I share my life with a movie star. Well sort of.
Her name is Lady. Just over three years ago, several months after the traumatic death of my most beloved Greyhound Karma; I decided it was time to bring another four legged soul into my home.
I could never replace Karma. Yet I may be able to offer a home of safety, care and lots of fun to a fur darling.
I followed a Facebook page called Aussie Desert Dogs, I loved their stories, the tenacity of the carers and the animals. One day I saw a little Kelpie in a wheelchair on this Facebook page.
Lady was about 6months old when a car ran over her, in Yuendumu Northern Territory. She had broken her little back and pelvis. Plus other nasty injuries that required much time to heal. Gloria from Aussie Desert Dogs, took in this little girl, there was no doctor or vet available. Gloria cleaned her, cared for her, gave her pain killers and antibiotics and over time Lady healed. She had no wheelchair for quite some time until one was finally purchased. She was greatly loved by everyone, I was to learn why. Lady was about 2.5 years old when I saw her on Facebook.
(Lady soon after her accident, as you may see Lady has hardly any tail hence the title)
(The picture that I saw on Facebook and fell in love with those eyes)
I enlarged the picture, I saw a great love of life in those eyes. My mind was made, we were for each other.
I had some knowledge of what it may take, after all I had been a carer for quadriplegics for several years. Ah ignorance, bless it.
Perhaps I should explain that I had previously adopted two elderly palliative Shih Tzu cross, high needs plus one was blind and one was deaf, not toilet trained and just two of the sweetest co joined partners in life that had endured great neglect and suffering. Plus two aging Abbyssassins, my name for my two very old Abyssinian brothers.
I contacted Gloria from Aussie Desert Dogs. I explained why I was enquiring about the Kelpie in the wheelchair and I basically tried to sell her on why I was the perfect one to adopt Lady.
Eventually Lady was flown out to me.
(Dr Stephen Cutter vet in blue top, and Yuendumu Dingo as Lady is waiting for her flight to Victoria)
Wonderful kind Alex from Aussie Desert Dogs brought her to my home. She was a scared little girl. Everyone in the house, meaning the geriatrics, basically ignored her. So she knew there were no threats.
Over time, we taught each other what was needed.
I purchased an upmarket playpen and put that in my bedroom so she would feel safe and was with me at bedtime. Later came a changing table, lots of nappies as she had urinary and faecal incontinence, lots of towels were donated to me from my awesome neighbours, these would come in very handy as I was to learn.
Many vet visits followed as Lady had frequent UTI’s. I took her to specialists to see if it was possible to get some movement back in her hind quarters. No, her spine and pelvic bones had now fused. So I began massaging her legs and spine.
She needed a wheelchair. A good one. So I went to Aqua Paws in Somerville, Victoria. I met Jo who measured Lady up and they created a wheelchair just right for her.
We had to learn about each other.
In no time Lady wouldn’t leave my side. We played, in a creative and wonky manner at first.
We had poo and wee adventures. Hence the bountiful supply of towels. Lady’s back legs would spasm when I changed her nappy, this would result in poo and urine being flung in abundance, on the wall, ceiling, me.
Initially I changed her on my kitchen table. Before the changing table.
I learnt quickly. As did she.
I felt frustration but never showed this to her, she had no control over her body and what it did. I managed to laugh and comfort her. And silently groan.
Lady needed training, after all she was a camp dog. So I found a dog trainer who came once a week for a few weeks to train mainly me I think, on how to communicate clearly to Lady. Who is very strong willed and I adore that about her. But I needed her to recall.
Lady is still training me.
Jo from Aqua Paws asked Lady to feature in a children’s program, Totally Wild. Lady was a natural. I came to learn she loves the camera. Later on RACV contacted me to get Lady to appear in their new pet’s insurance. They sent a copy of her wheelchair to the Fast and Furious franchise in USA, who designed a spectacular wheelchair for her TV debut.
Lady received interest from Herald Sun and appeared in 2019 edition.
Eventually my old sweeties died, followed by my beloved cats who had lived to 17 and 19 years.
There was just Lady and I.
Time for a buddy for her. So I contacted Aussie desert dogs and asked about a mate for Lady. They had just sent a little blind puppy to Alex in Victoria and I set off with my Lady and 90 year old uncle to have a meet and greet in country Victoria.
Lady and the underweight blind little dingo/terrier/heeler pup hit it off. OK, I said I’ll take her.
Now I need to explain that one of the oldies was blind and I thought I would be able to know what to do. Hahahaha, an old geriatric is very different to a highly food motivated blind puppy!
The adventure continued with little crazy Betty.
I think she figured that the whole world must have been blind too, she had no filter. She wanted to jump and run and was impossible to toilet train for at least 9 months. Her blindness was neurological (due to a fall or accident), and she had delayed behavioural learning issues.
Lady and Betty became very close, Lady started taking on nanny duties and would scold Betty when she was over the top, which was frequent.
I call them my great teachers. I am a meditation and mindfulness practitioner, Lady and Betty taught me way better than I could have expected. Betty is a slow learner, hey ,so was I- so I get it.
Now life is a lot smoother, Lady has an electric table with ramp so I don’t have to lift her several times a day to change her nappies. I have ramps at front steps and back steps, ramp for the bed because of course we all sleep together. Fenced securely all around. Lots of pillows and cushions inside and outside for Lady, as she drags indoors when she is not in her wheelchair. Not the super dooper wheelchair from USA, just your run of the mill usual dog wheelchair. Thanks to Aqua Paws.
Hmm I think I can invite another little one...
So you guessed it, I contacted Aussie Desert Dogs, explained that life is pretty chill now. Have they got any not so perfect dogs that don’t jump and not too big.
Yes, they had little Jack.
Who was found with his brother and sister on the side of the road starving and Jack had a horribly broken front leg that had healed really badly.
His brother died, his sister survived and Jack had to have his front leg amputated.
Due to the shutdown in Victoria, we had to cancel little Jack’s flight.
Oh yes, I renamed him Aro. Which is Tibetan for hero.
So stay tuned for our next exciting adventure!
Thank you to Julie Splatt from Oakleigh Central Vet, we met at a dog park and I heard what a loving caring person she is to her two fur darlings.
As a dog lover knows, we will go to the moon and back for our beloved pooches. Julie suggested I write this for her newsletter, I may have overdone it somewhat.
I have learnt true unconditional love from creatures, bless them all.
Annie Whitlocke, Lady, Betty and soon Aro.
And Aussie Desert Dogs.