Welcome home, Wonder Dog

Patti lives – !!!

With those two words (a rather unnecessary hyphen) and three exclamation marks, my heart sung and skipped a beat.

Our family dog, my beloved mother’s beloved pet, had escaped death yet again and was, by a remarkable twist of fate, returned to her kennel at 5 Jolly Street.

It had been a tumultuous week.

Mum’s cancer-stricken and fading Jack Russell, whose eyesight was all but gone due to brain cancer, failed to surface on Tuesday morning. She was still nowhere to be seen on Thursday, when my grieving mother advised via email that her four-legged friend, had ‘left the world for dog heaven’.

It was uncanny timing – she was due to be put-down that very day.

The tone of mum’s email was one of sadness and loss and I got a touch weepy at the news.

The body had not been found and it was presumed dear Patti had taken fate into her own hands, and taken care of the nasty deed herself.

I shall hand it over to mum’s email to explain: “She hasn’t been out of the yard for a couple of weeks as her eyesight was going, so I just hope we find the body sooner rather than later.

“I will miss her as she was such a faithful little dog. Bess [dad’s dog] is missing her – doing a lot of howling, not usual for her.”

It had been 12 glorious years since our wonder dog Patti had become a beloved part of the 5 Jolly Street outdoor furniture.

After the family had farewelled an earlier pet to dog heaven, my sister and I decided to gift mum a Jack Russell for her birthday. Long had she said she would love a little pet of her own, and we figured to hell with dad and his inevitable strop, she bloody well deserved a furry friend.

Therefore, one weekend her two pets returned from university and first-year-teaching in Ballarat with a sweet black-and-white Terrier of questionable heritage, picked up for a tidy $100. Perhaps less.

The timing coincided with the happy occasion of mum and dad purchasing some land off an elderly lady, Patricia Francis.

We turned the car down the Jolly Street drive, roared in, and jumped out bearing our gift. Mum squeaked. Dad roared and immediately turned for the house and locked all of the doors, and his wife, daughters and the new dog, out. We didn’t mind, we had a new pup named Patricia Francis to play with.

The new dog led a blissful life. She spent mornings jogging with her mother, afternoons playing with her Kelpie siblings and the weekend chasing rabbits at her namesake farm.

And it was while out exercising and trying to catch rabbits that Patti became known as the Wonder Dog.

For context: our mum is likely the fittest 60-year-old you have ever laid eyes on. She runs most days of the week, and

It was on one of these daily runs that Patti was stretching her stumpy legs. Footloose and fancy-free, she bolted onto the road only to be stormed over by an elderly Mrs —- with failing eyesight and a penchant for not watching where she was going.

Under the front wheel went Patti, and still she lay on the bitumen. Minutes passed, before she pulled herself up and set sail for 5 Jolly.

It would be the last time she ventured further past the park – morning runs were no longer a part of Patti’s daily routine.

She survived death, only to meet it once again, this time while taking part in another favourite pastime of the Coffey family pooches.

The three dogs were chasing rabbits at the farm and when the whistle went out for home time, Patti stayed put.

Mum called and called and whistled and whistled, and wandered where the dogs had been chasing rabbits.

Under a tree, and near some rabbit holes, mum heard a yap at her feet. She looked down and saw dirt. Her Wonder Dog had chased a rabbit down a hole and couldn’t find her way back out.

With dad’s help and that of a couple of shovels, they frantically unearthed a terrified Patti.

And just like that Patti’s rabbit hole escapade days came to a halt.

Her twilight years have been spent mostly at mum’s feet in the 5 Jolly Street yard, or out at the farm. A happy life, to be sure.

Which brings us to Thursday and the day I was told Patti  had been lost to doggie heaven.

And then Friday arrived and with it those two glorious words – Patti lives.

I will hand it back over to mum for an abridged version of events: “I went down the street yesterday after school and for some unknown reason I looked at the community noticeboard (which I hardly ever do) and there was a notice about a lost dog with a lump on its head.

“Ainsley —- said Pat was sitting under her tree on the nature strip on Tuesday and after a couple of hours Patti went around the back of her house where Ainsley fed and watered her.

“On Thursday she contacted the Shire who came and picked Patti up. They subsequently took her to the Boort vet. I rang the Shire and told them to halt all proceedings at the vet.

“I will give Patti a reprieve from being put down, she has had enough trauma for the present. Can’t wait to see her.”

Dad will no doubt be annoyed at doubling up on veterinary bills – first to save Patti from being put down, and secondly to have her put down in coming weeks – but if our little Wonder Dog puts a smile on mum’s face and has a wag in her tail, I figure it’s money well spent.

Welcome home Patti.

Note: author elected not to publish frontal picture of Patricia Francis out of respect for her current medical condition.

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