Schatzi sauntered slowly along Marshall Lane, reading the newspaper doggy style, snuffling and sniffing along the concrete path and into the wispy grass. She would always manage to let one fly on the perimeter of the pavement for all the oncoming traffic to witness. She had no inhibitions, Schatzi was the grand dame of canine grandeur at 15 years of her Labrador life.
I had been living a one bedroom apartment life near Queensland Uni and found that I was yearning to settle down. Find a house and get a dog. You could say that I bought the house for the black dog of Kenmore. In late 1999, the year of Schatzi’s birth, I compiled a house wish list noting that my new home was near amenities, far enough away from possible bypass roads and a close to a dog park. I was drawn to the green and leafy suburb of Kenmore attracted to the bird life and the rainforest atmosphere surrounding the sturdy brick house.
The neighbours were another drawcard, welcoming and kind hearted and all would come to know and love Schatzi.
Young Schatzi was a sick kennel cough puppy when I brought her home from the RSPCA. My Dad had waited impatiently for me to choose my puppy from the inhospitable cages, and when a friendly, black with feature white patches puppy made eyes at me, I knew she was the one. I named her Schatzi, a German term of endearment, because it means “darling” or “treasure.” I had longed to nurture and bring up a dog. Bearing children had never featured high on my agenda, as a school teacher I had plenty of contact with children of the human kind and that had acted as a conscious contraceptive.
My puppy rearing period brought much joy, as I nursed my sick puppy back to health, found a funky dog house, covered the floors with newspaper to teach her to wee on the grass, she ended up sleeping in my room in the end. I took Schatzi to puppy school and dog obedience classes. She loved agility classes and I would set up rope with a rubber toy on the washing line for her to chase. I made one mistake of bad parenting when Schatzi’s back leg got caught in the seatbelt of the car resulting in her having a life long injury which became arthritic in her later years.
It was at the designated dog park that Schatzi would meet and play with neighbouring dogs and the doggie owners would chat and banter about their dog’s habits and talk about the weather. I discovered a whole new dog related culture where dog owners would discuss vets, nutrition, funny habits and have doggie barbeques. Walking with Schatzi was a winding down, seeing the local sights, chatting to the locals’ daily routine.
Dog friendly holidays abounded and Schatzi loved the dog beaches, splashing in the waves and playing chase with the other hounds. Sometimes I would have to leap to her defence and on one occasion an aggressive dog bit me in the bottom resulting in the pain of a public holiday medical visit for a tetanus shot.
During my rollerblading phase, Schatzi would pull me along the pedestrian trail alongside the Brisbane River and I would have to let go if she spotted a waterdragon otherwise I would have found myself “in the drink!” In retrospect that was quite a daring feat given the bicycles and pedestrians that frequent the popular river walk!
Over time Schatzi’s once black face became punctuated with grey eyebrows and eventually grey moustache and beard, her old leg injury would slow her down to sauntering along Marshall Lane.
Eventually she could no longer go up or down the stairs, she once aquaplaned down the stairs to greet some dinner guests gracefully bouncing back onto her hindquarters.
In her final years, she was a house companion with my partner of the time. In her twilight years she would still play with her treat ball toy although she was no longer interested in playing balloon tennis. Schatzi came to say “goodbye Mum” and licked me on the hands, I knew that she would be gone that week. When she didn’t want her food I knew she was saying “I’m ready.” My girl died peacefully in her sleep on her mat with the veranda door open a few days later. My neighbours showed so much kindness and compassion, they loved Schatzi deeply too.
The man from the pet cremation company who came to collect her body was so kind, with a stretcher, pillow and flowers. My father was the last to see her alive. He says that the next morning a moth keep flying into him and then rested on his lap, Schatzi-like as she used to lower her head on his lap when she wanted the rest of his sausage.
I loved Schatzi like a first child, she was my canine companion on holidays or frolicking in the yard. May her loving spirit pervade my home.
Schatzi loved beach holidays!
May the friendly and kind spirit of Schatzi live on..