Rupert’s 2018 Hospital Adventure

Here we are again! Rupert has aspiration pneumonia.

Being transported in his oxygen tent.

The story of why: in 2012, Rupert had a mysterious muscle wasting disease take hold in his jaw, head, throat and shoulders. He lost the ability to swallow properly almost overnight, and aspirated his food. It was a rough time in intensive care and we thought we would lose him, but the wasting suddenly stopped and hasn’t returned. That doesn’t mean that he regained those muscles, it just means that it hasn’t gotten worse. As a result of all of this, he still can’t swallow properly and is thus always at risk of aspirating when he eats or drinks, and he has scar tissue in his lungs that makes him sound like he permanently has a cold. So he gets aspiration pneumonia sometimes. It’s always scary, but usually easily fixed with some oxygen, IV fluids and antibiotics.

So impressed that Nathan came to pick him up.

That’s where we are right now. Rupert spent a day and a half chilling on oxygen at the vet hospital, but he’s home now. Extremely sleepy though. Last night, he was so tired that he collapsed to the ground after having a drink. But this morning he heard the mailman’s bike and leapt off the couch and went running to the door. So, it’s up and down.

Right now, he’s asleep. Probably dreaming about the smoked chicken that he got to eat yesterday. Hopefully doing some heavy duty healing!

Dog Decisions

I’m doing some writing prompts by Ann Dee Ellis – eight minutes, unprompted and unrehearsed. Here’s today’s effort – decisions.

We didn’t really have a plan when we got Posie, but by the time she turned one, I had come to the realization that she needed a friend. I was already her friend, but I couldn’t be there all the time, and we worried about the idea that she had nobody to romp around with and indulge her inner dogginess. She was so communicative with us in surprisingly human ways, we didn’t want her to lose her ability to relate to other dogs altogether.

So we decided to get her a dog, and this time, we were going to do the right thing and adopt. We searched around until we found Rupert – free to a good home in the classifieds. I had to seriously beg to take him on. His previous owners were convinced that he just could not be homed with another dog because of fighting. What we later found out was that he’d had an owner before those ones, who had thrown him in an overgrown junkyard backyard with a bunch of muscular bully-type dogs. Rupert is such a teddy bear, it’s no wonder he felt threatened. Anyway, I convinced them in the end, we drove to Leongatha and took him home with us.

Things were rough for months. Posie was absolutely bereft, and acted like we had broken her heart. She kept hiding and staring at us, wondering when he was going to go home. They had their little turf wars, and Rupert made a habit of escaping for a while. We didn’t realize it could get worse, but it did. He started peeing on the furniture as soon as we left the house. Not the leg of the sofa, but actually soaking the whole cushion, or our bed, or his bed. A few trips to the dog psychologist got these things more or less under control, but it was not a fun time.

So many times, I went back and forth on our decision. I cared a lot about Rupert in those early months, but I certainly didn’t like him. I resented the havoc he’d brought into our lives and the unhappiness he’d caused Posie. I wondered if we would ever be able to sit on furniture without feeling if it was wet first, if Posie would ever be happy again. He didn’t feel comfortable enough to come out of his shell for months, so we still had no idea of his personality – he was a stranger to us, and it was very hard to love him at first. That’s what is so difficult about decisions… they can be right and wrong, at different times, for various reasons. There is nothing you can choose that doesn’t run a risk of regret, and sometimes arriving at a state of graceful acceptance about the whole thing can be slippery and elusive. But I suppose you have to make a lot of careful considerations, but ultimately jump off into the unknown and hope for the best.

Seven years later, I don’t have a single doubt about the decision to bring him into our family. He’s still having turf wars with Posie, but it’s so sweet to see how they rely on each other so much, especially when being reunited after the brief times they are separated. He has grown into the most excellent dog with a little bit of nurturing and I’m so grateful that we got lucky enough to have him.

Hey Fluffer-munch

A letter to my little darling (because I’m sure that she reads this blog).

Dear Posie,

You are eight! Such an achievement. We are very proud of the dog that you have become, but I can never be sure which parts are nature and which are nurture. I’d like to wish that every delightful bit of you is due to our efforts, but it’s not true – you were spritely, sassy and spirited already on the day we met.

Lately you’ve been on a super affectionate streak (I am not complaining at all). You trot along after us, sneaking little licks on our shins so that we’ll praise and pat you. You figured out this little trick all by yourself, and we’re both amazed that you trained us this way. You also have made a habit of just sitting and staring at us, projecting the biggest amount of telepathic love that your little body can manage. Then no amount of kisses is enough.

You still bark at the mailman, you still love asparagus, you still get huffy if you don’t get to go visit Granny and Poppy every weekend. You have a few more lumps and bumps than last year, but it happens to us all. It’s hard to believe that you are a senior dog, not when you still act so much like a puppy. You and I have incredibly high level communication – I always know exactly what your little noises, your gestures, your pointing and your facial expressions mean, even if it is something like “I want you to open the door to the kitchen then lift me up so I can survey the counter tops to make sure you didn’t leave any leftovers uncovered”.

You are not ‘just a dog’, you’re the shining star of my life, the princess of my heart, the reason for being (along with Rupert, of course). Happy birthday Miss Munch!

Love from Mummy xx

Best Dogs

Posie and Rupert are the best little dogs. We took them to the rehabilitation hospital to visit Patrick and we all sat on the shady lawns together – P+R were so well behaved and everybody adored them. I always thought that Rupert would make a good therapy dog if he could just grasp basic commands and learn to not pee on anything resembling a pole. Posie loved jumping all over Patrick’s bed. How great is it that dogs are allowed in the hospital? I wish they were allowed in every hospital.

Aside from that, it’s back to the grindstone. I’ve switched my thesis from a creative piece + exegesis to a straight critical thesis, which feels like a cop out, but it’s kind of a relief. I just couldn’t find a bridge between the two parts I was working on, and neither of them was willing to compromise. The new thesis is basically an extension of the exegesis I was working on, but now I have to figure out ways to make it have finesse and be fleshy. It can be lonely devoting so much brain power to something that you can never talk about in any great depth with anybody else. Like when you are planning a wedding or having a baby or starting a new job, nobody cares about your wedding/baby/job/thesis as much as you do. That doesn’t mean they don’t care at all, but nobody is going to be as intimate with and invested in the details as you, and it can be isolating. Which is why it’s so important to stay interested in other things. I need to get my skates on and read more this year. I want to cook my way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cookinga la Julie Powell. I want to take a painting class. I want to teach myself how to use my big camera, once and for all, and I want to get some special lenses for it. I want to start running again and be one of those annoying people that brags about times. Lots of things to do. If only I had a few more lifetimes to do everything.

There is some bad news too – it looks like we will be postponing our super exciting European adventure for twelve months. I’ve mentioned it before, but this year is an absolute killer. In the next six months, I have to plan a wedding, finish my thesis, figure out my PhD application, do major renovations on the house, and a number of other things. I just don’t have the time or energy to devote to planning something amazing right now. If I’m only going to have one honeymoon, I don’t want to end up regretting not having worked harder on it. It’s a big trip, it costs so much just to fly there from Australia, so I really want to make the trip worthwhile once we actually get there. So the new plan is that next year on our 1+11 year anniversary, we’ll do it. And having had an entire year to plan it properly, it will be everything it deserves to be. And we might skulk around Bali for a little bit at the end of the year to console ourselves in the meantime! 🙂

Three’s a Crowd

Today, we have three dogs.



[Missing, last seen scurrying under the sofa]

And Decima:

I’m babysitting, so it’s a little crazy around here. Deci will not stop crying, Rupert must be sitting on me at all times in a display of dominance, and poor little Posie is so out of sorts that she is hiding under the furniture. P+R are not exactly ‘doggy’ dogs and prefer their own company or to be with humans, whereas Decima has pretty bad attachment anxiety so she cries constantly and follows you like a shadow. Posie is so unsettled by Deci’s big swinging tail because it’s at the exact height to hit her in the face, and Rupert’s little internal turf wars always result in some growling. Deci cannot relax until Nathan is home, because she really relies on an ‘alpha’ male figure to feel secure. It’s not ideal. They all tend to get along a thousand times better when they are together at Mum’s house, but not here.

I would love a house filled with dogs, but even three is so stressful. Maybe it’s just this particular mix and how sporadically they are thrown together, but it’s hard work. Feeding them is like the scene from Jurassic World where Chris Pratt takes on the trio of velociraptors. I can’t even go to the bathroom without at least two of them tagging along or crying outside the door if I dare shut it. I can’t even walk around my own house without everybody getting unsettled and panicking about whether I’m going somewhere. Deci is great, but I’m really looking forward to handing her back at the end of the night and getting to snuggle my own dogs again.

Little Bits + Posie in the Gardens

I was baking my own tortilla chips earlier today (curse this horrid diet). They had to be cooked in several batches because our oven is awful and wrecks every baking tray we put in it. Now, I can’t shake this edgy feeling that something is still in the oven that I have to babysit or else it will burn.

Aside from that, 2017 reading is not going very well. My particular brain chemistry situation is a blessing and a curse; if a book catches me at the right moment, I will devour it in a day and not stop for anything. The rest of the time, I will start a page with good intentions then find myself flying right over paragraphs without picking up a hint of meaning – then I backtrack and the same thing happens all over again. All while suddenly wondering about whether the word ‘dandelion’ refers to different species of plant in different regions, or daydreaming about delicious Alsatian (the region, not the dog) cuisine that I read about the other day, feeling the urge to google why I always get eczema on my left foot but never my right. ANYWAY.

We took the pups to Ballarat on the weekend and it was an experience. We may need to just concede defeat that they are never going to sit nicely with their seatbelts on when there is an alternative of jumping all over me. Also, the air conditioner refused to work the whole time except for the last five minutes, so I turned up sweaty, windblown and covered in dog hair to an extended family picnic. That was great. Posie loved the Botanical Gardens – she is a dog that must smell every flower.

I’m so glad we finally have a working air conditioner in our house. Last night, we set up an inflatable mattress in the living room because it was seriously like 28°C outside at midnight, and our bedroom would have been much hotter. I watched Martha Stewart’s Cooking School until 2am, drooling over things that I don’t even like. Why do eggs always look so delicious, even though I know I don’t like them? They are so sensual in their silkiness, the way that the yolk oozes and coats everything like a perfect sauce. Even scrambled, Martha Stewart managed to make something that looked cheesy-without-cheese, fluffy and gorgeous. I kind of hate that I don’t like eggs. It’s so ridiculous and I will confess that I think it’s silly when people write off an entire food category not for an allergy but simply because they don’t like it. Eggs look so good, but I know that as soon as that texture gets in my mouth, I will gag. It’s an irrational, uncontrollable response. Sometimes I can trick myself by making scrambled eggs with so much cheese, bacon and herbs that I can’t even really taste the egg, but egg by itself, I will always gag or throw up. I can dip soldiers into egg yolk, I can eat Hollandaise and meringue, but there is something about eggs by themselves (probably the whites) that I just can’t handle. But that’s going to change. 2017 will be the year that I eat an egg, all by itself. And I will enjoy it. Baby steps though – I’m going to start with frittatas and omelettes first. But I’m determined to be a person that likes eggs, especially since I am hassling Nathan to get some backyard chickens.

Something is Wrong on the Internet + Rupert’s Hospital Adventure

As you might have noticed, I have a weird little secondary sidebar menu that has popped up on my site out of nowhere after my last update. It’s annoying and I can’t figure out how on earth to get rid of it. Never mind that though – I’m planning a bit of a revamp around here sometime in the next month or so, so expect much bigger changes!

Apart from that, we’ve had some mixed news this week. Rupert had surgery on Monday to remove a tumour from the inside of his eyelid. It was originally slated to be a major ordeal – they were going to cut an upside-down house shaped wedge out of his lower eyelid and stitch the sides back together. But once they examined him, they realized they could just freeze it off. He came home and was completely normal within 24 hours, seriously acting like nothing had ever happened. We had been told to expect swelling, but there has been nothing. It’s as though he never even went to hospital.

Anyway, the complicated part of all this is that we got a call last night to let us know that the tumour was in fact cancerous. We were not expecting this at all. But there is a silver lining in all of this. It was definitely cancer, but the type is not a cancer that can spread or create secondaries in any of his other systems or organs. And there is only a tiny chance that it will ever come back; and if it does, it will be in exactly the same spot and will just need to be frozen off again. Which is extremely good news.

But then there is the guilt factor. We originally found out about this tumour in November. The vets assured us that it was extremely unlikely to be cancerous. It was too close to our Japan trip and we didn’t want to put the responsibility of his surgery recovery time onto my family, so we decided with the vets that it would be fine to wait until we got back. Then there was back and forth about whether we should opt for the invasive surgery that the vet could provide, or whether to take him to the specialist vet opthamologist. We eventually picked the specialist and had to wait another two weeks for an appointment. I just feel so terrible that our little boy had cancer this whole time and we let him wait nearly two months for treatment while we went on a freaking holiday. Worst owners ever. I realize that we didn’t know and we made the best choice we could based on the information we had at the time, but I still feel terrible about what our actions and choices boiled down to.

But if I can take any solace from this, at least he’s well now. He’s currently asleep on top of a pile of clean laundry, snoring quietly. Later, I’m sure somebody will give him a bit of lamb chop (it is Australia Day, after all). He is completely back to normal and I’m so glad that he’s alright. I know this is just part of having a senior dog and that we have to prepare ourselves for all the other little (or big) things that are going to pop up in the future. But for now, he’s alright – he’s happy, so I’m happy.

Birthday Boy


Nathan has this thing going where he will call Rupert “my son”. It’s all “has my son had his dinner?” and “have you taken my son for a walk today?”. This has progressed to calling him “my biological son” and listing all the characteristics that Rupert inherited from his “father”. Apparently they both like eating in bed, making smells and noises, and annoying us girls.

Anyway, Nathan’s biological son turned ELEVEN today. Can you believe it? Sometimes when he sleeps literally all day long, I can believe it. But other times, when he rolls on his back and nips at Posie’s legs to try and get her to play with him, or when he has mad sprinting sessions through the house at midnight before he can put himself to bed, I really can’t believe he’s classed as elderly. And considering his tremendous challenges, we are extremely lucky to still have him with us… hopefully for many more years.

He had a good day. He spent most of the day sunbaking and catching flies. Then we went to the vet for a pre-dental check and he peed on some of the furniture, stepped in and then left little wet footprints all over the floor – I was so embarrassed. He came home and had regular dinner, then special second dinner – chopped up steak and yellow capsicum (my dogs are mad for capsicum). On the weekend, maybe we’ll go to the beach, but we will definitely take him to the pet store and he can pick out a special new toy, because they just don’t have enough already. Birthdays for the dogs used to be this magical thing, but I can feel myself starting to dread when they come around each year. It’s easier to trick yourself into believing that they will be around forever when they are younger.

So, to our son – happy eleventh birthday Prince Rupert! We love everything about you: the way you sit on Nathan’s shoulder while he eats and watch his food with laser-focus; your little fluffy floor-duster paws; the way you put yourself to bed every night at a sensible time; your little popcorn barks; your tuna sashimi tongue; how you sit up at the table at Mum’s house and wait patiently to be served; how you simply stop, drop and roll over any time we make you wear a sweater; how much you miss Posie when she goes somewhere without you; how you burrow under the blankets and try to nuzzle us with your cold, wet nose; how you like to try and dig a hole in the bed at 3am; your supreme fly catching abilities; the way that you don’t like vegetables or French fries until you are absolutely sure that there isn’t a better option; the way you flip backwards in the arms of whoever holds you until they are holding you like a baby; most of all, your beautiful smile. We are so lucky, grateful and proud to be your humans (sorry Nathan, I mean biological parents)!

Times When My Dogs Were Geniuses

Posie and Rupert, snuggling

Yesterday, Posie was outside – barking. I ran out to tell her to stop, so she ran to hide under a big leafy plant. Crouched really low, her whole head was covered by a leaf and she was absolutely silent – she was hiding. It was so obvious that she thought I couldn’t see her, since she couldn’t see me. But her little cloud feet were poking out the bottom, and all I could do was laugh.

The first night that Rupert spent in our house, we had lamb chops for dinner. The expensive type that I never normally buy. I put our plates down and went back to the kitchen to get a drink, and Rupert had stolen a chop right off my plate. He has subsequently done this with a muffin, a wheel of camembert and too many licks of ice cream. Posie is craftier – she will creep up to any food item, and just lick it. But she’ll make sure I see her do it, so that I’ll have no choice but to surrender the item to her.

I’ve already told the brown mouse story.

Rupert likes to play tricks on Posie. If she’s laying on the floor minding her own business, he likes to play a game where he will jump off the couch almost on top of her, to scare her. There have been a couple of times where they have both been facing me, so she can’t see him behind her. He will wag his tail, point with his nose towards her and smile, then jump – like he wants me to be in on the joke. Such a little thing, but it’s actually quite sophisticated that he can understand that she has her own mind and can’t see everything that he can see.

One time, there was a dog toy left on the ironing board. Posie was growling and I couldn’t figure out what she wanted, so she kept going and going. Eventually she got sick of waiting for me to catch up, so she started dragging things towards the ironing board – a pillow, a backpack. She stacked them on top of each other and was climbing on them to try to reach.

Posie seems to pride herself on being able to figure things out, so she gets absolutely irate about magic tricks. If you ever make something disappear in front of her, she will bark and bark at the betrayal.

They both know a bunch of words – Granny, Poppy, beach, dinner, bye, go, car, walk, treat, sit, lay down, quiet, Mummy, kiss, high five, chicken, ham, bedtime, later, all gone, help, wait, and “Nathan’s coming home”. Still can’t wrap their heads around “no” though.

Then there are bunch of things they do that are really dumb – both have a habit of leaping from the furniture without any thought about whether somebody is there to catch them, or eating bits of dust bunnies they found under the sofa, or all the times they have accidentally run into door frames.

Then there are things that do that are really dumb – one time, Rupert had a smudge of something inky on his fur and I said, “Oh no! He has a bruise!”

We’ve Got The Funk

Whenever Nathan flies, I watch his plane on radar. It’s a ritual now; I am always terrified that something bad will happen if I forget, and it will be because I forgot. He’s in the air now, and I’m monitoring the altitude and speed like it’s my job.

He has been away all week. The dogs are absolutely depressed. Nathan says they do the same thing when I go away, Posie particularly. They wander around the house, lost, with sad eyes. They don’t want to play, have no interest in food and don’t seem to enjoy it as much when they get cuddled. They sleep all day, but patrol the house all night, like they think Nathan can protect them while they sleep but I can’t, and then it becomes their job to protect me. I guess that says a lot about where they think I fit in the household pecking order.

I guess this whole household has been depressed this week. Too much junk food, not enough sleep, too little fun. I always tease Nathan about how he eats terribly when I’m not around – he’ll eat things like supermarket brand frozen pre-fried chicken in a box and call it a meal. Sad bachelor food, I call it. But sometimes I’m exactly the same. I think we both fall into the trap of considering ourselves, individually, not worth the effort of basic care and compassion. This morning, a tall and very heavy box in the kitchen tipped over and grazed the back of leg as it fell, dragging against my skin all the way down my calf. It hurt so much I wondered if my leg was broken. Now it’s just a lovely bruise, but the kind that throbs with hot pain even when it’s not being touched. I left the box where it fell; we can deal with it later, and I don’t want to risk it falling on me again. Normally the dogs would be fascinated by a strange object like a huge box laying on the kitchen floor, but they haven’t given it a second glance – that’s how down they are. I gave them a pizza crust each this morning and found them uneaten in their beds hours later. When the household is in disarray, they don’t even have an appetite for pizza.

His plane is three-quarters of the way here now. I can breathe a bit – my anxiety about this kind of thing is so bad that it extends to other people flying, but I know that cruising is the safest part of the flight. He’ll be home soon. The puppies will hear his taxi in the street and run to the window, waiting for footsteps on the gravel outside. The front door will open and they will leap all over the couch, run circles around the living room and bark loud enough to tell the whole street that he’s home. He will dump his bags and they will cover him in kisses. The moment he gets home, this depression will be gone because it’s not really depression, it’s just a funk. We’ll all snap out of it because everything will be in its right place again.