Sunday, April 30, 2017
Annie, AKA The Huntress, AKA The Duchess left us this last Sunday night after a sudden, but as is the way with our beloved aged dogs, not unexpected decline in health.
Too dignified for games of fetch, too precious to chew sticks and as one not to suffer fools The Duchess lived her life among her people - and by her people we mean anyone with food and/or willing to adore her. Funny about her feet and never sure whether she liked her ears scratched or not (some days yes, some days no) Annie delighted us with her peculiar ways. Only in later life did she accept that opening doors herself was acceptable to someone of her standing. Prior to that, Annie would stand at a half open door waiting for someone to open it fully for her entrance. Her title of Duchess earned, not merely bestowed.
The shuffling of back paws that had become a familiar sound across our floors and that we had likened to a small Japanese lady wearing fine silk slippers became more of a sway as she became less steady on her feet. Overnight she lost her voracious appetite and aptitude for speed eating (if ever a member of the nobility was to enter a village pie eating contest, she would have been a clear winner), and it became clear to us that whatever mystery was happening inside was ready to take her from us. Our only remaining wish for her was that she left peacefully, with dignity and with us by her side.
So, in gracious style, befitting a creature of such nobility Annie chose her day carefully. Our remarkable girl, the colour of fallen pine needles and with eyes that melted hearts, chose a warm day under blue skies and blazing with the colours of autumn to match her own colour palette on which to say her goodbyes to her adoring public.
She selected a Sunday, her favourite day of the week due to its high likelihood of a roast dinner being served, with extra vegetables and gravy in the pan for her (and much to her chagrin in later life, to be shared with M'Lord Reacher).
The Duchess finally left us with her own spectacular light display on Sunday evening 23 April during a rare show of the Southern Lights over our home in Wanaka, New Zealand. We like to think that was the universe calling her magnificence home.
The Huntress who became The Duchess lies now alongside her beloved Jack, under the cherry tree at The Huts. We placed her with the wool from her bed and her coat so the Duchess need never feel under-dressed in public or uncomfortable in her quarters, and with a piece of smoked chicken should her appetite return. The two of them, our very own Royal Couple, overlook the lake we all love in a place full of fond memories together.
If she could have talked, we hope she would have whispered 'thank you' in our ear. Well Our Duchess, let's just say the pleasure was all ours.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
|Mark and Jack with The Dutchess - waiting for a sausage roll delivery on His Day|
Every dog lover wrestles with this decision. But Jack sent us a clear sign. Not one of distress or pain or urgency. He sent a sign that what was happening inside him was now in its own motion, past its tipping point from being hidden to being obvious and irreversible in its nature.
|Jack's Cherry Tree|
We knew every hair on his head, every wrinkle in his brow and the meaning of every sigh, wag and snuffle. Annie, The Dutchess has never known a life here without him. She too is lost without his sentinel's presence. Everyone who loves a dog knows this feeling.
Every spring when that cherry tree signals the warmth of spring that every Ridgeback loves we will see again the Dog that changed our lives. We are pretty sure there will be no rabbits around that tree, just Jack snoozing and waiting for the world to come around to his way of thinking. No more tears now, just good memories and snippets of philosophy from the World According to Jack that bring us laughter and insight in equal measure. Cheers to you Jack.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
This gentleman, let's call him Bob was dressed head to foot in warm and wet weather gear - a sensible choice given it is both cold and wet in Wanaka today. It is pouring with rain and about 4 degrees (C). Bob looked like a smart guy, but then he opened his mouth and proceeded to comment how ridiculous it was that dogs were wearing jackets. Once I got over the shock of being called ridiculous by a perfect stranger (usually people don't say that kind of thing to me until they know me much better) I pulled myself up to my full 4ft11 and 3/4 and enquired how so. His response - they have fur. Duh.
Resisting the urge to ask Bob if he had any body hair of his own (which I am pretty sure he did) and if so then why he had bothered to put on clothes, I smiled.
Ever since we started D-fa Dogs there is have been those that think we're crazy. The conversations usually go something like this:
"Oh, you make jackets for dogs (awkward smile), how cute, like the little Paris Hilton ones with diamonds on them?"
"No" I reply. "We make real gear, technical gear, for dogs out in the outdoors. Just like you wear, but for dogs." (cue confusion).
"But they have fur!"
Humans have such remarkable powers of observation, yes they have fur, but humans for all our frontal lobes sometimes lack a bit of common-sense. Surely if fur was that great, we'd all be wearing it, always, for everything. But we don't, because it's not that good at keeping you comfortable in a human world.
While it might appear that we 'just' make jackets for dogs, I don't feel that way at all. To my mind we do much more. We keep the cold from our old dog's bones, we keep our young dogs visible as they bound around the hills, we warm working and hunting dogs between jobs, we keep dogs afloat in water they didn't ask to be in and we make sure that the unconditional love dogs have for us can endure whatever human conditions we decide to expose them to. Now with the launch of HeliDog, our rescue harness, I'd like to think that we also protect the dogs that do the hard yards in the mountains as they are winched from helicopters and riding on skidoos.
So, hairy Bob, yes they do have fur but that's just window dressing. Beneath that fur is flesh and blood and heart. Fur doesn't make our dogs invincible. It just makes them hairy.
But I will agree with Bob about one thing. Fur or fluff, scruffy or smooth, and all fur aside dogs are superhuman. Jack's superpower is now the ability to sleep through everything and Annie's the ability to hear an apple being sliced from over 1km. Goose is only 13 weeks old so his superpowers are pretty underdeveloped so far (as is his fur), but pooping his bodyweight and wriggling appear to be early contenders for his special skill set.
Right now the three of them are sleeping, naked, by the fire while their jackets are hanging in the laundry to dry ... and if that's crazy then so be it, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Monday, June 10, 2013
|Our Poster Boy|
Our old dog Jack, the original inspiration for pretty much all that is D-fa Dogs now has very greying whiskers and a runny nose and he smells a bit funky sometimes. But not surprisingly given our life together, I love him more today that I did the day he flopped into our lives all ears, paws and very sharp baby teeth! Sometimes when things get a little frayed around the edges Jack looks at me as if to say 'you know, it is what it is ... what time's dinner?'. Perspective.
I, like most of us with first world worries, do all kinds of things to stay centred and grounded and at peace - I've contorted myself into yoga poses that have me resembling half assembled pieces of Ikea furniture; I've taken deep breathing classes; I've listened to whale song and silver meditations. I've drunk tea that takes like dirt and eaten foods that even Jack wouldn't touch (and that's saying something given he's a Rhodesian Ridgeback). But the one thing that never fails, never feels futile, doesn't involve a change of outfit or the consumption of something inedible is a stroll with Jack and The Dutchess. You can't hurry (too wobbly and too much to sniff), you just have to take it all in at the pace set for you by the grey whiskered one. And there is nothing quite as grounding as picking up after your dog ... it comes out, you just gotta deal with it ... it's a metaphor for life.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
We take a bit of pride in some of the gorgeous images that we have for D-fa and that we use in our fancy, expensive and convincingly glossy marketing material designed specifically to give the impression that we're fabulous and that life in D-fa land is beautiful. Which of course we are and it is.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The Southern Hemisphere spring is upon us and it now is beginning to feel like summer will in fact happen. It's been a great winter, but everyone at camp D-fa is looking forward to summer. We got an early dose of it at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City in July this year. After a disastrous start to our journey (fog, delays, missed connections, misdirected luggage and transit through LA rather than San Francisco) we had a fantastic show. A highlight was the outdoor demo day where we showed our D-fd (doggy floatation device) to the USA for the first time.
Fitting your hairy water buddy with a D-FD can help them swim more confidently and comfortably, for longer, and retain their body heat when on water adventures with you. The handle of the jacket also makes it easier to retrieve your dog from the water if it gets into trouble.
Our D-FD™ has been created in New Zealand by designers with expertise in buoyancy and with the help of the D-fa-Development Dogs to help us find the most ergonomic fit for buoyancy on a doggy frame. We've got the legal eagles onto it and they've filed for some patents on the design so we'll see what happens there. Our D-fd will be in the USA shortly. They're on a boat, which we hope doesn't sink (although by rights the jackets would float) and will be available for sale within weeks.
Here's some shots of Annie and Mollie the labradors from Standup Paddlesports in Santa Barbara showing us how they work. I have to laugh each time I look at these as these two buxom labrador ladies jostle for position on the board, it was only going to end one way.