The Three Bears ~ Gemeah, Queensland
When my husband and I got married 12 years ago the first request I had was to get our own dog and I quickly set out on the journey to find a dog that would suit our lifestyle. My husband’s only request was that it was not a small “yapper” and “not too girly” so he would want to take the dog out walking in public!!
I had never heard of Airedales until my mother told me that she had spotted a dog walking on the waterfront that she thought I would just love. It was not until a couple of months later that I was out walking with my mum and she spotted the Airedale, Rufus, and pointed him out to me. That was it, it was love at first sight !!!
The owner of the Airedale was kind enough to answer all my questions and also let me bring my husband around to her house to meet her Airedale so we could be sure that it was the right breed for us. My husband fell in love instantly as well and we set out to find a local breeder.
We soon got our own Airedale, Ruphus, who we named in honor of the original Rufus we met and fell in love with. Ruphus is now 12 years old and has been our constant friend and companion. He is the most beautiful natured dog and is referred to by all our family as “Mr Happy” as he is always so excited to see our family members that he sings whenever someone enters the front gate and then proceeds to slobber them with kisses and then give them his tennis ball.
We noticed that Ruphus started to slow down a bit at the age of 8 and thought that it may be time to get him a friend. We had heard about Airedale Rescue in Victoria after meeting some other Airedale owners walking on the waterfront where we live and decided to track them down to see if any Airedales needed a new home, as despite us living in Queensland we often travel back and forth to Melbourne.
We met Sue Forrester who kept in touch with us. A short while later Sue contacted us about a couple of puppies that were available in Darwin of all places!!! The lady who had bred them only had two pups left but could not find any suitable owner.
We organised to contact her and have pictures sent. Of course we fell in love straight away and whilst we only wanted one more dog, we could not bear the thought of separating the two and took both pups. That is how we got our wonderful girls, Ruby and Bella.
Ruphus must have been beside himself as the two girls would both latch onto one ear each and just followed him everywhere, never giving him a break. They made his ears bleed with their razor sharp teeth but Ruphus was always very patient and loving to them both.
In March 2008, about six months into having the pups we unfortunately had a house fire where our beautiful 120 year old Queenslander was destroyed, but thankfully we were lucky to get out with our lives and the three dogs. We were devastated and distraught as we could not find temporary accommodation that would allow us to have three big dogs, despite our insurance company offering to pay the rent six months in advance.
Again, Sue came to the rescue and managed to find a wonderful couple who lived a couple of hours away who also had Ruby and Bella’s sisters, Gertie and Harriet, and who lived on a stunning farm and offered to care for all three dogs as long we needed them to.
As we knew that Ruphus did not need a fence to stay in our property (he is just so smart and obedient) we decided to keep Ruphus with us as we needed some bear hugs during such a traumatic time. We felt so comfortable knowing that the dogs were going to be loved and cared for by fellow Airedale lovers and would get to wrestle with their sisters.
We were eventually able to move into another property that we had after building dog proof fences and the girls came home after three months on their farm stay. We think they were a bit sad to say goodbye to their wonderful carers and sisters but we all still keep in touch.
The property that we moved to is in a very popular waterfront spot and has hundreds of people walking past everyday and soon our three Airedales became celebrities as the three of them would stand on a bench seat and hang over the fence and talk to everyone and have their photos taken.
I also soon became known by fellow walkers as “Goldilocks and the three bears”. People were just so intrigued by the three teddy bears and would come to our house just to visit them and would also leave little presents for the dogs such as Airedale calendars, treats, toys etc. We even have people ring our doorbell and ask if we can let the bears out when they are not out the front.
Sadly, in December 2009 we received a shock one morning as Bella passed away in her sleep. It was such a sad shock as she was only two years old and so upsetting to see Ruby without her partner in crime. We still miss her and people walking past still ask where Bella is and people we don’t even know but who would visit the dogs, often cry when we tell them.
Our pain was to be felt further in March 2010 when my much-longed for twin pregnancy became high risk and we lost our first children, Rowan and Joshua, at six months gestation. The pain was too much and I laid in bed for three months crying and the only thing that gave me any comfort was the fact that Ruby did not leave my side for the entire three months and sat on the bed with me and Ruphus would come in hourly and lick my hand and sing to me as he could not jump on the bed anymore.
When the time was right we tried again for a family and in February 2011, we welcomed to the world a pigeon pair, Hugh and Aria. People kept saying to us that we had better be wary of having the dogs around the babies, but we have never worried as we know that both dogs have the most wonderful caring natures and love children.
Ruby has become very protective of the babies and sits in the doorway to their room and also lets us know when they are crying. She also gets up at every feed at 3am and 6am to sit by my side. We hope that Ruphus has a couple of more years in him so that he can have his own children to play ball with.
Now that Ruphus is 12 years old he can’t stand on his back legs over the wall anymore, so Ruby spends her time hanging over the front wall talking to everyone and having her photo taken – she is a social butterfly and our 26 kilo lap dog.
It is amazing to see how much joy our Airedales bring to the local community and visitors to the waterfront. Just the other day I was sitting on our deck and I heard a little voice behind our wall singing out “Fluffy Doggy…..where are you Fluffy Doggy?”…..so Ruby went and saw who was calling her and as soon she did I heard a little girl say “I love you Fluffy Doggy”.
We love our Fluffy Doggies too and we know that it will only ever be Airedales for us.
A bittersweet Pawnote:
We just thought we would let you know that yesterday we had to make the heart breaking decision to say goodbye to our beloved bear Ruphus as on Sunday he went downhill very quickly and had lost the ability to walk and was suffering in pain due to his kidneys shutting down – he had been with us for nearly 13 years and was our first child or fur kid. He had a wonderful fun filled life and we have many happy memories of him and so glad our twins got to spend a year with him and have many loving head licks from the gorgeous old boy (as demonstrated in the attached picture of him showing some love to our tiny daughter.)
We could not have asked for a more beautiful or loyal friend for 13 years and he will be dearly missed as he had such a gorgeous nature and was such a loving funny dog – we already miss him singing to us every morning and afternoon.