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Monday, 15 February 2016

Dogs of my High Pack: Keech

Keech, what can I say about Keech to do her justice?

She came in to my life when I was, I think seventeen, maybe eighteen.  I'd just quit a job working on a racehorse property where I had lived-in, and was due to start another one working for a car parts dealer.  The real description of that job turned to be "prospective bit on the side," but I didn't know that yet.  I was to move to a bit of a scary area to live beside a garage. I know, I know!  Dodgy!  But after the crappy digs at the racehorse place it didn't seem all that much worse.  Anyway, I wanted a dog for company. I hadn't been able to have one while living-in and I really hated being dogless.  I looked in the paper and there was a pup.  Doberman/German shepherd cross, ten weeks, free to good home.

The pain of losing the first dog who was all my own, Trudy, was still with me, and she had been a German Shepherd, so I decided to see this little pup, hoping I might love her just as much.  They brought her to see me, and I will always remember how she came into the room and trotted round saying hello to each person as she went.  Not fawning, not over-excited, but in no way nervous either, just glad to meet people.

She was rather scrawny and wormy, and I was told that she had been taken from her mother at five weeks. At ten weeks old she had already been in two homes and was about to be in another!  She was already called Keech. I never asked why, or what it meant, and I never knew, though there is a wolf called Kiche in the Jack London book, White Fang.

Anyway, Keech and I went off to live in our little room beside the garage, and the very first night someone tried to break though the big rolladoors into garage next door.  We cuddled together in our bed and waited for the noise to end one way or another, and luckily it ended with the person going away disappointed.  By morning, we were bonded.

That 'job' only lasted as long as it took me to work out what was really wanted of me and after that we moved home for a little while, then out again into my car for a little while, and then a share house. I was back riding racehorses at a new place, and Keech would come along and sleep in the car while I worked.

By then it was obvious that what she was, breed-wise, was mostly Kelpie, with maybe a bit of Shepherd that added height and solidity.  Her ears eventually stood up, and it took her a long time to grow into them, but grow into them she did. 

It was an unsettled time for me, and for her too, I guess, as we moved around a lot, but she took it all in her stride, as she did everything that life sent her way.  Keech was ever friendly, ever confident, ever loving.  She never met anyone, man or beast, that she didn't see as a potential friend, but she was capable of looking after herself or her loved ones if necessary too.  She was a true gentle leader dog, in the style of Mark Rashid's passive leader horses.  She ruled by confidence and kindness.  She cared for baby animals of all kinds.

She was such a handsome dog. I've rarely met a dog with as much beauty or presence as she had. Her eyes were to die for; brown with golden specks in them. Warm, wise and friendly.

Still very young and not very settled, and living in a house with no fences, I was not able to stop her getting pregnant, though I did my very best. I still remember her asking to go out the door for what I thought was a quick potty break but, instead, her taking off round the house with a male dog who she must have known was waiting at the back door. By the time I caught up to them, they were already tied. Oh dear!  Still, if ever a dog deserved to pass on her genes it was Keech, crossbreed or not.

There is where she got nickname Keech the Peach!

She had three litters in her life, all on her terms to dogs she chose, and I didn't have a say in it.  The last litter, I never even saw a male dog! I could have sworn I'd kept her with me or shut in the house every minute of her season.  When she managed the same trick with the same invisible dog on her next season, I bit the bullet and had her spayed. Don't ask me why I didn't spay her earlier. I think I was so very bonded to her, and needed her so much, and was terrified she might die.  Would I do differently now?  Of course, but youthful stupidity is only fixed by having some more years under your belt.  Ah well we loved them and cared for them, and did our best by them (though I know now that it wasn't good enough!) and she loved being a mum.

I followed quite a few of her pups, and they went on to be wonderful dogs for other people, though I never kept one. I think I felt that no pup of hers could quite compare to the mother, and it wouldn't be fair on the pup.  There were some cracking good dogs among them, though, and very well loved.
Keech on the right, her son Harley on the left

Keech's son. Fungi

Keech's Daughter, Kimba, with the dad, Roach. (Awful name for a stunning dog!)

One of our pups even became a bit famous, being the dog of the skipper of the yacht that competed for the America's Cup here in Western Australia.  Cliff, he was called, after a friend of ours who had very expressive eyebrows! I still have the cuttings, photo and letters they sent me.

Keech knew lots of tricks and loved to show off for people, but never liked to be the butt of jokes.  She had too much dignity for that, and well knew the difference between sharing a joke and being laughed at.

She LOVED to cuddle. If you kept still, you'd be cuddled, man or beast.


And of course she got painted...

Anyway, this smart, kind, funny dog was in my life for 14 years.  We had our arguments, like sisters will, and she had strong opinions...

Tie me up like some ordinary dog would you?
 ...but oh, dear me, one day I looked at her and saw all the grey hairs, and realised that she was going to die soon, and the rush of rebellion that came over me was just incredible. I would have taken on the world to keep her beside me forever, but it couldn't be.

She was just as dear a dog in her old age as she'd been all her life.  Enjoying family, company and cuddles.


When her kidneys failed and I had to say goodbye, I still remember the vet exclaiming, "She knows!"  She did too, and she accepted it, and her passing was very calm and loving.  As she went, I felt her come into my heart as a warmth, so that I would not be totally bereft, and there a little part of her stays.

She comes with Sam to guide me on my inner journeys. She mostly stays in dog form because she says it is what I am familiar with, but really, she is the soul mate and guide she has always been, whether here or there, in whatever form, and one day we will be truly together again.

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