Dogs and life

A lovely guest Post from author Dianne Gray.


Dianne was unaware when she contacted me that her timing was exquisite!  Why?  Because it had recently crossed my mind that many readers must wonder why a blog with the name of Learning from Dogs so infrequently had articles about dogs!  Hopefully both the Welcome page and my piece on Dogs and integrity make it clear that it is the qualities of dogs, the examples they set to mankind, that inspire these writings.  As I say in Dogs and integrity,


  • are integrous ( a score of 210) according to Dr David Hawkins
  • don’t cheat or lie
  • don’t have hidden agendas
  • are loyal and faithful
  • forgive
  • love unconditionally
  • value and cherish the ‘present’ in a way that humans can only dream of achieving
  • are, by eons of time, a more successful species than man.

So it is a double pleasure to offer Dianne’s guest post today because it reminds us, so clearly, that the qualities of dogs are something very real for mankind.

Dianne Gray

Dianne is a writer.  As she explains on her blog site,

I live in Australia, have a sensitive-new-age Rottweiler called Kitty and a German Shepherd (in desperate need for The Dog Whisperer) called Sabre.

I’ve had interesting jobs, including working in a crocodile farm in Far North Queensland.

My web page can be found at

The story

Sabre enjoying some Winter sun.

Sabre came into our lives in November 2004. He was seven weeks old. We were lucky enough to get Sabre from Bob Knight, a German shepherd breeder in Canberra, Australia. For those of you who don’t live in Australia you wouldn’t know that Bob was tragically shot and killed in 2010 while driving his truck through Sydney – the innocent victim of a gang war taking place several blocks away, he was hit by a stray bullet.

Bob was very passionate about his dogs and would interview those who were interested in buying one of the litter. If he didn’t think you were capable of managing a German shepherd he would not sell you one. He also ensured that each and every one of his puppies were brought back to him weekly (if possible) for free puppy training. So for over twelve months we (and the others who had bought one of the litter) met at the lake to take our dogs for a walk and training.

We live in the inner city and have an enormous yard so Sabre loved playing catch and patrolling the borders of our property. We live adjacent to a laneway and had some trouble with junkies shooting up near our fence and threatening to kill him if he barked at them. When he was two years old he became very ill very suddenly (it was Good Friday and near impossible to find a vet). We took him to the out-of-hours vet in the city who just looked at him and ($A800 later) told us not to feed him for the rest of the weekend.

By Saturday morning he could hardly move. We called Bob who told us about a woman called Jan who would be available to see him who lived in a nearby town. She was a country vet and looked after horses and cattle – so we loaded him in the car. This was the best move we ever made because, as it turned out, Jan would save his life a couple of times. When Jan saw him she couldn’t believe another vet would tell us not to feed him. “You don’t feed animals, they die,” she said. She gave us some horse paste (I still don’t know to this day what it was) and told us to put some in his mouth every hour. She said to try and give him his favourite food as often as possible and to call her every hour and tell her if he had eaten anything. She said he had the classic symptoms of having ingested a common bait (I’m not revealing what it was publically) and if we couldn’t get him to eat within four hours we had to bring him straight back to her. Basically he was starving to death.

We put the paste in his mouth as often as possible and tried to tempt him with cheese (his favourite) for three hours. Finally, he took a small mouthful of cheese and we celebrated like it was Christmas! We took him back to Jan for the next three days and he got stronger and stronger and within a week was back to his old playful self.

Twelve months later he began to walk with his head to one side and then he’d shake it and basically seemed very uncomfortable. We took him back to Jan who looked in his ear to find he had a chronic ear infection. She gave him antibiotics and cleaned his ear, but weeks passed and it just didn’t want to budge. We took him back to Jan every weekend and she would clean his ear (he wouldn’t let us touch it) and give him a penicillin injection. I surfed the net trying to find out what I could do to get rid of this damn infection – we were trying everything possible and it still wouldn’t budge. Then I read somewhere that yoghurt in a dog’s diet can be good for this kind of thing. I added yoghurt to his diet and within a week he was looking better. We still had him back to Jan’s every weekend for a few months and I still put yoghurt in his diet!

Six months later he started to change and became obnoxious and aggressive with us. We thought it may have had something to do with the ear infection so we took him back to Jan. She laid him on his back and felt his testies. He was kind of shocked and so were we, but she had definitely done the right thing because at this stage he had testicular cancer in both testies. She operated and found that the cancer was at the advanced stage. She was pretty sure she had got it all, but told us the signs to watch for over the next few months. She put him on ‘girly hormones’ as she called them and he was on those for about twelve months – and what a pleasure he became. He was behaving himself and not cranky or aggressive like before the operation. He was a different boy! If you have a male dog that is not de-sexed and he becomes even the slightest bit aggressive, I strongly suggest you have him checked for testicular cancer!

Because we’d had so much trouble with the junkies I decided to get cameras around the outside of the house. It was such a novelty at first – I’d come home from work and check the cameras to see what had happened during the day, but then I noticed something really sad.  Sabre would say goodbye to me at the gate every morning and then just sit there ALL DAY waiting for me to come home. It was heartbreaking, I’d never realised until this time how lonely he was. I’d watch the tape on X30 and it reminded me of one of those television advertisements where someone stands still while everything around them speeds past. So hubby and I decided it was time for another dog. This is where Kitty comes into the picture. From the moment Sabre saw her he absolutely loved her and she loved him. She is obsessed with his tail and when we go anywhere she grips onto his tail and follows him.

First meeting Sabre and Kitty.

Sometimes when they’re playing in the yard she grabs his tail and runs past him so fast he ends up running sideways! Kitty has had her fair share of problems as well. She was spade (by a vet other than Jan because she doesn’t have the capacity or equipment to spade female pups) and three months later she went on heat! I took her back to the other vet and he had only removed one ovary. So she had to be spade again, the poor darling. Meanwhile, Sabre must have had enough male hormones left in him to want to mount her every five minutes. So what I did was rub eucalyptus oil on Kitty’s back and this was enough to keep him away (the smell made him sneeze). Now we find Kitty has arthritis (she’s only fifteen months old) so we’re back to see Jan every other weekend for treatment. We’re kind of like a family now!

Sabre and Kitty today.

Kitty and Sabre are a wonderful pair and now when I watch the cameras when I get home from work all I can see is the two of them playing all day long. It’s a wonderful life!


So back to me!  Couple of items to close this lovely story from Dianne.

Firstly, a photograph of these caring owners:

John and Dianne Gray.

Secondly, Dianne’s Blog ‘Dianne Gray – Writing and loving life! is full of reflective pieces, as one might imagine.  This one caught my eye and seemed perfect to close today’s Post.

The Last Unicorn

So true –

“Writing has nothing to do with publishing. Nothing. People get totally confused about that. You write because you have to – you write because you can’t not write. The rest is show-business. I can’t state that too strongly. Just write – worry about the rest of it later, if you worry at all. What matters is what happens to you while you’re writing the story, the poem, the play. The rest is show-business.” — Peter S. Beagle

10 thoughts on “Dogs and life

  1. Such a beautiful and inspiring story, beginning with the love of animals! Oh, if only people would just integrate “Learning from Dogs” into their lives, what a beautiful world it would be!


    1. Thanks Merci. Yes, in principle it really does seem that dogs, and other ‘higher order’ animals, set us such a fabulous example. The reality as we all know is much more complex! Paul


    1. Daphne, welcome to Learning from Dogs and thanks for your comment. Took a quick peek at your own blogsite – you may want to link up with Dianne Gray. Anyway, hope to see you here again, Paul


  2. Sabre must have had enough men testosterone remaining in him to want to install her every five moments.


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