The next furpals to enter The Help’s lives were definitely not planned!
With number one son about 18 months old they left the grey Northern Hemisphere skies and travelled to New Zealand to live. It was supposed to be for three years. Fresh from the pain of leaving Pashtu behind The Help was not looking to get any pets even though that decision would leave a big whole in her life.
What’s that saying about best laid plans…….?
Within the first few months they found a house they liked and bought it. The family they bought the house from had two boys and a dog and a cat. They were leaving for Australia. In one of the last visits that The Help and The Boss made to the house they discovered that this couple were putting the cat and the dog down because they did not want to take them! They were horrified.
The dog was a young Sheltie called Mandy and the cat a grey tabbie called Charlie or ‘Garlie’ as he was always known due to the inability of a baby to pronounce his name properly.
You know what happened next don’t you?
Yes, you’re right.
They bought the house and took the dog and the cat along with it.
For some reason most of the photographs at that time seem to have been of number one son and then number two son who was born shortly after they moved to New Zealand. this means that we were not able to find any photographs of Charlie and only a few of Mandy. The Help tells me that they have many more in a different form, photographic slides, but I think she’s just telling me that so I won’t judge her!
I freely admit that Mandy was a handsome dog. She reminds me a little of Roxie, a Collie from our park. She was large for a Sheltie apparently but I’m afraid to say she had not been treated very well and was very timid.
So The Help and The Boss began to work with her and Charlie to try and tame them.
Their new house had a lot of chapel ceilings and beams. Charlie lived his life in the kitchen high up on the beams. This didn’t seem particularly hygienic or friendly so The Help gradually discouraged Charlie from jumping on the fridge and then onto the beams.
Actually she just piled some saucepans on there so that when he tried it they fell and made an awful noise. Not very subtle was it?
It did mean that eventually Charlie joined in with family life a little and in the winter months when it was cold he would sit on The Help’s lap. They never really felt that he loved them, but they did understand that they were tolerated as without them Charlie wouldn’t get regular meals and a warm house!
Mandy was a harder project. She was used to kicks and abuse and wouldn’t come near the house at first. With a lot of patience and well placed treats The Help finally got her to come inside and to learn that she was not going to be beaten.
She was a gentle dog and loved children although she did have an issue with the postman and would nip at his heels to ‘herd’ him away from her house. The Help had to apologise a few times and when she realised what was happening she kept Mandy in at the time the postman was due to call!
They had had Mandy for a few years and she had just about left her fearful ways behind her when all of a sudden she disappeared. She had jumped the fence and escaped. The Help was shocked and couldn’t understand what had happened.
They contacted the local police, vets and lost dogs home. She had on an identity tab but they lived not too far from farmland and The Help was worried. She knew farmers would simply shoot a stray dog and not stop to check the tags.
A couple of days after Mandy’s disappearance she was told about rumours of a farmer having shot a dog in a nearby valley. She had a friend who had recently lost her son through a brain tumour and together they drove into the valley to see if by any chance this dog was Mandy and if they could find her.
They drove around for a while and were just returning home when the friend spotted Mandy in a nearby field.
The Help got out of the car and began calling. Mandy was running and didn’t seem to hear. She drove the car trying to keep the dog in sight and eventually Mandy got onto the road. Again she stopped and called but the dog just ran past her with a glazed look on her eyes.
The Help jumped into the car again and overtook the dog by about 200 metres. She parked the car and opened up the back of the hatch. She stood next to the car on the open road and began calling Mandy’s name and talking to her. Perceiving the road block ahead the dog slowed and then something got through to her. She began trotting towards the car and jumped in, wagging her tail and happy to be safe.
The Help and her friend were in tears.
They took her straight to the vet. She had been shot with buckshot and that was easy to fix.
Something however was not right. She began to revert to her nervous ways and The Help saw her walk into a wall on a few occasions. Sometimes she would seem to overbalance and they began to get a little concerned that she might snap at them when she was in a ‘glazed’ state. They were worried about her around two young children.
They went back to the vet. He thought perhaps it was hormonal and gave her an injection.
Her strange behaviour continued and The Help was concerned. Then one night she fitted. The Boss knew what was wrong. He believed she had a brain tumour. They had both watched their friend and neighbour’s son die recently and the symptoms were almost the same.
The next day she was back at the vet who was very unimpressed by The Boss’ diagnosis and their concern that the dog was sick. He thought they were simply trying to get rid of an unwelcome pet. He kept her overnight. That night she had a massive fit and The Help was woken by the vet calling to say she needed to be put down.
It was thought that the physical trauma and beatings of her past may have caused a bleed into the brain but we will never know for sure. She was a young dog, but I’m pleased to say that her last two years were spent in comfort, safety and a family’s laughter.
I promise you not all of The Help’s stories are sad ones, though I’m beginning to be amazed that she kept on including us in her family as I retrace some of her furkid history.
After Mandy they were not going to get another dog, but once again they got sucked in by a sob story! A work colleague was going overseas and needed to find someone to look after his dog whilst he was away. Of course they said they would and that is how they found themselves with a Cairn Terrier.
Angus was obsessed with balls and used to collect them from all around the neighbourhood. The Boss would line them up on the wall at the bottom of the garden for the kids to reclaim their balls!
After a couple of years Angus returned to his owners and shortly after that it was time for The Boss and The Help to be on the move again.
Love from Zena, the looking-back princess