I don't have many photos. I have two, and also one very faded instagram of her condition when she arrived, because she was so very thin and we might need proof of that. She had been tied to a sprinkler at a local market gardener's block. The vet said she was very close to death by starvation. My stepdad just took her to save her.
She was a beautiful purebred German Shepherd. She was fairly dark look at, but all of her undercoat was creamy. As I soon learned when she blew her coat and we brushed bags and bags of creamy fluff out of her!
At first we could only feed her boiled chicken and rice because her stomach was so damaged. Since she was only a young dog who had been deprived a long time, she proceeded to grow and grow instead of gaining weight around her ribs, and we got tsked at a lot. At one point I actually felt like putting a sign around her neck to say that we weren't the ones who had starved her!
I had started Uni that year, studying to be an early childhood teacher. I felt very out of place there, not sure I was in the right course, not really fitting in with my fellow prospective teachers, not getting assignments done on time, or at all. Looking back, I was intellectually ok to be there, but emotionally I was not. In the evening, though, I could come home to Trudy and we would go for lovely walks, and oh we loved each other.
I remember how it felt to lie on a bed and use my big dog's ribs as my pillow to read books. She never minded. The closer the better, she reckoned.
Like a lot of dogs who didn't get a good start, she wasn't so great at keeping an eye on you when walking, so I kept her on lead. Anyway she was frightened of men she didn't know, so it was safer. I used to smile to see people cross the road to avoid her, when I knew that if they had come much closer she would have popped behind my legs and timidly peeped out at them as we passed. She was so gentle.
We did have lovely times at a very large property, more than 2000 acres, where I would go on weekends to help with a horse trail-ride business. She could run loose up there. It was so safe. She made great friends with the other dogs there and they would go off rabbiting together while we messed about with horses. She got very good at joining the other dogs in helping us herd in extra mounts if we needed them. It was such a cool place for a young person and her dog to be. Like living in a Western movie.
One time, Trudy, was off with the other dogs when we took a trip in a car across to the far side of the property, and we had gone some kilometres before I noticed that Trudy was galloping up behind us, having tracked us, I know not how, all that way. Her tongue was out a mile and covered with dust!
She would scratch up my car if left in it, and apparently also cried when I was at Uni. This was her undoing. We were told there had been a complaint to the shire about her barking by the neighbour. I know now that it was my stepfather, who had never meant me to keep her when he rescued her and who was prone to making this sort of trouble, at times just for attention or drama. This was one of his dichotomies: that he loved animals and had a soft heart, but would hurt them too if it suited him.
We had three dogs and should only have two. I argued but was told that we would have to rehome her. Rather than give up my beloved dog, I took her up to the property where we had been so happy and they said they would keep her for me while I worked out what to do. I should have known that she would not be happy there without me. She went missing and was found killed on the road. I found her. It was a very terrible night.
I still remember the confused faces of my poor neighbours when I knocked on the door in floods of tears and told them I hoped they were happy because my dog was dead. We didn't yet know all that my stepfather was capable of.
I'm sorry that I didn't keep you safe, Trudy. We should have had many more years together.
I don't much like posting sad things here, but Trudy is the last of the dogs of my high pack, and she deserves to have her story too.
It seemed very appropriate to tell her tale today, since my sister and her family have today said goodbye to their loyal and beautiful Freyja at last. Each and every loss of our family dogs has been very much in my mind, as they always are when we farewell another.
Oh they are so worth it, but Rudyard Kipling had it right when he said, "Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware, of giving your heart to a dog to tear."