Skye, 1991 – 2005

Chips, 1998 – 2005

Regular readers may remember Skye, Chips and Cheeky from my gratuitous dog-blogging of last year.

Sadly, Skye hasn’t been getting any younger, and over the past months her hind legs became more arthritic, she lost her hearing and her bowel control, and a couple of weeks ago her front legs gave out too. She passed away under the care of the local vet on March 12th, 2005 at the ripe old age of fourteen.

We didn’t own Skye since she was a pup; she spent her younger days as a show dog under the care of some pros: as I understand it, she was such a star that she even had her own waterbed to sleep on. Eventually she started getting beaten in the competition by her pups, and her owners had to pass her on, so we were lucky enough to add her to our family, sometime around ’96.

Summer wasn’t her favourite time of year: the Queensland heat isn’t fun if you’re a bald monkey like me, it’s got to be a lot worse if you’re a Siberian Husky bred for arctic climes. Skye also wasn’t too fond of loud noises; so she didn’t really appreciate either the reliable Queensland thunderstorms throughout summer or the fireworks at New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year. She’d love a good walk and even a run, though, even when she couldn’t do much more than hobble around. Although whether it was the walk itself, or the chance to sniff around the place and smell what’s going on in the neighbourhood was hard to tell. The only time she ever baulked that I know of was when her hind legs first started to go, and even then she only gave up after trying to walk to the gate, and collapsing on the way.

Chips, on the other hand, we did own since he was a pup. He was the liveliest one in his litter, and loved being around people and was, well, quite mad. In theory, dogs are supposed to get a little calmer when they’re neutered; Chips stayed just as energetic and crazy anyway — possibly an “infinity divided by two” arrangement on his zaniness stats. Chips loved walks too, but he was far more interested in being around people — running around while someone’s out doing the gardening, dancing around in circles in sheer exitement at company, wandering from door to door to see what’s going on inside, running alongside the bike, jumping up on your leg just to say hi, or, to his utmost delight, getting nursed on someone’s lap and having his tummy scratched. He loved the pool — but moreso the getting out of it and shaking himself all over you than the getting in or the swimming around. Floating around on a lilo, or just running around at the edge of the pool with Cheeky barking at people swimming or splashing was probably his preferred compromise. Lately he’d developed an interest in speeding around Moreton Bay in the motorboat, though he still got a bit nervous when it started going fast.

Chips was also a bit of an escape artist, or at least someone happily willing to learn once Cheeky came on the scene. In spite of the bars in the pictures above being smaller than he is wide, he’d manage to fit through them anyway, so we needed to add some mesh. Unfortunately he and Cheeky then figured out they could still get out if they’d chew and scratch at the mesh, then climb a little over it, so we had to get the stronger and higher mesh you see pictured. We tried feeding them a little more so they wouldn’t be able to squeeze through, but they both seemed to wise up to that trick pretty quickly.

In any event, Chips took Skye’s passing pretty hard; particularly since I’d moved into a unit a year ago so was only visiting on weekends, my parents work in the city, and Cheeky had been keeping our old neighbours Frank and Toni company during the week. I spent the first week out keeping him company, which he sorely needed: the first day, I found him waiting on the back porch, having squeezed himself under one fence to get out there, and between the glass panels of another to get onto the porch. The next day he did one (or more!) better: after getting onto the porch again, he jumped onto a chair, via a pot plant onto the window sill, clawed his way through the gauze on the open window, jumped through onto the couch, then found his way upstairs to greet me when I got out of the shower. We didn’t work out how he’d managed it ’til that evening.

Chips had been going out in sympathy with Skye in her last few weeks, only eating if she did, and generally being unhappy and mopey. By the end of the week he’d started to get a bit more life back in him, and we went back to our respective routines. A couple of weeks’ later, on April 1st, we headed down to beautiful Byron Bay for my step-brother’s remarriage the next day, leaving my cousin and his fiancée to look after Chips and the house. They had to leave early Saturday morning, unfortunately, which left Chips feeling lonely, and he decided to use his escapist skills to get out onto the road — by pushing some bricks out of a hole in the fence that my cousin was going to patch up properly over the next couple of days. His resulting run in with a car resulted in a right mess, and some ugly x-rays. He somehow managed to stay breathing for long enough for a neighbour to take him to the local vet, who managed to find a mobile number and give my step-father a fairly disturbing call at lunch time. He then got driven by my cousin to the local vet surgery to see what could be done. We drove back from Byron the next morning, and got to see the ugly x-rays, and how poor Chipsy was doing. Amazingly, he was still conscious and alert, but… Well, I guess that’s where I still get choked up, and wish that dogs had their own last words to pass on, and I didn’t have to come up with my own.

Chips and Skye, thankyou for your company and friendship. We miss you both.

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