Recently I had to say good bye to ‘Little Secrets’.
It was one of the toughest things to do but deep down I hope he understood.
Scamp or Scampie as I called him came into my life just over 3 years ago on the night of the 18th April 2015. This timid classical looking sheepdog was spotted on the gravel road close to Rookwood and late that Saturday afternoon we received a call alerting us to his presence. Being Border Collie fans and owners, he was thought to be one of ours. He however was found not to be one of our clan but we collected him and brought him home to Rookwood.
|The night he was found|
I remember looking at this little dog full of cockleburs (that had started embedding itself into his skin and festering) and wondering where and why was he dumped or lost. He had such a timid, sad little face. He spent the night in my pantry (where all my sick and injured vultures so often do).
My first option was then to find his ‘owner’ so I duly took pictures and advertised as wide as my network would allow. I only had 2 enquiries; however, neither matched the description of a young timid black and white Border Collie male. I also recall getting an offer for 3 homes for him but somehow, my gut feeling, must have said – he was to share his short life with us at Rookwood.
He clearly had been exposed to a very bad start in his life as on the Sunday morning when I took him out (on a lead) to go and wee he literally crawled along on the grass and hardly lifted a leg to wee. He had already booked his place in my heart as I realized this little guy was not going to cope with just anybody. He needed lots of reassurance to come into his own and continued to look for this through his time with me.
|Scampie for the first trip down to the river|
Scampie’s first trip down to the river with the other dogs was an experience I will never forget as clearly he had never played or swum in water before. He initially ran around the pools of water as well as carefully jumping over the water but when he accidently fell into the water (2nd pool down), he soon realized that water was fun after all.
Strangely enough whenever I took them down to the river he would never ever climb into the 1st pool of water but always get into the water from the 2nd pool onwards! From then onwards walks down the river were a huge treat for him and his last walk with me was exactly just that – a goodbye walk down the river at Rookwood.
|Scampie in his 2nd pool swimming|
Initially we took him on a lead to all the stock, as he was a young dog and we did not want him to have bad experiences like sheep or cattle trampling all over him as well. But Scamp was a champion sheepdog, he just had that natural instinct in him and became an excellent working dog. As the months progressed he came into his own and slotted in with the other collies of Rookwood. This sad little face became this happy little alert face. There would obviously always be a hierarchy with Jack and Scamp also having a bit of a growling match every now and then but somehow Scamp knew he was actually at the bottom of the pack.
Whenever I took them for a walk this happy dog and would bounce along ahead of me always to come back and fall behind me on my heels and shove his little wet nose into my hand for that reassurance. Scampie had a tree called a Scampie tree (Rhus pendulina) which I eventually padded with old denim material as he would run along and jump up and grab the main stem and swing himself around it. Needless to say the tree took a hammering and lost growth in the top half but is still alive. This tree I will nurture for the rest of my life.
|Scampie and Oz|
|Sharing one of his many "secrets" with Scott|
He had one pet hate, Greater Double Collared sunbirds and Cape White-eyes. He would bark at them. I am not sure if it was the pitch of their call or just their presence that irritated him. He had this deep little bark and often one would hear him give a double bark as he found them in the trees outside the kitchen. This habit also became something he did when he was happy that everybody had arrived back home – he would run in the direction of where his tree was and give a little double bark of happiness.
|Happy dogs together on a walk - Zorro, Scott and Scampie|
Scamp was not to have it all his way. Last year at the end of June, he jumped off the bakkie whilst it was stationary and was left behind at the poplar trees half way between Duncraggen and Rookwood. We went back to look for him and called and called and could not find him. The next morning the wood cutters alerted us of his presence (in the same area) where they heard him, no doubt barking at the birds again! Scampie was home again! Phew.
Earlier this year I noticed he favoured one of his back legs and fearing this might be a hip problem, we discovered after xrays that his knee ligament had been damaged. As he was such a good little working dog, we decided to have his knee ‘replacement’ done and with strict rest including an initial spell in the vulture crate to keep him quiet, he seemed to recover well enough to be able to use his leg again. Although one could see he still always favoured the leg after working for long periods which was perfectly understandable. I also knew that this would shorten his working life but gave him the mobility he needed.
Scamp and a motor vehicle were never friends. He never voluntarily jumped up onto the back of the bakkie and always had to be picked up and loaded. He travelled with me inside a vehicle on an odd occasion but was never ever comfortable. Sadly this fear was to end his life too and I know he never meant to be in the wrong place when the vehicle went over him. I just wish it could have been different and that I could explain to him the pain and the shock that he felt after this was never his fault.
As I travelled to town with him, my heart knew it was our final goodbye with just a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Bridgette did all she could to calm him and treat him for shock but the xrays revealed what I had feared the most – paralysed in the one back leg and crushed hips. The toughest call was the one I had to make but I know with the wag of your tail when I bid you farewell and whispered 'secrets' in your ear as you went to sleep, I hoped you understood that you were very very special Scampie.
|always checking for that reassurance|
“I will miss the patter of your little feet running through the house looking for me, and then shoving your nose under my hand for me to talk to you when you had found me. I will miss that deep double bark outside the back door. Your excited, happy demeanour in the mornings when I got up to feed you all. I will miss that nervous pant with the smile you so often had. The ‘little secrets’ you whispered in my ear when you were happy. The times I had to ‘protect you’ from the lightning and thunder outside. The games we played with you trying to see what is in your ticklish front feet. Your determined little shove from behind through my legs to tell me you are there and want some love. The walks we took all over Rookwood with the other dogs and the games we played in the water. The house is now truly quiet without you but rest in peace my little dog – thank you for sharing some of your life with me and run free now. I will always carry your spirit in my soul.”
Lots and lots of love
|Rest in Peace Scamp|
Scampie is now buried near a Scampie tree at Rookwood – Rhus pendulina