THE REST OF 2010
John completed the rest of the six month trial on the new anti-clotting drug, with no apparent adverse effects. But then, trial period completed, it was back onto warfarin, with the accompanying weekly blood tests and see-sawing INR readings.
A while later, the trial drug was approved for use for a different condition, and our GP managed to obtain supplies of it for John to take, replacing the warfarin. Eventually, a couple of different drugs containing the trial substance were approved and put on the PBS list, and John moved to taking one of those.
The puppy came home. The little female we had chosen had been the runt of the litter, but was so lovable – initially! She had some of the blue heeler markings of her heeler cross stumpy tail cattle dog mother – the tan eyebrows and facial marking, and paws. But she had a partial tail only.
We called her Birdy, just to confuse people!
Until now, I had not known anything about the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog – or even that such a breed existed. But some research revealed that the breed was developed in Qld in the 1800’s, from a mix of ancestry similar to our blue and red heeler cattle dogs, but also a naturally bob-tailed dog used in stock herding work in some English markets, and probably some dingo. Those involved were seeking a dog with great cattle working instincts but also the stamina to work in the outback conditions. A “proper” stumpy is either mottled red, or mottled blue/black, but not a combination. A pure bred one does not have the brown facial markings and feet of the blue heeler breed. Our pup was definitely a mix of heeler and stumpy.
The breed fell out of favour for decades and almost disappeared, but some enthusiasts bred up the line again, and had the breed officially recognised as distinct, with listed breed characteristics. So, a pure-bred stumpy is either blue-black mottled, or red-white mottled. They do not have the facial markings of the heelers. They have a naturally occurring stump tail no more than 4 inches long.
Birdy proved to be a very determined little lady. She did not like being shut in the laundry at night, and her crying kept us awake. Bit like having a new baby! Toilet training was not a concept she fully grasped, for a long time. She proved to be an inveterate chewer, not only of her toys, but also of anything with a wooden corner – like skirting boards! But she was very lovable and clearly trying to do the right thing – just having difficulty figuring out what that was. We eventually concluded that, being the runt, she may have been a bit brain damaged at birth.
Taking her for her daily walks at the Lilydale Lake was good for our fitness.
In September, John turned 70. I put on a pizza party for some of his surviving siblings, all older than him. The Bendigo family came down for a weekend, and grandson stayed on for a week of the school holidays.
Grandson and Birdy adored each other. Because of her scatty ways, he called her “mad dog”. She was very different to the two docile whippets he had at home!
Late in the year, after five month old Birdy had been neutered, it was time to see how she adapted to caravan life. She had already demonstrated that car travel was quite acceptable, and she behaved alright when she encountered other people and dogs on her walks.
With M, we went to a caravan park at Cowes, on Phillip Island, for three nights. Set up on a site that was a good distance from other campers.
We did some sightseeing and a lot of walking. Introduced Birdy to the beach. She took to the waves – literally. But made herself sick trying to bite the waves and thus taking in lots of salt water.
However the trip was not a great success. Birdy had no sense of boundaries. As far as she was concerned, anyone she could see or hear from the van was an intruder and she barked and growled accordingly. At night she spent a lot of time – in the van – barking and growling at noises only she could hear.
We concluded that we would have to be pretty cautious about travel with her, because we didn’t trust that she wouldn’t have a go at other campers if they came too close. Could just hope that, as she matured, and with more practice, she would settle down.
Birdy was definitely a two speed dog – either full tilt into running, digging, chewing…..or dead to the world.
And so ended 2010.