MOKE aka Princess Pea, Raider of the Pantry,
Sometimes the things we long for in life don’t turn out to be as great as we imagined
The toy you had to have as a child that you never played with. The dream job that turned into a daily nightmare. That food craving that left you hungry and the love that felt so right but ended up breaking your heart. That urgent longing for something – then to be disappointed by the results or just the realisation that it is wasn’t what you really needed after all.
Then sometimes – and let’s face it not often – life gives you that thing you’ve dreamed of, wished for, even felt you were destined to have and it blows your fucking mind. That was my Moke.
The dream I’d been wanting to come true for 17 years was better than anything my imagination is possible of creating. From her tail to her snout, from her wild and woolly hair to that smell of her IW forehead and of course those eyes that searched my soul – she was perfection in every single possible way.
Moke was the toy I never wanted to put down, the dream job that never felt like work, the craving that hit just the right spot and she was the love that enveloped and enriched my heart.
Mini Moke AKA Princess Pea Raider of the Pantry and Dribbler Supreme was my Heart Hound and she is the reason I will forever have an Irish Wolfhound by my side.
How do I start a story that I wish had never ended. Some stories have a happy ending but the story of a life will always have to end with death. Moke was one of the greatest gifts life has given me but it also came with tremendous loss. I have struggled to write this for months, but I figure it’s never going to be easy, so here goes.
My love for IWs started when I young and living away from home for the first time. I befriended a Wolfhound that I had the most wonderful friendship with. This friendship lasted about a year and was independent of this Hounds owner. To say he made a huge impact on me was an understatement. When the time came for our friendship to end I vowed that one day I would have my own Hound. It took me 17 years to make that dream my reality.
As I waited life wrapped me up and carried me on her breeze. She carried me through the most glorious of weather and the hardest of storms. As that breeze kept on blowing, time past and I grew. Then one day that breeze was ready to blow a dream my way.
I decided one day – today was the day the search will begin – I know for many first time Wolfhound owners that search can last for years. The search to find a breeder – then get onto a waiting list. Let alone to wait that list out. For many the search becomes too much. But that day I decided was the day – turned out to be just that! By the end of the day I had not only found a breeder but my Moke was wrapped up on that breeze and drifting my way.
I had searched online to find breeders and rang a couple – to be honest the first two nearly put me off the breed all together. My heart said to ring one more – that one extra phone call was to change my life forever. 2 hours later I got off the phone, I’d made a new friend and I had my Hound. She was still in her Mums belly at the time – but I had jumped a very long waiting list and was now waiting anxiously for the birth. I wanted a boy, but had no choice as I’d jumped that list and wasn’t going to push my luck. 4 weeks later my Keva was born!! (yes the Diva is named after Moke’s kennel name). Did I care she wasn’t a boy – hell no!! Little did I know that breeze was about to blow a little cyclone my way.
Eight weeks later my son and I went to pick up the baby!!! For the next ten years my life was touched with a little gold, well grey fur actually. But a magical fur that not only enriched my life but touched my heart in a way it had never been touched before. Many of you would have read my story about Mrs Wilson, so you know that Moke had to be special to top that. The difference between Mrs Wilson and Moke – Nelson adored me, but he still was his own man, he’s went on adventures and branched away from me. Moke – I was her world – her sun – her moon – her entire universe. She lived for me and me alone. She was everyone’s friend, but only my dog. She was obedient for me not others – until she looked at me and I nodded then she would obey some else’s command. No matter where I was on the farm she was there. If I was mowing she would be sitting in the closest bit of shade and she would move as I moved around the farm. If I was inside working she was at my feet, cooking in the kitchen at my feet, showering right beside the shower or licking my legs.
Moke was shattered when she first came to me – she missed her Mum and the breeder who had spoiled her rotten with love. For the first few days when she awoke from a nap, she would open her eyes and cry as she wasn’t back with her mum. It broke my heart to see her sad. I did the only thing I could – I loved her with every little bit of my heart. I slept with one arm off the bed so she could keep my hand in her mouth while she sleep. We cuddled – we played and I loved some more. It took a few days but one morning when she woke and saw me and her tail wagged! Then she gave me that look, that unmistakable look a Irish Wolfhound gives the one they love! The same look she would give me every time ours eyes met over the next ten years. From that day forward I was her love – she was mine from first sight.
I worked away from the farm more in her early years and she would come to the car in the morning and say goodbye. Then I would drive out of the farm. Max would be locked up as her would go wandering but Moke never. She never went on a chain in her life and never had a fence between her and 14,500 hectares of forest. She was always there waiting when I got home (except twice but I will tell those stories a bit later) standing watching and waiting for my car to pop out of the trees. My son would say he thought she could sense me getting close because she would react long before he could hear my car. She would see my car and race to the bottom of the hill to greet me. We would cuddle and then I would say to her “Ready – Set – Go” and she would race my car up the hill. Now if she got to excited and took off before I said “start” – I would yell “False start” and she would come back to the car and start again. The first time I came into the farm after she passed I stopped the car at the bottom of the hill and sobbed – for 10 year she had greeted me and it was now over!!! Probably one of my biggest reality checks when she passed. Keva is 20 months and has started the tradition – but let’s just say she has no respect for Ready Set or GO.
Moke grew up with Mrs Wilson – he loved her and they got along so well. Only one fight in the 5 years they spent together before Nelson passed. They slept on the same bed something neither would do with the Evils. But the one fight they had was a beauty. My son rode motorcycles and I had bought him one that had been nothing but trouble. Long story short the shop I bought it from arranged for a truck to pick it up from my farm. I spoke to the truck driver to tell him I would not be home when he came. I explained the bike would be sitting in the middle of the paddock, and that he would be greeted by two large dogs that just want a pat. He asked a few times are your sure your dogs are fine – I said “get out say hi Moke and Nelson and they will be your best friends”. All good the bike was gone when I got home. A week later they delivered the bike back – same truck driver. I was home that day and went out to greet him with Moke and Nelson – he said “I nearly didn’t get out of the truck when those two walked up – you don’t have big dogs you have giants!” I laughed and started to say “they wouldn’t hurt a fly” the “fly” didn’t get out of my mouth and Moke turned on Nelson. To this day I have no idea why! It was a beauty of a fight, Nelson was not going to back down to the younger in the pack. I pulled Moke off (Moke was 85 kilos I’m am 50) as soon as she felt my hands on her she stopped. I made her sit and Nelson sit and that was the end of it. They never had a fight again. The poor truck driver was in the cab of his truck shaking his head repeating “they wouldn’t hurt a fly!!?!???”
Moke had a streak in her – I’m not going to pretend she was perfect – well she was – but. My two little dogs “The Evil Step Sisters” had picked on her from day one and she had let them. For two years they pushed her around, stealing her treats and pushing her off the lounge etc. One day (unknown to me) Moke had found a mouse that was stuck in a empty garbage bin on the verandah. Dozer came along to investigate and Moke snapped – Not a little GRRRR snap but a full blown attack. Lifting Dozer by the head and shaking her. As soon as I put hands on Moke she stopped and Dozer dropped from her mouth and run very fast away from her. Dozer was fine, to her credit Moke had not really bitten that hard just shook. Dozer gave Moke a wide birth from that day until the day she died. If Moke was laying down and Dozer had to pass she would always choose the ass end of Moke to walk around, never the mouth end. Bonsai did not learn that easy and ended up at the vets a couple of times. It killed me that Moke could get on with any dog – except the Evil Step Sisters. They avoided each other and lived very separate lives.
When Nelsons time came Moke was 3ish, she was there when he was put to sleep on his bed. Nelson was a big boy and I needed to get an excavator to come and dig his grave. Of course it was pouring rain and every contractor I spoke to didn’t want the job. I finally got a young guy who had recently lost his own dog, through my sobbing he said he was happy to help. He arrived just after the vet had left to dig the hole. To his credit he stayed and helped me carry Nelson on his bed over to the grave. Moke had watched the vet and sat with Nelson’s body after he was gone. All extremely calm, just watching, sniffing and snuggling me as I bawled. As we started carrying Nelson to the grave she circled us and tried to push the driver away. No aggression what so ever but it was like she was trying to stop us taking him away. We buried our boy and she sat on the grave til the dark came that night. She never went near it again.
My son had been hassling me to get a dog for a couple of years before Nelson passed, I kept saying “not til Nelson has finished his retirement in peace!”. Now the hassling started in earnest. It took him another 2 years to wear me down. Moke was five when Max the Husky came home. At first I was worried she might be aggressive – but nope she loved him from day one and they never even had the slightest disagreement. Max put Moke through hell, he spent the first 4 years of his life hanging off her neck, or chewing her ankles and she just put up with it. If he annoyed her to much she would gently knock him off his feet and lay on top of him so he couldn’t move, just the right amount of pressure so she wouldn’t hurt – just immobilise. The only time she would even growl at him was when she was on heat – Max was out of control for three weeks every time she was in season. The first time Moke went on heat after we got Max, did’nt we get a shock. I’ve seen male dogs around a bitch on heat before – I had not seen anything like Max. This only got worse as he got older. He would barely eat, drink or sleep for the entire time, he would look like a wreck when it was over. Max would let us know before Moke even started to bleed. Mr McLoven would be replaced with “Mr Crazy Eyes” in the first few days. By days 5 – “Mr Touch my bitch and I’ll rip your face off” would turn up and he would stay until was over. When it finished it could be a matter of minutes between psycho and back to McLovin, a very hungry and very tired McLovin. I was the only person who was allowed to pat Moke while she was in season and only on her face and chest. If my hand went further down her back Max’s snarly face would appear and he would push my hand away from her back end. He would never bite me but if anyone else dared to touch Moke he would launch at them. Yes I tried to lock him up but he would dig out within half an hour, if he couldn’t dig out he work himself up so bad that I was scared he would have a heart attack. I tried keeping one in the house and one out – Max came through windows, broke doors or sat and howled til I let him in. So together they would be and he would lie almost on top of her and then he was happy. A psycho, but happy! I wasn’t worried they would mate – there was no way in hell Moke would let him. She would allow him to make sweet love to her front foot, but she was a lady so it never went any further than that. I also never left them alone – never – ever. If he tried to mount her that was the only time she would growl or snap at him and he respected Moke and he would drop. As Moke got older Max didn’t get any better – I finally decided that Moke couldn’t handle another heat with a Husky necklace. Moke was too old to get spayed – so I decided Max’s dangleberries had to go. Max got desexed on the Friday – Moke passed on the Sunday with no warning. I think she was giggling on her way over the bridge about that one.
Moke loved Max and they were the best of mates. Not everyone knows of Max’s obsession with goanna’s but he has a fight or fight policy with them. On one of our walks Max went on a detour as he often does. Then the barking started – I could hear by the bark that he had something cornered. I ran through the forest in the direction of the bark. I got to a huge wood stack, a pile of tree roots and left over bits from the logging teams. I climbed the stack and could see Max from the top and I freaked. There was my Max face to face with a huge gonna. When goannas get that big they don’t run up trees to get away – they stand and fight. This time he was picking a fight with the wrong opponent -this goanna was over 8 foot long and was most likely double Max’s weight. It was old and they don’t get that old without being able to fight to win. I knew if I called out and he turned the goanna would get him. Moke was the bottom of the wood pile looking up at me – Moke was not agile and climbing was not her thing. I kept watching hoping Max would run. Then the goanna launched, Max turned to get away and tripped on a log and fell, the goanna grabbed him. It pinned him to the ground and started ripping – Max was squealing and he couldn’t get away. I came down that wood pile like a crazy mountain woman screaming. More surprising was Moke was right beside me. By the time I got to them the goanna had started shaking Max violently. I grab the end of the goannas tail and tried to flip it – it was just too big. I could see if I didn’t do something this goanna was going to kill Max. I grabbed Moke and touched the goanna’s back and said “Bite”. Wow did she bite – she grabbed that goanna and started to shake. The problem – Max was still attached – I was scared she would break his back. I yelled to stop – she did and dropped both Max and the Goanna. Then I just kept repeating “BITE” She then grabbed it on the back and started biting. I could hear its back break as she finished the job. Max was still very attached to the goanna, I pulled its claws out of his flesh and unleashed its grip. Max bolted to Moke and lay under her, she started looking at his wounds. He was a mess. The black tip of his nose was in two pieces, he had deep gashes and bite marks all over him. By the time we walked back to the house about 2kms away, all of us were covered in Max’s blood. I rushed to the vets and got him stitched back together. Moke saved his life that day, if she wasn’t there that goanna would have killed him. Even though he still chases them to this day – he now sizes them up first, the huge ones he watches walk away.
There was no denying the bond between Moke and Max. Moke’s passing was sudden and Max never got to see it all unfold. She just left with me and never came home. He grid searched the farm for her, he would come to me and look as if to say “come help me find her”. He found bits of her fur and would bring it back to the house and put it on his bed. He howled for her and he broke my heart. As I said Max had been desexed on the Friday and Moke passed on the Sunday. When I took him in a week later to get his stiches out we walked into the vets and he went to the exact spot where she had dropped a week before. He sat on that spot and he howled a howl that was so filled with the sound of sorrow it was gut wrenching. My vet who had been with me the night of Moke’s death was amazed and kept saying “we have mopped so many times since last week”. But I think he finally got it – got the scent of her passing, he stopped searching for her after that. The bond those two shared was not only beautiful to watch develop but to see it still strong after the physical world broke it, was amazing.
Now to the runaway stories. Just like Keva and Max, I walked Moke and Max every day. I was working long hours on a contract when Moke was about 7 years old. So a couple of days a week we would miss the walk or I would try and get a quick one in after work. Moke had a favourite spot in the forest – I call it the lap pool. It’s a part of the creek that has solid rock on both sides about 3 metres wide and about 20 metres long, a small waterfall at one end and a pool at the other. Its over my head deep so Moke could actually swim and she loved to swim. As she got older, we would get to the end of the driveway and I would try and turn right (the quick walk option) she would stop and just start walking to the lap pool. I never put Moke on a lead, even in summer with the snakes. She never ran from me and if she did in excitement all it took was say “see ya” and she would clear forests to get back to me. This walk thing became a game and she would take off to the lap pool with me and Max following. One day I got home from work and no Moke at the bottom of the hill for “ready set go” – to say I freaked was an understatement. Max was still in his cage. I had never in 7 years come home and she didn’t great me. The search began – I rang a few of my neighbours and they joined in. Now if you stand on my back verandah and throw a rock it will land in 14,500 hectares of forest. My farm is the last thing between me and a mountain range. To start looking was overwhelming, then it hit me – the lap pool. I raced down there like a rally driver trying to beat a world record. I ran into the forest the last bit and there she is standing in the lap pool having a soak. I was so relieved but soooo cranky and boy did she know she was in trouble. I made her walk home behind the car that day and she sucked up like only a hound could until forgiven.
Months past and I came home, no Moke again. Only this time when I got up to the house I saw Max had dug out of his cage. Then I saw the drips of blood on the paths, the “in season” drips. Unlike most male dogs that wait for a week before going completely mental Max started with the first drop of blood. I raced straight to the lap pool – no dogs. Time to call in help. Neighbours joined in, my sons mates joined in – we all split up and we searched – I screamed her name (no point calling Max his brain was gone) I screamed “SEE YA” till my throat burned….Nothing.
We looked for hours – I was feeling desperate. They bait for Dingos and wild dogs in our forest – what is she’d eaten a bait, what if a brown snake had bitten her, what if some crazy Wolfhound serial killer was on the loose in my forest – yes I was frantic. Like mum lost her child in a foreign country kind of frantic. The dark was closing in – my mind was racing – where were they?? Then my mobile rang it was Two Legs! Two legs has said some things in his time that have brought great terror “Mum the brown snake I was hiding in my room has got out” he has said some things that have brought disappointment “Mum I’ve broken – most of everything you owned LOL!” but when I answered that phone he said three magical words “We have them”. I drove back to the farm beating Two Legs and my Neighbour Phil who Two Legs was with. Up they pull in his 4wd and squished in the front seat was Moke. Looking very sheepish – or wolfish. She knew she was in the shit and walked straight past me and got on her bed. She was putrid covered in dirt, mud, sticks and leaves. Max didn’t look any better but Max being Max he just baked as if to say “Hi where back – What’s up?”
Then the boys explained how and where they had found them. They had crossed through the bush and came across them in the middle of dense forest. Max had dug a huge pit and I mean a huge pit – Moke was laying in the middle of it. When they got to her she wouldn’t come – as I said before Moke would look to me when she had to obey another and I wasn’t there. So she refused to go with them, even for Two Legs her human brother. We had been looking for ages and it was dark and cold, Phil and Connor had had enough. Phil gave her one more chance to follow and she wouldn’t – so he walked up to her and picked her up. Moke was a huge girl (85 kilos) but Phil was obviously more head strong. He carried her to the car and placed her in the front seat, a huge squish for her and him. Two Legs said the look on her face when he picked her up was priceless but she knew she was in trouble so she went with it.
She never ran away again. The next time she wasn’t there when I called was the night she passed. That night her reason for not coming was beyond her. When I got to her the look on her face was like “I was trying mum”. That look in her eyes that night was searching for my help – a look that only a dog that has given you complete trust will give.
Moke wasn’t a scaredy cat she was very confident on outings and even laid while I vacuumed around her, lifting legs and vacuuming under. She was an aware protector -meaning she knew when I wasn’t happy about someone being near me. She would herd them away from me, circling then pushing then circling and pushing, until they were a distance from me. Most didn’t even realise she was doing it. The only time she was really tested, she turned so fast it made my blood run cold, she did her job and she protected. She stopped the second I called and came running back to me as calm as before the storm. Moke had never shown aggression to a human before that night and she never did again. Quite simply – it was never needed. I’d always wondered if she would stand and protect if needed and boy did she go above and beyond. I had up to that point always felt safe just because of her size and bark but from then on I knew she would guard without question.
Moke did have one fear – the dark! She hated being outside at night unless the light was on. If I was going out for the night I would leave her inside – with the lights on. The few times I came home much later than expected and I had not put her in first, I found her inside. She would pop out the glass in one of my French doors and climb through an opening that would be hard for a possum to fit in. I once came home to blood everywhere as she had cut herself coming through the hole in the glass she had made. After that I made sure she was in if I was going to be late home or I just left the doors open for her.
My girl loved to swim, from tiny to the day she passed she swam. She loved the beach and would swim way out past the break with me. Even if she got dunked she would keep coming after me. Once in big surf she got dunked so bad all I could see was her ears popping out of the water as she got carried over the top of the wave. The wave broke with her on top, she was gone completely under, then the legs poked out of the ocean, then head – then legs – the head – then SLAP onto to the shore. She got up shook herself – looked for me – then headed straight back out through the break and straight back to my side again. Even the lifeguard remarked when we got out that it was one of the best dunkings he had ever seen. We spent so much time at the beach when my son was younger and Moke was always with us. We live not too far away from the perfect beach that has both a lagoon and a surf beach, separated by 100 metres of golden sand. Moke would sit in the shade of the salt bushes while I played with my son then come out for a swim when she got hot. This also came in handy when they turned this beach into a National Park (no dogs allowed) because I would just say “ranger” and she would go and hide in the salt bushes. She also loved the river and would swim and float alongside us as we drifted downstream. Of course her favourite were the creeks in the forest behind our property – always in shade and no inquisitive strangers wanting to stop and pat her every five seconds.
Moke was an easy going dog she took things in her stride and had a very calm nature. She trained so easy -she lived to please me. She never really did naughty things and the words “bad dog’ would hurt her soul. In her retirement age she grew out of that . She did the reverse puppy – doing things she wouldn’t have dared do when she was young. She started to be cheeky – on walks if we weren’t going in the direction she wanted – she would just go that way. She started stealing – She became the “Pantry Ninja” making night time raids. She would open the backdoor and take her stash outside so she wouldn’t wake me. I would wake to her back on her bed in my room like nothing had happened. No evidence in the kitchen not even a crumb. The only sign of her crime the back door would be open, I would get outside and there would be packages everywhere. The packets would all have the “Ninja Slash” Moke was a pro at opening things and would hold with one paw a slice with the nails on her other. Usually one clean slice and she would be into it. She started to steal off the counter and once stole donuts off the top of the fridge. This I was kind of proud of as at 8 years old I thought it was great she could still get up on her back legs and stand. This girl loved her food – any food. She did not have a food that she wouldn’t eat and my pantry can stand testament to that.
As she aged she slowed down but she never lost her loyalty or her gentle soul. We still walked every day, she would still meet me for Ready-Set-Go. She never showed signs of ill health and had just had a full check up a few weeks before she passed, with the vet remarking how strong her heart sounded. She did stop coming up to my room, she had slept on her bed in my room for her entire life. Even though she really didn’t really like the stairs she came up them every night to be near me. She just took them very slowly, each foot had to touch every step on the way up but she came down like a bat out of hell. I knew that night she stopped doing the stairs that my girl was getting old. It broke my heart as this was her first sign of age catching up with her, in fact it was the only sign.
Moke’s last day was like every other – a day on the farm following me around. We went for our walk and swim in her “lap pool”. She enjoyed a cooked meal and again no sign of anything wrong. I went to call her in that evening and she didn’t come. Moke always came – it was cold and it was also dark so I knew then something was wrong. I went to look and found her in the paddock laying down. In that moment I thought she may have stolen a treat and was being sneaky – my heart lifted. When I got close enough to see her eyes – my lifted heart came crashing down into the darkest depths that reality can dig. Her eyes were looking deep into my soul as they had done daily for ten year. This time they were not asking what she could do for me – they were begging for my help. We rushed to the vet – she had had a heart attack and was just about to have another. That night I lost my girl – a little piece of my heart stopped with hers. Just as that breeze had blown her into my life 10 years before, it was now carrying her away.
The gap was huge, not only did Moke take up a huge part of my life and my heart she also took up a huge part of my lounge room. No longer was there someone watching while I was mowing, sleeping at my feet while I worked, and licking my legs while I showered. My mornings no longer started with the sound of her tail banging on the floor when she realised I was awake. My nights no longer ended with “you’re a good girl”. When I came home she was no longer there waiting for “ready – set – go!”. Most heart wrenching – those eyes would no longer look deep into my soul.
Moke gave me unconditional love, unquestioned loyalty and made my dream of owning a Wolfhound come true. What she also gave me was a little magic. Every time she walked up and nudged that face into mine, then searched my eyes for the way my soul was feeling – that magic cast it’s spell over me.
Moke was never just a dog, she wasn’t even just a friend or a part of the family. She was a part of me, like a link in the chain of my life. A link I had waited so long to entwine onto my chain and entwine she did. She was and will always be one of the greatest loves of my life and just like a chain our links will be forever joined.
For now she runs with my pack on the other side of the bridge and one day that breeze will carry me back to her.