Dogs, Heaven and the RFDS Jet

Glen Coe

… then I’ll hike it through Glen Falloch where the mountain breezes blow

And I’ll draw up in the evening  in the Valley of Glen Coe.

Of course, in my idea of heaven the road wouldn’t be there and all the dogs I have had throughout my life would be with me.  There  would be cloud and mist but  it would never be  cold. There would be sunshine sometimes, but not too much and if food was needed, then it would just be there as required.  I think there would be no people – I have never really been much of a people person – at least I don’t think so because really, I prefer solitude. I loved the isolation of being in the mountains, away from noise, people and civilisation  and yet, many of the things I do or am involved in,  are serving or helping people.I used to think that  this was God’s idea of a practical joke – He knows I am not really a people person, so  He sees to it that all the things I do I am involved with people. But then,  God is  just and to balance  this out He also gave me a love of dogs, and over the years all the dogs that I have had, each one has been the joy of my life, all in their own different ways. In a blog I read recently I wrote about this and mentioned that for some time after Benji was adopted I was calling him Chienne, but he was very forgiving.  You know, you read it all the time but  it never really becomes trite “A dog is the only creature on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

We definitely cannot have Max back again. I know I keep saying this but twice already today there have been several  ‘spats’ between the two and when Annabell and I have to go out, we do not leave them together – something we have never had to do with any other visitor – not even the WaWa. There has been rain and high wind over much of the State. We have had some rain and some wind but nothing like the lower areas. About twenty miles further out in the bush there was some flooding and the road to where my son works was flooded. He decided to come in the back way, which, as it turns out, was not a great decision. He ran into a pothole and  damaged the converter and tore the exhaust system. We got it back and into the garage and his  ‘detour’ will set him back about $600.  I will be leaving the post as Secretary of the  RFDS Branch at the AGM in July. Don’t know what happens after that – we’ll see. I  decided to leave because at one point I was concerned for Annabell after the car crash  and the fact that we never seemed to be away from the hospital or the Doctor Surgery. Things have calmed down, everything seems to have cleared but we have a  young lady who is very keen to be secretary and she has sort of taken over, and come the AGM, we will elect her as the Secretary and I will bow out. Well, not really, there are some things I said I would continue to do

People said it couldn’t be done. They said no one could do it. So we tackled this thing that couldn’t be done and we did it – a world first.  The  Royal Flying Doctor Service was under a bit of a cloud with the new  Intensive Care

The New RFDS I C U Jet.

Unit (The new Jet).  People were concerned that it wouldn’t work in South Australia because it wouldn’t be able to land on a dirt strip in the far northern outback of the State. So the RFDS organised an outback Sheep station get the airstrip ready because the jet was coming. The sheep station is 370klms north of Port Augusta, a 7 hour drive from Adelaide. The jet covered the distance in just under 40 minutes and made a perfect landing on the  dirt runway.  It made just as  perfect take-off. There is a you tube of the landing, which I have saved,  and I hope it works. In areas further north than the Flinders it would take the  normal RFDS Aircraft about 1 hour and forty-five minutes to cover the distance back to Adelaide. The Jet will do it in just under an hour, which makes a big difference in a life emergency.

We have not seen the jet up here and it is unlikely that we ever will – well not for a medical emergency anyway – perhaps for a goodwill visit.  —- I have deleted the You Tube Video as I have been told that it is a channel 7 video and thus copyright.

Benji / Max. Morning coffee with a sting.

At the wetlands

It should be mentioned that at the last Vet. visit, before I left for Naracoorte , Benji  weighed in at 8 kilo.  Max is close to 20 kilo, so when there is a spat Benji does not fare well. I have concerns in leaving them alone together, something I do not have with the other dogs. Dougal and  Benji / Yogi and Benji  are strapped into the back seat where they sit quite happily on a drive to the Wetlands or the Lighthouse. I dare not do that with Max. Benji goes on the front seat and Max in the back seat. In my view it’s sad because I really do think that Max is a lovable dog. Out walking is  not too much of a problem and they walk well enough together, Benji does his thing and Max potters along and we walk to Max’s pace.  At the Wetlands we cover only about one third of the distance Benji and I would normally walk – and yes, I have to lift him in and out of the car. Going the full circuit of all the ponds would be just too much for Max. Max sleeps a lot so in the morning I let him sleep and  Benji and I quietly slip out and go out for our morning walk – about 1.8 miles. In the evening I take them both out and we  again walk at Max’s pace. It’s very interesting in that as soon as I lift the  leads ( in Australia and the UK we call them Leads – Leeds – in the USA you use the term Leash) and as soon as I do Max’s tail – such as it is – goes like  mad. He likes to get out and he is excited about going out. I could probably take him out a bit longer but I was told that  when he feels he has had enough – he just stops and refuses to move. Sorry, but 20 kilo is a lot to carry for any distance. Anyway, we have never reached that stage yet. I like Max, but, sadly, Benji does not

Today (Wednesday) I was in panic mode. Our house has a T junction on one side and a corner on the other, so I have to be careful backing out of the driveway.  Annabell called me to come

Max – A big boy

and pick her up from the coffee morning and I told her I would be there in five. I didn’t get there for  nearly 35 minutes.  As I was backing out of the driveway a child suddenly appeared in my rear view mirror. I hit the brake, put the car in park and  dashed out of the car to find a child standing in my driveway – a child not much older than my grandson and still wearing PJs.. I had no idea where this child had come from and at this time in the day, the place was deserted. I crossed the road to go to a house where I believed there was a young family. I knocked the door, but no reply – back to my house – crossed to the other side of the road to talk to my neighbour who I knew had a  young girl of school age and thought perhaps she could help. She was away on holiday and her mother was looking after the house whilst she was away. Tried to call Annabell – no success. Meanwhile if there had been anyone around with evil intentions, they could have gotten themselves a car for free since in my panic I had left the door open, the engine running and the keys in the ignition. I decided to cross the road and  try the first house again and this time the woman did answer the door, surprised to find me and her child in my arms. She wasn’t sure how he had got out since she was on her telephone in another room ( that’s what she said). Anyway, I handed her the child went back to the car and  went to get Annabell, who was in her own panic mode, concerned where I was and concerned that I had not responded to her calls. We went for lunch and  I explained to her what had happened and why I was so late in picking her up.  The thoughts that were battering my brain were twofold, – if I had been reversing only a little faster than I was –  the outcome just too,  horrendous and secondly in this modern age in Australia, here I was  an adult male  carrying a child in his arms who was no relation – and that scared me too ! It turned out ok and the child was reunited with his mother, but it was the most scary 35 minutes ever and I never want to  be like that again but five more minutes and I would have called   000 – (911) and involved the police and the consequences that would have flowed from that are really concerning.

The May Travels – coming home.

Well, a simple mistake :o)

After a good shower, coffee and breakfast I set off from Tailem Bend. It was close to 7am before I got on the road and I couldn’t help reflecting that had I been in Adelaide I would have been leaving  Port Wakefield by this time. Anyway, the first little while the weather was not too bad, but, sadly it didn’t last and  it started raining. When it wasn’t raining  I was driving through a heavy mist and the windscreen wipers were given a good workout, The thing I really dislike about the South Eastern Freeway is the descent from Crafers to the City – a long steep 15 klm long descent and there have been quite a few accidents in this section of the freeway and quite a few  people have died. I really don’t like this part of the journey. That part of the journey over, I drove directly to Port Wakefield – a  distance of 230 klms  from Tailem Bend.  I had a break for fuel and food then started on the  drive to Port Augusta. The  rain had largely  ended – the odd light shower, but  that was about it. I did not  phone Annabell because she would be at church. I thought of a further break at  the Tin Man but decided against it and  went through to Port Augusta. Here I did have a break and made a call to Annabell, to let her know where I was and that I would be home in about 40 minutes. I only generally stay in one hotel – twice  – and that’s because it is a Motel and I can park the car right outside the room. You see, I do not travel light – I never have and it can be kind of embarrassing walking in and out to the car to get baggage and cases. So I stay in a Motel and generally good quality cabins. Here in Australia, cabins in leisure parks generally cost about as much as a motel room, so It’s not a money saving exercise. Four days away and I was attacked the minute I stepped in the door. Dougal wasn’t too bad, but Benji went wild and it took me ages to get him to calm down. I couldn’t be certain, but I think he might have missed me a little. Of course, he  doesn’t know or understand how much I missed him. Annabell called Andrew to let him know that I was home and I would take her to the shops, which I did.  Benji was not impressed that I was going out and leaving him, so, since the dog cover was still on the back seat, we took them both to the shops with us. By then Benji had settled down. The boys, all three, arrived for dinner on Sunday night so things were fairly back to normal. Took both dogs out for a short walk after the boys had gone home.

Chi and her Thundershirt

Monday started a new round of Doctor and Hospital visits with one Monday, two Tuesday, one Wednesday and one Thursday. At this stage, Friday is FREE! On Monday, Dougal went home but we have another dog to look after for two weeks beginning tomorrow – Max the Pug. Max is fairly old and not really able to go walking too much –

Lovely night last night

however – when the man was still with us and he had grown old and blind I bought a dogger and strapped him in that and took him walking with – well he rode, we walked…   Chienne and me –  and no , I merely used the name to mean “Female Dog” besides she was more often called Chi (chee) anyway. Well, Max is – as I said – fairly old but he is grossly overweight. In fact as dogs go he would be termed obese. He is so heavy and difficult to lift and I am not sure he will be able to  go into a dogger that was bought for an old, blind Maltese. I did take them out last night and had a very slow walk abound the block. When we came back, I settled him in, took Benji away and he and I sneaked out the back door to go for a real walk. I never want Benji to get overweight like that, But it was a lovely night and a very enjoyable walk. Max, on the first walk did well – new smells everywhere, so apart from being a slow walk – given Max’s condition, it was a long walk, given his interests. I have to say that Max really is a most lovable and affectionate dog.

Anyway, that’s the  long travel over until November. The next conference is in Adelaide, so that’s only overnight – leave Friday back Saturday. Oh… just been on the news – The Million Paw Walk to raise funds for the RSPCA on Sunday (tomorrow) has been cancelled due to a forecast of  possible thunderstorms.

The May Travels

I miss my dog when I am away.

Sunday: Annabell is much better today. The antibiotic kicked in and she is a lot better than she was last night. She has to take the second antibiotic this evening and we will go see the doctor tomorrow. I am feeling much more relaxed than I was  yesterday. When we returned from the hospital I called the boys and asked them not to come over on Sunday as normal. They were concerned but agreed. Sadly this means that we didn’t get to see the Grandson this week Annabell has been having a  difficult time of late but hopefully this infection has been the underlying cause and, with a treatment of antibiotics,  we should be able to get on top of that fairly  quickly – or so I am told.

Thursday: I headed off to Naracoorte to the quarterly  conference. The boys kept an eye on Annabell whilst I was away. I was very late in leaving mainly because I had appointment with my cardiologist at 10am and I  could not afford to miss that. This was a long  appointment in that it lasted a whole 15 minutes when it normally lasts 10 minutes. I am well and everything is as it should be so really it was just an ECG and then a quick chat about how things were and the fact that he continues to be pleased. I don’t see him again for a year. By the time I reached Adelaide it was late in the afternoon and it took me some time to get clear of bank business before I got into town. I did get some shopping done for Annabell but by and large I  booked into my hotel and stayed there. It was a cold, wet and miserable trip down – rained most of the way, and it was Thursday – no late night shopping in the city. I slept well enough and after booking out set off to the South-Eastern Freeway towards Murray Bridge and then Tailem Bend. Cold, and miserable and the weather was not great either!!  I bought the car in the summer and was more concerned with the A/C – never thought much about the heating — well, you don’t when the outside temperature is 41c.  I practically  froze  on the drive from Adelaide to Tailem Bend. I did have some hot food there before continuing on to my next overnight stay. Here I really had problems in that I was not, for reasons unknown, booked in. Every cabin was taken and I was offered the bunkhouse which consisted of a

I often wonder how she is.

room with two bunk beds, one on top of the other) a fridge and a small tv (that didn’t work) It was a broom cupboard with bunks.  The kitchen was about 200 yards in one direction and the facilities 150 in another direction. I discovered what a great thrill it was to walk two hundred yards, rugged up against the cold and the rain, plus the same distance back, to make a mug of coffee. The discussion of the facilities is not for gentlefolk, so we just wont go there I did not have a shower in the morning. I did have a rubdown with a cold, damp facecloth and when I drove the last distance to the conference I stopped off in town, bought myself a pair of gloves and  deodorant. I have to be truthful and say that yes it was a broom cupboard, but the bunkbed was comfortably and I slept well. Both meetings were poorly attended and only half of the commissioners were present. Still more than enough to hold the meetings. I got my books attested and signed fairly early on and I did the books of two other places. I had hoped to be clear by 3:30 but if not I would simply stay there in town and head for Adelaide in the morning. As it happened, the lack of numbers meant that we concluded business by 2:45 and I hit the road. I wanted to reach Tailem Bend before dark, and I did. I pulled into the River Edge Caravan Park and  I was allocated a lovely cabin overlooking the River Murray. On a really nice day it would be very pleasant to sit outside in one of the chairs  and watch the river and the birds – all very relaxing.

Thank Goodness Its Friday

Once Dougal went home, the times walking were a little more comfortable and less frustrating. Dougal is a barker  and tends to go gaga if he hears another bark or, indeed, any noise. It does not make for a really enjoyable  walk with him dragging and pulling. Benji, on the other hand is sort of like a  modern teenager – some other dog barks  –  ” meh whatever!”. Although we never had any concerns, because our fences are secure, I am told by other people that Dougal tends to be something of an escape artist and Sam has had to go searching for him more than once.

The empty bird area at the back pond

I took Benji to the Wetlands this afternoon and it really is starting to look quite sad. The birds have deserted the back pond where they generally hang out.

I am told they are Wild Geese.

The four wild Geese have taken to wandering around the area of the main pond, the ducks and swans have gone and the back pond – what’s left of it – has become the haunt of seagulls. Thursday week – 9th May – I set off to Narracourte for the quarterly conference.  There will be one overnight stay in Adelaide and a second overnight stay at Padthaway. The meeting does not begin until 12:30 so it is likely to last for most of the afternoon since each of the churches has to bring their  Books for inspection, stamping and cleared  by Presbytery. That wont take five minutes so it is unlikely that I will get much farther than back to Padthaway since I will not drive on the Riddoch  Highway and the Dukes Highway  at night. There has been several accidents recently on that stretch of the road recently. Apart from which,  I like staying in Padthaway since it is one of the few places that are dog friendly.

The flood waters from Queensland continue to pour down the Diamantina River  into  South  Australia and then drain into Lake Eyre. Having said that I have also to

say that it has been raining for a good part of the late evening and into the night. It was not the soft, silent rain that really doesn’t do much but a decent rainfall for several hours.  I must try and get down to the Wetlands and see what difference – if any – it might have made. Wednesday:  Never got out to the Wetlands, had a bit of a wetlands in the back garden. It’s chucking it down here again and I I was surprised to learn that despite the widespread rainstorms, some parts of the State missed out – bummer. Looks as if we wont be going out for our walk tonight again.  Well, as it happens, the rain went off and we did get out for our walk. I went directly to the water catchment area at the end of the street and although there was a good amount of water in there, I  did believe that there was less than I thought there would be.

I thought that I would be able to go to the Wetlands tomorrow (Thursday) after the 10 am  Hospital appointment with Annabell, but as of this afternoon,(Wednesday) we have a further appointment on Thursday at 2:30pm. However, at this stage, Friday is looking good  :o) Talk about ‘Things Fall Apart” – I take Annabell and another lady to the  Tuesday coffee evening and she and the other lady get picked up on a Wednesday. This same lady picks up Annabell for visits and other meetings. Well, this lady now has a new car and guess what?????   Annabell cannot get into this new car, so I have more driving around to do. Oh well, I do believe it’s part of the job description.

Dougal and Benji together.

I think it comes under the heading of “Sickness and Health ” :o) And, since the Universe is not altogether finished with me for the moment, Dougal came back this afternoon – right after we came back from the dentist.   Sam is heading off to Adelaide to be with Ina for a little while – then when he comes back he is going into hospital himself, so I have no idea how long we might have Dougal this time. He’s not a really concern, just the fact that he has never learned to ignore  barking and other sounds without going gaga, I’ll have to put on the harness again if I take him out walking but  we have had a fair belt of rain here the last few days, so we’ll see how things go. I didn’t expect to have Dougal back quite so quickly but at least Sam knows that he can go  visit his wife in Adelaide safe in the knowledge that his dog is being looked after and taken care of.  It’s Friday – no doctors, no hospital visits – FREE…  Woo Hoo