well not really running away, but joining the circus

April 9, 2008

so I had a coule of things to see to before departure. and phoebe was one of them. and you need to hear about some of the others before we actually get to the circus bit. So Phoebe is the dog. One of the dogs. The designer dogs. A few years ago Janet got one of those enduring ideas (which don’t leave her until implemented) of having a weimeraner. Can I remember how that started? I know Bubesi our big black half Labrador was also half prize weimeraner, but when did we get our first weimeraner? Was it Felix? And was it before or after she saw the book by what’s his name on dressed up weimneraners. Either way it was something that Janet fixed on and so we began to have them. Beautiful dogs. Felix who was run over while following Bubesi on a midnight breeding scavenging ramble. Then ripley the mad. Neurotic but adoring of Janet and so favoured above Bubesi the stinker and one who lived outside. Bubesi of the oily skin and slobbery nature. Loyal and independent and one who knowing he was wrong would lie down and admit wrong doing. ‘Yes I opened the rubbish and strew the contents over the garden. It was wrong. I am a bad dog.’ So I would smack him. He would take it. I would smack him again. He would take it. If, out of my childish human power need and weakness, I chose to hit him again, and this he considered beyond the measure of his guilt, he would growl bare his teeth look me in the eye and say ‘okay that’s enough’. And frowning I would back off. He smiling wagging an apologetic tail and making friends ‘okay? Okay now?’ After a while I took to smacking him with the broom so as not to get too close to the snapping jaws of justice he delivered to contain the sadist in me.

But I digress. Ripley; devoted to Janet and so favourite and early demised through the swallowing of a golf ball which, undetected, remained in his gut for two years before blocking the duodenum and killing him. Janet dimmed with grief and when did it happen? The day after I left for a tour. Ironic how that seems to happen. I am reminded suddenly of several injuries incurred while throwing myself between Ripley the mad and Bubesi the ageing patriarch challenged by his favoured rival. Marsh strand house; dividing them by glass. In the car; by two leashes. But then off went Bubesi. Spinal cancer. I remember sitting in the car with Janet and sobbing with the loss. He was so big. Not just in size. But then as companion for the mad Ripley, Phoebe the sweet arrived and stole the heart of Janet with devotion. But this place of at her side was controlled by Ripley the mad. Until his demise with the golf ball. Ironic again because of his obsession with balls generally and chasing them specifically. Not in a doggy type ‘throw and I’ll chase’ way but more a ‘oh my god the ball! its in his hand! its going to fly! wait its going… no no wait. Yes!! There it is fuck fuck ! its gone! come here! come here, got you!!’ the intensity of his waiting and chasing and triumph of return was awe inspiring. The drama of a full scale pack-saving hunt was in every sinew of every muscle which rippled and shivered with anticipation of the release of the sphere. This was nothing to joke about. Life and death. And so eventually death by golf ball. The vet was too slow to diagnose and too timid to make a move before the fatal septicemia took hold. Daniel was there working through it with Janet.

So after Ripley then Zeke. Zeke the vocalist. The singer. The Mario Lanza of dogs. Even as a puppy groaning and reflecting every emotional shift with his voice. Not the simple bark when you come home but full throated song of welcome a howl shout bark yodel song of joy at your return and a whining howling dirge of sadness and loss at your every day departure. Always the walk begins with barking announcements to the neighbours; ‘Hey everyone they’ve taken me out again yes we’re out!! We’re walking! Look every one! Catch it now cos it doesn’t happen often! What a fucking miracle!!’ Shame hovering over us skulking down the all too seldom road traveled with dogs on leash. Zeke still sings; ‘Oh yes okay it should happen every day but don’t be too hard on them. They’re too busy to face up to the responsibility of having two large hunting dogs.’

So then Zeke and Phoebe the devoted couple. Much time spent in mutual ear licking, curling up together, more mutual grooming and snuggling. He neurotic when she gone and she in blissful solitude without his interfering head that he would always thrust in between a patting hand and her head. ‘What about me me me.’ And always in song.

But then phoebe got this parasite – spirocerca – what a fucker. Slowly killed her by blocking her oesophagus. Making eating a painful, but really painful, laborious effort. Another doggy irony in the light of her obsession with food. If Ripley obsessed over balls, then after her spaying, Phoebe began to see food as the source of all serious joy. Anything edible. In fact she would only find out if it was edible by eating it. Berries, flowers, beetles, dog shit and oh yes that speciality of walks in the park; human shit. A stomach full, which was then vomited up at the kitchen door just at the place where you couldn’t open the door without smearing it over the floor and so forced to pick up this pile of human shit-vomit. How she endeared herself to us those days. Me gagging as I lovingly scooped the poop-barf and she looking over my shoulder with an eager ‘Are you finished with that? Cos I’m not…’ So by eating shit or dung or dung beetle or something she caught this parasite which slowly over a year or so killed her, starved her to death. so thats why everyone had to say goodbye to her on the day of departure minus one.

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One Response to “well not really running away, but joining the circus”


  1. So sad about Phoebe… dog heaven is a nice place: cats are fat, can’t climb trees and run very slowly…


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