Losing Matilda

Matilda, me, and Zuma, Hillier Beach, March 2024

It still hasn’t sunk in. Matilda died this afternoon. Just like that. We were out hiking and nearly at the turn-around point two hours from the car, when there was a repeat of what happened on our Peaceful Bay walk two months ago – on the lead, and next thing she’s gone SPROING and is pulling a snake around. We did the same thing as last time – I immediately pulled her back, got her to drop it. I did not see her get bitten, the dog seemed unbothered like last time, we kept walking, and 10 minutes later she collapsed without warning, in seconds, from being completely normal.

Brett and Tilly, last week at Cosy Corner

It then seemed obvious she was bitten. I checked and found a puncture on the inside of her lip. We knew that was bad news and phoned the vet. I didn’t expect her to survive more than five minutes after collapsing but she seemed to rally and the vet said if we could bring her in we had a chance. Time was against us, but it also depended on the amount of venom. We carried her back, at first just over my shoulder. She seemed drunk/sedated but was happy to be carried and interacted a little with us. 19kg is heavy on the arms trying to do it for a minimum 90 minute journey up and down hills, so Brett suggested we put her in his (large) backpack and carry it on our chests like a baby carrier, strapped up at the back (our backpacks have hip and chest straps), with her head on our shoulders. That worked well and we took turns. The dog seemed OK for a good half hour and just as we were hoping she hadn’t got a lethal dose of venom, she started to choke, we laid her on the ground, and from there she asphyxiated within minutes. There was nothing we could do. We held her and stroked her and told her we loved her and she was a good girl. We’d thrown jumpers across her to keep her warm and had our arms against her. She lost consciousness quickly and her heart stopped beating minutes after that. When she had no corneal reflexes, we knew she was gone.

Peaceful Bay Coastal Walk, May 2024

She was a wild little thing and totally loved the outdoors, so we thought it apt to bury her out in that beautiful spot, in a little hollow between trees and bushes about 10 metres off the track. I dug the grave with my hands and feet. The soil was soft so it was easy. And then we laid our Matilda into the hollow, and we stroked her for a long, long time before covering her over with earth and soft leaf litter, like tucking her in one last time, like I had tucked her in every night since she came into our life almost five months ago. She was such a beautiful little dog and such a whirlwind and I loved who she was. I am still in shock. I don’t even want to think about the future – one step at a time is the only way I can do this.

Tucked in at home, May 2024

On the hike back we examined what-ifs.

What-if I had seen the snake. But Matilda was better at seeing them than I was. She was often trying to pounce into the bushes and I reacted as fast as possible whenever she did – she was on a lead, but a hiking dog has to walk ahead of you, and even when she could walk beside you this dog could still pounce before you even registered, and on a short lead. And if I had seen THIS snake – well, there are dozens along every trail. This was always going to be a risk.

Nullaki Peninsula, April 2024

What-if we didn’t take her hiking. But the South Coast is snake central, and we have snakes at home, in the very garden. It worried me when we first got Jess in 2013, but she had excellent “giving snakes a wide berth” instincts and never got herself in trouble. Zuma is similar – where Jess studiously ignored snakes and calmly stepped around them, Zuma backs right off, with a big leap if she has to. The only way to help keep Matilda out of trouble was to have her on the lead with us, or to have her in the house. And Matilda needed exercise. There were snakes on our bush tracks at home too. There were snakes in the garden, and even in the dog run once. It is simply a fact of life here. I could have muzzled the dog fulltime but it wouldn’t have stopped her pouncing.

Irwin Inlet Walk, May 2024

I said to Brett that the reason I wanted to initially surrender Matilda back to the rescue was because her hunting instincts made her a danger to livestock, wildlife and herself out here with us. I thought she would have the best chance of not harming what she saw as prey animals, and having a long life herself, if she could find a home in the suburbs far away from wildlife and livestock, with a very active family willing to do lots of walking and games with her. But the rescue didn’t want her back, and I was unimpressed with the potential new families that inquired when I advertised her. They were not familiar with working breed dogs, and mostly clueless about dogs full stop.

Irwin Inlet Walk, May 2024

And Matilda was trying so hard at making the compromises work. She didn’t escape from her run like I feared she would, her recall got better and better, she was so eager to please and do the right thing and had this cute “Aren’t I a good dog!” look on her face when she was NOT doing something that was not acceptable, in a sticky situation. She would sit herself on the mattress in the sunny corner of the carport, if she saw me going to work with livestock. Initially I had chained her up there when I needed my hands free, and eventually she chose to go there herself and just watch me from a distance, and would stay there of her own will until I came back – and then I would take her walking. And she was such a fantastic, fun dog to walk. We loved our walking together. Brett and I loved having her in our lives, and she loved being with us and going on tons of walks – usually 2-3 long walks daily at home, plus our long hiking days. Running and playing with Zuma, especially on beaches. Tugs-of-war in the lounge room. Sofa wrestling.

Had we found the hypothetical active suburban family with dog nous and warm hearts back in February, Matilda would probably still be alive. But Brett said she was a wild thing by nature, so feral a type of dog that she would not have been as happy to live in artificial surroundings instead of at the edge of the wild with comparatively so much freedom (even with our necessary restrictions on her) and so much love – and especially after being here a while, instead of only ever living in suburbia from the start.

Only less than five months with this dog and I wish she could have had a long long life. But she had a life in which she was part of our family, went everywhere with us, saw so many beaches and trails in that short time, and loved every moment of it. She was into hiking like no other dog I ever knew. Jess loved the exercise, as does Zuma, and the variety, but Tilly loved things like different terrain – like walking on granite faces, through vegetation tunnels, in sand – she responded with such happiness to those sorts of things, such “This is so great!” looks at me, such joy and sparkle, it was a total joy to walk with her.

Mazzoletti Beach, April 2024

I am so going to miss her. Miss her on trails, miss her at home, miss her many mannerisms and her little Martian yip-yawn, which we never managed to film. Miss cuddling her on the sofa, miss her in so many ways.

At home, April 2024

The what-ifs didn’t stack up to us. We can reduce risks, but not eliminate them. Matilda would not have wanted us to lock her up in a kennel for safekeeping instead of let her live the full life she had with us. She got unlucky, sadly, in a way she was prone to get unlucky. The vet nurse said if you ever want to get another terrier cross, there is aversion training – but I’m not going to get another terrier cross. They are ratters and hunting dogs. It is in the nature of these dogs to pounce and I think it’s better not to have a dog with that nature in areas where they are going to have that risk, than to put a dog like this into that situation deliberately and then try to change its nature.

And we did not try to change who Matilda was, we just loved her and tried to keep her as safe as possible, and to teach her as much as we could, and she learnt so much. But she did not lose her prey instinct or that pounce.

Chivvying me along in the bathroom to get ready on a hiking day morning, April 2024

There are actually dozens of worse ways she could have died given her proclivities. Of a snakebite in her enclosure without me even noticing, alone. Traumatic injury from being kicked by livestock, because she was not the type to back off once after them (though she actually nearly stopped going after our stock over time). Disembowelled by a kangaroo after getting away in the bush – that possibility haunted me. It has happened to the dogs of friends and friends of friends. It is an awful way to go.

Off to another adventure, April 2024

If I could bring her back. But I don’t have a magic wand. And Brett says if I did, I probably would have had to bring her back by magic a few more times in the next few years. Our Tilly was cat-like in so many ways, but did not have nine lives. How I wish she had. How I wish I had never had to write this.

Mt Hallowell, March 2024

I think it will be worst tomorrow morning. When you wake up after your first sleep with initial amnesia and then it hits you again. And there’s Zuma. I will have to do extra games and one-on-one activities with her now she no longer has a dog companion. I don’t know how she is going to react. She saw everything that happened and I think she realised Tilly died. She spent a long time licking me when we got home. We will see if she looks for her in the morning – I suppose they have the same amnesia as us after the first sleep post loss. And then have to get used to it, for real.

My little owl. ♥

♦ ♥ ♦

I can sing, I can dance, I can laugh
As if nothing ever changed
But without you, without you
It can never be the same


Don’t worry, I smile
It’s not like there won’t be another one
There won’t be another one
However long I wait
There won’t be another one
It will always be too late
There won’t be another one
We won’t do it all again
There won’t be another one
Without you
It can never be the same
It can never be the same


♦ ♥ ♦


June 15, 2024

I looked through a whole bunch of “dog died” poetry online when I could not sleep the night after Matilda died. Many are awful saccharine drivel, but this one was us and Matilda:

And I cried and cried and cried. Matilda was a wild thing who loved the wild. She wouldn’t have wanted life in suburbia; she wanted to be in the wild, and loved beyond anything when we all went into the wild together to explore, to walk many miles, to run free on the beaches with her friend. She died in the wild, doing a wild thing that sadly ended her life. I loved her best. We buried her in the wild, in a beautiful spot between trees and bushes in a hollow under a hill, where you can hear the ocean crashing into the shores on which she loved to run like the wind.

Like a friend said to me yesterday, she was a bright little soul that couldn’t be moored.

The Dog Will is something I found after I read the online poem. And it makes sense. It made sense for Jess and it makes sense for our Matilda. But it can be very hard to make that move, when you are missing someone you loved fiercely, and hurting because you miss having your arms around them, that one particular being, that brief beautiful blaze of life, all that they are and all nobody else can be.

Brett sat me down the morning after Matilda died and said he would like me to think very seriously about something, no matter what my emotions might be saying at the moment. He said that he thinks I need to have two dogs rather than one because their social interactions with each other and me, and their running together, make me so happy. And that Zuma would prefer to have a new dog friend to play with. And that this meant we had to move sooner rather than later to get Zuma a new companion, while she is still at the young-playful stage (she’s nearly 18 months), and that therefore he thinks I should look at other dogs, and be open to adopting another ASAP.

It surprised me. I had been like, “OK, now I need to get used to living with just one dog, and in many ways it will be much simpler.” But it’s true – I’d always see the empty space. Zuma running alone on a beach. Zuma with no four-legged play companion. And Zuma is so friendly and social. She was always the easy dog, of our two. The one who would have played with other dogs, while Matilda wanted to eat them (if small) or fight them; or if I insisted, she would compromise by studiously ignoring them.

I had a half-hearted look online last night. The usual websites were, as last time, full of Bull Terrier etc crosses I would never adopt. The odd Kelpie and Border Collie but meh, to me, thinking of my lovely golden owl-eyed dog who died this week. And the price tags – $850, $550 – we’d spent $1,000 just adopting and transporting Matilda from Canarvon to Albany. And who wants to go to Perth to look at dogs, it’s all too much. We could ask Zuma’s breeder if there’s another trial dog that didn’t make the grade going, but then we’d have the whole de-sexing, post-op recovery all over again, that we just had with Zuma, and be another $600 out of pocket.

And then I looked up the local pound in town, which never has much, let alone much suitable. A Kelpie. One year old. Looks like Zuma’s sister. We already have one like this! So that’s boring! And the name – Tilly – you are kidding me.

But then Brett looked, pointed out the two pictures of this dog sleeping, and said, “She sure knows how to be comfortable!”

And gave me a sermon on: It’s the inside that counts, she may look almost identical to Zuma but she will have her own character and idiosyncrasies. And it’s true. I will never replace our Matilda. She was a one-off, a one in a million, and in any case, much as we loved our Matilda and would want above anything to have her back, we need to avoid dogs with hunting traits if we want to reduce the risk of more fatalities from snakes, or livestock attacks, or a dog going after kangaroos and not coming back. So would having another easy working dog like Zuma really be so bad? This one could practically be from the same litter. They look like sisters. This dog “adores other dogs, loves to be with people, loves the beach” and we can give her all that, and it sounds the sort of dog that Zuma would find very easy to connect to – Zuma grew up with her working dog litter and workmates and is a social pro.

So I put in an expression of interest for her online last night. To come see her with our Zuma and see how they get on. And leave it up to Zuma: Does she like this dog?

If she does, and the trial week works out without major dramas, we’ll offer to adopt her. If she doesn’t, we will find a dog Zuma likes and that fits well with our situation.

This one, we are going to visit tomorrow morning.

And we do have for another dog in need:

Matilda’s happy home.
Her bowl and cosy bed, soft pillows and all her toys.
The cuddles which she loved so much.
The hands that stroked her fur and the sweet voices that spoke her name.

And we can give to a shelter dog the place Matilda had in her humans’ loving hearts, and to give to that homeless dog the love Matilda left behind.

Wish us luck.

♦ ♥ ♦


June 16, 2024

Dear Fran

Photos can be so deceptive! When we went to see Zuma in January I didn’t think I’d like her based on the photo but I really did. Based on the photo and description of Kelpie Tilly I thought I would like her but when I turned up that dog was less than two thirds the size of Zuma and definitely a cross with something really small, like a Pinscher or even a Dachshund – she had that kind of snout and face. And had chased the carer’s horses.

Zuma didn’t like her either, because she doesn’t like being incessantly jumped on by a “friendly” dog. The other dog went straight to invading her personal space and ignoring the warning body language that said, “Don’t!” She also ignored the growl that said no and would not back off. It’s a credit to Zuma’s restraint that she only backed off and growled as the other dog kept obliviously jumping all over her.

A dog with no respect for boundaries is not the right dog as Zuma’s companion or for a farm, though she will be great for someone in a different situation who wants to put a bit of training into her. We also met a Kelpie cross pup and Zuma was nice to him but he was brindle and clearly a lapdog cross.

So it seems to be that the only proper working line dogs now in WA are through breeders. The carer disputed that a bit but then did say that proper working dogs were better off put down than in suburbia. So I said I agree, and this is why we will be adopting another proper working line dog who fell short for trials.

I will give Bucket a call later. I am sure the trial breeders will have something suitable for us to re-home eventually.

And there will be no questions about what else might be in them!

But we are looking again, albeit privately now.

I think we are the right home for those kinds of dogs and they for us.

Best wishes


♦ ♥ ♦

An exchange with another friend. She’s in italics:

I clicked the link for the adoptee and proceeded to burst into tears…talk about a golden needle in a haystack.

I sense both of us have a good learning opportunity here. I also thought it was uncanny to see a Tilly that looked like a Zuma and was expecting to come home with her. It is incredible though how deceptive photographs can be. That type of colour pattern is dominant – Zuma is actually a 3/4 Border Collie and should by all rights be black and white, but the genetics from that tricolour Kelpie colouration came through so strongly everyone double takes and says, “It’s a Kelpie – but why does she have longish hair?”

That Tilly was no more than half Kelpie if you ask me, and did not behave like a Kelpie, she behaved like a lapdog. I mean, she’ll make someone a great dog, but not farm suitable and not Zuma suitable. Now our Matilda was also about half Kelpie but did not behave like one, she behaved like the Staffy that was most of her other half. But she could RUN like a Kelpie, lightning fast sprints, and could move at a clip all day long.

It didn’t help that there was no scale in the photographs. I was surprised how small this dog was. Like expecting to meet Lassie but getting a Sheltie.

Anyhow – beyond those particular learning opportunities, there is also an existential learning opportunity for us:

1) Human brains love seeing patterns and overinterpreting them. My brain did that with this photo.

2) We have a cognitive bias to invent narratives that don’t exist and see the hand of fate in random events. It’s important for our adult selves to remind ourselves of this human proclivity.

My whole heart sincerely hopes you get her. I mean, …she is Tilly,
she is Jess, she is Zuma…all in one!!!😭😭😭

And she was none of those things. This was just our emotions and cognitive biases having us by our short and curlies (well, that used to be an idiom before undergoing voluntary torture to look like a prepubescent girl became a thing). This is similar to emotions having us by our short and curlies when we have a repetition compulsion, but that is a far stronger drug…

But that is also what gets people hooked into cults, conspiracy theories, often organised religions. “Don’t you feel it?” And then peer pressure.

Our society is so dysfunctional that I think none of us should trust what we feel, especially if we feel it strongly. We are brainwashed by an actually dystopian society and by dysfunctional organisations and families. And it is often hard to tell that brainwash from genuine gut instincts which are meant to be protective.

So I find that gut instincts also hold up to rational scrutiny especially in retrospect, but dysfunctional emotions do not. This is why I was sitting there with my analytical brain looking at the red flags when you met your charming neighbour, from his side and from yours. Upbringings like ours leave us with emotional vulnerabilities that easily send us down unproductive, even dangerous paths that are not in our best interests. And we need to put the adult rational brain in charge of our best interests. It’s a shame it takes so long to learn this when we didn’t in childhood, grrrr.

End of sermon to both of us. But you know, it is quite a fun hobby to get on a pulpit to address your own self sometimes.

They’re our babies and there’s just no other way to see them.

With which sentiment I personally strongly disagree. While we *are* in a nurturing role towards them, I actually find it quite philosophically offensive for people to think of their pets as their babies. (But I love you. I have foibles too and am not perfect.) I’m a biologist and a biocentric person, and the anthropomorphising people do with animals is deeply upsetting to me because it is a projection onto an animal, rather than seeing and respecting the animal as what it truly is. It’s narcissism to think of animals as human baby equivalents. It’s the same bonkum as romantic projection, which humans are also so prone to. We need to see the actual person, not the projection – and we need to see the actual animal, not the projection. Otherwise we won’t be having authentic relationships; never truly know one another.

I have learnt so much from animals because I try very hard to get past such erroneous projections and see and hear and feel who they are. And I listen to them. Therefore there are all sorts of things many people who have animals miss, that I do not. (Though I don’t pretend to know even a quarter of half of everything to do with the animals I live with.)

What you and I don’t disagree on: It’s perfectly fine to have strong feelings about animals. As strong as you would towards your own children. They don’t have to be your children to get that courtesy. They can just be themselves. The nonhuman, beautiful species they are, and none of them below us. Once you take that biocentric point of view, you don’t have to pretend animals are humans or call them your babies to treat them with equal respect and have strong feelings for the ones you bond with. And if you don’t call them your babies, you can be more open to learning from them.

Another problem with calling them babies is that it’s condescending unless they actually are. Your Charlie is now an adult, not a baby. When we think of things as babies that are not, we tend to put them in an infantilised position and us in a parent/power position. That is as unhealthy with animals as it is with fellow humans that aren’t actually babies. Your 14-year-old child is not your baby. Your adult child is not your baby. Your romantic partner is not your baby. It is disrespectful to call them this and think of them that way. What we need, and is sorely lacking in our culture, is adult-adult relationships between adults, and there are precious few of those anywhere. Our culture is infantilised and infantilising. It helps keep people controlled, just as it does in any cult. Just add parent figures and make parent-child interactions the norm between adults. Our dysfunctional culture is a mega-cult.

The loss, the love, it’s all visceral, it’s all worth it.

I agree.

Big hugs

Big hugs right back. And now for a good surprise. THIS really is good.

I messaged Bucket, the sheepdog trainer/breeder from whom we adopted Zuma as she wasn’t trial grade. Told him what happened and that we’d looked at alleged Kelpies and Kelpie Crosses today (we saw a few more) and decided it was a fool’s errand finding a farm-safe, Zuma-compatible dog through anyone except the actual working dog people. Was there by any chance, in his kennel or those of his connections, another dog that they wanted to re-home? (I saw all his dogs when we picked up Zuma and I would have adopted any of them – you don’t have to be a top-notch sheepdog trial dog for us, and the whole lot of them were beautiful and athletic and sensible and eager to please and do teamwork, and they are totally safe around livestock, and have excellent recall even with wildlife.)

And he happens to be amenable to re-homing Zuma’s older half-sister, Digit, out of the same mother, a Border Collie called Freckle, but this half-sister is a pure Border Collie. One year older than Zuma and was her personal best buddy before she came to us.

I knew *that* already because I’d seen them when picking Zuma up. He was saying Digit would miss her.

Zuma spent her whole first year with Digit as her best buddy. Their bond will still be there.

Zuma’s older sister and erstwhile main buddy Digit

And Digit is beautiful. I’ve sent a photo, and two from Zuma at home today. We’re picking her up on Thursday morning. I am so happy for Zuma. This is the best thing that could have happened to her. And it will be great for Digit too because she’s not made trial grade either and loves her morning and afternoon walks and cuddles from humans. And there will be no issues with livestock, or hunting instincts.

I love love love our Tilly still and would do anything to turn the clock back, but we can’t. We have to go on, and this is actually *the* best thing that could have happened for my bereaved dog. That alone is making me smile again. Just the thought of them meeting again on Thursday and Zuma taking her half-sister and erstwhile best friend home with her.

Sending love


Zuma at home today when I was talking to Bucket
Zuma when I asked her if she remembered Digit

Watch this space.

♦ ♥ ♦

Digit on her second morning with us.

I had a think about this question from a friend, a week after we brought home Digit.

But how are you feeling after all this change? Digit is a wonderful gift after losing Matilda so suddenly.

I don’t know what’s sadder, losing a longtime companion like Jess, or losing a young dog like Matilda. Looking at the dog side, Matilda’s loss was sadder. There were so many more years we could have filled with long hikes in new places and life at home for her. She loved hiking like no other dog I’ve ever been with – and I’ve mostly been with working breeds, growing up and later, walking neighbours’ dogs before we got Jess when we moved out to our smallholding. All working dogs enjoy exercise. She enjoyed so many aspects of going out hiking so much that she always had a laugh on her face and was checking in with us to say, “This is so wonderful” every lap she zoomed with Zuma out on the beach etc. Or if she found a fish, or even if the footing changed, anything she found interesting – she had to share it. She was the kind of dog who just had to tell you whenever something was wonderful. Dinner was always followed by a long hug initiated by her in which she also said, “That was soooooo good.”

And it’s terrible to lose at 14 months old and only 4.5 months into doing these things, a dog who loved all of this so much. And there are few people who would have given her this, because few people are besotted hikers who take their dogs everywhere with them. And we had wanted to give her so many more years of this.

The consolation is that she died doing something she loved doing, and that she at least had those 4.5 months. She might have had a longer life if the rescue had initially taken her back and put her somewhere away from wildlife or livestock, but I don’t think she was the sort who wanted an average suburban dog life anyway. It’s still haunting me though, the look she gave me as she was collapsing, when I realised she’d been bitten. Carrying her back for an hour, before she got respiratory failure. That was tough. But at least, in retrospect, that was quick. Our Tilly was drunk and floppy but interactive and apparently not in pain the whole time we were carrying her. And when she choked, we put her on the ground and sat with her, and realised what was going to happen, and that happened in about two minutes. She struggled to breathe, and fought for a short time, and that was awful, and we were holding her and soothing her. And then she was passing out, and we were stroking her and talking gently to her, because we know touch and hearing are the last things to go and we did not want her to feel alone. I guess we’ve had practice at death, with Jess and also with five horse euthanasias in ten years. We stayed with her like that not just until her heartbeat stopped, but until there was no corneal reflex anymore. We wanted her to know we were there.

I was really in love with this dog, as well as loving this dog. I miss her terribly even now. Hiking will never be the same. Being at home will never be the same.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be good. Brett was right that we needed to fill the space, for Zuma and because another dog would appreciate it and (he says) for my brain. Given what happened, having Zuma reunited with her old best buddy is the next best thing. Also Digit is a lovely dog who is really appreciating all the extra attention a home like ours can give an erstwhile trial dog. She’s got a great sense of humour already and we will be encouraging its development. And it’s great seeing Zuma so happy and effervescent again.

At first I didn’t know what to do with Tilly’s purple collar and lead. Was going to give it away and begin again. But it fits Digit and it actually suits her too, so I think it can be Digit’s project to wear that collar for Matilda, in her memory, in all the places we will take Digit and would have taken Matilda. Same as Julian is now wearing the purple halter his best friend wore when he died. Same as I still wear a cherry-coloured scarf my friend Alice gave me before she died a few years ago at age 88.

I wrote a silly ditty in my journal (it’s what I do whenever I haven’t filled up a daily entry space and have to fill it retrospectively):

Border Collie black and white
Squirrel tail and eyes alight
We welcome you into our home
And with us the world to roam
In our Tilly’s memory
Purple collar, wild and free

Brett is so right when he says that the important thing about tragedy is to try to make something good come of it. Giving Digit a good home is a good thing for her, for Zuma, for Bucket, and for us. And she’s already making me laugh.

♦ ♥ ♦

8 Replies to “Losing Matilda”

  1. Sobbing my gutted guts out…Sue…no what ifs just wtf?!?? Why??
    This tribute.
    And again for the record, there is nothing you or Brett or even Tilly could have done differently in that moment, on that day.
    Each and every day we’re all doing our best to live with what we know.
    Tilly was given perhaps more love, care, comfort and truly beautiful adventures with you Brett and Zuma than maybe she’d known in her whole life.
    I’m now praying the universe finds a way for you to receive all the love and joy you’ve given to all your animals and to never again break your heart with a loss like this.
    Much love sister. Big hugs to you and the whole family 💜🙏🏼

    1. Hey sis. I very much appreciated your comment.♥ No, we couldn’t have done it differently without affecting the quality of our lives, including Matilda’s. No, we can’t always be watching exactly the right spot a snake is going to appear – and a dog with Matilda’s instincts will beat us every time. No, she couldn’t have acted differently – these were her hard-wired instincts. She was a very wild dog with many wild dog genes, from up in Canarvon. She had the instincts required to be able to fend for herself for meals in the wild. She nearly had caught her own lunch in the form of blue-tongue lizards about half a dozen times that afternoon, despite being restricted on a lead. Just her ancestral instincts did not evolve in a place studded with venomous snakes.

      We know Matilda came from a pound after a welfare seizure and that she spent two months in that pound. She was 10 months old when she came to us. In the 4.5 months she spent with us, she had more love and care and walking miles in wild places than many dogs have their entire lifetimes. She had quality everything that mattered. I just wish I could have given her at least 10 more years of that.♥

      I don’t think the universe is like this…I believe the universe is neither fair nor unfair, it just is, and random things happen. And our hearts will be broken over and over, but here’s what CS Lewis had to say about that:

      Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

      And Kahlil Gibran:

      Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
      And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
      And how else can it be?
      The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
      Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
      And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
      When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
      When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

      Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
      But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
      Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

      Big hugs and much love to you also. ♥ ♥ ♥

  2. There is freedom waiting for you,
    On the breezes of the sky,
    And you ask “What if I fall?”
    Oh but my darling,
    What if you fly?

    Zuma knew, as did I… One chapter ends as another begins.
    A good life isn’t measured in time, only quality and Matilda’s was the best.

    All our love ❤️
    Andrew, Liz, Ettie, Maizie and the fur balls 🫂xx

    1. Beautiful, thank you, Andrew, Liz, Ettie, Maizie and fur balls.❤️🫂
      Long life and quality both, to you all.
      And always love.

  3. You guys are exquisitely grounded & actually rather beautiful in your wisdom & overarching sense of harnessing inevitable chaos, channeling balance into an irrepressible life like Tilly’s. It’s like you filled in her time with gold leaf & she’s still shining. I gotta say it’s heart cracking thinking of how it all happened. Oh boy.

    Well. All that’s real is this very moment.

    Tenderness to all of you.
    Rachel ( violet )

    1. Dear Rachel

      Thank you very much for your words and thoughts.♥ I love the thought that we filled her time with gold leaf. We certainly tried. Dogs don’t understand why we don’t just go hiking or beach walking all day long when we’re not eating or sleeping or playing. They show us what truly matters, and our own ridiculousness. It takes me 20 minutes to get myself out of bed and ready to take them for a walk and they watch with puzzlement the procedure of washing and dressing and doing weird things with a stinky brush in our mouths and then putting socks on our feet and once outside, going through the rigmarole of lacing up boots when all the time, the dogs were just ready to go. They must think we’re special needs critters – and we’re so slow and bumbling.

      And it is so vastly sad that our beautiful Matilda died so young, but as a favourite song of mine goes:

      The world is neither fair nor unfair
      The idea is just a way for us to understand
      But the world is neither fair nor unfair
      So one survives
      The others die
      And you always want
      A reason why

      But the world is neither just nor unjust
      It’s just us trying to feel that there’s some sense in it
      No the world is neither just nor unjust
      And though going young
      So much undone
      Is a tragedy
      For everyone

      It doesn’t speak a plan or any secret thing
      No unseen sign or untold truth in anything
      But living on in others
      In memories and dreams
      Is not enough
      You want everything
      Another world where the sun always shines
      And the birds always sing
      Always sing

      An endless sense of soul and an eternity of love
      A sweet mother down below and a just father above
      For living on in others
      In memories and dreams
      Is not enough
      You want everything
      Another world
      Where the birds always sing
      Another world
      Where the sun always shines
      Another world
      Where nothing ever dies

      Thank you also for sending tenderness, it arrived in our hearts and was appreciated.♥

      I am adding new chapters to this evolving story and there is some good news to relate today – and some lessons as well about cognitive biases and human ridiculousness!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *