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I have every reason to feel good right now.

The past couple of months have been highly productive with a surge of new business and a range of speaking opportunities arriving in my inbox.

I have still had time to play golf regularly, and my game is at its most consistent since I was a teenager.

Holidays loom in early July when I will be combining both family and golf pursuits.

Yet my heart is breaking because today is the last full day in the life of our family dog, Rebel.

We acquired Rebel in early 2011, a few months after we moved to Mornington from Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

Rebel’s previous owner was moving into an interstate apartment and needed a quick resolution to her I-can’t-take-my-dog dilemma, so we adopted him for the cost of his bed and playthings.

Never having owned a dog and being the only household member at home during the day I had resisted my wife and children’s urging for a dog.

But Rebel won me over.

A King Charles Cavalier-poodle cross, Rebel, has been my constant companion at home.

For years he has occupied the chair behind me (photo, above), visible to coaching clients and program participants, but barely noticeable as he rarely stirs from his day-time slumber.

Rebel’s need for a walk has been a welcome respite from work, forcing me to stretch my legs and enjoy the excellent walking trails near our house.

Rebel was the first member of the family I saw every time I returned from interstate – he heard the activation of the garage door and waited to greet me with barking and tail wagging when I entered the house.

Rebel came on all our local holidays, whether to my family in Tasmania (the overnight trip in the car-deck cages of the Spirit of Tasmania was certainly his least favourite thing) or my wife’s family north of Newcastle. We drove to make it easy to take Rebel, and pet-friendly accommodation was always readily available.

Rebel was an easy dog to have in the family – he was gentle and peaceful. When we travelled internationally, we always had neighbours or friends willing to look after him. Rebel was never any trouble to anybody.

Last year, Rebel’s capacity for long walks deteriorated quickly. He went from comfortably handling 5 to 7 km to barely making it 1 km. His back legs started to wobble, and he could no longer run.

Various medications for his heart and kidney issues kept him active into autumn, but last week, Rebel stopped eating. When he declined even his favourite treats—bacon and chicken sausage—I dreaded Saturday’s visit to the vet.

Cavaliers are typically not long-life dogs. My vet told me their average lifespan is about 8 years as they are prone to obesity and heart disease. Rebel’s 15th birthday would have been in November.

The vet said many things to explain what was happening, but all I remember are those words I knew were coming: “You need to consider his quality of life.”

As any owner of an aging pet knows that’s the euphemism for the hardest decision – ending your pet’s life before there’s a medical emergency..

I called a vet whose specialisation is home euthanasia. She was gentle and caring as she explained what would happen at our home and afterward with a cremation.

The call had been one I had been putting off but now the date and time had been booked.

I hung up, crying.

Tomorrow will start normally as I greet Rebel around 7 am as I make my way to the kitchen but the rest of the day will be the longest goodbye.

I don’t know how I’m going to cope without my four-legged companion of the past 13 years and I wonder how my nearly-17 year-old son will deal with Rebel’s death – he’s only ever known life with Rebel in it.

I do know my office will be a much lonelier place.

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Mel Flavell

My heart breaks for you Ross

Luke H

Very sad to hear this.

Deb Capuano

Enjoy today Ross as much as you can. Sounds like Rebel has had a beautiful life with you and your family. Difficult to say goodbye.

Peter Reynolds

One of life’s saddest days with such a loss in the family. My condolences. When faced with such a similar decision and dilemma I tried to express my feelings in a brief poem. It was the only option as Toby had Cushings disease. The right decision but heart-rending.
“We had a dog,
His name was Toby.
He was an escape artist.
No garden could contain him.
He loved us and, boy, did we love him –
But he loved his freedom more.
Maltese Tibetan, so we were told.
We adopted him when he was two.
And the kids were still kids.
They all grew up together.
This morning, after months of sickness,
Toby stood rooted at the open gate –
Opaque eyes & wasted legs.
Fenced in by infirmity.
So we hope he understands,
Why we called the vet
To help him with his final escape.”

Adam Penfold

So sorry to hear about Rebel, I remember doing coaching with you and Rebel would just be asleep on the chair in the background – nothing phased him at all!
My thoughts are with you and your family.

James Persson

Quality over quantity always. Hold on to those special memories with Rebel forever. We lost our family cat, Pipi, to a similar situation recently, and having photos all over the house has helped bring smiles back to everyone.

Richard Webbe

Very sorry Ross , thoughts are with you and family . RIP Rebel .

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