Dogs & dreams

There’s no-one who would accuse Rigby of being well-trained. It’s not for want of effort, but in truth his innate high-spirits almost always over-ride his training. There are people who may turn up their nose at that, but I’ve always found it a part of his charm. He presents as he feels, which, more often than not is a happy, enthusiastic and tremendously affectionate dog. Chocolate Labs are notorious for being a bit crazy, but I’ve grown to love that unaffected nature so much that I don’t think I’d like it any other way.

For all his high jinks Rigby is pretty smart. He’s always been very quick to pick up on things, and always very observant. He doesn’t always understand, but he tries. One of the great sights is to watch him tilt and turn his head trying to decipher what I’m telling him, his ears notched with concentration. And thankfully, he was very quick to be toilet trained as a puppy – within a couple of days he knew it was outside for that.

For all his life he’s slept close to me, and often on the bed. We would go to bed together and in the morning wake up together. He never needed to go out in the middle of the night for a pee. We slept undisturbed.

In the last fortnight that’s changed. I reckon for about 10 of the last 14 nights he’s let me know that he needed to go. Around 3am is the magic time. I curse and cuss while he stands at the end of the bed looking at me in the dark. Then I relent, cursing still, and take him out.

I don’t know what it is. Getting old? Doubt it. A change of diet? Maybe.

All of this has had an interesting side-effect on me. I sleep great. Always have. Comes with an innocent mind. I go to sleep, and generally don’t wake until I need to get up. Now my sleep is being broken effectively I have two halves of the night.

I’m dreaming a lot lately for some reason. They’re often interesting dreams, but not always completely pleasant. It seems to me that I often have the more troubling dreams early in the night, and that getting up to let Rigby out acts as a circuit breaker. There have been times the break has come at a good time – when I’m in an unpleasant dream, or when the dream seems stuck in one of those interminable loops.

When I go to sleep again my dreams take on a different nature. Generally innocuous, occasionally they’re actually pleasant. In the last week I’ve had two interesting dreams (for those who don’t reading about other people’s dreams look away now).

The first dream was one of the unpleasant dreams. The details aren’t important in themselves, and are only sketchily recalled now. It’s the thrust of the dream that is notable, and the feeling it left me afterwards.

In this dream my mother has just died (though in an entirely different way to how she died in life). It’s a premature event that causes great sadness. The grief I felt in the dream felt very really, and similar to what I recall feeling when mum she died in fact. I woke from that and I seem to have been left with a message. It seems unrelated to the actual events of the dream, but that’s not surprising. Dreams aren’t necessarily literal, they are representative of the ‘vibe’.

The death of my mother is to me a familiar trope. It hits on a particular nerve. It engenders a particular set of emotions. That’s the vibe. I woke up with those feelings fresh in me. At the same time I felt it was telling me something, and the message was that it’s not all over. Watch out. You might think you’re getting clear, but be wary, and don’t assume it will be right.

No wonder I felt pissed at it.

The other dream I had last night. It was one of those splendidly curious dreams were strange things happen as a matter of course, and every possibility is feasible.

There’s a kind of real estate issue. There’s a woman in a property I need to convince to sell, or else kill her. Naturally. I meet with her. She’s pleasant and reasonable, but doesn’t want to sell, but nor do I wish to murder her.

Scene changes and I’m in a kind of festival. There’s stalls and presentations. I wander around, and then into a bar attached to it all. In the bar is the woman I just met, and two other women I know from somewhere. They greet me warmly, we sit down to have a drink. I’m in a good place. I’m particularly handsome in the dream, and people respond to me accordingly (which is very different to when you’re not handsome, let me tell you). We have a fine old time and I look at one of the other women – a very attractive blonde with character – and wonder why we never got together. She seems to be looking at me the same way. I feel an abundant personality.

I go for a walk. I go outside, past the shop I hoped to buy. The outlook is over the ocean, reminding me of South Head in Sydney. I keep going backwards and forwards, drawn seemingly to the ocean vista. The last time I return to the bar the girls have gone. There’s a feeling of missed opportunity. If only I had hung around. I go outside and there they are, waiting for me. All is good, and the dream ends.

There’s a lot feeding into this dream, little of which I’ll go into now. Suffice to say it’s all about me personally, the intimate me, and how I see myself. All good.

Rigby in da haus

Back in town, and staying at a ‘pet friendly’ hotel in South Yarra – which basically means they have a few rooms where they allow you to share with your pet. Good enough, it’s what I need, though I could live without the hotel bill.

Spent my first night here last night. Had dinner at the Cheeses first, then a couple of bottles of good red wine while a load of my washing went around. Rigby was in the car, window slightly open, happily sleeping in between visits from the kids.

I’ve got the feeling that the disruptions in my life are having an effect on Rigby. He’s always been a devoted dog, but it seems as if it’s gained an edge lately. He’s very watchful. Yesterday after I checked in I left him in the room to get my bag out of the car. He erupted into barks as soon as the door closed on me. It’s quite typical of recent times. He’s in yet another new and unfamiliar environment, and doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s wary and uncertain, and then his dad leaves him there. His barking is an expression of need.

That’s why I took him last night with me to the Cheeses, even though he couldn’t enter the house. He couldn’t stay in the hotel room by himself even if he was fine. He doesn’t mind sitting in the car and waiting for me. The car is a familiar environment, a pseudo home. It smells of me (and even more so of him). It’s an environment he can feel safe in.

The reason he can’t go indoors at the Cheeses is because of their youngest girl. She is fascinated by Rigby, but his energy and size scares her. She was quite happy to go outside to look at him, and to even pat him. Later she was insistent we all go for a walk with him. Off we went, she, her older brother, Cheeseboy, me and Rigby.

It was lovely. For once Rigby was on his best behaviour, and each of the kids had their turn leading him, much to their delight. Later they fed him in the front yard. As a proud parent of Rigby I was thrilled. And I was glad to see the barriers breaking down. In time, as they get more familiar, I’m confident that Rigby will be more readily accepted.

For the love of a dog

I went out this morning to get my coffee taking Rigby on a  walk. We arrived at the cafe and as I was tying him up the elderly man at the next table piped up. “How old’s your dog?” he asked.

I answered and he nodded his head thoughtfully. “We had a little dog just died 15 1/2 years old,” he said. “We used to walk him along here all the time.”

We discussed how dogs are such an integral part of the family. I was keen to get inside to order my coffee, but didn’t want to leave this man. You could see his sorrow at losing his little mate. At the same time I felt some of that myself. How awful I thought, how sad.

“He’s got a beautiful coat,” he said. “Lovely colour brown.”

“Yes,” I agreed, and soon after went inside to order my morning latte.

Later when I got back I was checking my Twitter feed. A tweet appeared about a homeless, sick dog being taken in and treated. I watched the video with tears in my eyes. “You don’t know how lucky you are, Rigby,” I muttered.

Dogs, I love, because all they do is give.

In the groove

In my experience different places encourage different routines. They possess their own natural rhythm and groove. This is how it works here, and without thinking about it too much you find yourself complying with that groove. Now that I’m in a beach side, semi-holiday location my routine is far different to what it was when I was in town.

I sleep longer here. I was up and out of bed by 7.15 not a month ago as a regular routine. Here I find myself rousing from my slumber some time between 7.30 and 7.45. I’ll listen to the news and then get up to feed the dog, have a piss (and let him out for one also), and make myself a cup of tea. I’ll return to bed with Rigby in close attendance and for the next hour or so will read, or else catch up with the news and twitter, the email overnight on my tablet. It feels very civilised.

Most mornings after my shower Rigby and I will head out for a walk. He’s always very expectant of this moment. He looks at me searching for the sign. His eyes dart from me to the red leash looped around the door handle. He’s restless and set to be excited once more. When the time comes his tail wags and he pushes at me with his snout, eager to get going, keen to have the leash clipped to his collar. Once out he leads the way as if running late for an appointment. “Settle,” I tell him, tugging on the leash. Soon enough he is either sniffing keenly at every passing bush and pole, or prancing ahead very elegantly.

There’s a nearby cafe I go to normally for my morning shot of caffeine. I sit outside at one of the tables and read the newspaper if I’m lucky enough to snaffle one, though more often I sit there in relaxed contemplation. Rigby is alert, never sitting down. He watches everything. Occasionally he whines with excitement, then will turn to jump up on me. Passers-by stop to give him a pat. What a beautiful dog, they say. Rigby accepts their affection with relish.

This morning we got in the car instead. It never occurs to me to leave Rigby behind when I go on these drives. He loves to be with me, loves  to be out. I’m surprised at how content he is to sit and lie in the back seat while I go off to attend to some chore. I leave the window open a tad, and the sun-roof ajar. He’s happy to sit and watch, alert to my return which occasionally he’ll mark with a happy bark.

Today I had coffee in Blairgowrie, just to vary the routine. Afterwards we drove to Rosebud proper. The sun was shining gently. The strip of narrow beach followed us on the left all the way. Rigby jammed his nose to gap in the window and breathed in the salty air.

In Rosebud I left him in the car while I went and bought some Christmas gifts for the kids. It’s coming up to lunchtime now and we’re back at the ‘house’. Soon I’ll start my work for the day – writing this book.

I had a productive day yesterday writing. At the end of it I felt great satisfaction. For the first time I thought that if I manage to finish it then the book should be quality. I should finish it too. I have the time, and I think enough ideas. I feel more and more like a writer all the time, as if this is something I’m meant to do.

Who’s your daddy?

It’s been a funny old 18 months. It’s probably longer than that, and funny probably isn’t the best word to describe what’s been going on, but I’ll stick with it.

I seem to recall a Seinfeld episode where George decided to do everything the opposite of what he thought he should do. It worked out well for him. I’m not doing that yet, but right in this phase of my life  I seem to be working in an opposite, or mirror image of what is normal for me.

A good example of that is the weekend just passed. In normal circumstances I might leave the city for a weekend in the bush or beach. These days I travel from the beach to spend my weekends in the city.

Saturday morning I loaded Rigby into the car and off we set for the big smoke. The freeway was sparse of traffic going that way, and I was in a more mellow mood than usual. Usually I’m an active driver. I like to go, and that means I’m generally travelling a few kilometres quicker than the next guy and will overtake many more than overtake me.

I’ve come to realise that driving in many ways is an expression of the inner man. It feels true to me. I think as I do because I can’t stomach being passive. Tagging along behind the guy in front of me taxes my impatience. I don’t want to let things happen. At the same time I like to think I’m smart about it. You see a lot of desperadoes zooming down the freeway zig-zagging through the traffic. Like most people I shake my head at that, and not just because it’s inelegant to zig-zag like that. There seems something fundamentally dumb about such drivers, both in the sense that they incapable of doing anything else, and because you know that they get some kind of macho thrill from it. Gimme a break.

I’m more measured than that. I’ll set my speed and I’ll sidle up to the car in front of me before switching right to overtake. I’ll then get back in the left lane and repeat as necessary. It’s efficient and unpretentious.

This last Saturday though I didn’t really even do that. I set the cruise control for a change  at a tad above  100 kmh and sat contentedly in the left hand lane. I was in no hurry, and felt no hurry.

The reason for my visit was  to drop Rigby off at a potential dog-sitter. Much as I love the mutt I can’t look after him all the time, particularly now I’m marooned in Rosebud. I can’t leave him there, but when I’m socialising, as I was Saturday, I can’t take him with me.

Whisky had told me of a friend who loved dogs, was perhaps a bit lonely, and was happy to take in Rigby. I had my qualms about it. I’m as protective of him as any parent with their child. I had to feel secure. Plus  there was the suggestion, given my circumstances, that it might be an extended stay. I didn’t want that.

So anyway I took him for a bath in Elwood while I had breakfast, then dropped him off. Gave the lowdown and drove away.

The rest of the day passed. I got a massage, caught up with Cheeseboy for a Corona, and ended up at another mates on the other side of town. I’d been invited to an art exhibition by the cute artist I met earlier this year, and suggested he come with me.

We spent a couple of hours there drinking bubbles and chatting, mainly, with an alluring Belgian.

From there we went to the Brunswick Green for a beer in the beer garden. It’s a cool pub playing some great music – the Kinks, some rare Beatles, the Doors, even Jefferson Airplane singing Somebody To Love (there’s a song I never hear out). It’s the side of town I don’t get to a lot, though I like it. More grungy, pretty earthy. We probably looked a bit of place, as well as likely being the two best looking blokes in the place. Not that there was much competition. There seemed to be tables of lesbians, a butch convention, for not a fem was in sight.

Enough of that then, we ended up having dinner at a Argentinian restaurant in Fitzroy.

Yesterday I did loads of washing at my mate’s place, and went out for coffee. By 4 I had to pick Riggers up. I’d received progress reports the night before – he was having a great time, and had even jumped into a pool. He ran to me when I got there though, and wouldn’t leave my side. He’s daddy’s boy. All the same he seemed pretty happy – which is he is just about all the time, and so was she. We agreed then, next time…which will probably be a couple of weeks.

Then we drove back, leaving the city to spend the week down the beach. Such is life in my bizarro world.

Minus Rigby

I was in surprisingly good shape waking up yesterday after more than 13 hours of buck’s day festivities the day before. I lay there on my couch as the morning light seeped into the room. Rigby had snuggled to me in his customary fashion. He was content to stay that way. I was aware that this was the last morning – possibly for quite a while – that Rigby and I would be together.

It took a while for the house to rouse about me, by which time I had showered, dressed, and fed the animals. I had began packing up by the time someone made an appearance. I am house-sitting till Friday. From Saturday I am homeless. That means Rigby too.

I had my bags packed and stowed away by lunchtime, but couldn’t bring myself to leave. Normally I am glad to be out of the place, but knowing this was the last time made it different. It’s good to go. There’s a lot toxic in my presence there. But then there are other considerations.

The boys were downstairs sitting at the kitchen bench when I told them I was leaving soon. I couldn’t bring myself to look at them for fear they would see the tears in my eyes. My younger nephew seemed both surprised and upset, though he knew it was coming. The elder seemed sad to.

I tousled Rigby’s head as I left, yelling up to my sister that I was going. It was bright outside. My niece was there happily decorating the house for Halloween. “Are you going?” she asked.

“Yep.” I didn’t want to linger.

I got in the car, and she got in the passenger seat beside me. “I don’t want you to go,” she said.

For weeks she has parroted her mother. When are you going? Can I help you pack? Now that it is happening she wants me to stay.

I drive away feeling bleak inside. Something awful has happened.

I should be happy to have  a place to myself for a few days, a real bed to sleep in, but instead I am miserable at the thought of leaving Rigby. I’ve left him before knowing I would be back; now I don’t know that.

Unless there is some miracle I must find a home for him in the next few days. Just the thought of it horrifies me. I have someone who will look after him, someone kind and loving, but the thought of being separated from him is awful. I’ve grown so dependent upon him. He’s the only love and affection in my life.

As for him? Dogs are resilient, but he’ll keen for me. I don’t want to put him through that. It would be different if I could explain to him, but instead he’ll watch me drive away and will be left with a stranger.

It feels very different already. For a man who does solitary so well I’ve come to expect him there. There’s no-one to greet me at the door when I get back. I find myself shaping to say things familiarly to him, then stop. He’s not there keenly observing as I prepare a meal. And though the cat here does it’s best, he’s not here to give me an affectionate lick. He’s my companion, and now he’s gone.

In theory we part for a while and then come back together again. I don’t know how long that will be. It’s easier to manage like that, but I don’t know if I can do it. It may be I choose to take the hard road instead, just so we can continue on it together.

Riggers in bed

Rigby, the dog, is a bit of a pussy cat. You’re not going to find another dog as affectionate, enthusiastic, or as full of beans anywhere on the eastern seaboard. He’s also a great sentimentalist.

Rigby abedHe loves his dad. When he’s not being social he’ll find a spot close by where he can see me. Often I’ll look up to find his steady gaze upon me. Back in the day I’d watch TV and he’d jump up on the couch beside me and snuggle against me with his head on my lap. He’s a big boy, but a real softy.

Pretty well from day one he set his own routines when it came to bedtime. When I had a bed he would sleep beside me on the empty side of the bed (which became problematic when it wasn’t empty – I’ve had some hilarious episodes when he saw no reason not to join whoever I happened to be frolicing with). At a certain stage of the night – generally somewhere between 6-7am – he would shift and snuggle up next to me, his body contouring to mine. I’ve woken up occasionally to find myself spooning him.

Early days I found this uncomfortable. I remember as a kid how the cat would sleep at the end of my bed and how difficult I found that. As an adult I’m a good deal bigger than I was then, and even though the bed was too, I would sprawl in it, not wasting an inch. I loved my space, and have often found it difficult sleeping with a clingy companion. Then along comes Rigby.

You adjust to it. I now sleep on a couch smaller than the bed I slept in as a kid. And Rigby still jumps up to join me.

Now Rigby is under strict instructions from the mistress of the house that he’s not to jump up on the couch – something everyone in the house ignores but her, including Rigby. Still, Rigby is smart enough to know he’s not allowed to, and is careful to appear to be obeying her. He may come across as a goof-off sometimes, but he’s pretty savvy.

This morning, as usual, he got up on the couch to sleep beside me. How different it is to the past. Once he’s up there I have zero room to move. If I want to turn over we have to manage it in unison. There’s so little room that he’s right at the edge of the sleeping space, but he’s happy. I am to, to be honest. I love his affection. I love what a beautiful and tender dog he is. He feels like my family at a time when I feel I have no other family. If you’re not a pet lover you may not understand that. Rigby adores me, but I adore him equally.

For some reason my sister was up 30 minutes earlier than usual. It coincided with me oversleeping – something I hardly ever do. Generally I’m up and out of bed by 7.15, and I haven’t slept past 8am this year. The consequence of all this is that she walked in while Rigby was still lying beside me.

No dummy Rigby, quick as a flash he quietly slipped from the couch without any prompting from me, and no-one was the wiser. I decided to stay in bed (on couch?). I reckon you need an occasional sleep-in, and reckon equally that I’m generally in sleep deficit. So I lay on my couch while they got ready for school and out of there. Every so often Rigby would come visit and nuzzle me, before returning to join in the activity. Then the house was abruptly empty. Out the door my sister went, and knowing it the first thing Rigby did was jump up beside me again and lay there, his head near mine. For him, I know, this is what he lives for – and it fills my heart. I can’t deny him that. He’s a clever boy, a lovely dog, and my very good mate.