Wednesday, August 01, 2007

For Liz: Dear Harvey...

The “World of Blogging” brings together so many people across the world, near and far. So many wonderful people, who, in “real life”, we wouldn't have the opportunity to meet. Well, in my case, anyway. Those of you who regularly visit and comment on my blog have become dear to me, and from that, comes caring. Caring about each other's personal highs and lows throughout the course has brought me laughter, and along with the laughter, tears.

Some of you, dear readers, visit Liz’s blog, “Finding Life Hard”…a very apt title for what Liz has been experiencing these past few days. This one is for you, Liz…and for Harvey.

Dear Harvey, Liz’s beloved pet, a proud, beautiful English setter, whom all those who partake in Liz’s blog grew to know and love, is no longer with us.

I know I fell in love with Harvey upon first glimpse. His trials and tribulations over these past few months caused me both smiles and heartache. Harvey reminded me of “Bundy”, an English Setter, who was the best mate of good friends of mine a few years ago.

I was living and working in Glenden, north-west of Mackay, a specially-constructed mining town to service Newlands coal mine, a susbsidiary of MIM (Mount Isa Mines). The mine is situated 33kms from town. The new township of Glenden came into existence about eleven years before I arrived at its “town gates”.

Morris Catering, who had the catering and accommodation contract, were approached by the hierarchy of the mining company to erect a first-class motel of twenty rooms, together with a licensed restaurant to cater to the needs of visiting mining company representatives, bankers, financiers, mining executives and the like.

When I left Newry Island, I entered a totally different world than that I’d experienced living on, and working the island alone. Back amongst the reality of the mainland, I gained employment as chef at “Lorikeets’ Restaurant”. There, I became a close friend to the managers of the motel/restaurant, Charles and Karen, a friendship that continues today.

Along with the friendship and the job, came Bundy, Charles and Karen’s much-loved English setter. Bundy was cream in colour, similar to Liz’s Harvey. He was a wonderful dog, full of character, good humour and, normally, good manners. Immediately, I was smitten. At home, I had my own very special and very spoiled pets, two cats, Pushkin and Rimsky, together with Missy, a black cocker spaniel, all of whom I adored. At work, I had two more pets, Bundy and Tiger, the tabby cat.

I’m sure Bundy was a human dressed in dog’s clothes. Charles had a picture of him, sitting at the cocktail bar, dark glasses perched on his aristocratic nose, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his smiling mouth and a stubby of beer (VB), clutched in his paws. Bundy was allowed in the foyer, office and bar area only when the guests were absent. Often during dinner service, he could be seen sitting outside the sliding glass doors, staring into the restaurant, watching every mouthful taken by the dinner guests. If I hadn’t known better I could have felt so sorry for the poor, "starved", begging dog and allowed his pleading eyes rip at the chords of my heart. However, I did know better. I was wise to his ploys! Bundy was a very well-cared for dog. He was spotless in his habits, never “spoiling” the grounds of the motel, instead opting to wander to uninhabited acres of shrubs, open-space and bushland across the way from his personal territory.

Whenever Charles and Karen left the motel, whether it be for their allotted monthly days off or when they traveled back to New Zealand on holidays, I’d move into the motel to take over the management and care of Bundy and Tiger, dividing my time between them and my own pets. Fortunately, my duplex was within walking distance to and from the motel. Invariably, upon the return of Charles and Karen, I would be in trouble for spoiling Bundy. Late at night, while watching television or listening to music in an effort to “come down” from the day and evening's events, it was Bundy’s habit to cuddle up next to me on the sofa with his head resting on my lap. Sometimes, he’d try (and succeed) to snuggle his way on to my lap entirely…the big cream lump of fluffy hair! Waking up in the morning, I’d find both him and Tiger curled up together on the bottom of my bed (Charles and Karen’s bed)!

Down the line a bit, I left Glenden to work and live in Collinsville, in the coal-rich Bowen Basin, transferring across with Morris Catering to become chef/manager of the Mess, catering to the meal requirements of the single miners and the single men’s quarters of Collinsville Coal, another subsidiary of Mount Isa Mines.

Charles and Karen decided to take their vacation over the Christmas season and return again to New Zealand. I went back to Glenden for the duration, leaving one of my staff in charge of the canteen and accommodation in my absence. My brother, who lived in Mackay whose holidays coincided with this period, decided to spend his time at my home in Collinsville so he could take care of my pets during my absence.

Christmas Day arrived. I had no guests staying at the motel and the restaurant was closed. This is the “norm” for a town like Glenden at that time of the year. All the” usual suspects” from “out-of-town” who were our regular motel and restaurant guests took their holidays over the Christmas period. Folk traveling to Glenden for personal reasons stayed in the homes of their friends or families. Glenden didn’t have a tourist trade. Our trade at the motel almost solely catered to businesses, companies and their executives etc., to the extent the restaurant opened from Monday night to Thursday night on any given week. We only operated the restaurant on Friday and Saturday evenings “upon request”.

Friends, whom I had originally met when they were guests of mine on Newry Island, and who lived in Glenden, invited me to their home for drinks on Christmas morning. My attempts to leave the premises became like a scene out of “The Great Escape”! Bundy refused to leave my side. He followed me from bedroom to bathroom, back to the bedroom, to the living room, to the kitchen…(and repeat that about a dozen times)! He stuck close to my heels. A moment came when he was out of sight, so I stealthily crept into my car. Gingerly, I placed the key in the ignition. Still no sign of him, I pulled out of the motel grounds. My car at the time was a Hyundai Excel hatchback, not a big car. As I turned into the main street of Glenden, out of the corner of my right eye, and level with it, I spied a loping cream image, a huge smile across its face, with hair streaming and tail waving wildly. It was Bundy. I drew to a stop, opened the passenger side door, and said resignedly, “Okay, Bundy! You win! Get in!” So Bundy came with me for Christmas drinks. He enjoyed the outing!

Christmas lunch was going to pose a major problem as I was spending it at the Glenden Workers’ Club. Arriving back at the motel after a couple of hours at Jan and Mick’s home, I turned on the air conditioning in the unit, and locked Bundy inside. It was an extremely hot summer’s day, that Christmas. After lunch, I was invited to the home of friends, but before going, I again returned to the motel, gathered up Bundy and he came along, too. He had a wonderful Christmas Day!

Animals really know how to creep into your heart and take hold of a huge slice of it, don’t they? Their love is unconditional. I believe, and I’m sure I can speak for all of us who love our pets, we return that love, unconditionally, too.

Losing a beloved pet is very traumatic. It is heartbreaking. Our pets are so much a part of our lives, of who we are. They become who we are…they “pick up” from us, stealing parts of our character.

I’ve shed many tears over my pets. I’ve loved them all dearly. I love my two cats, Remy and Shama. My pets have always been of major importance in my life since I was a very small child.

Liz…I shed tears for dear Harvey. He, too, stole a piece of my heart. I shed them for you, too, as I empathize with you in your sadness at having lost a good mate.

Dear Harvey....this is for you....say "G'day!" to Bundy for me.


  1. 9 yrs ago I lost my "Pookey" kitty.. she was 16 and diabetic. She didn't know she was a cat. she didn't claw (though she had them), she didn't jump up on things (always looked at you until you lifted her)..she just didn't know she was supposed to do those things.. 9 yrs ago. I now live with my brothers 9 cats... but I still think of Pookey. There's just no getting away from the love of your pets.

  2. You're so right, Deslily...they remain with us long after they've left us. They definitely are special. :)

  3. I alway's had pets since I can remember. Growing up we alway's had dogs. Now we just have a cat which is my baby. I think it is so important to have animals because they often do teach us about unconditional love. Losing one is like losing a loved one, my heart goes out to liz.

  4. Hi Shelly...yes our pets are so much a part of our lives. In lots of cases they are more trustworthy than people, it's sad to say.

    Done, Nic...I'll send you an email. :)

  5. Great post - pets are people and we are all sharing in Liz's loss.

  6. G'day, mauigirl...nice to meet you...thanks for visiting my blog...I hope you do come door is always open. :)

  7. So sorry to hear of Harveys demise. Such good friends they are.
    On your escapades. I have taken a dog or two for drinks in a bar. But never a fancy bar.

  8. You sure you didn't pick them up in those bars, Cliff? ;)

  9. Anonymous11:50 PM

    This is a lovely post.

  10. Thank you, Lee; this is beautiful. I can see Bundy running after you, a smile on his face. And looking pathetic outside the restaurant.

    Harvey perfected the 'hang-dog' look. When we'd come back from a lovely long walk, he'd approach the house looking for all the world as if we'd just taken him round the block, and 'how cruel you are to me'.

    You've made me smile with your story.

  11. Thank you, Steve. :)

    Hi, Liz...I do hope my post helped make you feel a little brighter and happier. :)

  12. Would it be fair to assume that Bundy was named after a dark drink fro Bundaberg?

  13. Lee, that was a lovely tribute to both Harvey and Bundy. Those of us who have and know pets can really empathise with Liz's loss. The animals that share our lives and our home are our children, as much as our human children are.

    You are a good friend to us, Lee.

  14. Hi Peter, from memory, no...Charles and Karen brought Bundy with them when they came over from New Zealand...I'm pretty sure his name came from something else. I must remember to ask next time I'm speaking to Charles.

    Hey there, you all are to me. :)

  15. Hi Lee ~~ Good story about your friend's Bundy. My
    sympathy to Liz. It is so hard to lose pets, one reason I don't have any now-a-days.
    I hope it was much warmer for you today and you could open the windows. Robyn said it was 27 where she lives. Take care,
    my friend, Love, Merle.

  16. A beautiful thought and a beautiful post, Lee. That's a fine tribute to Harvey, whom we shall all miss so much. I. too, have been crying for him - and for Liz. You are right in saying that it is terribly traumatic when a beloved pet dies and "non-pet" people just can't understand. Bundy sounds wonderful and I can picture him! What a great Xmas Day he had that year!

  17. Some people believe that pets comfort, their owners and I truly believe they do. They fill our lives with joy, smiles, tears and many other emotions. May all of us that have had pets remember them in the wonderful moments so they can bring smiles and joy to our daily lives. Great post as always. Liz I hope that the wonderful moments that you had with Harvey fill your day now that Harvey has gone on to better things.

  18. It has warmed up some, Merle...not sure what the temperature was here up on the mountain. I think we won't get anymore of that extra chilly weather we were getting. I just hope we don't get too early of a summer.

    G'day Welsh...Harvey was a lucky fellow by the sounds of it...he was loved by many. :)

  19. Nice tribute, Lee. I remember over 25 years ago I moved into an apartment with someone who had a dog named Peaches. She was a black lab who, liked Bundy, would sit next to you on the sofa and pretty soon would be in your lap. And big dog, small lap.

    That dog got along with everyone, even a stray cat that my roommate adopted too. Peaches would play with the cat and giggle. I swear . . . giggle.

    To this day I miss that dog, even though he wasn't mine and I only knew him a few months. Dogs can make you feel like that.

  20. Great post, Lee, and I am so sorry for Liz's loss of Harvey. I know how hard it is when we lose a beloved pet ... they are part of our family, part of our lives, a huge part of our hearts. Bundy sounded like a wonderful dog, too. I think we should all feel especially privileged when we are loved by a 4-legged friend ... they don't have to love us, they choose to.
    Take care, Meow

  21. That they can, Dave. And I believe you when you say Peaches "giggled"...they do show different emotions. As do cats...Pushkin my ginger cat I had before these two I have now became very distressed when he saw me sobbing after the death of my the stage, I stopped crying because he was becoming very distressed...he was gasping. It was really strange...but I know, he was crying along with me.

    Hi Connie...yes, our four-legged friends are so much a part of our lives. They definitely know how to wheedle their way into our hearts. :)

  22. Lovely post Lee. I'm sure Liz will appreciate it.
    Today I met a friend in my walking group and her border collie had died last night. Petra often accompanied the walking group, herding us along and begging us to throw sticks for her. Although not recently since she was 15.
    Dogs, as important to us as our children.

  23. Liz needs a copy of "All God's Creatures Go To Heaven by N. A. Noel". A very dear friend gave me this book when my dear Char Lee died.

    Hope Harvey runs into to Chu Tu, Ling Ling, Lady and Char Lee on one of his romps.

    Great Tribute to both goldens.

  24. Hi Lee,

    Over my lifetime I have had such wonderful loving pets.

    My most precious dog was a Doberman named I named Brandy. She was a red, and came from the Warlock line. She turned out to be the smartest dog I had ever seen. She loved me with total devotion. When I was not at work, she was my constant companion.

    She was a big girl. about 100 Lb. and my fierce defender. But she could read people quickly (or maybe me I guess) and she never growled at anyone who was my friend. My bud would tease her like he was going to sneak up and whack my head. She had his arm imobilized in less than a second. Then she would lick him profusely as if to say I'm sorry, but you can't do that, even if I like you.

    Liz, I truly feel your pain. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about her.

    She picked Stormy, my wife, also. After the first fear of such a big dog, she fell in love with her. Brandy would have defended my Stormy to the death.

    And Lee, You are a good friend.

  25. I'll let Liz know about that book, Lady Di...thanks. :)

    Marc, thank you for your lovely comments...I feel as if I, too, knew Brandy from your description of her. :)