Natural Pet

Loss of a pet

Sharing and dealing with pet loss by wandering down Memory Lane

DSCF7116 (2) Cheeky to the last! (Small)
Joy – 2000-2015

How precious our pets are! Just yesterday my lovely daughter Nicky and I had to say farewell to her beautiful Silky Terrier, Joy. She had been part of our lives for many years and I thought I would share with you some of my memories of this amazing little dog.

Almost 15 years ago Bob-Dad and I gave into the constant hinting for a dog from our then 9 year old, soon to be 10, and with the knowledge that when you turn 10 you can then have a pet – our thinking being that at the age of 10 she would be well past the tail pulling and eye poking stage and appreciate the responsibilities that come with owning a pet. So, there we all were, Bobbi (Nicky’s older sister), Bob-Dad and I, that momentous Saturday piling into the car and off on the adventure of a lifetime. I think we can safely say it certainly was a long and fruitful lifetime of memories our new family member took us on.

Puppies for sale

How many times Nicky had looked through the newspaper ads and circled the puppy ads I really cannot tell you – but it would be a hundred at least! So, here we were and the time had finally arrived for Nicky to fulfil her dream of owning a dog. It’s quite amazing really, picking out the puppy of your choice. Nowadays there are lots of opinions on which puppy to select and which one to avoid – but 15 years ago there was not a lot of readily available information at hand and although we spent time at the library we never realised that little Joy, that pesky little puppy, would grow into a strong, bossy, champion of the backyard..…but I digress……
It was a beautiful Queensland sunny day when we set out to get Nicky the ‘best birthday present EVER’ and when we arrived at the address shown in the newspaper ad there were a bunch of gorgeous little Silky Terrier pups running around the backyard of this old house, ducking in and out of bushes and poking out from behind flowers and long grass. “What about that one?” I asked Nicky who looked like she had just gone through a dimensional door and stepped into heaven, her blissful face beaming as she leant down and stroked one of these gorgeous little puppies. There was quite a selection, some rolling around playing tag with each other, others very quietly curled up in a ball. We had not a clue about the term ‘pack leader’ and I spotted this chunky looking puppy (an important aspect of purchasing as we wanted a healthy puppy who would be with us for years) and said to Nicky “What about this one – she seems really friendly.” We spent quite some time rounding up the different puppies and as Nicky leaned down this chubby, tail-wagging little girl walked up to her and sat down by her feet. “Hmm I thought, this looks like a match.” What is the old saying buy in haste, repent at leisure…… (We lost all our puppy photos when an earlier computer died but the picture on the right looks the spitting image of Joy as a puppy and looked just like that the day we met her and she came and sat at Nicky’s feet).  I think it may be true that a puppy does pick its owner.

The spitting image of Joy as a puppy
The spitting image of Joy as a puppy
The Journey Home  

So, there we were, in the car on the way home and in the rear vision mirror is this beaming face looking down at her new charge. “What will you call her?” I asked and as we drove home lots of names came to mind. I said “What about Joy?” to reflect the emotion being experienced as, after years of asking (persistence pays off) Nicky finally had her puppy. I can honestly say I have never seen such a happy child in the back seat with this little puppy curled up on her lap (except for when Bobbi, Nicky’s older sister, got her special treasure a Burmese cat called Nova with again personality plus) – it was pure joy beaming from her face. Ah, the sweet moments of innocence…..

Nova rules the roost!
Nova rules the roost!

Joy loved having the run of the house for a few months before Nova arrived on the scene and the reign of the Silky Terrier came to an abrupt end with the first swipe of that little kitty’s paw that in a split second forever secured her place as she who must be obeyed! I doubt there was ever a time when Joy would not feel she had to move on when Nova would try to pinch her cosy spot – and you can see that she has a rather cosy spot of her own. Nova loved to jump out at joy from behind the couch or table and would surprise her every chance she got. Joy and Nova co-existed really well together though and they had a healthy respect for each other as well. Nova would try to takeover Joy’s bed and Joy would let her! It was a bit of a game that played out when Joy would come inside for the night but after a time or two Nova would finish her teasing and spring into her own bed. She has missed Joy quite a lot and spent a number of days looking through the rooms and meowing which is unusual for her as she is not very vocal. The photo was taken when Nova was looking over at Joy’s mat, keeping an eye on her, just a day before she passed on.  I would have taken a photo of Joy asleep on her bed but she kept on jumping up and running around – typical terror….oops….terrier!

From Puppy to Minx  

So..back to the puppy story…We arrived back home and Nicky settled Joy into her new basket after taking her on a tour of the house. Oops, we had forgotten to get her a drinking bowl so, leaving her in the charge of Bob-Dad we made our way to the mall and spent some happy moments choosing just the right bowl for Joy. It was such an exciting day and to Nicky must have felt like all her dreams came true at once. Getting a dog is a big deal for most 10 year olds after all. Little did we know that while we were away, all of an hour at the most, there had been an awakening in this quiet, little, sleepy puppy and we walked in the door to find a crazy Joy running up and down the hallway ‘playing’ with Bob-Dad! The sweet little puppy we had purchased was out of her shell and running riot! Fast forward through to yesterday and that strong, determined, beautiful, feisty little puppy finally laid her head down after struggling with a failing heart and went to sleep. As I looked at her lying there and stroked her warm fluffy tummy I thanked God for this dog that had been Nicky’s friend through thick and thin. My mind filled with memories – like the time she experienced her first storm and drove our then neighbour (who hated dogs) up the wall with her loud replies to every crash of thunder. The storm was not expected and we had left Joy out to play in the backyard while we went out for the afternoon. Or the time I walked into the lounge room to see her with two paws on the coffee table, very gently taking the last home-made orange cupcake off Bob-Dad’s plate and looking straight at me with a …….. what?! Ah, the times you wish you had a camera! She ate it too – hiding under the couch! It wouldn’t have been such a big deal but it was probably the best orange cupcakes I have ever made – hmmm I will have to get that recipe out and make some more.

Puppy training

Nicky played a huge part in taming Joy’s behaviour and without her and the consistent training we would have had a real minx on our hands. She was a real handful though and I remember the obstacle courses Nicky set up for Joy, she was such a clever dog and would always figure her way out of them. Come to think of it, Joy was a good stick in lots of ways, she was such a character – I know all dogs are characters but this dog took the cake – literally. She would snort at you after being told off as if to say “who do you think you are” especially as she got older and neared the ripe old age of 90. It’s funny though, as I sit here now I see her tearing around the place and holding people hostage at the door – as she did to Nicky’s uncle when we stayed at Nana’s to help her recuperate after a hospital stay. He stood at the door with Joy latched onto his trouser leg and his look of disdain while tolerating this guard dog performance was funny yet embarrassing. Joy was good at embarrassing the family and every visitor that ever came to our place was greeted with a barrage of noise (little dogs sure can bark!) and nine times out of ten she would end up in the laundry in an attempt to quieten her down or at least so we could hear the conversation. If you are ever thinking of making a Silky Terrier part of your family, check out my list below as you make your decision – as we didn’t have the personal information and opinions available to us like we do now with the internet and Google.

True to the nature of the breed, Joy was a feisty, strong-willed dog who would take on any dog or human no matter what size. It’s not that we didn’t try to train her, we did and I give Nicky a big pat on the back for all her hard work, Joy was just a terror to train. In fact she was booted out of two puppy preschools (started the first one at 12 weeks old) where she ended up in the sin bin every week for challenging the biggest dogs in the class and she went away for a week’s training at a specialised school in Brisbane when we moved suburbs as she just barked at everything, greatly annoying our new neighbours. The trainers said when they brought her home that they had never experienced such a strong-willed dog and Joy was so quiet for a week we thought the training had worked. Alas, that was due to being hoarse from barking for a week straight during the time she was away for training!! Nicky was the only person that Joy truly obeyed – she just loved her. It always amazed me how Joy’s tail would become like a propeller the moment Nicky walked into the room and, in later years, when she came home from work. Joy just loved Nicky and even the sound of her voice would see Joy’s tail wagging. I think she respected the authority from Nicky and the no-nonsense training and would obey with a sit, lie, drop, beg, rollover and do a very good impersonation of a fallen victim to the command of ‘bang’! It amazed me how this little dog could go from ‘saying her prayers’ and ‘hiding her eyes’ to rough and tumble with Chester and Katie as they chased each other up hill and down dale.

Clever Dog – From Joy to Joydini!

Joy was a very clever dog and we actually renamed her at one point – she adopted the now famous name of Joydini as she developed a friendship with a dog across the road from us in a rural area and used to get out to go and visit him. This was a problem as the family next door to the neighbouring dog had very young children and Joy was not used to young children and would snap at them if they tried to touch her. We also didn’t want her getting hit by a car on a busy road, so checked the fence lines and gates and tried everything to keep her in – to no avail.  It was getting ridiculous so this particular day I played detective and decided to hide in the laundry and watch out the window to see where she was getting out through the fence (to which we had already attached small mesh wire fencing over the existing fencing) and I could then patch it up to ensure she didn’t keep wandering. As well as the risk of traffic, there are foxes and dingoes in the bush and Joy was no match for those. I waited there for about half an hour, hidden behind the washing machine and peeping out to see what she was up to. Talk about clever, she would run a short distance and then look back at the house to see if the coast was clear, before advancing a little further. Turning on the video camera I positioned myself and zoomed in. She took a few more steps and looked around and like some soldier, checking for danger she approached the gate (which is approximately 50 metres from the house) and took another look around. What she did then was astounding – she stuck her head through the wire gate and then pulled it out again. I thought she will never get through that. Wrong! With a bit of manouvering and squeezing that little dog pushed her head through, with her legs off the ground she twisted her torso, wriggled past her ample tummy and with one big push was standing on the other side of the gate! If I hadn’t had it on camera, I don’t think anyone would have believed me. How clever is that?! She turned around on the other side of the gate, took one more look towards the house, shook her fluffy bum and took off! Boy, did she get a surprise when I called her name and, thanks to Nicky’s training, she turned back. As always, when being caught doing something naughty and told off, she slunk to the ground and looked up with those beautiful brown eyes as though butter wouldn’t melt and sheepishly walked through the now open gate, getting her mojo back trotted a little distance, turned around and snorted at me and ran off to play with the other dogs. As I said….character plus!

Missing Dog   

I am really happy that in her last few weeks I spoilt Joy with tidbits from dinner and other meals that she would not normally have. We knew that her heart was failing as the vet had confirmed this some months previously and that she was ‘on her last legs’ as my dad would have said – she had even started to develop a little limp when she got up after lying down. She never let up though, not for one minute did she stop being the matriarch of the backyard and the Border Collies knew without a doubt who was boss. Actually we wouldn’t have Border Collies if Joydini hadn’t gone walk about when we first moved out to the country. Take a city slicker dog and put them in the country and they go crazy. It must be the wide open spaces, but Joy was beside herself with excitement and wonder having come from a city backyard which was mostly concrete, where she spent a lot of her day indoors. Here she was with so much space around her and we saw her reaction when a bush hare ran across the property. We were still in the process of putting in Joy-safe fences and were not aware at that stage that Joy, or should I say Joydini had a plan to make her great escape! It almost cost her life as she was lost for four days and four nights and it was quite a miracle that we found her amongst 10 acres of head height grass, one very thin and distraught dog. In the meantime though, believing she was long gone due to wild animals in the area (and opinions of local neighbours) Nicky was broken hearted at the thought her beloved Joy of seven years was gone forever and put up signs and knocked on doors to ask if anyone had seen her. We had intended getting a companion for Joy when we got settled in the property and rather than see Nicky so upset we decided to move forward with our plans for a new puppy who would then be company for Joy when she had finished her exploring and made her way back home. We believed she would be OK and as we had searched everywhere we knew to search we decided to take our minds off the problem and start looking at what breed of dog would be suitable.

Picking a dog breed  

Nicky is great at researching so that was really good as it took her mind off Joy for a while as she explored different dog breeds on the net with the possibility of buying a Border Collie (some ads said Boarder Collie) and what their nature and characteristics were like, ie whether a Border Collie puppy would be a good match for Joy with her being a smaller dog. Eight years ago there was not as much information around as there is now but we phoned and spoke to some Collie breeders and so had a fair idea of what type of nature they generally possess – which I have listed below, according to my personal experience with them. Even though we were excited to be getting a new dog, we were still very worried and concerned as to Joy’s whereabouts as it had been four nights out in the rough and she was just a little dog, although had great stamina and appetitie so had plenty of padding. We went out in the morning, again, to look for her – we had given away the idea of walking as it was just too far so we were now driving slowly around the streets with the windows down whistling and calling out her name. It is a really tough experience to go through looking for a missing dog as Joy had been part of our family for seven years. I knew we would find her but hoped that it would be soon as time was running out. We sat down as a family and talked about our options, deciding to go ahead with our original plan to get Joy a friend and proceed with the purchase of a Border Collie puppy. Nicky phoned the breeders and we arranged to meet with them the following day which was a Saturday. It was quite a way from home so we went to bed early ready for the drive in the morning.

The new Border Collie puppy

We set off early in the morning and had travelled approximately half way to the breeders house when the phone rang. Bear in mind we have been through the tears, the upset, the misery everyone goes through when searching for a missing dog or pet and it really is an awful experience to go through. Not only have we moved house but now part of our family is missing. The phone call is from Bob-Dad who says one of our new neighbours (part of neighbourhood watch – we had contacted them for their help) thinks they saw Joy last night, but it was quite dark when they tried to catch her and she ran away. What to do? Keep going and get our second dog or turn back home and hope that the dog they saw was Joy. Nicky and I looked at each other, parked by the side of the road, and discussed the benefits of having a second dog. Decision made – keep going as it may not be Joy they saw (there were a few little dogs around the neighbourhood) and it was dark when she was spotted. If it was Joy then we would find her and she would have a lovely new friend to play with when she finally came home.

We arrived at the breeder’s house to find all these gorgeous Border Collie puppies – sooooo cute! Where to start? If there is one thing I know about Nicky it is that she thoroughly researches before purchasing. We had discussed the fors and againsts of Border Collies for the past couple of hours during our drive and that was after Nicky spent a day online finding out the typical personalities and traits of this particular breed of dog. She knew what to look for this time round! There is something really special about sitting on the ground surrounded by all these beautiful playful puppies, especially when one crawls up on your lap and curls into a ball. There is such trust shown in that split second of time and, quite honestly, I could have taken them all home! Reluctantly I put the little puppy back with its brothers and sisters and went to talk to the owners about what personalities they have observed in the weeks they had known the puppies. It was a marvellous time Nicky and I had playing with puppies and getting to see what the parents were like as well. We had spent ages there when another family arrived to choose their puppy so we made our choice, which quite upset one of the owners as she wanted to keep ‘Chester’ for herself, this litter being the last one they were going to have. With Chester all tucked up in Nicky’s arms we set off on the journey home, discussing how we were going to break the news to Bob-Dad. Of course, it didn’t help that Bob-Dad was standing at the gate when we turned the corner, ready to tell us that Joy had been spotted again this afternoon and it definitely was her! Whew, all those feelings of letting go a beloved pet disappeared and the thought of having her back in the family filled us with a great wave of relief and happiness. Again, no-one could catch her as she had become slightly wild. We were so relieved to hear the news. As we pulled up in the driveway, Nicky was holding Chester up cradling him in her hands as he liked to see the scenery and everytime she put him in his new basket he cried. Bob-Dad came over to the car and saw this little black and white bundle Nicky had already named Chester. As we got out of the car the conversation went something like this…. “It’s like this Love, we got there right and there were eight puppies. So cute and we noticed there was a little girl puppy that was being picked on by the others. “ Bob-Dad looks cautious and says “Sooo……you got another girl (we set out to get a boy to even up his odds)… OK so what’s her name?” Nicky and I looked at each other. “Well the thing is” I began, this is Chester.” Bob-Dad looked happy. And, reaching down into the basket on the floor of the car, “and this is Katie!” I said. After explaining a bit more Bob-Dad could see that we had to bring Katie home (now my dog) as well. Chester was and is the big brother who looks after Katie and they just belonged together. Katie has a very submissive nature and was being singled out by the other puppies to pick on, almost the whole time we were there. Chester would rush to her side and push the other puppies off her and then stand in front of her for protection. They were just meant to stay together and I am so pleased we brought that little girl home with us – and yes Katie was the little puppy who crawled up onto my lap!

Katie and Chester as they looked when they were puppies
Katie and Chester as they looked when they were puppies.
Buy two puppies

Buying a brother and sister (who were desexed at 16 weeks) was the best decision ever, they are such great company for each other and their personalities work so well together. Chester is the boss while at the same time Katie treats him as her charge – watching his every move and chasing him around. It fulfils the herding instinct of Border Collies which is really strong in Katie but quite passive in Chester. In fact it can be interesting trying to get around in the backyard some days as Katie’s instincts to herd take over! That’s when the washing basket gets put down and a good old cuddle with her and a big pat will see her racing away to chase Chester again! It is lovely to see them play as they tumble around the backyard (which is about a quarter acre with lots of trees to play around) and chase each other. Yes, buying two puppies was a great decision, especially with the Border Collie breed as they need a lot of exercise and spend most of their day running around and playing. So, with all little puppy purchases, there is quite an adjustment to be made in the household. We knew that having two little puppies meant there would not be enough room in the laundry (where Joy had her sleeping quarters) so we decided to set the puppies up in the garage where there was a spare car bay and it was warm and safe. We had a few big cardboard boxes so decided to quickly build a ‘puppy motel’ out of the cardboard boxes. Initially though we put them in their basket where they snuggled up together, placed the basket inside a large cardboard carton and set out to find Joy. (The puppy motel was brilliant for the puppies as we had little corridors they could run down with individual bedrooms complete with their baskets and a communal lounge room with their food bowls and water at one end! At the other end of our puppy motel was the ablution block. It worked really well for a few weeks until we came out one morning to find our ‘guests’ had ripped apart half the building!! )

Tears of Joy

OK – so now with the puppies, fed, played with and sound asleep Nicky and I set out to find Joy. What an afternoon that was! There we were having trouble keeping track of each other in over 10 acres of head-height grassland, let alone trying to find a tiny little Silky Terrier, a similar colour to the dry grass. The wind was cold and howling and our attempts to call Joy were failing miserably It was also getting late and growing darker by the minute. All hope seemed lost when I had a prompting to call her name gently and as I called her name I saw Nicky’s face change to one of surprise then absolute relief as her little Joy came crawling on her stomach towards her. She looked dreadful, she had been crying and her eyes were all crusty, her hair was all matted and she was skinny as a rake.  While she was happy to see us she had also become quite wild being lost for four days and four nights and as I carried her back home a pesky hare ran across our path and she clawed and cried to chase after it again.  We have learnt that domestic dogs can go quite ferral (wild) when first moving out to the country and I wish someone had warned us of that potential behaviour as we would have kept her indoors for a few weeks instead of letting her out after the first week. If you are moving from the city to the country and have a pet just make sure you keep them really well contained for the first few weeks to avoid what we went through. I will never forget that moment when we found her and Nicky and I walked back home with tears of joy that her little dog was home safe and sound and although she got out from time to visit other dogs she never ever went on another sojourn like that again – thank God.

The new chapter

So, there we were, now with a family of three dogs. I will never forget how Joy looked when we found her and she was trembling so hard I had trouble carrying her. It was a long walk back to our place with a strong wind blowing and this crazy dog squirming and wriggling with every step. When we got her home we bathed her three (yes three) times with another layer of dirt etc. coming off her with each bath. It took ages but she finally stopped trembling and sat with Nicky wrapped up in a huge towel where her head was just poking out. She then wolfed down a huge meal, had a drink and went sound asleep. We let her settle back in that night and the next morning introduced her to Chester and Katie. Joy just loved being the older sister to the puppies and would round them up in the puppy motel and sit with them – of course she pinched a meal or two of the puppy food but, hey it’s a poor job without a perk! We were surprised at how maternal she was and how gently she handled the little puppies. At least for now she would be home-bound as she was too busy to think about exploring the neighbourhood anytime soon.

Two’s company……

The dogs all got along really well together with no fighting or tension between them.  I noticed though that there was a change in the hierarchy as time went on. The two girls would shut Chester out from time to time and then he would become flavour of the month again. Joy sure knew how to keep those two in line though and it was a respectful relationship, especially as Katie and Chester grew up into dogs and still behaved as though they were the smaller dogs. One thing’s for sure, Joy remained the boss from the moment she met them until the moment she left them. As I look out the window now, Katie and Chester are pottering about together. Katie now gets to spend time with her brother instead of all the time being chased away by Joy who for some reason saw the large concrete patio as her territory, yet Chester was permitted to stay. I know they miss her but thankfully still have each other for company and I am relieved that Katie can finally enjoy her own space on the patio without Joy chasing her away.

Chester and Katie July 2015
Chester and Katie, great playmates but still look for Joy.
The indoor Joy

Joy would always come in and sit with us at night – it was her special time and she would get the odd tidbit from dinner and had her mat (actually a lovely spongey mattress with her blanket) tucked up under the sideboard where she could burrow right in or lie out on the floor, whatever madame preferred! It was those moments when she was snuggled down having a snooze that I will remember fondly. There’s something about watching your children sleeping and I think that applies to your family pets as well. It’s as though they have done a hard day’s work living and we are reminded of this special place of rest to recharge our batteries. There’s just something safe about seeing your children tucked up in bed for the night and all is OK. Of course, Joy would finally find her mat after pestering me in the kitchen for a carrot stick and whatever else she could get (her favourite being sausages and roast chicken) – she would do her impersonation of the Marx Brothers as she trotted back to her mat with a whole peeled carrot/cigar sticking out of her mouth – she didn’t like the skin so I would have to make sure it was peeled or I would find a dried up carrot under the couch a week later! Every now and again Nova would pinch Joy’s mat, just to keep her in line! Funny thing though – Joy never once tried to take over Nova’s spot, and I wonder if she would have behaved differently if she realised that Nova had lost all her teeth! Joy had several beds around the house as well as her own kennel outside so could always move on when Nova annoyed her, and we would reprimand Nova too and move her along to her own bed with a stern ‘no’ when she tried to comandeer Joy’s patch. Joy was usually not allowed in the kitchen during dinner preparation as, like most little dogs, she had a nasty tendency to get under your feet. Now that wouldn’t be a problem being under foot for most people but Joy had cost me a broken ankle not long after we first moved to the country by getting under my feet and sending me down a hill! I did forgive her – eventually and for quite a few weeks she was not allowed near me. Understandably, as another tumble from crutches would have truly destroyed our friendship!!

Farewell Joy

I could write a book of the adventures and just pure character of Joy. She brought untold joy to Nicky and, like lots of faithful dogs, was there through the sad times, the happy times, the scary times (boy could she bark at that thunder!) and was just an awesome companion who lived life to her absolute fullest. We will miss you Joy – you ratbag! Before we took her to the vet, having a fair idea what the outcome would be, with Joy having experienced two major seizures, Nicky suggested giving her a bath. We looked at each other – nope, Joy was a scruff bucket. Don’t get me wrong, she scrubbed and brushed up beautifully and looked like something off a pedigree site, but she was happiest after rolling around the backyard, chasing Katie and Chester and barking at Red -Nicky’s horse. Not to mention the neighbours beside the dog yard. He once said to me he was far more scared of Joy than the Border Collies! Oh, and we will always remember Joy’s dirty paws from digging and the innocent look on her face that had me looking to the Border Collies to reprimand!

To Nicky I say – you were a great owner, friend and pack leader. Joy loved you and respected you, you were her authority and only you could make Joy’s tail a propeller – as you do now with Chester. To Joy – rest in peace little girl. We had our moments didn’t we?! You were one heck of a dog, always loving, always happy to see us. Strangely I am having a bit of trouble getting used to the peace and quiet around the property these days and when working outside catch myself looking down at my feet to make sure I don’t end up in the back of an ambulance with the crew talking about how “these things happen!” Or telling you off for eating Nova’s dinner by sneaking up the hallway to Nova’s patch and enjoying some ‘fast food!’ I still cannot fathom how you got from your comfy mat, in full view of everyone enjoying a TV show, crept up the hallway and gobbled down a second dinner! To think you never even saw one episode of Mission Impossible! You were a clever, intelligent dog with a personality ten times your size, still jumping up on our beds and your outdoor chair with ease the day before you left us. Not bad for an old girl eh?!

Roses bring Joy

There is an old saying that roses bring Joy. Well, we have now planted different types of roses over Joy’s grave as a pet memorial. She is in such a great spot looking down the driveway, beside Red’s paddock and in full view of the house. We have planted a blue rose called Blue Moon, a red rose called Ingrid Bergman and a delightful pink rose called the Children’s Rose (originally grown to raise funds for support of childrens’ hospitals in Adelaide) and has the most beautiful perfume – a bit like Joy after a bath!  That was one thing Joy really made the most of – her bath and afterwards would run towards Nicky who was holding an outstretched towel in which she would be bundled up and spend a minute or two finding her way out, then go through the whole exercise again, clever girl.

To anyone who is looking at bringing a Silky Terrier or Border Collie into your family I would like to share my take on owning and living with these breeds and below am putting a bullet point list so you can really consider whether these dogs are right for you. Way back when Nicky got Joy there was no online facility to check reviews or opinions of breeds so a neighbour’s comments and the cute factor won the day.

Characteristics of an Australian Silky Terrier

• Fantastic guard dog
• Loves to run and dash around
• Loves to hunt and has a strong prey drive (originally bred to catch rats and mice)
• Very strong willed (and may snort after being told off!)
• Very possessive of ‘doggy’ space (although will let the cat, if it is Nova, rule the roost indoors)
• Very clever and fun to train
• Loves to bark! (rather a piercing sound) and can keep barking even with friends visiting
• Generally challenges those of the same sex, no matter what the breed
• Will take on any type of dog, really does think it is a Rottweiler
• Loves to dig and can be quite the Houdini when it comes to fences! (Joy was an under, over and through escape artiste!)
• Can get under your feet!

Characteristics of Border Collies

• Beautiful nature
• Gentle and friendly, full personalities
• Awesome to train
• Very intelligent and pick up instructions quickly
• Best companion with another dog
• Great farm dogs
• Can be an obsessive ‘herder’ – will try to herd you (like Katie does)
• Need to be well fenced as they will try to escape to explore their surrounds (like Chester does – keeps bringing home ‘treats’ from the neighbour’s compost!)
• Need lots of exercise and stimulation (great to have two as they exercise each other)
• Need to be well trained from puppies
• Need to be closely monitored around children and visitors (always) – it is just not worth the risk of leaving a child alone with a dog, even for a short period.

When we decided to look for a Silky Terrier for Nicky, it was at the suggestion of a neighbour we used to visit at Christmas time to see their Christmas lights competition entry.  They had a Silky Terrier who would come up to Bobbi and Nicky and was so cute, quiet and well behaved. However it was not until a year after getting Joy that we were informed by said neighbour that their Silky Terrier was then 18 years old! Without realising it we based our purchase of Joy on the fact that our neighbour had a very old, very quiet Silky Terrier. So, do your homework well and make sure that the breed of dog you get for you and/or your family is compatible to your circumstances and fits comfortably within your family set-up, eg if you want a dog to train and exercise and you have lots of space for that dog to play in, then perhaps a Border Collie may be good for you. If you want a dog to train and be a special companion (train as early as possible) then a Silky Terrier may be just the bag of mischief and character you need in your life. Remember though that they do have a loud bark! They can also be very possessive of their family, which can often be an embarrassing experience with visitors and friends. Either way, whatever dog you do choose, always make sure that your dog is not left with small children as there are many stories of injuries from beloved pets around small children. In my experience, small children and dogs do not mix. I cringe when I see photos of large dogs in close proximity to small children as I believe we need to realise that these are animals who have basic instincts and at any time they can revert to these basic instincts and act out in a manner that can be harmful and tragically sometimes fatal for small children. Even a dog rough-playing with a small child is an absolute no-no. I was attacked by a neighbour’s dog as a child without any provocation so understandably am wary of animals around children. This particular neighbour’s dog attacked other children as well and now as I look back I think it must have had something wrong with it. Nowadays it would not be allowed to roam the streets.

Dogs, no matter what breed, need to be controlled, trained, and kept in line. Yes, they are beautiful creatures and make such a difference to our lives (as do cats and other pets) but you need to ensure that you have the time, patience and determination to look after a new pet. Joy was never allowed around young children, even though she appeared to be friendly and cute we could not trust her or any dog around young children. She also had a terrible habit of lunging at strangers when we tried to walk her in the city – in the end we gave up as it was just too nerve wracking and embarrassing seeing her behaviour towards not only other dogs but their owners. Even after puppy school and the other training she received, we were still not able to break this habit of her absolute possessiveness of her human pack. As I say, she was very strong willed.

Wow…..this has turned into a bit of a book! I hope you enjoyed my wander down Memory Lane with Joy. It has taken me a while to write this and during that time I have been through the moments of wishing I had given Joy more treats, patted her more and just enjoyed more of her company. I have had some interesting health issues in my life (thus the creation of this site where I am sharing what I have learnt in the hope it may help others) and have learnt to just ‘live in the minute’ of every day, not to worry about tomorrow or finances or struggles but just ‘be’ today. I realise all of those things are important and we need to pay attention to the everyday requirements of life but we also need to enjoy the journey with the knowledge that we have done our best along the way. So I have come to the conclusion that what I did for Joy was just fine and am happy in the knowledge that she had one heck of a journey with us.

There is no going back, yesterday is gone and we do not have tomorrow yet so I hope you take a page out of my book and make a conscious effort to just ‘be’ today and to do something today that is special to you, to tell a friend or family member how much you love them and appreciate them. To thank a work colleague just for being there and supporting you, to wrap your arms around those nearest and dearest to you and give them a big hug. To spend some extra time with your dog or pet today and thank God for those we can share and receive love from in our lives. Right now I can see Joy snuggling down to sleep on her mat in the lounge room, (she was very clever and could pull the blanket round on top of her) watch her tummy let out a big sigh and know all is well.

Loss of a Pet Poem

In your memory Joy I have penned a ‘loss of a pet’ poem just for you.


For Joy 

They say a dog is man’s best friend,

but my opinion may differ;

For I say Joy was a gal’s best friend,

a big bark, a big soul, a big sniffer!

Who protected us all from strangers galore

and anyone else who dared knock on our door;

Who shared all she was every moment of time

and protecting her family laid her life on the line.

Joy was cheeky and bright, full of life I suppose

and now where she lies, there is growing a rose.    🙂

A special bloom

And, do you know something amazing? There really is a little rose budding in the middle of winter in our new Joy rose garden!

Beautiful rose flowering over Joy's pet memorial.
A Blue Moon rosebud

It has certainly been a time of mixed feelings since Joy passed away and there has been quite a time of adjustment in our family.  Joy meant different things to each of us and we all handle grief in our own way.  If you have recently suffered the loss of a pet, then I extend my sympathies to you (and a big hug) and suggest that you may like to wander down memory lane yourself and perhaps write down your memories with your beloved pet.  It has certainly helped me a lot and has enabled us all to accept the inevitable path that we will all take when our time comes.  I think that is what losing a pet makes us do – consider our own mortality and in a way make a bigger effort to enjoy today. When you consider our lot in life, that is all we really have – today, so I have just spent time with Katie and Chester (took a photo of them – above) and gave them the biggest hugs. That was after I spent time with Red, Nicky’s horse – just standing with him, not expecting anything from him – just being. I really think that amazing warm breath of a horse nuzzling the back of your head is special, although he did try to nibble my shirt collar! You can see Red in the background above, sunning himself on this cold, windy, wintry day.  He is a beautiful boy and just loves Nicky. He sometimes plays up when Bob-Dad and I feed him but with Nicky he has total respect. Bob-Dad and I still ask ourselves where she got the love of horses from as both he and I have no background or longing to work with horses at all. That is probably why Red sometimes throws his food around when we feed him…..the antics of Red!  Ah, but that is another story for another day. Thanks for reading, for sharing the journey of the amazing Joy/Joydini and please feel free to leave your comments.

Thanks for the memories Joy!
Thanks for the memories Joy!

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