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Ejo #125 – My Diary: Quarantine (Part 2)

DAY TEN
We went to the supermarket today. You know, I realised I am dismally shit at doing a weekly grocery shop. David and I are used to buying what we need, on the day that we need it. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass to go to the supermarket every day, but we’re really well serviced for grocery stores in our neighbourhood. Plus, we tend to waste less that way, and everything is always fresh. Anyway, trying to buy enough food for 14 days has been a total bust. This is our third quarantine run to the supermarket just to stock up on things like avocadoes, tomatoes, herbs etc. that go off after a few days. First world problems, right?

On the plus side, I’m proud to say that we got busy cleaning out our gimp room today. OK, so most people in our apartment complex might call it a “maid’s room”. And that’s because those people are monsters. Their live-in maids are crammed into these tiny, shitty, windowless little rooms that, frankly, are not fit for human habitation. A gimp, however….. a gimp does not have the same privileges as a regular person. No, no, no. Sorry gimp, you know what you signed up for. I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve Marie Kondo’d this room since we moved in four years ago. And it was satisfying as hell to just chuck everything out into the hallway, re-arrange what we wanted to keep and throw the rest away. The gimp stayed, of course. It sparks joy.

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Before

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After

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Who

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The Flaming Lips

DAY ELEVEN
Today I went for a walk while David slept off a hangover from last night’s invitation-only party of one (spoiler alert, I wasn’t invited). No judgement from me. It’s pandemic times, and I get it. But, I must say, as much as I love my delightful party-animal husband, it was nice to just have some alone time this morning. To not have to talk to anyone. To not have to worry about anyone else but me. Just for 40 minutes. It’s not a reflection on our relationship. At all. It’s a reflection on having to spend 24 hours a day with another human being in a fairly small apartment. And I have to admit that now, on Day 11, it’s starting to get to me a little bit. Today was marred by boredom. If you’re not on the internet, if you’re not on your phone, if you’re not reading a book or watching TV or cooking or cleaning out the gimp room, what the hell are you doing?? Huh? HUH???

OK, so today I made some more hot sauce, but this time with fresh chillies. I also designed and printed some labels for the jars. Martha Stewart, how’d ya like me now?

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Fresh jalapeños and garlic (I also added some dried ancho chilli for some fruitiness).

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The Merde! is the fresh chilli sauce, and the შენი დედამოვტყან is made from my Mum’s dried chillies

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Curtis Mayfield

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John Coltrane

DAY TWELVE
Eeek. Today I woke up with a cough and a mild dose of anxiety. I’m keeping an eye on the cough because I am prone to bronchitis. But I have no other symptoms so I’m not going to worry about it yet. The anxiety? Well, there’s not much I can do about that.

What else? I cleaned, sanded and taped the window frame in our guest bedroom. I’ve been talking a big game about painting it matte black for about two years. I’ve come to the rather startling realisation that while I might be overflowing with inspiration, I usually don’t have the time or inclination to actually follow through on my home improvement ideas. So, now that I have the time, I’m trying to muster up the inclination.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Cyndi Lauper

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Liz Phair

DAY THIRTEEN
I’m drinking way too much, not exercising enough and feeling the pressures of being stuck at home. Today we got a message from work saying that our quarantine has been extended by another seven days. I am simultaneously overjoyed and overwhelmed by this news. I certainly don’t mind staying at home. I could represent Australia at the Olympics in self-isolation. I have finely honed and sharpened the skill of staying at home during the last 11 years, and I actually love it. I’m a homebody. But still, it’s tough times for me right now. I would have thought that after nearly two weeks, I might be looking forward to getting back out there into the world, to talk to people, to go back to work. But nope, it seems that quarantine has only exacerbated my introversion. I know I just have to ride this feeling out. I know I’ll be OK. I always am.

Hey, in other news I called the guys from a charity called Take My Junk to come and… well, take our junk. The rickety coffee table that couldn’t be salvaged. As well as some old outdoor furniture and a laundry basket full of stuff left over from the Great Gimp-Room Purge of 2020. It was cathartic. David and I high-fived each other after it had all been taken away. And then we washed our hands. You just can’t be too careful these days.

OK, wow, so this just happened. It’s 8pm, and I’m sitting here on the computer, and I heard a noise from outside. I went out onto the balcony and was greeted by a swelling symphony of joyous whistling and cheering and clapping from our neighbours in the adjoining buildings. And it was beautiful, and it truly connected us all from within this weird situation we’re sharing, and I felt the love and I gave the love back, and it turned a crappy day into a wonderful one. And it was almost enough to restore my faith in humanity. For a few minutes anyway.

 

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Leonard Cohen

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Bette Midler

DAY FOURTEEN
My Mum died one year ago today. So, you know… it’s been shitty. To be honest I’ve cried a lot the last few days. I’ve been numb. Just really flat. There really aren’t any words that can do justice to the way I feel about it. That hasn’t stopped me from trying to find the words, though. I have been writing about it, and that does help. It always helps. It’s why I continue with my ejos, even when sometimes it’s excruciatingly painful to deep-dive into my thoughts and memories and feelings, just so that I can put a few select sentences onto a page. There’s been a fair amount of self-medicating leading up to this day. A lot of booze. It does make me feel better in the moment, mostly by taking me out of the moment. And that’s OK for now.

To mark the day, David hammered a nail into the wall, and we hung up an ugly, old evil-eye pendant from my Mum’s house. I don’t particularly believe in the evil eye, but I like the iconography of it, and my Mum believed it so… it’s really nice to have it hanging in the apartment. It connects me to her, in a way, and to a sliver of the past that we once shared.

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Ugly beautiful.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Tori Amos

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Peaches (Fuck The Pain Away, fuck yeah!)

DAY FIFTEEN
We played Bohemian Rhapsody at volume eleven this afternoon. I’m sure the neighbours enjoyed it. We certainly did.

That is all we did today, and I’m not even joking.

Quarantine queen, signing out.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Queen

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The Divinyls

DAY SIXTEEN
AS OF TODAY, 28th MARCH 2020, 620,938 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN INFECTED WITH COVID-19.  I’M WATCHING VIDEOS OF IDIOTS IN AUSTRALIA AND THE US BEING PRETTY FUCKING CAVALIER ABOUT THE THREAT AND I’M GETTING PRETTY FUCKING ANGRY AT THEM.  THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE RESPONSIBLY QUARANTINING THEMSELVES, AT GREAT PERSONAL AND FINANCIAL EXPENSE, IN ORDER TO KEEP THE NUMBERS DOWN, TO EASE THE BURDEN ON OUR DOCTORS AND NURSES, TO HELP FLATTEN THE CURVE.  BUT NO, THESE DICKHEADS ARE OUT AND ABOUT, FROLICKING ON THE BEACH, DRINKING BEERS AT HOUSE PARTIES AND LICKING TOILETS.  YOU FUCKING MORONS.  I CAN’T EVEN EXPRESS HOW PISSED OFF I AM AT THIS DISGRACEFUL SHOW OF IRRESPONSIBILITY AND SELFISHNESS.

IN TOTAL CONTRAST TO THESE CUNTS, I ACTUALLY MADE MYSELF USEFUL TODAY, AND I PAINTED THAT GODDAMN GUEST BEDROOM WINDOW FRAME.  AND I LOVE IT.  IT LOOKS FABULOUS.  EVEN BETTER THAN I’D IMAGINED.  I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TOOK ME SO BLOODY LONG.  AND OF COURSE I PLAYED PAINTED BLACK BY THE ROLLING STONES.  WHAT THE FUCK ELSE WAS I GOING TO PLAY.  AND YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE, FUCK THOSE ASSHOLES.  STAY HOME MOTHERFUCKERS.  THIS ISN’T A JOKE.  IT’S A GLOBAL PANDEMIC, AND PEOPLE ARE DYING.  THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE DYING EVERY DAY.

FUCK YOU.

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Boring before.

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Amazing after.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Rolling Stones

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Abba

DAY SEVENTEEN
Today was going to be a total write off due to a complete lack of interest. But then I found myself electric-boogalooing down a very slippery YouTube rabbit-hole, where I chanced upon the wonderful Sarah Beth and her equally wonderful yoga channel . It was love at first sight and she seductively convinced me to dust the cobwebs off my yoga pants, and slam-dunk a super-easy ten-minute beginner’s yoga workout. And bitches, I already feel amazing for it. She has sessions of varying lengths for all levels of yoga experience, as well as specific things like lower back pain, neck and shoulders or menstruation, and even things like anger, depression and anxiety (perfect for these times, am I right?). Gotta say, it feels really good to just get my body moving again. It’s been a while.

PS Todays soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Police

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Madonna

DAY EIGHTEEN
I took a sniff of my sauerkraut today and oooooh boy, it smells like arse. I’m not giving up hope yet that it still might come good, but the outlook is not great.

And that’s all folks. Literally. All I did today was smell some shitty fermented cabbage. How was your day?

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy

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Fat Boy Slim

DAY NINETEEN
In case you’ve been too polite to notice, I am inherently lazy. Which is at odds with the way I was brought up. Both of my parents were very hard workers and tried to instill that in me and my sisters. And sure, I’ve trained myself to have an acceptable work ethic, but at heart I am one seriously lazy motherfucker. Nineteen days of doing nothing has felt like bliss to my idle bones. Yes, I have attempted to do something (ANYTHING) to distinguish each day from the last (and also, from the next). But for the most part I have done a shitload of absolutely not much at all. To be honest, I’m not sure that’s the best thing for my mental health, and yet I am still dreading my return to work in a couple of days.

What’s up with that?

Actually, you know, I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot, and I’ve reached the conclusion that I’m just afraid of change. Staying at home, sequestered away from the world, has become my new norm. What used to be normal has become strange and unknown, and so I fear it. I’m sure that when I do actually go back to work, everything will be fine. But the thought of it right now fills me with anxiety.

Cooking is a way for me to self-soothe and I’ve been enjoying experimenting with different recipes during our lockdown.  Today’s dinner of lemon-yoghurt soup with lentils, brown rice and herbs is super quick and easy to cook (bonus points for being seriously delicious).

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Nom nom.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Tears For Fears

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INXS

DAY TWENTY
I walked 200 metres to the supermarket this morning and sustained a groin injury in the process, which will go some way towards demonstrating how out of shape I am. Sarah Beth is going to have her hands full with this one.

Also, it turns out that smelling like anus is a prerequisite for delicious sauerkraut. It actually turned out pretty damn good. High five! To myself. I’m high fiving myself.

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Sauerkraut is a great pro-biotic and really good for gut health.  Yeah!!!

So, you guys might have noticed that we’ve got a few records (350 and counting, in case you were wondering). I’ll admit it’s a bit of an obsession. Where do we get them from? Whenever I’m planning a holiday, I’ll research and map out all the cool record stores in that town.  And we usually end up loudly, and excitedly, rummaging through them after a few bevvies. Of course this always results in us drunkenly staggering away with hundreds of dollars (and several kilos) worth of vinyl, which is not the most economical purchasing technique in the world. But fuck me, we have a lot of fun doing it!! Playing records gives me a shitload of joy, every single day, and has helped make this whole quarantine nonsense more than tolerable.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brough to you by…..

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Jeff Beck

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Rod Stewart

DAY TWENTY ONE
This coronavirus crap is serious business, huh. A lot of people are downplaying it, but I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better, and I truly believe that things won’t return to normal for a very long time. Self-pity alert: The prospect of spending the rest of the year in this place makes me very sad. The only thing that makes living here tolerable for me is the ability to travel. I have never wasted a single day’s annual leave by spending it in Dubai. We take off whenever we have the chance. But it’s looking more and more like that won’t be possible for the remainder of 2020, which means it’s probably time for a paradigm shift.

Cry me a river, right?

So today is the last day of our work-imposed quarantine. As it turns out, we didn’t catch CV19 in Japan (phew!) and now it’s time to head back to reality, whatever that might be. We’ve had three weeks off work, on company dime, and it’s been kinda fun. Kind of like a little holiday (coz you can’t do ATC from home, kids). It’s also been a little bit unsettling. We are all living through a crazy, unprecedented moment in history, and now, whether I’m ready for it or not, it’s time for me to head back out into the world, and to face what is there. Not knowing what to expect. Not knowing what I’ll find. Just…. not knowing.

So, wish me luck, and I wish all of you luck too.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Easy Rider

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The Big Chill

Ejo #124 – My Diary: Quarantine (Part 1)

On the last day of our trip to Japan, our HR department got in touch and instructed us to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival in Dubai. To be honest, at the time it felt like a wee bit of an over-reaction, but you will never catch me complaining about a freebie fortnight off work. I now know that the UAE government was being proactive and taking necessary precautionary measures. I started writing this diary, before the world went into lockdown. Self-isolating at home was an anomaly, and not the current norm.  We were the only ones I knew that were quarantining, and I thought it might be a little bit of novelty for you all to read about our experience. Now almost everyone is stuck at home, and you all have your own stories to tell. Here’s mine, anyway.

DAY ONE
Coming back from Tokyo was weird. We were in business class for the long-haul flight (frequent flyer miles, yo!), and the entire upper deck of the A380 was virtually empty. There were just five passengers and almost double that number of crew. Which was a relief because I’d been a little worried about flying home in a jam-packed sardine can. Don’t even get me started on the number of times I’ve contracted a flu or a cold or a sniffle or a cough after flying. Some bitches just do not know how to cover their goddamn mouths when they sneeze. It felt like the five of us were seated far enough apart from one another to not have to worry about cross-infection. However, in retrospect, getting drunk at the bar and hugging some rando stranger may not have been the smartest choice in the world. Live and learn.

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Tumbleweeds

We landed in Dubai at 6am and were in bed an hour later. We got up at around midday, and easily oozed into full-sloth mode. We ordered chicken wings for lunch and spent the rest of the day watching Netflix, systematically destroying a 1.8 litre bottle of sake and popping the M&Ms we’d nicked from the aeroplane. We are not intending on continuing this way, but it feels right for the first day back. Zero effort; just ease on into it. No-one’s handing out awards for pandemic over-achievers. Actually, maybe they are. But we are definitely not in the running.

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Kampai!!!

DAY TWO
Oh my god, I had such a good night’s sleep. I actually woke up feeling rested, which is so unusual for me. I’m normally either fatigued from shift work, or burning the candle at both ends while travelling. So I felt great. I figured I should use my new-found energy to unpack my suitcase, as well as all the records and all the booze we bought in Japan. So many records; so much booze!! Actually, it feels a bit weird to be drinking, when technically I should be working. But I’m not actually sick, and I’m not actually skiving off work (though it does feel a little bit like I am). I almost feel guilty indulging in a tipple (or two), but you can bet that’s not going to stop me.

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Ugh, I hate unpacking.

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Adding to the collection.

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Delightful, limited edition Japanese liqueurs (as well as some sake and the fixin’s for our signature cocktail – the Aviation).

Today, I also finally got around to watering all our babies ( I would make a terrible mother). Our poor houseplants have been without water for 17 days and are looking a little… shall we say, dehydrated. The highlight of today, for me, was a small (but glorious) bounty of four little red cherry tomatoes. Look how beautiful they are!!!  These are especially important to me because they are my Mum’s heirloom tomatoes. I am grateful, beyond belief, that I now have her seeds to plant again next season.

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Baby tommies!!!!  I’m in love!!!

DAY THREE
Today, we left the house. It felt weird, like we were committing some nefarious crime. Or venturing into a zombie apocalypse. But we weighed up the risks, and decided that it would be better for us to go out and do one big shop (that will hopefully last us the remainder of our quarantine) rather than continue to eat takeaway food and get home delivery. Also, we were out of wine. So…

Seems that most of Dubai is pretty relaxed about COVID-19, I guess because there haven’t been that many cases here, so everyone is just carrying on as normal. The supermarket didn’t have my preferred brand of toilet paper (tragedy!), but it was still fully stocked. No panic buying here. Not yet anyway.

DAY FOUR
Today I woke up with a mild feeling of dread that I haven’t been able to shake. I’m seriously enjoying not working (hello early retirement?!), but there’s a lot of heaviness hanging in the air and I guess it’s taking a mental toll. I also woke up with a horrible rash on the back of my hands from the incessant handwashing. FML.

Today was the first day that we decided to get off our butts and be productive members of the household. Working together as a team (me measuring and marking, David drilling) we hung two large artworks on the wall, and two macramé potplants from the ceiling. I’ve gotta say, so far, being house-bound kinda rules. Shit = getting done!

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Measure twice, drill once (argue fifteen times).

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Plant more coconuts.  Excellent advice.

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About time this beauty took his rightful place on the wall.

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Ivy loves her new, sun-drenched perch.

I also managed to find the time to give my ficus elastica (his name is Peter, say hello everyone) a shower. He absolutely loved it. And continuing on with the plant care, I made one last ditch effort to save Lillian (my peace lily – get it?) from the brink of death. I repotted and trimmed her down to the bone. I think it’s going to be touch and go there for a while, so… thoughts and prayers please.

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Splish splash.

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Lillian doesn’t look so good.

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Short back and sides.

PS We’ve started playing records.  Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Stooges

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Progressive krautrock band, Can

DAY FIVE
Today started off with a pretty nasty hangover and, after a short spurt of activity (sweeping and mopping the balcony), mutated into yet another lazy day. Lots of lounging around and drinking coffee (and Berocca).  I started reading a new book, chilled out on the balcony, played Tetris on my Nintendo Game Boy (31 years old and going strong!) and listened to more records.

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A little bit of light reading, entertainment (and hair o’ the dog).

David is a bit bored, but I’m absolutely loving it. I could one hundred percent (no problem whatsoever) get used to this. No appointments, no responsibilities, no parties, no dinner dates, nowhere to be in the morning, no work concerns. I’m at home with my best buddy, surrounded by a beautiful lush forest of houseplants, listening to awesome music with the doors flung open, enjoying the beautiful weather before Dubai turns into a fiery summer inferno. This is my idea of bliss, people. I feel like I’ve been preparing for isolation for the last 11 years of my life and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.

We were intending to cook dinner tonight, but just couldn’t overcome the inertia of the day so we ordered Indian takeaway from across the street. Tomorrow we’ll be better. Promise.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Kishi Bashi

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John Grant

DAY SIX
Today we got busy. The house got cleaned, but good. We stripped the beds, dusted every surface, vacuumed, tidied, swept, sorted, mopped, scrubbed, made the beds and then proudly patted ourselves on the back (and rewarded ourselves with a glass of rosé). Of course we always clean up after ourselves, but I’ve got no qualms admitting that we usually get someone in about twice a month to do the real dirty work for us. This time, we did our own dirty work and while I found the result very rewarding, let’s just say I’mma be tipping my cleaner a helluva lot more from now on.

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A hard earned thirst deserves a nicely chilled rosé.

Hey, so we cooked today. We threw together a very delicious chili con carne, garnished with crushed blue corn chips, diced avocado, coriander and sour cream. No reason to starve, just because the apocalypse is nigh. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we’re binge-watching Ozark on Netflix. You’re welcome.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Fall

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Spiritualized

DAY SEVEN
Once again, I woke up feeling kind of flat. I was a bit short with David this morning, and when he asked me why, I snapped, “Because my Mum is dead”. To be honest, I hadn’t consciously realised it was weighing on me until it burst out. But you know what? It’s OK. It makes sense. It’s been almost a year since my Mum unexpectedly died, and it’s only natural that the imminent anniversary of that day will have some kind of negative impact on my state of mind. Particularly now, stuck at home with not much else to do except ponder these things.

Even though I had all sorts of plans for getting shit done around the house today, I tried to be gentle with myself for not having the motivation or energy to get much shit done around the house at all. I gave myself permission to just watch some TV, stare out the window (a lot), sit outside in the fresh air, listen to music and just chill. What else is there to do anyway?

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought you by…..

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Tricky

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Lil Louis & The World

DAY EIGHT
We got up early today to go for a walk before the crowds hit the park. It was really serene and peaceful and so good for my state of mind to be out of the house, and also to exercise. I have to say though, the number of folks who have no idea about personal space – fuck me guys, are you even aware that there’s a viral contagion sweeping the globe right now? A little bit of space, please.

The rest of the day was, I hate to say it, a bit of a bust. I had such good intentions to do stuff. But alas, not a whole lotta stuff got done (there’s a theme emerging here I think). So, let me tell you about this coffee table I had big plans for. It’s been sitting on our balcony for a while. Backstory: I started sanding it in late 2016 with the intention of staining and reviving it and making it a beautiful centerpiece for our living room. Did I mention it’s been sitting on our balcony for three years? Anyway, I went out there today, armed with some 100-grit sandpaper, a brush and a can of cherrywood stain only to discover that the table was beyond salvation. Bummer.

Even though not much happened, today wasn’t a total bust. We did have a nap between 2pm and 3pm. Thank you, I will take a bow. Look, you’ve gotta take the wins with the losses. Also, guess what, I made sauerkraut!! Yes, I did. I’ve made kimchi before, but this is my first shot at sauerkraut and I’m very excited for it to work out. Keep your fingers crossed for me. We’ll find out in ten days. Oh, and we had nachos for dinner. Yes, I am going to be very fat when this is all over. I reluctantly accept that.

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Yum!  And good for you.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Björk

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(Early) Foo Fighters

DAY NINE
We intended to go for another walk today but when we woke up it was raining pretty heavily and thunder was clapping pretty loudly, so we just stayed in bed a bit longer. Good story, right? Sorry guys, but this is what it’s come to. This is quarantine life. Headline: NOT MUCH GOING ON. The highlight of my day was finally getting around to making some hot sauce using the dried chillies from my Mum’s garden that I’ve been holding onto for a year. Not sure if you know this about me but I am a hot sauce afficionado. A hot sauce connoisseur, if you will. AKA Hot Sauce Freak. I fucking love my hot sauce.

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A few of my favourite things.

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My Mum’s dried chillies.  Potent.

The last time I saw my Mum she slipped some of her homemade hot sauce into my suitcase, which I discovered when we got to Dubai. It was amazing, one of the best goddamn sauces I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot). And I’d been meaning to ask her for the recipe. I was literally leading up to it, days before she died. Look, in the ultimate scheme of things, the loss of a recipe doesn’t really scratch the surface of everything else that I lost when my Mum passed away. But it’s something that just hasn’t stopped bugging me. My sisters and I went through every single one of Mum’s handwritten recipes last year, but sadly we never found her hot sauce potion. Today, I just bit the bullet and searched the internet for the simplest, easiest recipe made with dried chillies, and I am so excited to tell you that the result tastes pretty fucking good. I’m going to give it a few weeks to really infuse with all the flavours but I’m very hopeful that the result will be something that at least approximates my Mum’s sauce. That would make me so very happy. That would make today a very good day, indeed.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Blondie

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M83

TO BE CONTINUED…

Ejo #121 – Dogs Of Dubai

My family has always been dog people.  We just love dogs, god damn it.  We’ve tried other pets along the way, of course.  Finches, fish, a mouse, a turtle I found in the garden (for about two days, anyway, before my grandfather set it free).  After one of my sister’s school projects, we ended up with a chicken called Tok Tok, which faithfully laid us a double yolked egg every single day until we came home from school one afternoon to be told that Tok Tok had been taken to a farm to live out her retirement years.  If memory serves correctly, we had roast chicken for dinner that night.  There is no correlation between these two events, whatsoever.  I once found a feral kitten in the gutter outside our house and somehow coerced it into my bedroom.  I spent the entire night fighting the damn thing off my face.

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Psycho Kitty.

We kept Kitty for a while, the entire family nursing cuts and bites and scratches for the duration, but Kitty was not meant for domesticity and after a couple of years she obviously found a better home and settled down with her new family (the only logical explanation for why she disappeared without a trace, and no further discussion on the matter is necessary).

But for the Stathopoulos family, our hearts have always belonged to dogs.  I don’t think I need to point this out, but I will anyway.  Dogs are special.  Scientists have shown that dogs have a unique ability to love, not just human beings, but all other species (depending on how early they are exposed to them).  When a dog looks into my eyes, or licks my hand lovingly, or lays it’s paw on my foot or even just leans against me – my heart explodes with love.  If yours doesn’t, I’m afraid there must be something terribly wrong with you.  Please go and see a doctor immediately.

Our first dog wasn’t even ours.  Joshua was a farm dog from the property next to our holiday house in Cape Schanck, but over the years, he lovingly adopted us to (the bemusement of his farmer owner).  He was our first taste of how loyal and loving and fun a dog could be.

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Joshua teaching me how to drive.

Our family loved Joshua so much we decided to get a full time dog of our own and ended up with a Rhodesian Ridgeback St. Bernard cross called Duchess.  She was a big, imposing dog, and she had a big heart to match.  She was definitely our Dad’s dog, but she loved us all and we loved her back.

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Duchess slow-dancing with my Dad.

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Pieta and Duchess being cute together.

A few years after Duchess died, we braved another pet and got a beautiful pure-bred Doberman called Jessica.  Her tail had already been cruelly clipped when we picked her out, but thankfully we got to her before they snipped her beautiful, velvety floppy ears.  Despite looking like a very scary attack dog, Jessica was a gentle soul who would never hurt a fly.  She could, however, turn on a deep, throaty growl when she felt it was necessary and she owned a bark that would scare off the most determined burglar.  When Jessica died, our whole family was heartbroken and my parents decided that was it.  No more Stathopoulos family pets.  The loss was just too painful.

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Jessica and her ball.

Both of my sisters, however, had been bitten by the doggy bug and about a year or so after Jessica died, they both adopted dogs of their own.  Mari brought home an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Barnaby.  And Pieta co-parented a Staffordshire called Subby with her best friend.  

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Pieta and Subby.

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Mari and Barnaby.

Sadly, Barnaby and Subby have moved onto the great kennel in the sky, but they were both very loved members of the Stathopoulos family.  They are both buried in our Mum’s backyard now, which is perhaps a little weird (since the house is no longer ours) but also kinda wonderful that their final resting place is the family home.

Over the years, I’ve always felt a strong desire to add a puppy to my life but sadly, shift work isn’t really conducive to owning a pet, and neither is our tendency to travel as much as possible.  My love of dogs runs deep but I am not so selfish as to subject an animal to a life of solitude in an apartment, interrupted only by regular visits to a kennel.  The answer to my pet dilemma in Dubai has turned out to be K9 Friends, a doggie shelter in an industrial area, near the port of Dubai.  K9 Friends is a non-profit organisation, founded more than 30 years ago, that rescues abandoned dogs (which is a huge problem in Dubai, sadly).  K9 Friends’ ultimate goal is to re-home all the dogs they rescue, but sometimes dogs end up staying with them for years, which is so devastatingly sad.  I do think what they do is amazing though, because if it wasn’t for them, most of these dogs would end up being euthanised.

Obviously, being a volunteer organisation, they rely on donations and the kindness of dog lovers who generously donate their time to looking after the dogs as well as taking care of the administration side of things.  They tend to have about 120-130 dogs kenneled at any one time, so as you can imagine that’s a whole lot of work (as well as a whole lot of poop that needs to be regularly collected).  If you love dogs and want to help, but aren’t able to adopt (or foster) a puppy there are a couple of other ways you can assist.  You can directly sponsor a dog (or a kennel), and that’s something that David and I would like to get involved with.  Each dog costs about 5000dhs a year to house (this includes vet costs, food, grooming etc).  The shelter is happy to accept any amount donation, and every cent helps.  Another way to help out is to take a dog out for the day,  It really is the next best thing to taking a doggo home permanently.

K9’s walking programme has turned out to be perfect for David and me.  In the last month we have taken three wonderful dogs out for the day.  It’s been such a treat to once again have some canine love in our lives, and I’ve really enjoyed having dogs in the house for a few hours a day (even though they’re not all necessarily completely toilet trained).  I also hope that the dogs have enjoyed a break from the shelter as well.  It really is a win-win situation for everyone.  If you live in Dubai and are a dog-lover, I would so highly recommend that you get involved with K9 Friends and take a beautiful, loving dog out for the day.  You never know, you might just end up with a friend for life.

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My favourite of the dogs we took home, Cranberry was found in an abandoned warehouse in an industrial part of town. Look at that face!!!!

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As soon as we brought him home, Cranberry decided he would move into our storage room.  Whenever he got a bit nervous, he would run back in there and crouch down in the corner, in the dark.

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It makes me so sad to think about what Cranberry experienced earlier in his life to make him be such a nervous, timid puppy.

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Cranberry and his new daddy. ❤

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Whilst he was very shy and timid, Cranberry loved going for a walk and meeting other dogs and people.

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Flower’s a slightly older dog who has given birth to loads of puppies before being neutered at K9.  She was a really quiet dog, and even though she was sociable with us, she wasn’t exactly affectionate.

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Flower had a tendency to just sit still, almost as if trying to become invisible.

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Flower loved going out for a walk.

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I really loved it when Flower came and wanted to sit next to me.  She was a very chilled out dog who would really suit an older couple or perhaps a busy family. Even though she was really quiet, the house felt empty when we had to take her back.  

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I have a feeling David developed a bond with Annie.  They really seemed to click.

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When I picked Annie up, the volunteers at K9 Friends warned me that she was “ugly/beautiful” and I guess that’s true.  She got a lot of weird looks on our walk, but she always won strangers over with her warmth and affection.  We were both very sad to take her back to the shelter at the end of the day.

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Annie was a small dog, and a little bit emaciated, but she was very strong and she liked to lead the way on our walks.  She was particularly partial to balls and always wanted to chase them down when we encountered them on our walk.  I think she would be suited to an active family or perhaps a single person that likes to exercise regularly.

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It was tough to drop Annie off at the shelter, and I think that she also wanted to stay with us.  K9 Friends are a very caring dog shelter, but these dogs really need to find permanent, loving homes.  If you want to adopt a dog in Dubai, this is the first place you should check out.  If you want some doggie love, on a more temporary basis, then you should definitely register to take a dog out for a walk.  It’s such a richly rewarding experience, for you and the dog.