it in her mouth. I defiantly won’t forget the puke all over the place whenever she would eat something that disagreed with her and there is a thousand more little things and moments I will never forget.
Rest in peace Puds. You have the best of company, and I know you’re chasing balls in heaven.
You will be missed and always remembered.