I am a true blue Aussie Tibbie. I was born here, my parents were born here. I know my ancestors came from that snowy, mountainous area of the world called Tibet but like many family groups in the world we all had to leave when invaders came.
Those who were left behind lost their lives. I have been told that there are now no Tibetan dogs in Tibet, they have all been killed. Fortunately many fled with their owners into Nepal and India and some were sent to America and Europe. So we are not completely wiped out, but I cannot help being sorry to think that my greater pack was so persecuted.
I am not famous, I’m not a movie star (though I’m sure if Beloved would grow my coat and introduce me to the world of show business I could become very popular), but in my own way I try to make a difference in my little world. I am always polite to the other dogs at the dog park and I always greet people coming to the door. Beloved thinks I should bark, but I think that is rude!
I am a well brought up Tibbie and I do not bite or growl (except at the nasty people waving guns or shouting on the television). I am friendly to my neighbours and try to tolerate our differences. In this way I hope that the neighbourhood I live in will stay a safe and friendly place.
On one side of me is a very old Jack Russell. She used to make a noise every morning, crying and howling and I have to say it used to really irritate me until one day I realised that because she was old her pack had decided she had to live outside and she was put in the garage. I understood then what had made her cry, she was sad, lonely and frightened.
At the bottom of the garden is the Rhodesian Ridgeback. We don’t see him very much because of the big fence. He has a reputation. He has a sign on his gate telling people to beware of him and I have heard that he already has one bite against him. I haven’t heard his story but I’m sure there is a reason he bites. I have to confess to being glad that there is a big fence though because although I am a very brave Tibbie, I am no match for a Rhodesian Ridgeback. I believe when we know those around us a little better we can have more tolerance and understand why they behave as they do which is why I think that my scary neighbour probably has a sad story to share too.
Then on the other side of me we have a Labradoodle and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. We occasionally chat between the fence and whilst I wouldn’t say we were good friends we are polite and share possum information and some other interesting items of gossip. These are just our furry neighbours. We have lots of people neighbours and I like all of them.
I think it is important to be a good neighbour but sometimes it is hard to know how. This was brought home to me recently with Ruth. Ruth has a small house which shares a fence with ours. We met Ruth when we first moved into this area. The Princess and I took the opportunity to slip out of the gates one day when Beloved wasn’t paying attention and we went exploring.
It was great fun. We went all over the place, all over the road which Beloved won’t usually let us do and into a few different gardens. Sadly our freedom didn’t last too long because Beloved noticed we were gone and came after us. In the meantime Ruth found us. We were sniffing around outside her house because we could tell there was a dog in there. It was old, we could sniff that much, but we never met him, he was too sick to leave his chair.
Ruth had seen us and came out of her house and caught us. We were new to the area so she didn’t know where we lived and was wondering what to do with us when Beloved came. They began to talk and from then on whenever we saw Ruth in the street we would all stop and chat and catch up.
Ruth lived alone. She had never married and she didn’t have children. She used to tell us that her nephew helped her around the house, but we learned later that she didn’t have a nephew helping. She was sprightly and active and loved us dogs. She was on the board of a shelter for dogs and used to give them a lot of money. She was a good person.
The Princess and I occasionally found bones in our garden, I think Ruth sent them over the garden fence! Beloved wasn’t too happy about that, I’m not sure why.
Finally Ruth’s elderly dog died. She had to have him euthanized and she was very upset as you would be, but we won’t talk about that. Beloved invited her over and The Princess and I did our best to comfort her. She wouldn’t get another dog because she thought she was too old but I was happy to stand in and be petted.
A year passed and we used to see Ruth on the street a couple of times a week. Beloved’s beloved would see her at the local library and we’d sometimes pass her waiting at the bus stop. We always stopped and chatted but she never wanted too much contact which made me sad. I wouldn’t have minded her calling in and spoiling me a little more.
Then there came a time when we didn’t see her. Beloved thought that maybe she’d gone away to a friends house for a few days. Beloveds beloved wasn’t too sure and as he used to walk past her house a lot he kept an eye on the mail and saw it building up.
When he saw all the letters he knocked at the door but there was no reply. He came home and rang her telephone but it was not picked up. I heard him talking to Beloved about what they should do. Knowing how private she was Beloved was afraid that if they did anything and it turned out Ruth was on holiday she would come home and be cross. Beloved didn’t want to be an interfering neighbour.
Her beloved decided to call the police. Beloved understood but was still a little afraid that Ruth would be cross. The police came and phoned us. They couldn’t get an answer and couldn’t see anything.
If anyone had asked me I could have told them she was inside but that kind of communication is difficult for us dogs to get across to our people.
Anyway, the police did break in and find her. She had had something called a stroke and wasn’t very well. They took her to hospital where they looked after her as best they could.
Sadly Ruth died and today her little house stands empty, a reminder of the friend that many dogs lost.
Beloved struggled with the boundaries of being a good neighbour. When was being neighbourly interfering? When does respecting another’s desire for privacy turn to neglect? What do you think?