Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doggy December - Day 31 - Resolutions for 2010

Well this is the end of Doggy December, and normal blogging programming (ie whenever I damn well feel like it) will resume in January. Or February. We'll see.

I've given up making New Years' Resolutions because they're not going to last any longer than a box of Lindor balls in a hot car.

Looking down at Milly who is sleeping at my feet, I'll instead take the liberty of setting up a few for resolutions for her to work on:

No licking people across the lips. Especially if they are sleeping with their mouth open.

No banging the wooden fence when the neighbour's two cats are in the yard.

No running at pigeons when the lead is taken off at the park.

No clacker-licking on the back doormat directly in view of dinner party guests on the other side of the glass sliding doors.

No pushing of wet noses against people's legs or up their shorts when standing behind them at traffic lights.

No leaving of butt nuggets in our tiny, one-metre-deep front garden to visually and fragrantly greet visitors on their arrival.

No flapping of ears - and therefore, one's entire body - on the red wool rug, thus turning it orange and hairy.

No nuzzling the flip-top bin in the kitchen.

None of them will be kept or enforced and that doesn't matter a jot. Milly's perfect just the way she is.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Doggy December - Day 30 - Eighty Bucks

Driving home to Trinity Gardens over five years ago, the new addition to our family didn't make a sound in the back of the station wagon, just looked out at the traffic and back over the seat to us, the three new humans allotted to her guardianship.

"Dog, you don't know this yet, but you've just won the lotto", Love Chunks said, winking at me.
It's been the other way around really. She's been my faithful companion during runs, walks, book writing, computer work, reading, gardening, holidays, trips to and from school and at picnics. She's been sang to, danced with, kissed, videoed and cuddled. Even LC has held her lovingly in his arms like a newborn baby when he thinks I'm not around.

Milly very patiently endures the costume designs that Sapphire and her playdates inflict upon her but will not tolerate being laughed at or being made to wear her tiny Santa Hat on Christmas Day. She hides when Sapphire's old baby bath gets taken out of the shed and filled with warm water, but has learned to include Skipper the rabbit in her heart and daily rounds of licks and sniffs.

The vet assures me that our dog is a 'smiler' who easily reveals her emotions. She is utterly put out when we drive off somewhere without her and laps up the adoring pats and chats she gets from our neighbours, school children and friends.

She's featured on a few overseas doggy websites and garnered her fair share of online fanmail. She greets the postman, tradies and wine club delivery man with a wagging tail and a lick of their shoes (and ankles, if there's skin on show) and sometimes - if I'm not paying attention - she'll zoom across the road to chase Annie's two cats up the famous lemon tree. Annie never gets angry; she's too busy falling about laughing, "That'll teach 'em to sit by the wheelie bins looking smug."

Even my parents - who have never been 'dog people' - have fallen for our furry little friend. When we stay at their house in Victor Harbor, Milly has her own kennel (made by Dad, painted by Sapphire), lined with two leopard-spot blankets and a selection of chew toys, wooden sticks and tennis balls (some with sound effects when they're bitten into) to play with.

She accompanies Mum during her pruning, watering and planting sessions, sitting or sniffing quietly alongside her as a silent friend: there, but not demanding. When Dad returns from fishing, Milly sniffs his sneakers, rods and the detritus left by the back shed after the haul's been gutted and scaled. A visit to Grandma and Grandpa is, indeed, as much fun for Milly as it is for Sapphire.

During my migraines or times of stress and sadness, she is a determined shadow, sitting on my feet and leaning against my legs so that she's sure to know my next move and I'm assured that she's there and she cares. If migraines send me to bed seeking the darkness and silence, she sleeps for hours at my feet, stirring when I stir, licking my hand just once to remind me I'm not alone.

She's the find of our lives for only eighty dollars.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Doggy December - Day 29 - Alpha Male Adoration

At roughly 5.30pm on a weeknight, Milly starts to prepare herself.

She's done a hard days' work with me, brought Sapphire home from school, had some dinner and is now getting ready for her beloved Alpha Male - Love Chunks - to ride in from work.

When he does arrive, her tail wags with such joy she can barely follow him into the shed as he puts away his bike and helmet. Sometimes she blows herself off course and veers slightly into the lavender bushes; such is her delight.

He's sweaty from the ride, so that makes him doubly attractive in terms of lickability and salty bare legs.

If she's really lucky, he'll have a cuddle and pat session with her later on the floor, watching TV. I swear I can almost see the pink and red love hearts floating from her limpid, adoring eyes as they swirl languidly around the living room.

However when Love Chunks travels for work, Milly sees an opportunity.

Her apple-sized brain thinks, 'Alpha Male isn't here. Therefore it is my right to take his place.'

This usurpment tends to take place in the dead of night.

Sapphire is soundly sleeping in her room up the passageway and I'm in the queen sized bed alone, having just drifted off.

Somehow our stumbling, arthritic furry friend manages to sneak in the bedroom without me hearing her nails click on the floorboards.

Even more astoundingly, she manages to heave herself the 50cm off the ground up onto the bed - something she can never do to get into the back of the car - and still not disturb my sole-parent slumber.

Then, she wiggles her way under the bottom of the near, at the end farthest away from me. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, until she's right by my side in the place that Love Chunks normally rests.

I usually sleep on, completely unaware of my new bed partner.

That is, until I stir, which in turn wakes her. She does what comes naturally and licks me. Or the inside of my ear, to be precise.

Having just descended into a deep sleep and entering a state of utter vulnerability means that to have a wet, rather smelly tongue slither into my ear when I think I'm alone is enough to have me leap out of bed, shrieking.

Milly looks more shocked than me. I take a few deep breaths and thank god I'm not incontinent and playfully shake my finger at her. She's carried back to her beanbag and doesn't try the Replace Alpha Routine for the rest of the time Love Chunks is away.

Dear, funny little dog.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Doggy December - Day 28 - Always well dressed

As this is my twenty eighth post relating to dogs, you've pretty much got the idea that there's so much about their wonderful breed that I deeply envy. Today isn't going to be any different.

One of the things I really love about dogs - apart from the fact that they're the purest forms of love I've ever encountered and are always happy to see you - is that the outfit they're given always looks good.

It takes them stylishly, appropriately and successfully from morning until night for every occasion without a snigger or the shame of not being the right fit, colour, style or 'look'.

Even with millions of dollars and stylists at our disposal, we humans don't get it right.

We insist on creating outfits that are unflattering

Laughably impractical

Hilariously insane

... and often tragic.

Dogs become very unhappy when forced to wear anything more demanding than an ID collar, and who can blame them?

Any time we do dress them up it's just for our own amusement and laughter.

And they know it and hate us for it.

Dogs are lucky to be given an outfit that's washable, attractive, able to acclimatise to a wide range of temperatures, is soft and tactile and available in an array of beautiful colours that fully accentuate their trusting eyes, wet noses and able bodies.

The closest we've come up with is identical space suits in Sci-Fi movies. We have a lot to learn.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Doggy December - Day 27 - Bath Day

Sometimes Milly thinks I'm the cruellest, meanest and most heartless owner-with-two-legs ever.

This is usually every fortnight, when I open the shed door and don't turn on the treadmill but walk in the other direction and come out with Sapphire's old pale blue baby bath.

She knows what this means and goes to hide in her kennel; figuring that if she can't see me, I can't see her.

When the bath is filled with a bucket of hot and a bucket of cold, I call out softly, "Milly....Milly."

To her credit, she obeys. S-l-o-w-l-y.

She sits directly in front of me and puts her most appealing, 'Please don't do this' face on.

Ignoring her, I reach down and undo her collar. Milly starts to tremble, so I kiss her ears, saying "It's only five minutes of your time and you love coming inside, don't you? You're all pongy now and you'd be sad if you weren't allowed in." The smell of cigarette smoke and a snort from the balcony next door suggests that a flat-dweller enjoying his coffee is also witnessing my canine cajoling.

I lift her inert body and lower her into the water, careful not to hurt her back legs. Her ears flatten, her tail droops and her expression is one of resignation.

She endures it, occasionally turning around to squint wetly at me with a sorrowful expression but she stays still.

It's only when I run both hands over her head, her ears and down her neck to squeeze out the last dregs of shampoo suds and water that she sees fit to give herself an almighty shake. Naturally, this is part of the routine, so my wardrobe is always shorts, thongs and an old towel lying nearby.

As I'm drying my legs, this is her sign to jump out, dash across the lawn and roll - "NO MILLY!" - in the lawn, coating herself in dead grass like a furry lamington before running back for another rubdown and a scolding.

The bathwater is emptied onto the lavender bushes and Milly sits on her bed drying in the sunshine, trying her hardest to stay sulky at me.

"No, you can't come inside just yet, you're still not dry." A pat along her damp coat and a chew bone goes a little way to securing her forgiveness and she even licks me.

An hour later she's finally inside and having a nap. Her smile returns.

Agony over for another fortnight.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Doggy December - Day 26 - The Better Day

Christmas is over for another year which means Milly doesn't have to wear her little Santa hat and hear us laugh and make her sit still for a photo.

She'll resemble a furry orange keg as she gets fed the ham, roast chicken and pork scraps from lunch for her formal dinner time as well as the tidbits given to her by everyone else as they pass by, ruffle her ears and feed her their leftovers.

The boundary of Skipper's hutch will be carefully inspected for any carelessly flung butt bullets and - if she doesn't see me watching - they might touch noses and she'll give him a tiny lick that he stands quite calmly to receive.

Birds that are used to owning the back garden get a fright when a keg-like Jorgi rushes out of her kennel, telling them to get lost, and Grandpa's work boots are sniffed. Not chewed or ruined thank goodness, but sniffed intently. Many adventures involving fish caught and missed, wood working, power-walking and camping are to be found in the numerous odours that waft up her wet nostrils.

If Grandma is hanging out a load of washing - holly-patterned table cloths, tea towels and napkins - Milly will accompany her to the line. Sniffing the old wicker basket and freshly moist fabrics is worth the trip. Plus Grandma prefers to wear thongs, so there's ten relatively still toes to lick as well.

We'll walk over to the beach and if it's warm enough, the humans will wade in to the calm, clear waters for a swim. Milly will have a long, deep think about it and maybe wander in, uncertainly, and let the water touch the bottom of her stomach. Or if there's something fragrant and dead in the dried seaweed behind our towels, she'll ignore us and have a good long roll in there instead.

The best bit is when we return and we sit together under the verandah, hearing the chimes chingle in the seabreeze. Me sipping a green tea, Milly lying on her back getting her tummy rubbed. She gazes up at me with such love and trust in her eyes that mine fill up with tears.

This is the best day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Doggy December - Day 25 - Merry Whatever

Whether you're Atheist, Agnostic, Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or Jedi, I hope that today is a good day for you.

Food, fun and family. Or, at the very least, food.

And somewhere nice to sleep in between the groaning feast that is lunch and the misguided-but-good intentions of 'let's just eat the leftovers for dinner' that turns into another opportunity to overeat.

A day without envy, arguments, lies (unless it's to thank someone for the present they gave you and yes, puce is your colour and you love it), hurt, worry, tension or fear.

I wish you a pleasant walk in the sunshine, some fresh air, a ruffle of your beloved dog's ears and a hug from those you love.

And for those of you with four legs and the ability to lick your own rudey bits a nice, juicy bone all of your own and loads of time to enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Doggy December - Day 24 - The Artful Dodger

Taking Milly to any outdoor social function is not only a nice outing and a bit of exerise for her, but a brilliant scheme for me too.

Firstly, I take Milly off her lead. The most damage she's going to do is lick someone's foot when they're not looking down; bark at another dog from a safe distance or decide to dump her back-end load right by the picnic table.

She's a natural ally for my social safety. If I'm ever stuck in a conversation with someone I can't seem to agree with or get away from it is Milly who saves me.

"Milly....! Milly....? Oh I'm sorry, I'll have to resume our conversation about the director's cut of Citizen Kane later, I can see her there just about to jump up and have a go at licking Janet's pavlova....."
(Milly can't jump beyond our front door step, but this Stale Slice of Bread posing as a scintillating storyteller doesn't know that).

"Please excuse me, but my dog's about to attack!"
(...Nothing, but I wish it was YOU for daring to say, "So how come I see black kids playing on the basketball court at our local high school on the weekends?"
Maybe it's because it's THEIR school, you fool!).

"Oh My God, is that the time? Milly will DIE if I don't give her the heart pills! I'll be right back!"
(....when I see that you're gone - and your halitosis and spitting in my face when you point your finger and say 'my taxes at work' in every sentence).

Big Sigh. "No, don't look behind you - I SAID DON'T LOOK! - the dog's just gone and vomited by Russell's esky. Don't look: you keep on eating your sausage-and-sauce and hold that thought on why our community centre needs a commemorative fountain instead of a tram shelter by the Centrelink office."
(......dash off, all noise and movement, handing him the bowl of chips to prevent him from looking over at the clean esky)

"Milly please. Licking your clacker and then trying to lick - sorry, what was your name again? - Barbara's - leg isn't very nice."
(......But no more than she deserves)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Doggy December - Day 23 - Mum?

I'm forty one years old. I have reasonable qualifications, a not-too-shabby CV, a decent house, great friends, fantastic family, a fair share of brain cells and a ten year old daughter that I gave birth to.

Despite this, I call myself our dog's 'Mum'.

I know that Milly is a dog and I'm a human. She was six months old when we found her and yet she's part of my family now.

I feed her, walk her, bath her, clean up her doo-doos and let her out for one last whizzer before bed time which is pretty much what a parent does for a child, isn't it?

She gets sung to, asked if she'd like to come inside and help me work despite the study only being 2 metres wide and already filled with bookshelves and a piano and her bed (the red beanbag) is washed every time she is.

She comes with me as often as is permissable (if they have Guide Dogs for the sight-impaired and Hearing Dogs for the deaf, couldn't I have a 'Sanity Dog' that can ride the tram, walk into Coles and the noodle bar), her dishes are placed next to ours in the dishwasher and she's on the same formula for arthritis (fish oil and glucosamine) as my father.

I pick the sticky black eye boogers out of her eyes for goodness sake!

But I know that it's daggy, lame and utterly stupid for me to whisper into her velvety orange ear, "Mummy loves you."

Not that it stops me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Doggy December - Day 22 - Tram Talk

Taking a tram ride into the city during a weekday after the rush hour has passed is always a brilliant opportunity to spot human beings in action.

Today looked be a rich find as I sat next to an elderly woman dressed in black (Greek or Italian widow?) muttering and crossing herself. Then again, we were passing the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Catholic school and chances were high that she'd visited both.

Opposite us sat a sixty-something lady with a rather groovy hairstyle. Most of her white-grey natural hair colour was on show but she'd added some vibrant navy blue streaks in it. Then I noticed her nails - huge long rectangular fakies with navy blue and white stripes carefully lacquered on.

You know me by now: of course I had to say something; to break the unwritten law of public transport and instigate a conversation with a stranger. "So," I smiled in hopefully an approachable, non-threatening and sane manner, "A bit of a Geelong fan are you?"

She beamed, clearly glad I picked up the reference and treated me to a view of a set of choppers brighter than anything featured on the Bedazzled adverts. "Yep, it's for Geelong winning again," she said. "I did 'em in Hawthorn colours last year, but every one who saw 'em thought I just had dirty and puss-filled fingers."

I nodded, understanding that brown and yellow might not be interpreted as a healthy choice. She leaned forward to me: "Aw will you check out those two?"

I followed the direction of her stripy talon. Two women had just got on with a honey blonde and black labrador guide dogs-in-training. Restraining myself from patting them - or taking a photo - 'We are in training to become Working Dogs. Please don't pat us' - I admired them from afar. Or three metres in tram carriage terms.

Behind me, two teenage girls were talking: "Couldn't I just slap her once for reprogramming the bloody till so that athlete's foot cream comes up as lip gel?"
"Nope. Not until you graduate, get a real job and it's your last day."

The Sign Of The Cross lady limped off at Victoria Street, and a geeky guy (with the 'don't even think about talking to me' iPod ear buds on) sits in her still-warm space, busy checking and rechecking the manga DVD he'd just bought. He reads the text on the back of the cover for the third time and carefully - reverently - slides it back into the black Minotaur bag that is resting on his lap.

Then I hear a really broad accent: even with a 'Darl' thrown in for extra Aussie oomph. "One more stop to go, Darl," and I have to turn around and see who Darl is:

Bev, the proud owner of Darl the Poodle Whatsit Cross, is gearing up to do her weekly fruit-and-veg shop at Queen Vic market. "Oh Darl goes everywhere with me, yes she does." Bev nods to herself, one eye focussed on Darl and the other swivelled about forty degrees east. "All the stall holders know her and once we nearly got on the telly." She nods again. "You know the show, where Sammy Newman walks around with a camera man and talks to you? We were filmed but didn't make it on."

I make commiserating noises, pat Darl a few times and decide against explaining why narrowly escaping being featured on anything involving Sam Newman is a good thing.

Bev's attention (and both eyes) are diverted from me and she wheels Darl over towards a baby girl, in a pink outfit, sitting in a pink pram stuffed with pink toys with a pink, excesma-ravaged face. "Hey sweetie, will your Mummy let you pat my doggie?"

At the next stop, a long-haired, hippy-looking student clambers on with thin gangly limbs and protruding Adam's apple through his patchy beard and neck fuzz. This would be reasonably unremarkable except that he's taking up two seats to accommodate his home-made fold up scooter and pet whippet. The man is so pale that he must be a vegan who inadvertently swivels his head towards the sunny window, photosynthesising. The dog has more energy than he does.

As I get off, run some errands, do some shopping (curse those crazy temporary cheap-and-dirty bookshop) and sniff out some chocolates, I pop into one of my favourite spots for a coffee and see the labradors again, this time with their official training coats off. Yessss, they're off duty.

I ask permission for a photo (from the ladies) and a pat (from the dogs).

I like living in Melbourne and somehow will find an excuse to bring Milly on the tram with me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Doggy December - Day 21 - Doo-doo don'ts

I like to think of myself as being pretty organised. Every single day this year I've had a poo-bag tied around the top of Milly's lead so that at no time would we be in danger of polluting any public place.

Except for today. I'd forgotten to replace the bag we needed yesterday. So of course, as per her primitive instincts, she immediately dropped her fragrant golden nuggets in the park the second we literally stepped off the footpath, and I didn't have any other item in my pocket or backpack that would double as a refuse receptacle.

Luckily the 'doggy doo' dispenser was only a few steps away, with two black plastic bag ends fluttering invitingly in the spring breeze.

"Might as well grab three or four or a dozen or so to keep on hand," I thought to myself, seeing Milly sunning herself contentedly, idly watching my fumblings.

"Bloody thing," I muttered under my breath. The stupid roll had fallen off the pin and was now sullenly slumped at the back of the iron cylinder, too far for even my ET-length fingers to squeeze in to reach and too securely locked.

I wandered over to the gum trees in search of a small stick to insert into the meagre slot, hoping that it would snag a bag and allow me to grab hold of one of the handles. Stinky-Bum-Bugger-Snot-Fart, the stupid twig snapped and fell inside the dispenser, clogging the recalcitrant roll even further.

Milly lost interest - she had more pressing things to occupy her attention, such as escaping the unfriendly swoops from the magpies with nearby nests and to contemplate whether it was worth aggravating the arthritis in her back legs to try chasing the cheeky Mynah birds. Of course it was.

Maybe a discarded Paddle pop stick would be not only thinner, but sturdier and able to flick some doggy doo straps close enough for my clutches. Alas, not so - too short. I threw the broken half at the box in an overly dramatic expression of annoyance.

"Oh, Hi. Yes, having a bit of trouble with getting out a doggy bag, heh heh. Gotta do my bit in keeping the park clean you know." Withered Old Witch - she's the one who lets her three legged Spaniel back out a Cheops Pyramid in front of our gate every sodding afternoon and here I am trying to apologise to her for breaking into a malevolent dispenser in order to pick up some fresh dog shit.....

Rummaging through the bottom of my bag found a pipe cleaner (thanks be to Sapphire's love of all things arty and crafty), a pair of nail scissors and an ancient biro. Fashioning a poking/pulling device triggered at one end by the scissors and with force at the other by a bic-pen lid, a black handle soon became free enough for me to tug through the slot.

'Yesssss!' I gave a triumphant, Lleyton-style fist pump of self congratulation. And then laughed. Laughed at the rage I'd thrown towards an inanimate object, only to pull out thirty six bags in retaliation a few minutes later. Bags that'll last Milly until March.

Speaking of which, she tried her best to be the hunter/gatherer of our small postal area, but only succeeded in getting a stray chook's bum feather in her teeth when we got home.

Thank god for that and all other small failures.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Doggy December - Day 20 - Tennis Treats

Sapphire has been going to tennis coaching all this year and apart from a couple of rained-out days, it has been enjoyable and interesting for both her and me.

She gets to learn how to serve properly (I never did: mine looks like a drooping tulip that just lobs over the net. Fools people though), work out what side to move to when your doubles partner is serving and just why tennis skirts are utterly ridiculous and absolutely nobody wore one this year (thank god for leggings and shorts: if only I'd been brave enough to wear those in the eighties).

Still, it must be said that my eyes aren't always on the tennis court.

Even the best parents in the world (not me) or the most attentive (still not me) aren't going to be utterly fascinated by seeing their child - on court four, so the furthest away from the bench seats - hit practice forehand volleys or hold their 'just about to throw the ball up' pre-serve pose for approval and correction by the coach.

No. Some will play with their mobiles, or read, or sneak out for coffee.

I however, play with the dogs who are there.

Like Scilly, the gentle little lassie lady of tennis coach Dan. She's twelve and has wonky hips that see her swaying like a seasick sufferer as she passes along all four courts and the kids playing on them. Fuzzy yellow balls are flying in all directions and yet - despite her partial blindness and increasing deafness - I have never ever seen one hit her. She must be part-whale and have a sonar for dodging drop shots and mis-hits.

Then we have the appropriately named Mini, who would be lucky to weigh around three kilograms and has only just worn 'The Collar of Shame' when she recently got neutered. She seems to spend most of her life on her back legs as she jumps up and nearly pops an eye out in her efforts to greet every human and dog she meets.

Mini's utter joyfulness is also expressed in her frantically whipping tail - what ISN'T there to be mind-blowingly EXCITED about is her attitude and I secretly envy her for it.

This fluffy white fella rocks up most weeks as well, but he merely endures my welcome pat before re-acquainting himself with Scilly, who in turn merely endures his welcome. Still he's clearly got good self esteem and swaggers (not an easy thing to do with a manicured tail like that) off to his owner who sits on the furthest park bench, as if to say, "I know she wants me; it's just that she doesn't know it yet."

On rarer occasions there's a chap I call Hughie, a sort of honeyed German Shepherd cross who gallops in, off his lead, enroute through the parkland and golf course with his serious power-walker owner striding away in the distance.

Hughie dashes in, his feet skidding on the smooth cement with patches of sand blown off the courts on it, has a quick dive into my crotchular area for a sniff before I've even registered his presence and then he's off, running into towards Ms Lycra Legs, now over by the clubhouse.

I almost managed to give him a pat once, but just as my fingers almost - nearly - just about - touched his ears he sprinted away. And I'm sure he was laughing, looking exactly like this dog:

Well he was certainly laughing when he turned back, piddled on the front hubcap of my car and then made his final escape.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Doggy December - Day 19 - Calendar Canines

My friend Tam - Mr P's owner - is a dog-lover who surpasses even me; despite my doing all this Doggy December blogging stuff.

Her home is a veritable shrine to Daria, an adopted from the Lost Dogs Home who literally won the lottery when she met Tam.

Tam's one of those awesome neighbours who shares the doggy love around. She regularly takes her dog, Daria - and the neighbour's dog, Dexter - to the local park or school oval for a run and a play. This picture is the two of them rough-housing (but in a nice way). Note that Tam said, "Thank god the wind didn't change."

Daria is huge, with a head heavier than a pumpkin and the rather endearing tendency to just stand and lean up against you if she wants her ears rubbed or to join in the conversation. Last night Tam and I were chatting to some amiable drunks strolling by (we live in a direct line to the Bottle-O) and Daria greeted them all enthusiastically before leaning against me again, leaving rather wet patches of drool in spots that, um, you don't want to see large patches of drool on in public places. Ah well.

Tam is able to leave the front door of her house open with Daria as sentry in the front garden (above) or inside as an unseen presence behind the sturdy wooden door that still shakes with each growl of suspicion. Tough exterior, but a soft loving heart that saw some tough times and treatment before Tam entered her life.

Daria is just one of the many beautiful canine models featured on her 2010 calendar that she has photographed and designed, with all profits going towards the Lost Dogs Home.

If you'd like to find out more about the calendar, how much and where to get it, give her an email at