The Dog Nanny DownUnder
by Dianne Reid
G’day Mesquite and Southern Utah! I’m currently down here in Oz, where I came to spend the Australian summer as I have the past 21 years – experiencing what I believe to be the most beautiful harbor in the world.
If you saw my last article, you’ll remember that I lost my dog, Ralph, in Sydney back in 2014. And sadly, due to travel, moves, and (mostly) nostalgia – I’ve not been ready to find another dog, or rather one hasn’t found me, in these past three years. But fate has a funny way of stepping in and providing what we need, even when we don’t realize what that is.
I flew into Sydney on Boxing Day – yes, Australians actually have a holiday for discarding boxes the day after Christmas (teehee, that’s just one of many explanations, but really it’s more like our “Black Friday” sale day). The plan was to spend some quiet time at a friend’s farm in the country (Mudgee), and work on my next project. But just a week before traveling, I received a special gift in the form of the opportunity to housesit and mind two very gorgeous Golden Retrievers here in Sydney. And that, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful love story.
“Luck is what happens to you when fate gets tired of waiting” (1)
Tobias (11 years old) and Bentley (9 years old) – “The Boys” – are both rescues from Australia Golden Retrievers. They both arrived with horrific stories of abuse and neglect, and both were saved after being deemed unfit for rehoming. Thankfully, their rescuer, Susan, has significant experience with Goldens and was able to redeem them. And that story, my friends, is an article in itself. They were adorable even when they were “monsters” that trashed homes and discovered the shock – and the awe – of swimming pools. But I digress. Eight years on, no one would ever imagine these two stately gentlemen were anything but.
Fortunately, they live right on the water, surrounded by parkland, within minutes of downtown and the Harbor Bridge. Much of the area is off-leash, and a true mecca for dogs and dog-lovers alike. Sounds like the perfect playground, right? But I was sternly warned by another dog-walker, who knew The Boys, never to let the dogs off lead, or allow them to swim, or “I may never get them back.” Of course, we all know that was never going to happen – even after I’d heard the story about the poor European tourist who heroically stripped down to his shorts in the middle of winter to swim the 250 yards into the bay to retrieve the retrievers.
Within a few days, The Boys and I came to a mutual understanding. They would come dutifully when called, as long as I agreed to give in to their frequent fish-spotting excursions (at any – and often all – of the five small beaches along our walk). These boys love their water, but not so much for the swimming as for the fishing. Don’t get me wrong, they are Retrievers and they swim after balls, but quickly abandon fetching when they catch a glimpse of fish. Bentley, especially, will strike his regal pose, and stand mesmerized for hours (if allowed) staring at the schools of fish swimming carelessly, if not recklessly, between his legs.
As a result of my “time sacrifice” to appease The Boys, I met scores of fellow dog lovers, engaged in long discussions, and formed new friendships. Have you ever realized that for every new dog you meet, and whose story you hear, their people have equally amazing life stories? Not only that, but in listening carefully to the stories, more often than not you can discover that the lives parallel and intertwine. And don’t even get me started on freaky physical resemblance many people have with their pets (à la Jake and the Fatman).
And we’re back to, “who rescues whom?”
Soon, I was fully relaxed alongside Toby & Bentley, and without realizing it, fell into their world of wonder. Funny how as pet lovers, so much of our lives are defined by pets in our lives and their participation in our life events, and vice versa. Through the ensuing weeks, I came to enjoy – and welcome – the carefree nature and unrelenting joy that these dogs embodied each day.
Actually, now that I think of it, this has been my “Groundhog Day” experience. Taking the time to relax and put my brain on pause, I found a new solace in looking at the world through the their eyes, and it’s a pretty forgiving and astounding place. I can honestly say that Toby & Bentley have provided me with unexpected soul searching wisdom over this past month. They freely share their love, never hold back on giving affection, and every experience is a novelty and a great excuse to wag your tail. As a side-note here, contrary to popular rumor, dog’s tails do NOT wag counter-clockwise in Australia.
Every throw of the tennis ball is like the first time they’ve chased a ball
Every fish in the sea is a miracle to behold
Every dog they meet is a new friend – with a story to tell
Our pets are full-time teachers – if we will allow them – showing us how to live in the moment and greet each day as a new adventure, with no regrets or un-forgiveness left over from yesterday. They find joy in sniffing the same patch of grass every morning, and in greeting the same people and dogs each day. They know no strangers. Dogs are non-judgemental, non-political, and have no predictable buying patterns – a marketer’s nightmare, but a compelling case study for believing in the magic of gratefulness.
Again reverting back to the last View On Pets article, this is further proof that pets come into – and out of – our lives for a purpose. Their timing is always perfect, and the perfection they embody is always timely. We can learn so much from our pets. If only we stop and take the time to observe.
Thank you, Tobias and Bentley.