“Two Kiwi guys, two little dogs, one tiny home.” That was the little marketing identifier, the three-part high-concept description, that I added to this blog title when I started it two and a half years ago.
Since October, the two little dogs are no more. Phoebe and Connor died, a day apart.
My nine-word identifier for this blog has lost its middle third, and sometimes it really has felt as though the middle third of my recent life, the bit that had charm, beauty and fun, has suddenly vanished.
This is hard to write about, again — I wrote about it on Facebook for followers of my pets blog, and on the blog itself. The thought of doing it again on The Mustard Yellow House daunted me, hence the extra-long gap between my last post and this one.
But the story of Phoebe and Connor is part of the story of the Mustard Yellow House. I’ll tell it briefly here; I went into more detail here.
In late September Phoebe fell ill, with what we thought was a return of previous back trouble. It turned out her kidneys had failed.
We had a day to get used to the implications. Phoebe was euthanised with Tom and me holding her, and Connor sitting on the vet’s bench next to her. In moments when I’d thought ahead to how our dogs would die, I envisaged this kind of ending for both of them — with pain minimised and with care and reverence.
I had also envisaged that one of our dogs would die before the other, and that one would be left alone, perhaps for many years. How would the surviving dog feel, I’d wondered. How would we handle that?
We would never find out.
The next day, 26 hours after Phoebe breathed her last, Connor had a massive heart attack at home. Again, here is a fuller telling.
We were in shock. The dogs had been sewn into our lives for ten years, including the whole time we’d lived in the Mustard Yellow House. Now the house seemed to resonate with memories of Phoebe and Connor, and all we felt we could do was flee the noise for a while.
Tom and I spent the next few days away, some of it with family, to nurse ourselves and be nursed.
We came back.
We dismantled the modular fences that contained the dogs to the front and back of the house. The dog-flap is locked against the wind.
Most of the dog-smelly blankets and paraphernalia, including the steps that gave the dogs access to the couch, went to the SPCA. Tom sold the Doggy Ride that hooked on the back of his bike.
But we still have the dogs’ collars and leashes, and the crates they loved so much. One doesn’t want to get rid of all the dog-owner infrastructure, because one never knows what might happen in a fresh new year.
What else has been going on?
- Peabody is a rarer sight these days, perhaps because he has bred successfully this season. Hoping to see him again soon. Peacocks drop their tail feathers in January-February so I’ll be undertaking feather-gathering walks to add to my collection. Not so much “walks” as “hobbles”…
- The cartilage of my right knee is in shreds, limiting my ability to walk and perhaps ending my cycling days. Surgery is possible. In the meantime, I’m building fitness with sessions of straight-leg aqua-jogging — imagine a cross-country skier’s action, under water. A good start to a new-year fitness effort.
- I’ve been granted a tiny but welcome bit of funding to do an oral history of Marycrest/Makahuri. A new project for 2020.
- Cheese making continues. The Makahuri cow, George, is still producing as much as 9 litres of superb milk a day, so I’m doing a couple of cheeses a week. Recent successes include colby and sage derby; currently experimenting with epoisses, port salut and taleggio.
- I’m trying to figure out how to turn The Mustard Yellow House blog into an eBook. Stay tuned!
Happy 2020 to everyone who follows or discovers this blog!