Farewell Dougie

Doug was a rescue pug whose life took a wonderful turn for the better when he was adopted by Liz about eight years ago. Doug’s paperwork said he was seven at the time.

Doug formed a great bond with Liz to the exclusion of other dogs and humans. He was Liz’s constant shadow.

Sadly, Dougie reached the end of his life a few days ago at the age of fifteen.

Doug and Liz meet for the first time 8 years ago. Doug is unaware he is about to start living the dream. He was an energetic ball of muscle and could run like the wind in directions and for distances of his choice. He was independent of spirit and treated commands as merely advice for his consideration. In public places such as beaches or dog parks the only way we could retain some modicum of self respect as dog owners when giving Doug ‘commands’ (which he received as advice or suggestions) was to add the words “when you’re ready”. That way Doug could never be accused of disobedience and we could not be accused of being idiot owners of an untrained dog.
L to R: Max (who died about 2 years ago) and Doug. That is an active ducted heating vent behind them which as a team they monopolised on cold days. Max was a cross between a pug and a cavalier King Charles spaniel. Dougie was a cross between a pug and something else unknown to us. Max had a longer nose than Doug. We decided to adopt Doug at a time when Max was failing fast, and was not expected to make old bones. But good old Maxie rallied and lived on happily for another enjoyable five years. Three dogs are a lot more work than two. While we didn’t plan for a long period with three dogs, we enjoyed it thoroughly. We are now down to one dog – the gracefully ageing little Minnie.
Doug was particularly fond of an open fire, and would sit in close proximity until his hair was just about smoking unless encouraged to move back a little or at least change sides.
These fashionable winter knits did not have many outings. When we upgraded our car, for a short time we harboured the fantasy that these jumpers would limit the coating of all interior surfaces with dog hair when our dogs travelled in the back seat.
L to R: Minne, Doug and Max on active guard duty – tails in the air signal alertness.
Max, Doug and Minnie staring unblinkingly in the direction from which they believe (correctly) a snack is about to appear.
No sniper ever held a steadier unblinking gaze than these three when food was in the cross hairs. That’s Doug in the middle.
Doug passing on the brain addling ear flapping head shaking performance of his step siblings after a brief wade in the ocean. Doug just let the water drip off in its own good time. We had to teach Doug to swim. When we first put him in the Barham River out of his depth, he simply went vertical with all legs flailing ineffectually, barely keeping his head above water and making zero forward progress. When tilted to the horizontal the flailing legs instantly turned into effective propulsion, his head stayed above water, and he took to it like pug to water. That was all it took – one swimming lesson. He enjoyed swimming thereafter, more so in calm river waters than shore break in the ocean. Maxie was always a great swimmer as his bowed front legs and splayed toes were perfect paddles for underwater propulsion.
Doug was fond of a pillow, cushion, quilt or rug – when a lap wasn’t available.

Doug took a while to adapt to being in his seatbelt on the back seat of the car with the other two dogs. He initially claimed seat space by pretending he was the only one on the seat (image above left) and putting up with the minor discomfort of lying on another dog. The dog jigsaw was eventually amicably worked out and they all learned to sleep on the seat rather than each other. The three of them were excellent travellers and would sleep from the time the car doors shut to when the engine was switched off, whether the trip was five minutes or three hours long. This was just as well as they all had many trips between Melbourne and Apollo Bay. The dog ‘doughnuts’ shown below were a great success for travel comfort.

If an armchair or a lap was not available, warm bricks in the afternoon sun would do for Doug.

Sudokus and crosswords – Dougie was equally helpful with both.

On warmer days, Doug (and Minnie) would keep watch over Liz if she had a siesta on the couch on the verandah.
Doug adoring Liz in front of the open fire on a wintery night. Minnie travelling economy class yet again with Doug’s rear end and tail in her face.
Dougie liked to do his Pilates at the same time as Liz. His program was not as active as Liz’s. The rubber mat was the only equipment Doug used in his session. His meditation game was particularly strong.
Dusk at Apollo Bay in front of the open fire between the hours of midnight and midnight, Doug’s favourite snoozing time.
Sometimes the outdoor furniture had to be shared.
Sometimes Doug got a solo session on the outdoor chairs on the deck.
This photo was taken just a few weeks ago. Doug had just turned fifteen years old, and Minnie was just about to turn sixteen. Dougie had totally lost all hearing by this stage, but this disability had no effect on his response to our commands on walks or anywhere else.
Dear old Dougie in his final days. He had all but lost the use of his back legs and life was getting just too difficult for him. He died peacefully in Liz’s arms. (Photo by Liz)

Dougie was stoical right to the end and continued to find enjoyment in his simple routines and familiar surrounds, and most of all in being in close proximity to Liz. Thanks to Lizzie’s unfailing care of him, Dougie truly lived the dream for the last eight years.

Dougie, we’ll miss you.

Coasting

Images from recent days in Apollo Bay doing stuff that requires only time – all within walking distance of home.

The New Holland Honeyeater and the House Sparrow

These birds literally flew between my camera lens and the surf break I was trying to focus on. They landed on cliff-top scrub that was just below my line of sight to the reef. As there were lengthy breaks between sets of waves, I wound the telephoto lens right back and took a few shots of these feathery little photo bombers from close quarters.

The New Holland honeyeater seems constantly on the move. It flits and darts at high speed, and only alights on a plant for a very brief time. They are a very difficult photographic subject. The sky was overcast when this photo was taken.
The clouds parted temporarily providing blue skies as the background for a few shots.
The beak on this female house sparrow was discoloured from feasting on the crimson berries on the branches all around it. This bird is not native to Australia. It was introduced from India and England in the 1860s. The species has thrived right across Australia, except in W.A. where they have not become established because of prevention measures taken by the W.A. state government.

Ocean scenery & ocean swims

The view to the north from Apollo Bay beach. There was a moderate swell this day. Friends of mine live in the low house on the cleared land in centre frame. The view from there is even better than you might think.
The stone wall on the right is at the entrance to Apollo Bay harbour. The ship was much further away than it appears here (due the foreshortening effect of the telephoto lens) as it headed west from Bass Strait. This photo was taken from Apollo Bay beach – the breakwater shown was about 600m from where I was standing.

The first two swims were done in the conditions and at the times and locations shown in the photos with the sunrise and the steps. The third swim was done in calm water – I just love the photo (which showed the conditions about two kms south of where I swam).

Surf & Surfers

Unrideable Waves

Around Anzac Day (25 April) there was a reasonable swell for a couple of days. There was a light offshore wind, and the sea was generally glassy. There was a long interval between sets, but when they arrived they were solid. This was a sneaker wave (surprisingly bigger than average on the day). The photo shows it breaking over the southern side of the Marengo outer reef. This shot was taken near dusk under overcast skies. I had the aperture wide open, I was constantly reducing the speed and increasing the ISO as the light rapidly faded. I was about to give it away and pack up when I saw this wave building out to sea. It was a short wait, and well worth it. This was one of the last photos I took for the day. The poor light washed out virtually all colour, except the vivid aqua sections as shown. The soft white manes of spray were the product of the light nor’ westerly wind.
Smaller wave breaking over the same reef (as shown in the preceding photo) but earlier in the day with much better light and a bit of sunshine.
The unrideable barrel. The dark areas directly in front of it are exposed reef.
Under overcast skies and with only a light wind, the swell was moody, glassy and grey.

Seamus

Seamus looking for speed as the lip started to throw out overhead. The other photo shows the end of the ride on this wave, with Australian fur seals relaxing on the reef in the background.

Tommy

Tommy can certainly lay claim to paddling out and over an unbroken section of this interesting and unrideable wave. But the wave he was heading out to ride was on the break to his right as he paddled out (as shown top right), which while not quite as spectacular, was eminently rideable.

The third photo was taken as the wave was closing out, the ride was over, and Tommy decided to bail out over the back of the wave. The photo captured the moment when it appeared he was levitating from the deck of his board to achieve this exit.

Leroy

Leroy is over 60 and surfs like a young bloke.

Angus

Angus is a young bloke who was giving it a red hot go on this day. Those are his feet in the air on the left as he decided against a duck dive on the board, and simply dived for depth relying on the leg rope to bring his surfboard with him. It was a solid wall of white water. The timing of his dive looked pretty good to me.

This is Angus completing a long ride by pulling on a bit of speed then shooting up the face of the fading wave and through the crest of white water for an exuberant airborne exit over the back.

Waiting for waves

This shot reflects the tacit cooperation of these surfers, who all knew each other, in taking their turn on the waves in accordance with the clear but unwritten rules of the surf. The next wave in the distance had grabbed their attention at the moment this was taken.
This cray boat was checking pots which to my eye looked reasonably close to where some of the larger waves were starting to peak. The wave in the foreground is the wave the surfers ride here.

Happy 15th Birthday Minnie

Minnie our little pugalier, turned 15 a couple of days ago. She is showing her age in her movement and sleep habits, but remains alert and still runs up the stairs. She’s a bit deaf, and the eyesight is fading. This photo shows her either in deep reflection on 15 years well lived, or just about to have her eyelids slowly close for yet another nap. I suspect it was the latter. She has lived the dream for every day of her 15 years.

Personal best loaf of bread

I baked a loaf of bread in Queensland in 1975. It was not successful, and was used as an effective doorstop for some months. I had a bit of a break, and then baked this loaf last week. It was every bit as tasty as it looked. I have never baked a better loaf of bread. It was great to eat fresh with butter and honey, and it also toasted very well for the few days it lasted. I plan to produce a third loaf after a shorter break than last time.
I understand I am not the only non-baker who is experimenting during lockdown with the bread making art.

P.S. This is my 100th post on South.

The most liked post so far is:

https://southernoceanblog.com/2019/07/08/she-loves-the-sea/

The Southern Ocean at 38° 45′ 26″ S, 143° 40′ 11″ E (and some other things)

I have a strong sense of location. Wherever I may be, I keep track of north, I consider the major geographical features in the four cardinal directions, I note how far from the sea I am and I make it my business to know what the weather is and to have a guess as to what it’s  likely to do in the short term. Wind direction and strength are always important to me.  I love to read the wind on the water. When near the coast, monitoring ocean swell size is essential. Clouds fascinate me on many levels, and my eyes have turned skywards when given half a moment since I was a boy.

When there is time for contemplation, I like to think where the meridian of longitude on which I am standing would lead were I to follow it north or south. Similarly, I wonder where circumnavigation of the earth following the parallel of latitude beneath my feet would take me. When standing on an ocean shore, I like to know which continent is due south, or west or east of me. I like to orient myself in terms of latitude and longitude rather than postcode and governmental boundaries. When in Apollo Bay, I find it more interesting to think of myself as being at a point on the globe rather than at a street address within the boundaries of the town. The title of this post hints obliquely at this perspective.

It was a surprise to me when standing on the beach at Cockle Creek in the far south of Tasmania recently (located just south of 43° S), to learn that the next continent directly west was South America. The sustained westerly gale force winds in which I was standing were the full uninterrupted blast of the roaring forties. It will perhaps be a surprise to some Victorians to learn that the first land to be encountered flying due south from Apollo Bay is Antarctica. Such a track would even be west of King Island.  It may be an even greater surprise to some Victorians to learn that the first land to be flown across on a direct southerly track from Torquay is also Antarctica. That track would take you between Tassie and King Island.

Before getting to photos of the Southern Ocean, which until this morning were to be the opening photos in this post, I cannot resist sharing a few snaps of one of the ‘other things’ mentioned in the heading. I received a visit this morning from the sometime resident in the eucalypts which line the creek beside my house in Apollo Bay.  I was made aware of his presence by the noise of the fracas as my little black dog Minnie, emboldened by the secure fence between her and the eucalypts, was exchanging rowdy unpleasantries with this koala. The koala was giving it all he had, with that improbably loud and deep-throated ‘growling cougar’ noise koalas are capable of making. He even deferred his climb up the tree, staying low so he could eyeball Minnie and give her his best.

By the way, koalas are not bears. They are marsupials. The ‘bear’ tag was given by the early English settlers. They were wrong, but it stuck.

The Koala

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Pausing between rounds in the mutual harangue with Minnie the black dog.

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I quietly positioned myself for a good photo angle out of the line of sight between the koala and Minnie. But I was spotted and transfixed with this laser stare!

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The face of the many moods of a koala could probably be captured with a single photo. Nothing on the face seems to move to permit expression of emotion. But the combination at this moment of wide eyes, and the ears in the full ‘alert but not alarmed’ position does suggest indignation at my proximity with a large telephoto lens invading the privacy of the koala. By the way, look at the musculature on that left arm, and those serious claws. This koala was built for climbing vertical smooth trees without effort, which he did after this photo session, with agility and speed.

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The indignant koala disengaged from Minnie and me, his perceived antagonists, and headed up to the highest branches of the gum tree out of sight of the offending dog and human. I think this face might also convey an emotion or at least the mood at the moment, which was “I am going to leave at my chosen pace, without a word, with my dignity intact, and with the most imperious and superior look I can muster on my congenitally expressionless face.”

The Point at Marengo and Little Henty Reef

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My favourite section of reef on Little Henty in a good swell, creating the predictable mayhem with this breaking wave.

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The swell was solid, and the white mane of spray courtesy of the offshore wind was on the verge of splitting the light into the colours of the rainbow. But the thing that caught my eye most was the mast of the fishing boat visible through the spray just left of centre in the image. It was close to the reef, but was certainly clear of the breaking wave and white water. Large boats don’t go through that pass between sections of the reef.

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The approaching wave was sucking the water off the reef immediately in its path. Some pastel rainbow colours can be seen in the white mane blowing back and falling behind the wave on the far right of the image. The beginning of a tight green barrel can be seen as the lip throws forward on hitting the reef.

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The green barrel is better developed here.

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Closeup of the little barrel which regularly appears at this spot with waves above a certain size.

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Bigger wave, bigger barrel. Still unrideable. The barrel looks neatly round, but the rest of the wave shows its rather chaotic nature and power.

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Solid swell, offshore wind and a vantage point for taking the photo which looks straight down the line of the wave.  Who could ask for more?

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If there’s one angle I like at least as much as looking down the line, it’s the ‘back-stage pass’ angle shown in this photo. The power of the wave and the extent and volume of the spray rising so spectacularly then falling like a very localised but very heavy rain shower behind the wave always captivates me. You would normally have to be swimming or on a surfboard to get this angle. But my feet stayed dry (mostly).

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This photo and the two following were taken on a different day and swell to the eight photos which precede them.

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Point Bunbury & Mounts Bay

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Power and beauty. Shore break at the reef parallel and close to the shore at Pt Bunbury.

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Mounts Bay. Locals call this Marengo beach and bay. Solid westerly making the sea glassy and blowing plumes of spray off breaking waves.

A dog and a ball and a beach

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I went to Skenes Creek to photograph waves, and this dog and its owner were playing ball. I don’t know the owner, and can’t identify the dog (save that I think it has a few different breeds contributing to its sleekness and obvious hybrid vigour).  The dog gave his all in exuberantly and athletically chasing down the ball each time it was thrown.

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“Before I give it to you, please confirm that you are planning to throw it again.”

Australasian Gannet Soaring Effortlessly

I mentioned in a previous post on this blog that the Australasian gannet had moved rapidly into a top three position on my list of favourite birds. I have read a lot more about it, and it now heads that list. It’s a beautiful and amazing bird.

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38° 45′ 26″ S, 143° 40′ 11″ E (aka Apollo Bay) under the Milky Way and a Rain Shower

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I took this photo in late winter. I rugged up and headed out in hope of getting perhaps a glimpse of the southern lights (the aurora australis), responding once again to entirely false allegations on the internet (fancy!) of the presence of omens warranting aurora-sighting optimism for coastal Victorians. In any event, cloud on the southern horizon ended that quest.  Showers were moving along the coast from the west, and the sky was mostly covered in cloud. But there was a break in the rain, and for a few moments the Milky Way, a solid cumulus cloud and a heavy but localised rain shower were all visible at the same time.

Apollo Bay in Autumn

The Point at Marengo came alive in a solid autumn swell with waves that tested some of the young local surfers. There were reports of heavy hold downs and a lot of water moving around. Some of the younger surfers said they hadn’t seen it this big. From the little I saw, they handled it.

I arrived at the Point not long before sunset. Big waves were being ridden, bigger and unrideable waves were smashing in their wild way over adjacent Little Henty Reef, and even bigger waves were towering and breaking on the bombies at Outer Henty Reef 3kms offshore. Spray was hanging in the air. Light was rapidly fading. There was a silent but strong sense of spectacle.

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Billy carving confidently across a large green face as his options begin to diminish.

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Unidentified surfer facing an unenviable duck dive, and probably a flogging.

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After the sun had set behind the hills, Dan finally gave it away. But the power of the Point stopped him in his tracks as he walked cross the reef, drawing his gaze back for a moment or two of awe, and no doubt some well earned pride and satisfaction.

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This next level wave is on Little Henty Reef. It’s breaking directly over a very shallow and uneven part of the reef. The offshore breeze fittingly gave this force of nature its majestic white mane.

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Little Henty Reef again, with a lip throwing out as the bulk of the wave is abruptly pulled up by the reef directly beneath. I’ve never seen this happen before at this location.

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By way of contrast with the might and power of the ocean, I interpose here a couple of photos taken less than an hour’s ride northwest from Apollo Bay. The GS is parked here facing north on a bank on the shores of Lake Corangamite, which is bone dry. The blue dot on the map below shows where the bike was parked. North of the coastal hills the rain shadow effect is always obvious.  But drought and near-drought conditions across much of the south of the Australian continent have created parched landscapes like the barren dusty plains once covered by the vast waters of Lake Corangamite.

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View to the east across the northern end of Lake Corangamite.

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The beaches at Apollo Bay provide endless beauty and joy, especially at dawn and dusk.

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First past the post.

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First light on Cape Patton and a flat ocean.

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Colours created by sunlight filtered through clouds at dawn. The colours in this image have not been edited at all.  For the few moments that everything aligned to produce this scene, the sea was actually bathed in red light as shown. This photo was taken on my iPhone.

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Some photos tell more of a story than others. These two golden retrievers, tethered only to each other, were waiting not so patiently on the beach for their surfer people to come back to shore. The surfers can be seen near a small line of swell out the back. The dog on the right, just as I went to take the photo of this scene, threw back his head and with mournful howls and half-barks sent  a message across the waves to let his people know they were required back on shore. A beautiful heart warming scene as daylight faded.

 

Vale Maxie

Last Tuesday, as always, Maxie eased himself out of the warmth of his dog bed, and stretched his creaking joints slowly with a few steps as he confirmed that the gift of walking was his for yet another great day.  All of Max’s days were great.  He stopped in the kitchen doorway where he knew I would pick him up for his first cuddle of the day.  I did so.  Our respective days were going to plan.

I scooped him into my arms where he relaxed on his back waiting for me to lift him up a little further so he was in range to give my ear a quick lick.

Then without warning or sound, deep within the delicate and intricate mysteries of Maxie’s brain, as I held him in my arms there was a silent but catastrophic event which caused him to move his body and legs involuntarily and to arch back with a momentary unseeing look in his eyes.  Then as suddenly as they began the violent movements stopped and he just lay quietly looking up at me as I held him tightly to me.  I placed him gently on his feet on the floor to see whether hope against hope it was a temporary fit of some sort which would not disable or kill him.

His back legs barely functioned, his balance was clearly affected, he stumbled a few steps and stopped bewildered and just looked up at me.  For nearly 15 years I have been able to make it right when he came to me and stood at my feet looking up with entreating eyes because he was unwell, or had something stuck in his mouth, or had hurt his foot, or was just out of sorts and needed a cuddle.  I gently picked him up again.  But I sensed that I might not be able to make it right this time.

Lizzie was with us by this stage.  After hearing what had just happened and seeing him try to stand and walk, with a teary calmness she said, “I think his time has come.” Maxie’s lifelong vet wouldn’t be open for business for another hour.  Max spent that hour in our arms, calm but sadly quiet and still.  He was not in pain.  We were.

Liz’s diagnosis was confirmed by the vet and our Maxie’s life ended quickly, quietly and painlessly in the surgery with Liz right beside him.

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Max on day 1 at his new home, just under 15 years ago.  He was our daughters’ choice from a play pen full of puppies.
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Minnie, a little mate for Max, being welcomed to her new home.
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Bonding. Maxie was obviously top dog at this time.  But Minnie, the little tart, grew into a bossy and punchy little dog who ruled the roost and had the last say on all things dog.  Maxie was such a gentle and uncomplaining pushover for her.
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Max in his prime on Apollo Bay beach.
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Max found adventures at every turn on the beach.
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A swim for Max involved only his lower legs getting wet.  But he loved the sand and the dunes and dead marine life.
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Max always had staff, who on those very hot days in Apollo Bay, would provide cooling in various forms.  This was a favourite activity on such days.
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We have never had an ‘outside’ dog.  Max (and Minnie and Doug)  lived in luxury that would be the envy of royalty.  Prince Max in repose.
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A beautiful face.
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Maxie asleep on my chest after a big day at Apollo Bay.
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The table top of the outdoor setting was a spot in the morning sun which Max found to be quite satisfactory.  Not a doona or a down pillow, but a dog has to get out in the wild and rough it once in a while.
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I would like to say that this photos demonstrates the high degree of training of our three pugaliers, who would respond promptly and obediently to the command, “look up and slightly to your right of camera”.  But in fact, just on my left when this was taken, food was on offer.  The pose captured was an involuntary response.
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This low shutter speed shot confirms that Doug’s head moves up fastest when food is present at a height above dog eye level.
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Minnie and Max at rest on a warm and soft surface of their choosing.  Taken during the years before Doug (the rescue pug cross) arrived.
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Max on the left and Doug, doing formation sleeping.  Most of their waking hours were spent asleep.
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Max captured midway between sleep and wakefulness.  I don’t remember, but I am confident that after he was slightly disturbed by this photo being taken, he would have returned to sleep.
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Doug on the left, and Max.  They loved a sweet corn cob after humans had finished with it. Their dental configuration (until the onset of old age) was ideally suited to nibbling off any leftover corn as Lizzie would slowly rotate the cobs to ensure a complete and clean job was done.
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An old leather armchair can be so uncomfortable without a cushion.  Fair enough.  More deep sleeping.
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Even though positioned over the heater vent, this was obviously a three dog night.  The cat seems to be concerned about something and is obviously having trouble going to sleep.
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Max does not know what a kennel, or a hessian dog rug is.  He lived his life in a world of sheepskin rugs, fine linen, luxurious doonas and down pillows.  As illustrated in this photo, sometimes different parts of his body would require different sleeping surfaces of this quality at the one time.
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In his latter years, Maxie’s little legs became more arthritic and more bent and bowed. A walk beyond 100m or so was eventually beyond him.  But with a short rest in between such walks, he could do a few multiples of the 100m walk.  Hence the pusher, purchased for $20 from an op-shop, to give him a spell when he needed it on a walk.  Minnie and Doug would go on ahead under their own steam, and would be joined by Max again when he had recovered sufficiently to give the walking thing another crack.  Even into old age he loved a nature strip, power poles, fences and all the other prime sites a dog comes across on a walk that enable him to make detailed and apparently very interesting deductions about the earlier presence of  other dogs.

 

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Maxie revelling in the great outdoors, from the comfort of his safari vehicle.
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Alpha male pug Max on full alert at Apollo Bay, during the golden hour near the end of the day.
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While Max’s body eventually slowed down, his enthusiasm for life never did.  As his age grew, the tooth population in his mouth decreased.  Gums and gaps were the order of the day in Max’s mouth in his later years, thanks to a combination of surgical intervention and natural attrition. This meant that on occasions in his later years, when he gave the command for his tongue to hang out for a good pant, the 12 o’clock position favoured by young fully toothed dogs was not always the most comfortable, and his tongue would often seek out a gummy gap through which to hang out to one side to facilitate proper panting.
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Old Maxie.
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A sunset walk, during one of the brief recovery-in-the-stroller phases.
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Maxie loved life, even when being chauffeured to rest his bent little legs and even as age began to weary him.

 

Max, you were a real character, and you made our life better.

You only ever had good and kind thoughts.

You loved us unconditionally.

We miss you.

 

 

 

 

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