One of my earliest memories was of three year old me looking into the boot of my parents’ Fairlane and saying goodbye to my dog, Taz. She was a beautiful German Shepherd. Fortunately for me, my father was into videography so I am able to relive some memories of her by watching videos, as I was too young to remember much when she passed.
She was such a docile and caring dog by nature, so the videos and stories go. Mum once caught me outside brushing her hair… with a rake. She didn’t mind. I wonder if she could sense the care and love that three-year-old Timmy had for her.
Many years went by after Taz and I always wanted a dog. My friends had dogs, beautiful dogs, and they would tell stories about their family and their pet. My dream was always to walk my dog along the sands of the canal we used to live on. When we moved north to Brisbane I packed up my life, and left family, friends, and that dream behind.
A few years passed and we’d moved from our temporary rental place to a property that my parents purchased a short drive from the school, and close to the highway so dad could get to work quicker by skipping the suburban traffic. We lived on one and a quarter acres in an older house, but had a beautiful yard. Sadly, this beautiful yard required quite a bit of maintenance. We often spent weekends doing yard work, cleaning, cutting back, renovating, or running trips to collect gear. As kids, my sisters and I often didn’t know the full plan. We’d just follow along and do as we were asked.
The Long Drive
I recall one day we were told we’d be going for a drive to collect some materials for the garden. After a drive that felt like forever (especially while Saturday Disney was on!), we pulled up outside a produce store, or so it seemed. There was garden equipment and a big sign that said “horse supplies”. We were told to wait in the car while mum and dad went in to get some things. After arguing about if my leg should be on this side or that side of the seam of the car seat, a very important argument between my 11 year old self and my younger sisters, we looked out the window to see mum and dad walking towards the car with the biggest smiles on their faces, and a dog with a coat of gold.
Excitedly, we scrambled to get out of the car and meet our new friend. Her soft fur radiated gold like the sun, and her mouth was permanently in the shape of a smile like the ones on every face in my family. My sisters and I had the most exciting car ride home. It must have been for the dog as well; if my memory serves me right she hurled on the car ride home. Must’ve been excitement!
One thing I don’t remember very well is the conversation that decided her name. The only thing I do remember is that she shared a name with my mother’s dog from her youth. Cindi. It fit somehow, and she wears it well to this day. We got home and excitedly started playing with her. When we’d decided to have a rest, she decided we were wrong. She lifted her paw and put it on my knee almost as if to call me back into game. Who could say no?! I don’t know where she picked that move up, but it has continued to serve her well for the past ten years.
Cindi knew her name. You could call from one end of the property and she would come bolting over to you and roll over for a pat. Actually, she was more reliable than that! I used to ride my pushbike home late from work occasionally, trying to sneak in… like hell I could get in without her greeting me excitedly from the gate to the end of the street! She was sharp in her youth! You can imagine the concern when my sister was calling her for a good ten minutes one day and couldn’t find her. She kept searching until she decided to check behind the shed. Sure enough, there she sees Cindi lying down beneath and playing with something. She calls the dog again, who turns her head around and reveals a small baby bird that has fallen out of a nest. Now, I don’t claim the next bit to be entirely accurate, but I’ll continue with the story my sister has told to this day. After calling the dog one more time and telling her to come back to the house, Cindi promptly scoops the baby bird into her mouth and swallows whole. My sister, in shock, claims that she could hear the bird chirping in her stomach.
Again, not sure how accurate this is… but I’ll let my sister Jo argue that!
Years ago, before working at the bakery or the video store, I was under the age of 14 and looking for a job. I discovered that I could bundle and deliver newspapers for about $35 a week (which, looking back, I was way too excited about). I didn’t end up going for it, but it was at a similar time that I discovered someone else was doing the same thing, only far more efficient than I could have. Instead of walking or riding a push bike, they had a team of two people delivering by LandCruiser: one was driving, the other was hanging off the side of the car by standing on the step and tossing the papers out. Very cool. How did I not think of this? Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought this was cool.
Something I should have mentioned at the start (and I still could, this is a textual blog… oh well) was that the property we were on had steel gates on them. Quite nice, and very solid. We had them put on after getting the dog as she was quite an adventurer and decided that one and a quarter acres was ridiculously small for a big dog like her. With these gates on, she was safe.
That is until one day when the LandCruiser Delivery Dream Team drove passed and tossed a newspaper while my family were preoccupied. Now, I understand that a delivery crew could easily be mistaken for a dangerous intruder, so Cindi jumped into action. Barking and running at the car as it drove past, she didn’t seem to notice the steel gates that had been there for as long as we’d had her. CRASH! We all turned around to see a stunned and wobbly Cindi up next to the now open gate. We didn’t have a chance to catch her before she came to and pursued the dangerous newspaper attackers. Poor thing, not sure how she didn’t receive a concussion!
From December 2015 to the beginning of January 2017 I lived in a rebuilt truck out the back of my father’s property. This was a defining chapter in my success journey, but a story for another time. The first night I slept out in the truck, I left the mosquito doors closed but the wooden doors open to help get some breeze. Within a few minutes of shutting off the lights, I heard someone’s paws walk towards the truck. I kept quiet, thinking she’d go back to the comfort of her bed at dad’s house. What I didn’t expect was that she would curl up in the garden and perch there until I checked on her about half an hour later. Crazy dog! I let her in, and she was far too excited to sleep. I lay asleep on the bed and she pawed me like she had from the day we got her, she rest her head next to mine and took a sympathetic sigh. And another one. And more. Right into my face. You ever tried to sleep when a dog is breathing in your face? Yeah… nah. It took a bit of training but she finally learnt to sleep with me up in the truck. I bought her her own bed too. It was a little small, but she loves to curl up in it. Below is a photo of her doing just that a few days ago.
The Phone Call
The last line of the previous paragraph unfortunately leads me to the phone call, and the reason I decided to write about Cindi today. I went to work on Monday and was having a good day, so decided to try dad’s phone. My father, god love him, is notorious for not answering his mobile phone. He leaves it inside. Like a landline. Yet argues with me that he adopts technology better than me…. Aaaaaanyway. I gave him a ring, expecting to leave a voicemail and call someone else but instead was greeted with his voice. Shocked, I started bantering with him and telling him about the new iOS 11 beta feature that I’d just discovered. I could tell that he sounded less bored than usual when I spoke about this, and more distracted. I asked him what was wrong. He told me that he’d come outside and had been watching Cindi for the last few minutes. She’d take a few slow steps forward and then a few slow steps backward, and repeat this time and time again. I asked him to keep an eye on her and take her to the vet if she kept it up.
I gave him a ring back as soon as I’d finished work and heard some news that completely shattered me. He’d taken her to the vet because she was behaving quite lethargically, and the vet was running scans. They’d given her an ultrasound and thought they’d seen a tumour. My heart sunk. I’d grown up with this dog and she’d been a huge part of my life, and I’d just moved interstate away from her a month before. How could this be happening? I thought it wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be. Dad said that they were yet to run the blood tests that would confirm it, which relieved me a little bit. But I couldn’t not be worried. I couldn’t.
I gave him a call when I arrived home and he confirmed it. The tests had shown that her organs were functional, but that it was likely she had a tumour inside of her. Writing this now, I still have no words. This was four days ago almost to the minute, which is why I am now sitting in an airport and writing about her. I booked some flights so that I could go and spend some time with my mate this weekend. I missed her dearly, and I am very concerned for her wellbeing.
Unfortunately, Cindi is about to reach the part of her life that every other living thing in history has and will reach: the end. It is the destiny that we all face, and not one single person has ever escaped it. It is sad. It is extremely sad. It’s turned my life from “Hey, everything is great, I am going to start writing blogs again to share this greatness with those I am not in range of anymore” to “My best friend is in pain and soon she won’t be here anymore, and I’ve probably got less than a week’s worth of hours with her”. The first night I had to go for a drive. I couldn’t stay home, and I couldn’t be around anyone. I was in agony, and I cried for a long time.
The pain is still there, but I’ve decided not to focus on the sadness that is coming. Instead, I’ve decided to reminisce and share the love that she taught me and the happiness that she shared with me and those who met her. She was my best friend when I was struggling socially through middle school, and she was the company in my year of solitude in the truck. She turned basketball practise at home into keepings off. She provided laughs and joy. And she still does.
And she always will.