Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We need to talk about Hazel

No, Hazel has not recently killed off the family next door and must contemplate her remaining senescence in doggy jail, but I haven't mentioned her for a while, and I've noticed that friends I haven't seen for a while also fail to mention her.
Hazel and I are kind of inseparable. She's been my furry best friend since she was a mere 8 weeks old   and now she's heading into her fourteenth summer and slowing down alot. Hazel used to come out on my bush trips, in those seven years when I travelled around the Murchison two weeks a month providing mobile clinics. She was as much part of the team as the rest of us, and probably taught an entire generation of young aboriginal kids that dogs could be friendly and fun. For a post about her younger years, click here.
But these days she hangs at home and she has a bit of a routine going. When I leave for work she's often still sleeping on the bed, but then she heads next door to lie on the sofa in the sun most of the day. The kids say she wanders back home a bit after 4:30pm, so that she's there when I get home just before 5. Then she makes a big fuss, as only a Staffy can do, and expects to be taken for a walk. But a walk these days is more a slow meander, hence why I now find other ways to exercise that don't include walking the dog!
The reason we are having this talk is because Hazel has now got to that age when everyone expects she will be no more. When you've had a doggy companion for years, when so many people associate you with your dog, they start to get a little circumspect, fail to ask how Hazel is, you know, JUST IN CASE..
Thing is, I notice it, so I make a big effort to inform everyone that Hazel is still alive and kicking, if rather lethargically so.
Hazel has some pretty bad arthritis in her legs, meaning she can't jump up into the car, or onto my bed. Solution: I sold the bed and have moved to sleeping on the much lower futon bed, and she gets lifted in and out of the car. I now sleep so much better now that I'm not woken by a whinging canine wishing to snuggle up on the doona. She also has to watch herself going up and down the stairs, something she fails to do on occasions when she gets overexcited over a visitor or an impending excursion. Then she falls down the stairs. Not funny! You'd think she'd have learnt by now....
Hazel has always had a neurotic streak, and got quite depressed when I went overseas for 7 months despite being lovingly cared for by Cate, my housesitter. Recently I noticed that every time I hosted couch surfers she gets all shaky and starts wetting herself all over the house. I can only assume that she associates strangers arriving with luggage with me leaving her. Poor dear, I think she deserves my undivided attention so I've ditched hosting for the time being.

But she's generally pretty happy, if the sound of gentle snoring by my feet is any indication. She loves her beach walks, groans her appreciation of a good belly rub, and still loves accompanying me everywhere in the car. And I'm sure she'll enjoy spending her fourteenth summer camping up at Coronation Beach next month.

I have a spot in the backyard I've earmarked for her final resting place, but I think we've still a while to go. As long as she can still get up and down those stairs, keeps up her appetite, and bugs me to go for a walk I reckon she's not in too much pain.

She's just given me the hurry-up bark and is now doing the deep sighing that precedes the whinging that means she really would like to go for a walk soon! OK, we're off for a gentle meander down the beach, ciao!


  1. reading this made me cry....she is so beautiful

  2. She's the best Ann, I know I'll be a mess when the time comes...