Our eldest dog, Feather – so named because she is as gentle as a feather – who will be 14 in August, was rushed to the vet on the 16th of May.
Like a lightning strike, she collapses, unable to walk or stand up. And with a distinctive kink in her neck that makes her head tilt sideways. And eyes that are flickering every microsecond. Including when they’re closed.
To say we are alarmed is an understatement.
We’re terrified that Feather is having a heavy duty stroke and we will lose her.
Much to our amazement, it isn’t a stroke.
But a massive inflammation of her inner ear, which affects elderly dogs, called Vestibular Syndrome.
And instead of taking our beloved pet in to the vet to be put down, we discover we will be taking her home at a later date.
Once she is able to rebalance herself and at least stand up.
Wobbly perhaps. But upright.
Thursday the 23rd of May is ‘The Day’.
The sun rises. And a mist descends. A celestial ambience this week.
As with everything we do, we don’t simply ‘go to the vet’. It’s a 90 minute journey, and there are stops on the way.
And I’m the designated driver to.
My partner, Victor Pleshev, and I take turns.
One drives to.
And the other drives back.
Victor thinks I drive alarmingly fast around bends and has been known to grasp the hand grip above the door on the passenger side of our station wagon.
Our rural roads are narrow two lane secondary roads. All twists and turns. Uphill and downhill. With hardly a straight stretch in between.
And I’ve been banned from driving back to our property in case the precious cargo of Feather in the back of the station wagon has to teeter on all fours as I whiz around each bend.
First stop ‘to’ is to pick up Victor’s sharpened chains for his chainsaw. The shop is behind the Macquarie River and as Victor and David always chit chat, I have time to stand on the hill and admire the mist as it rises from the water on this rather cold and sunless Thursday morning.
Red Wattle Birds roost under a murky sky.
Next stop is Australia Post. To post our bag full of mailorder parcels.
The post office is in the middle of Bathurst shopping precinct. And parking is as hard to get as on Pitt Street in Sydney. But we score the one and only vacant spot. Across the street. And are gobsmacked at the already lengthy line behind the counter at just past 9am.
Our encounters at Australia Post in Bathurst are not always sublime. Sometimes we get a new trainee who doesn’t know we’re a customer of 20 years standing. With an account. And a lodgement docket.
And no! We don’t want every parcel in the bag pulled out, weighed and documented.
That’s what the lodgement docket is for.
We’ve earned the trust of the post office and we just want to hand the grey bag full of parcels across the counter. The contents of the docket recorded. And a receipt handed to us.
And be on our way.
To Victor’s relief, we’re welcomed at the counter by Vicky. Who knows us. And we’re out in a flash.
Under a sultry sky, this is the Stringybark tree the Red Wattlebirds hang out in.
Next stop is Inwood Motors.
Victor notices a headlight is out and wants it replaced immediately. We drive with our lights on 24/7.
At night, with no street lights on rural roads, both sides of the road need to be illuminated.
Everything with 4 legs jumps out of gullies and hops down hills onto our roads at night. And we want to be able to see them in time to avoid them.
All headlights working is a necessity.
We’re met at Inwood Motors by a tall and lanky young man of about 19, with a baseball cap on. And a bomber jacket to keep warm. It’s 5C in Bathurst and the sun still isn’t shining.
But his megawatt smile lights up this regional country town on a dull day.
He waves us into the service bay.
And within seconds of meeting this young man, we know he’s special.
He’s an apprentice.
Who will be a star one day.
Once learning we only want a headlight replaced, he asks if there’s anything else we’d like checked.
A majestic Eucalyptus Yellowbox at the paddock gate under a stormy sky.
And yes. There is.
We had a leak in our hydraulic fluid for our steering, which was fixed by our local service station in Rylstone. But Victor asks him to check the fluid level. Just in case.
Anything else, he asks?
As he takes the stick out to check the level, he explains to Victor how to read it. And waves me in to make sure I see what he’s showing Victor.
And he’s always smiling.
Then he checks the brake fluid.
And everything else under the bonnet that opens and shuts.
As he’s replacing the headlight, I duck into the office. I just have to tell the owner what a treasure this young man is.
He already knows.
Everyone. Loves. Him.
As Victor pays the bill, I go back to the car and I ask him his name.
Jek, he says.
A Diamond Firetail at the top of a Stringybark
Chet? I question.
Jek. I’m a Kiwi, he says.
And flashes me yet another megawatt smile.
I thank him for being so courteous and charming. And tell him I’ve told the owner how special I think he is.
He extends his hand to thank me in appreciation.
I extend mine to shake it.
And he dazzles me with his ultra megawatt smile once more as he thanks me for my kind words and tells me he looks forward to seeing me another time.
What is it about the simple things in life that light up a day?
Jek just makes it work like magic.
The icing on the cake is that Feather, who has spent 8 days at the vet, is at last home.
Her recovery is all about time to heal. Not medication.
Her brain has to rebalance itself.
Her head is still tilted to one side. But in the 72 hours she’s been home, she’s making a marvellous recovery.
A Eucalyptus Yellowbox against a misty backdrop
She walks with confidence. Her eyes no longer flicker. And she has flashes of being able to hold her head straight.
She has a test run this afternoon to see how she walks on our sloping hectare of garden. Off lead.
With both of us walking behind her. And Victor with the lead in his hand, just in case.
She still wobbles a little on uneven ground. But doesn’t miss a beat.
She’s an English Springer Spaniel X German Pointer, so she walks with her nose to the ground. A. Lot. And she has to sniff all the rabbit burrows. Of which we have many as we’re in the grips of an extended rabbit plague.
Then she heads straight to her old haunts.
The ornamental dam at the back of the garden. The vegetable garden laced with copious quantities of sheep manure. Even Mr Oliver Jolly, the resident scarecrow, gets a sniff.
And in the process, does herself proud with her increasing balance and agility.
She’s definitely not ready to go outside without a chaperone. But we can see she’s making a steady recovery.
We’re told this episode will be a distant memory in a month. And we have every reason to believe that she will one day be back to her perfect self.
And Jek. I can’t help but smile every time I think of him.
At first light, the sunrise is a pinprick on this foggy morning
The hills under a very stormy sky
A White Plumed Honeyeater in the fog
The faint outline of the rising sun behind a Stringybark in the fog
Join me next time?
Tell me what you think.
Your comments are always welcome.
Your stories, thoughts, experiences add to the fabric of the conversation.
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All the best,
Photos are courtesy of Ironing Diva and taken at sunrise every morning on her rural property.
Go peek at ‘My Story. How I Built A Business From Broke’.
My beautiful rural property is in the picturesque hills of the Central Tablelands of NSW Australia.
This is the hook I hang my heart on.
When I’m not out in the paddocks in the morning photographing my beautiful Wild Blue Yonder, I’m the purveyor of the one of the world’s finest ironing board covers, The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover.
And 5 other beautifully designed textile products of excellence.
This is the hook I hang my business hat on.
Since 1994, my partner, Victor Pleshev, an architect and de facto product designer, and I have worked tirelessly to make sure each product is a joy to use. Every time you use it.
My website, InterfaceAustralia. The home of Simple Solutions For Difficult Problems! does all the heavy lifting. You can read about all my products in great detail just by clicking the link above.
When you own one of my products, you also make a huge contribution to the surrounding rural community because they are made with love and care in rural Australia by men and women who have a disability. They put their heart and soul into everything they do. And it shows.
You will look long and hard to find comparable products that are as well thought out for their design and usability. And of such high class, that our customers send us fan mail! Which finds its way onto Testimonials on our website.
Go peek. Every product truly is a joy to use. I guarantee it.