We love receiving news from our adopting Mums, Dads and kids and when Robyn Webster, a former foster carer and adoptive Mum of the irrepressible Bertie, wrote us a beautiful letter to catch us up on Bertie’s progress, we thought you’d like to read it too!
Dear Friends of the Pound
I don’t know if Susie, Narelle, Dave or any of the gang I worked with 15 years ago are still there, but if so, Hello! If not, I still want to share with all you wonderful people, my dog “fostering” story.
In October 2002 (a different lifetime it seems!) I fostered a cute, rather hyperactive, hilarious, super-intelligent, and very entertaining Smithfield (Blue Heeler) called Bert. After three days of just racing around in pure exuberance at being free, he slowed down long enough to look at me. I still remember seeing his brown eyes stare into mine, as if to say “OK now, who are you?”
From then on, we bonded slowly – I was determined to be a good foster Mum, not too attached (ha ha!). Strangely, the few people who phoned wanting to adopt Bert were just not suitable, until a friend met him and was definite, but had to wait a few weeks till he could build a fence. That few weeks turned into 3 months as an amazing run of incidents delayed the poor guy (car broke down, uncle died interstate, hurt his back, girlfriends car died…).
Finally the penny dropped and I had to phone my friend to break the news – after 3 months I just can’t give up this dog – he seems to belong with me after all! (A loud “I told you so!” from all of my friends, who swore they saw it coming from Day 1.)
Thus began the greatest love story of my life. Loudly (lots of barking enthusiastically at cats, seagulls, cows,…) he transformed my peaceful life into fun, laughter and adventures – or misadventures? In 4 months he chewed his way through 4 beach towels, 2 seatbelts – 1 in the backseat where he was left for 10 minutes while I shopped… (”Oh, this foam is so good to chew on! Look Mum, I can make it fly everywhere with my feet!”), 1 friend’s dog’s canvas bed, and 2 outdoor chairs. Lack-of-exercise boredom? No, this dog ran on the beach with me for at least 1 ½ hours every day except for 3, in the 9 years we lived there.
Just curiosity and a constant attitude of “What’s new and fun?” Magically, as other Smithfield parents predicted, all chewing stopped when he turned 1. (Phew!)
Quietly, he also snuggled his way deeper and deeper into my heart. I was very firm initially about sleeping rules – night = sleep on the soft lounge chair in laundry. Then we had fierce, noisy storms – OK, on loungeroom floor is OK, just this once, or twice, or 3 times, Oh, OK forever. It’s sweet to see your bright little brown eyes peering around my door, waiting for me to wake each morning.
Then a cold winter came – “OK, you can cuddle up on the bed with me while I read…”, “Bert, move now!” , “Bert, bed time.”, “Bert, shift! – Oh, I guess it won’t hurt if you sleep there tonight, you look so warm and peaceful.”
Hmmm, you’ll guess the rest!
Luckily Bert loved the car, as I drove a lot with my work. So it seemed obvious that we should enjoy a road trip holiday together. Our first (of many) trips took us as far west as Urandangie, and north to Lawn Hill, across the Gulf to Cairns and down the QLD coast to home in Fingal. Wow, what an adventure!
He loved the tent, and asked each night to go into it as soon as he got sleepy (if I was too slow putting it up, he’d lie on top of the folded tent and fall asleep as he never wanted to miss a thing while we were driving).
Kayaking on outback rivers (Oh Bert, you musn’t lean over the bow so far to snap at the ripples – and don’t chase that water-bird! Oops, too far. Ever tried getting a wriggly wet 22kg dog back into a kayak without tipping over? Fun!)
Barking at thousands of cattle out the car window, but then hiding behind my legs when we actually walked near a few cows… Making friends with lots of fellow campers, who laughed at his attempts to jump and catch sparks from the camp fire… I wrote 4 or 5 journals on Bert’s behalf, of all of our wonderful adventures.
In amongst that, he also survived some dreadful mishaps. Firstly, an attack by a big dog on our home beach, who threw him around but somehow did not break his spine. Next came a bite from a brown snake on New Year’s Day (thank God for Rescue Remedy and the vet). Just to give Mum a few more grey hairs, let’s try standing on the button to put the window down then jump out to bark at a passing cattle truck while doing 100km/hr on the highway! Thank God for his car harness which held him safely dangling till I screeched to a halt – lots more Rescue Remedy for both of us!
Then in 2011, Bert and I moved to North Queensland. Sadly, near neighbours had 2 dogs which kept escaping and trying to attack Bert as we walked, so he got quite stressed by that. Then came a dreadful attack by an unrestrained pig dog on our local beach, which landed poor Bert at the vet’s with surgery and drains etc. Still, at 12, he recovered brilliantly.
Gradually though, despite all of my best Naturopathic remedies, arthritis set in at his old spinal injury site, and his back legs became weaker, which overloaded his front legs causing much soreness. So, to keep his bright little spirit amused, we bought an old pram and took that on all of our walks for when he got tired and sore. He loves it! Many times he has been photographed by tourists, and he even made it to Facebook, sitting up smartly in his pram!
This year has been tough for my dear boy and he struggled through a terribly hot summer having to stay in the aircon day and night to avoid overheating. (He almost died from that in January when I was out for 20 minutes and he was stressing in the yard looking for me.) So I moved my clinic to my home and he now sits in on all my consultations! Luckily my patients all seem to be dog lovers.
I found a wonderful vet in Cairns who does chiropractic massage, and has helped Bert’s gait a lot, and another lovely vet in Mareeba whose acupuncture has given him a great boost.
Sadly, Bertie has just developed a nasty cancer under his 3rd eyelid, so tomorrow he undergoes surgery for that. We are crossing our paws and fingers that he soldiers through yet again, brave little battler that he is. I don’t leave him home alone at all since January, which is a bit socially restricting, but an easy choice in return for 15 years of devoted loyalty and love from my beautiful boy.
Every night I tell him to move on if he needs to go now, and every morning he stretches, yawns, looks up and smiles at me, “Hi Mum, still here!”
I write this now because I know I’ll be busy crying once he has moved on, till I heal again. But, Bertie has given me more joy, fun, love and laughter than any other being in all my life and I will be forever grateful to Friends of the Pound!
He has truly changed my life and richly added to every single day – for my family also, who adore him, as do my friends. He is truly a very special little (or big) soul – maybe soulmate.
I hope Friends of the Pound are still going from strength to strength – they deserve all the support in the world for the miracles they help bring about. I’m noticing more and more people choosing rescue animals, and seeing an increasing frequency of animals featuring in TV ads – yahoo! Our furry friends are at last getting the respect they deserve! I so loved my time as a volunteer with you, and I hope you are still finding lots of keen helpers as you continue your wonderful work.
From the bottom of my heart, and Bert’s – Thank you!
P.S. Bertie sailed through his surgery, so we will count each day as a bonus and enjoy more happy times together! In celebration, please add my cheque to your funds. If my budget permitted it would be a whole lot more but I hope it helps.
Sadly, we received the following update from Robyn:
So nice to get your letter Lee. I’m very happy for my letter to appear anywhere it may inspire love to help other dogs! Sadly my dear Bertie passed peacefully 2/7/17. After 2 weeks of belly pain, gradually increasing to 1 hour severely each night, having tried everything, my lovely vet agreed we couldn’t let him suffer any more. Hardest decision & saddest day of my life. She said he was clearly ready as only took fraction of normal dose of drug. I think he wanted to stay with me forever as I did too. Still struggling with my loss but forever grateful for 15 incredible years of amazing love. Robyn