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Dog-arn-it what’s happened to my hound?

Puppy Joel and I

Billy Joel Innocent Man Bordertown, aka “Joely” is my first real pet. Apart from Peter the Yellow Canary (are canaries always yellow?) who sat in his cage and sang to me for a couple of years during my childhood.

As well as being my first real pet, Joely was also our first baby. Our “practice” baby if you will. He came into our life when we lived in sunny Cottesloe, Perth, as a shy and timid 11 month old.

From the minute his breeder owner brought him to us for a “get to know each other” visit, Joely was home. He walked straight over to me and sat in my lap with his head and hand on my arms. And that was it – mutual love at first sight and Joely became a member of our family.

A truly beautiful animal with a beautiful nature to match – apart from a tendency to snarl and lip curl at lesser beings such as any other male dog. Including ones twice his size.

When we were out walking him, people were always stopping us to say “hello” and admire him. Joely was so shy however, he would stand on his hind legs, put his paws on my arm and basically hide his face in my chest.

I mentioned he was our first baby – here is another photo to show you what I mean. We used to take him with us everywhere, and hold and cradle him.

Chris cuddling Joel

Joely has always been sensitive, and extremely intelligent. Any number of studies have been published which list Border Collies as the smartest dogs of all the species.

Once Joely was being looked after by one of my brothers in a home he had not visited before. One night said brother moved Joely to other brother’s house around 5km away, in the dark, along roads Joely had never been down before. Imagine the brothers surprise when Joely escaped and found his way back to first brother’s house  in the dead of the night.

Fast forward to today and Joely is now 14.5 years old. Apart from problems with his knees (he injured his anterior cruciate ligament taking a screamer of a mark a couple of years ago and has never really recovered), he has continued to look and act like a dog more than have his age.

Last night we returned home after a month away, excited to see our boy who was being looked after by our very kind neighbours. All reports on his progress have been great – how he is doing well, and is very low maintenance.

The children and I gulped down dinner and raced across the road to pick Joely up. We stood at the gate and called his name and expected him to run around the corner “crying” in excitement to see us. Which is what he does every time I come home during the day or night.

Instead we stood with rapidly depleting spirits as he did not come. When we were taken to him by our neighbour, Joel barely looked at us let alone wagged his tail. He seemed totally disinterested, and made not a sound of excitement.

Later on it seemed as if he did not even remember he is apart of our family – while the gate was open he ambled back across the street to the neighbours home, seemingly intent to spend the night there. In fact he did not appear to recognise us at all.

Joel today

Things have not improved today. Normally all over us while we sit at the outdoor table, he did not even lift his head in our direction from his spot in the shade.

And don’t even get me started on his hearing.

Overnight it seems we have an old dog. A confused dog, dare I say it – a different dog, one whose spirit has already left him. It is as if he is an old man suffering dementia.

Having done a quick google search, it seems I maybe correct – there is a dog condition known as cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

I do not want to think about what happens from here and I refuse to watch “Marly” again for fear of the emotions it will release.

I have no happy, clever, or witty ending to this blog. Just a need to write and share my love for, and pain about, my Joely.

Till next time,



2 responses »

  1. So sad, Al! You know my cockers are my family (and Geoff!) and I would be devastated if anything happened to them.
    We have a beach house at Iluka, near Yamba. You didn’t have to camp dear!!
    Would have been lovely to see you in sunny/rainy Queensland but work is frantic and my husband is now on a 3 week surf trip with his mates in Samoa!!
    It’s just me and my dogs – they’re a pain, but so lovely . . .

    • Thanks Gibbo – but the camping at Yamba turned out to be far and away the best camping of the whole trip. What a spot! Lucky you having a beach house to go to there. And Geoff gets a three week surfing leave pass?? Wow, food for thought there huh….As to Joely, he seems to be doing a little better, recognising us every now and then, so that is a huge relief. Although it may mean we are postponing a decision we really should be making….


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