Working it all out in Canberra

Loss

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2016 at 10:11 am

So, I’m finally making another post. This time the post is not about Canberra and my musings on politics, although frankly, with the current environment in Canberra with the Federal election campaign four weeks in to an eight week marathon, and the ACT election campaigners already making themselves very known (at least on social media, even though it’s not until October), it would be quite easy to post everyday!

But today sadly I am writing about loss.

A week ago we said a very sad farewell to our beautiful family dog Anzac. Zaccy, Ziggy, Ziggy Zag, Mr Poo.

To put it into some perspective, he was 18 and a half and he was, since a January emergency, ailing. We knew we would have to face this day at some point this year, although I think he still surprised us with the way that he attacked life – after being what looked like only days from slipping away, he came back to us after a couple of days spent in the emergency animal hospital both happier and hungry for dinner.

To take away the perspective, he has left a massive hole in our lives, our home and our hearts. After 18 years of absolutely solid and  unwavering companionship he is no longer there to make a bad day good again, to snuggle up to and stroke on the sofa or to listen to his night time snoring.

Two weeks ago when I took him to the vet for a check up and some dietary advice, I asked how we would know when is the right time to say goodbye. Her answer was simple – it’s when they have more bad days than good. At that time even just two weeks ago, he was still having mainly good days. His day was spent sleeping, taking himself out through his own door to answer the call of nature, sniffing around the garden, eating his meals and going back to bed after his traditional nightly carob buttons. And if I am honest, I liked caring for him in his latter years. He was a good patient, and he let me be an adoring mum.

It’s true that his sight was all but gone. His cloudy eyes did nothing for his navigation, but familiarity with the floor plan was all he needed. His hearing was not much better. His sense of smell however was second to none – he could be deep in an aged dog sleep, but start making the dinner and he was there under your feet.

After his health scare in January, he no longer went out for a walk and was too timid without the benefit of good eyesight to go through the front gate.

But last week, he just changed – pretty much overnight. He became disoriented and unable to find his way out without a struggle and I spent a night getting up to him and worrying that if he did go out that he would not get back in.

I went to sleep finally with the dreaded thought in my head, and even though I woke up wishing that it was just a one night blip, it was clear that he was just all of a sudden sad and no longer fighting. Even more clear was the fact that we could no longer look after him as he needed. If we could have one of us home all day, maybe we could have carried on for a bit longer.

We have this well understood notion that humans, after a long life can get tired and need to ‘let go’, and we are struggling to come to terms with how humankind should deal with just being ‘tired of life’. So why not for animals? Zac was ailing, but in the end, his body and mind was overwhelmed by his great age.

And so, we did what we needed to do. Not for us, but for him. If it was for us, well, he’d still be here. But that would be an unkindness. In a short space of time our lives changed. We can now close doors that once were left open for him to walk through. No more demands when he thought dinner was overdue, and no more giving him clean water on the way to bed.

And so we have had a week of heavy hearts, of looking for him momentarily when coming home in the afternoon and of hearing his little feet on the tiles. He’s not in his usual spot and there is no one to chat to when pottering around the house. We are bereft, sometimes teary when thinking about it too much and coping with grief, all in our own ways, but comforted by the fact that we are all experiencing it.

We know it will get better with time, but that no dog could fill his physically small but metaphorically giant paw prints that ran a happy rampage through our lives. So many happy moments. We are thankful for him, but sad without him.

And I’m pleased to report that there is compassion for those losing their animal companions. A recognition that as humans we are capable of understanding loss, whatever it is from and that the departure of a lifelong four-legged friend can leave you feeling a great sense of loss.

And he’s home now, albeit in a nicely engraved wooden box. But always in our hearts.

Thank you beautiful Zaccy.

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Understanding human nature

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2015 at 9:45 pm

So, I should clarify that this blog is not a portal where I will air my grievances about everyday occurrences that happen to me alone. It’s (hopefully), about the bigger issues, those things that clearly flag to others whether we have a tendency toward the left, right or centre of the political spectrum. It’s occurred to me in recent times that whilst we as humans without much effort seem to have a natural ability to fall into one of those camps most of the time and view everything through the prism of our spot on the spectrum, (nature or nurture I don’t know), we have the ability to temper or outright change our views if we dig a bit deeper. It’s the difference between being asked for an answer on the spot about something you know little about and being given days to come back with a preferred position after doing your research. The ability to not think about something from our own perspective takes a bit of practice. What makes us grown up is the ability to tolerate another’s opinion and that’s why we are able to live in a democracy. 

One thing I find really interesting is people’s ability to dislike or sometimes even profess to hate a person who expresses a viewpoint which differs from their own. Take Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard for example. Personally I can hand on heart say that I like both of them as people. This is obviously based on the fact that I don’t know them personally of course, but I can see individual traits in them that I like or even admire. I like the fact that Tony Abbott is a person with conviction who does things with 100% of his being. I understand though that conviction can get you into trouble as it’s unbending and not suitable for all, and that he seems to confuse his head with his heart a lot of the time.

Julia Gillard is someone who I think has an enormous capacity to understand. Someone who knows how privileged she is (mostly through her own hard work), and is willing to work to make sure that others have access to the things she does. A true altruist.

However much I can see these traits that I admire, I can also see that not every policy that either of these two promoted was a good one. That might be because it was badly crafted, was not well thought through, badly sold, out of step with the electorate, whatever…Having said that, I can usually see where it may have started as an idea. 

I’ve been noticing….

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2015 at 6:11 am

As I have gotten older (is gotten one of those words that you shouldn’t use? It just sometimes feels so right to use it), I’ve noticed how much my viewpoint has changed. I like to think this is because I’m older, wiser, not so angry with the world, a mother, a wife, not in so much of a hurry, all of those things and probably more. But with this shift from lofty viewpoint to one that ‘seems’ nearer to reality, I also find that I get confused as to what I really think is right. Being able to see the other side of the argument seems like a curse. Maybe the hot-headed, ‘of course I’m right’ twenty-something was indeed on to something…see there I go again, second guessing myself.

Living in Canberra doesn’t help. Imagine….a beautiful, well-planned, green oasis with standards of living above anywhere else, that in one fell swoop is dragged right back down again by its more temporary residents…yes, the politicians. Not only do we have our very own level of territory government (bless them), but we also host for a large part of the year, the Feds. Those who take Canberra’s name in vain and lead everyone else to believe that we mere locals are all in on it. And it’s at this level that I get particularly confused. Before I slowed my thinking down to actually, well…think, I viewed everything in isolation. Got a problem, well here’s a solution…but never bothering to see if the solution was actually right. And now I think, well, is that what our elected members of parliament do too?

So here forthwith I am committing my indecision to writing. Solving one conundrum at a time. Actually, I might not solve anything, but I might rest a bit easier knowing that I gave it a go.