Friday, March 18, 2016

Lions and Meerkats and Saint Bernards! Oh My!

Once again I've allowed a long time to pass between posts.  Life has been busy here but the menagerie has been surprisingly well behaved.  I think it's just been too hot to get up to much mischief.  I did have a wonderful experience for my 60th birthday (albeit seven months late) when my children and Graeme sent me on a Dubbo Zoo Safari early in February.  Graeme and I spent two very happy days exploring the zoo after hours on one day and before it opened on the next while our group went behind the scenes on guided tours.   I fed giraffes carrots, watched an elephant have a bath, had a lovely chat with a lioness about the difficulties of raising teenagers (she had three teenage cubs to wrangle and boy did they they need a mum who was on top of things), watched hippopotomus eating lettuce heads (they make very quick work of a lettuce), stalked black rhinos in the twilight without success (they were being very shy), but managed to get very close to a white rhino the next morning in a holding yard (he was in the holding yard, we were a very safe distance from the fence) and enjoyed the company of many other African animals.

The lioness chatting with me about the joys of being the mum of teenagers.

To top it all off went into the meerkat enclosure and made friends with some very cute little creatures.  I'm sure they smelled ingrain ferret smells on me and recognised me as a kindred spirit.  One little fellow who the keeper told me was usually very greedy and fixated on getting his meal-worms just sat on my lap looking at me while I talked to him.  Another little girl buried herself inside my shirt and got comfortable for the duration.  The ones who amused me the most were the meerkats who too nervous to sit on people's laps but wanted the reward for doing so.  They snuggled up close to my hip and watched the keeper of the meal-worms closely.  They got their rewards and felt they'd done a good job.

Me and the meerkats.  Note the little girl just heading behind my shirt for a private moment (something very hard to find in the meerkat community).

We came home to more days of super hot weather and have been enduring it ever since.  Thankfully the last few days have been more bearable, but this too lead to problems.  

Yesterday morning I watered the gardens and, as my grandfather used to say, came a-cropper.  I have a retractable hose and while it was zooming into its housing the hose managed to whip my legs out from under me.  I landed on my back, with a sickening thud, across the cement septic tank and banged my head as I landed.  I also seem to have jarred my ribs even though they didn't make contact with the cement.  Thankfully my operated on arm stayed out of trouble.  I had carpel tunnel and ulna nerve surgery on my wrist and elbow the week before. 

I called out to Graeme for help but it turned out he was down in the machinery shed, far too far away to hear. I had just decided that if Graeme didn't appear I'd  lay where I was for a little while until I could get myself up, but Cleo and Aslan had heard me call Graeme and true to their Saint Bernard instincts, came to my rescue.  There may not have been any snow and I may not have actually been skiing, but by God they were going to rescue me.  This was their moment!  This was why the monks on the Saint Bernard Pass in Switzerland had bred their ancestors all those centuries ago!  This was their calling!  Cleo arrived first and instantly went into drool mode (to make sure I remained hydrated?) while Aslan, bringing up the rear at a slower and less determined pace, after a short triage apparently didn't like the look of my neck for some reason.  I couldn't see him very well because I had Cleo's head in my face while she to get her head lower than mine (it's a Cleo thing).  While Cleo kept me distracted Aslan turned chiropractor and put his great big paw straight down on my neck and proceeded to walk over the top of me, putting his not inconsiderable weight behind that paw.  I feel very lucky he didn't snap my neck - as soon as I felt the paw on my neck alarm bells rang in my already ringing head.  I managed to grab his leg as he walked over me to reduce his weight, but a lot of Aslan's weight (and there is a lot of Aslan's weight) managed to get through anyway.  I can still feel the spot this morning where he stomped on me.  I'm sure there's a Saint Bernard paw shaped dent there. 

After the neck therapy Aslan decided his chiropractic job was done and his next responsibility in the rescue mission was to sit and guard me, sharing his body heat and shedding fur on me in case the 35 degree day wasn't warm enough for me.  He cuddled up close and settled down for a nap.  Aslan played little part in the rest of the proceedings.  He had the air of a dog who'd done all he could and having done it was exhausted.  It was now up to Cleo and the rescue victim to get the job done between them.

Of course I don't have any photos of the actual Saint Bernard rescue (I was a little preoccupied with things to think of photos) but here's my latest photo of Aslan just relaxing on the driveway.

Cleo was ready to take up to rescue baton and save me whether I wanted saving or not.  She was still drooling and trying to get her head lower than mine.  As mine was resting on the concrete this was a lost cause on her part.  In the end I wrestled her to the ground with a judo like move and I lifted my head to lay it on Cleo's neck.  She calmed down then and lay quietly under my head content that she had done her duty and shown me I was still top dog in the pack.  With Cleo as a pillow, the dogs and I communed for a while, while I dreamed of a shower to remove dog hair, drool and doggy smell.  What Cleo and Aslan were dreaming of I don't know, but I'm sure they were proud of their rescue effort.  After all my neck was dealt with, I was alive and had my head higher than Cleo's.  What more could a rescue victim want?

Nearly every photo I have of Cleo is blurry.  She was sitting quietly near Aslan and I thought I had her when she saw me with the camera.  The blurry image is because she's just rising to come over and drool on me.

Eventually I managed to use Aslan as a support to get myself up. His inert state meant he didn't offer much help, just a sturdy body for me to lean against as I rolled over and got to my feet, but that worked in my favour for a short while.  My spurt of energy galvanised Cleo into action.  She fussed and pushed and prodded in her efforts to help.  The fussing, pushing and prodding only hindered my efforts to get up, occasionally actually knocking me back down.  Again Aslan proved useful as a soft place to land.  Having only one useful arm wasn't a great help either, but I managed to get up leaning on the ever stoic Aslan and hobbled inside.  The two puppies walking close behind ready to rush to my rescue again should I need it.  Five minutes later, as I was finding clean clothes for the longed for shower, Graeme entered the house.  I gave hima short description of my trials and tribulations and a list of my aches and pains, not to mention Cleo drool and stomped on neck.  Graeme was sympathetic but of course there wasn't much he could do. 

After I showered and felt better with the world I went out and thanked the puppies for their efforts.  They sniffed me all over, adding a new layer of drool, assured themselves I wasn't likely to need rescuing again any time soon and settled down to a well earned rest.

I think they might expect bravery awards in their near future.

I thought you might like this back view of Aslan's tail.  Isn't it magnificent?  And it's his summer coat too.  Stand by for winter coat back end views later in the year.

1 comment:

Tropical Treadles said...

Wonderful to see you writing again, Rosemary and a lovely story of the Meerkats. Glad to see you have survived your puppy rescue. Good luck with the arm and hope it heels, sorry, heals, soon. - Penne