Debbie Kruger

~ Morgan Kruger 1991 – 2007 ~
Morgan came to me one September day in 1993. She was already two years and four months old. She was given to me by Jeff, who had owned her by default after his fiancee, who had owned Morgan from birth, left him and the six month-old puppy. Jeff was never overly fond of Morgan and showed no remorse when he passed her on to me. If you haven't already read it, check out the full story on Diver Jeff.

Morgan was used to being chained up at Jeff's farm for about 20 hours of each day and her natural inclination was submission. Although for the first few months she was confused and thought Jeff was still her Dad, she was instantly comfortable at my little house in Byron Bay and before long I had her weaned off the chain and settled nicely on the wicker chair on my verandah.

Morgan's mother was Sandii, a gorgeous golden coloured pooch with more of the labrador than the German Shepherd, but a nice mixture of both. She passed her beauty on down to Morgan.

Sandy belonged to Chris, who was a buddy of mine from the diving crowd of Byron Bay. We had a bit of a reunion in Sydney in August 2003 which you can find out further down this page, after you've read all about the great love of Deb and Morgan.

Morgan and I quickly fell in love. She liked her new life and I loved having her as my companion. She watched me fall in and out of love with humans, responding instantly to my moods and always being by my side to comfort and console with that look that said, "I will always love you, you know, so why look elsewhere?" A clever dog.
Morgan made her first trip to Sydney in 1994 to meet her new grandparents and as you can see, she enjoyed a nice vacation by the pool. Morgan had many stays with my parents in Sydney, including a one-year stint when I lived in Los Angeles, and other periods from four days to two months. As well as lounging by the pool, she liked watching television with my Dad.

During a trip to the US in 1995 I discovered some wonderful dog collars made by Baxter & Charming. I picked one that said "Best Friend" on brass medallions and was adorned with coloured stones, all on gorgeous dark pink leather. Morgan got into all kinds of scrapes wearing that collar and I had to rescue it several times.

Eventually the beloved collar got very stinky so it was replace on the next US trip with a collar affixed with brass cows. When I lived in LA during 1998-99 I found another gorgeous Baxter & Charming collar that says "Angel Dog," and she wore it ever after. Baxter & Charming is no longer in business but the designer, Phylane Becker, got in touch with me and said she can still sell collars direct. Unfortunately the email address she gave me no longer works, so if anyone else knows how to contact her, please let me know.
Morgan was the star of a weekly segment on my Byron Bay radio show, Debbie Does Breakfast. My Dog Dedication segment was the talk of the town, with up to 150 dogs getting a mention at one point. On the first anniversary of my show I brought Morgan in for a publicity shot, and it is still one of my all-time favourite portraits of me and my beloved. Thanks to Jeff Dawson for the beautiful photography.
Morgan was always a flexible and adaptable dog and she moved tolerantly with me from house to house. Our first two rental homes in Byron were happy abodes, but our third home seemed to have bad dog energy as Morgan was never very happy there. For one thing, she lost her precious collar more than once (and I always found it). For another thing, she had an altercation with the next-door neighbours' cat which spooked her badly. She also made friends with a troublesome pooch from up the road. So between one thing and another, Morgan was often in the dog-house during the first part of 1996.

But then we moved to our happiest, most soulful home ever, the house I bought in Tyagarah, just outside Byron Bay. With 2.5 acres to run around in and horses and cows to play with, Morgan was in her element. For all the info on Byron Bay and my various homes there, check out my Byron Bay Bliss section of the site.
Rusty and Cindy were horses living on my property for some time, and they had a very easy-going relationship with Morgan, who had grown up with horses and cows at Jeff's farm.
When I returned from my year in Los Angeles I brought back with me a stunning bed for Morgan, beautifully uphostered and filled with fragrant camphor chips. Morgan slept on that bed like she had never slept before, having amazing doggy dreams that caused her to make amusing "woof woof woof woof woof woof" mumbles as she snoozed. Much to my dismay, Morgan rebelled against my two-month trip back to the US in 2000 and basically ripped the bed to shreds while I was gone. Not happy, Morgie.
My old school friend Debra, a multi-media artist with a similar adoration for dogs, did a fabulous silk-screen portrait of Morgan as a house-warming present for us when I bought in Tyagarah. To the left of her likeness is her name, spelled out in bones. Very clever. Before I replaced it with a beautiful photograph of Morgan and me, the portrait used to hang above a pile of my favourite dog books, which I list for you here, in no particular order. If you click on each title, you can find out more about the book at Amazon. They all have gorgeous photographs. My favourite, by the way, is Unleashed, which I used to read extracts from on my radio show.
What Dogs Do — Sharon Beals (Chronicle Books, 1995)
The Hidden Life of Dogs — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas (Orion, 1993)
Dog Dogs — Elliot Erwitt (Phaidon, 1998)
Dog Stories — Jon Weber & Dylan Schaffer (Chronicle Books, 1997)
Dogs in Love — edited by J.C. Suares (Welcome, 1998)
Unleashed: Poems by Writers' Dogs — edited by Amy Hempel & Jim Shepard (Crown Publishers, 1995)
Dog Tales — Myron Beck (Wings Books, 1996)
A Girl's Best Friend: The Meaning of Dogs in Women's Lives — edited by Jan Fook & Renate Klein (Spinifex, 2001)
** This list of dog books has grown over the years and when time permits, I'll provide the titles and links to buy.

Morgan had never set paw on a beach before she came to me, so her first experience in the surf was tentative to say the least. It didn't take long for her to become a beach-loving creature like me. The Byron beaches are best, of course.

Just south of Ballina, on the left-hand side of the Pacific Highway, there was a shed with a sign on it that said "Morgan's Barn." No kidding. One time we were on our way down to Sydney I got Morgan out of the car and had her pose for this photo.

Morgan loved travelling in the car, especially when I got my Toyota Rav 4, with plenty of room for her to spread out on the back seat. She travelled on the Byron-Sydney drive with me, one way or the other, more times than I can remember.

We moved to Sydney in 2000 and Morgan had to adjust from having 2.5 lush acres to roam and run around on to a tiny back garden in an inner-city suburban house. She excavated the garden and the craters she created were a site to behold. She had an impressive collection of chewy, squeaky toys but would only play with them if I was with her, so during the day while I was at work the toys lay around the garden while she dug to her heart's content. That's when she was not ripping up the newspapers from my recycling bin.
She liked to lie on her doggy doona on the rug near the television and have doggy dreams. Woof woof woof woof.
Despite city life, Morgan was still in fine form at the age of 12, touching everyone she met. Her vets said she has the sweetest nature of any dog they had met, and her grandparents adored her, too.
But what of her biological parents? Well, we don't know much about Morgan's birth father, but her birth mother, Sandii, who you met near the top of this page, made a reappearance in our lives in August 2003. Her dad, Chris, just happened to be buying a coffee at the French cafe across the road from where I was living near the harbour on the north side of Sydney, and we agreed a mother and child reunion had to happen.
A few weeks later we were back at the cafe with both dogs joining us. Sandii was 14 and getting a bit shaky, especially in the hind legs. Morgan, at 12, could be a little territorial with other dogs, but with Sandii she just fell into line. The two had a very sweet and mellow day together.
Sandii passed away in July 2004 at the age of 15. RIP darling girl.
Morgan, meanwhile, continued to thrive at age 13. Here she was in August 2004 in her favourite pose in her favourite spot. It's a hard life, but some dog's gotta live it.
In September 2004 Morgan was suddenly afflicted with a condition that is not uncommon with older dogs, but you rarely hear about it unless your dog gets it. Peripheral Vestibular Syndrome is a pretty scary thing. Morgan needed lots of TLC for some time after. Fortunately, she made a full recovery.
Six months later, and Morgan, fighting fit, was subjected to a photo shoot.
Why oh why is it that other dogs seem to have no problem behaving for a camera, sitting in perfect, obedient position and staring lovingly into a camera lens, but for Morgan it was too much to ask? She would always sit facing the opposite direction, get up, move around, and be generally obstinate.

I was having some photos done of myself by the wonderful photographer Bob King, and we attempted to shoot some nice portraits of devoted pooch with adored mistress. For the most part it was frustrating, as evidenced by the picture of a despairing mistress at left.

While it was nice to see Morgan smiling, below, I didn't particularly want a portrait of me hanging onto her throat. That canine smile was probably more a grimace. And the ridiculous expression on my face as I attempted to engage her in the whole modelling thing, well...

I didn't mind the one at right, but Morgan was gazing off into a parallel universe rather than looking at photographer Bob. And I was still, alas, clutching her throat.

Quite nice, this one, but for the strange, almost tranquilized look in Morgan's eyes. And the swimming pool floation device in the background. Hard work, sitting for portraits. This is the reason Morgan was never been painted for the Archibald Prize, in case you were wondering.
So this is the best we could do. Quite lovely, don't you think?

Debbie and Morgan, March 2005

Morgan the Angel Dog turned 15 in May 2006, hanging in there with great spirit, my darling sweet pooch. Here is a birthday portrait of her looking as gorgeous as ever, and perhaps a little weary and world-wise.
A major drama occurred in September 2006. A bout of vomiting, induced by gorging herself on avocados, led to some ultrasound and x-ray testing for blockages, which revealed a massive tumour on Morgan's spleen. Yikes! These tumours, in older dogs of Morgan's breed, are almost always malignant cancers, and it was a very scary time as she underwent a splenectomy and we waited for pathology results.

Miraculously, Morgan's giant tumour was completely benign!! She emerged from her stay at the hospital with a new lease on life. We are very grateful to all the staff at North Shore Vet Hospital in Sydney, especially Morgan's personal vet and surgeon, Peter Chitty.

Of course, Morgan needed a big shave before her big operation, and even three months later the fur was not completely grown back. At her tender age, things don't grow so quickly. Here's a photo of Morgan about seven weeks after surgery, shaved patch very visible and yes, on yet another new plush bed.
The day before Morgan's splenectomy, she was booked in for a photo shoot with the wonderful Danielle Lyonne of Animax Photography.
I really didn't know if Morgan was going to pull through her surgery or, if she did, how long I would have her afterwards, so these photos were going to have deep significance to me, and the shoot was imbued with great emotion. It was also fun, as Danielle has boundless energy and patience for dogs like Morgan, who just do not like to sit still and pose for the camera! A selection of my favourites is below; just click on the thumbnails for bigger images.

© Animax Photography
Aren't these photos just perfect? We both look pretty good for a couple of old girls. Needless to say, I have a whole new collection of framed photographs on my walls!!

Debbie and Morgan, September 2006
© Animax Photography

As Morgan grew older and her faculties were deteriorating, it became more and more important for me to take her back to our home near Byron Bay so that she could live in the wide open spaces of her youth, breath fresh air, be surrounded by peace and calm. (All that was important for me, too!)

Finally our dream came true, and after six years of city life, where Morgan was confined in small back yards and courtyards, in October 2006 we moved back to Tyagarah. Morgan was in her element.

These pictures were taken within a few days of our arrival back home. The bliss was evident.

In May 2007 Morgan turned a ripe old 16 years old, and hanging in there, resilient as ever. She had some tough circumstances to deal with, as my life was taking me back to Sydney through a horrendous winter there, and Morgan had to suffer some awful conditions, but she was strong and loyal and seemed to have no intention of checking out any time soon. When she was at home in Byron, particularly for a few weeks in August, she could be found in various states of repose. And deservedly so.

On the last day of October 2007, I put a new battery in my camera, and for no particular reason, except that she was there, I snapped a few photos of my beloved. As usual, she turned her face to the side as I pressed the button, avoiding the flash in her eyes, and I got her familiar profile. There was nothing special about the photos, except that they were of my special darling.
How could I have known that just three days later Morgan would be gone? Of course it was inevitable... she was old and tired, mostly deaf, slow on her feet, with a delicate stomach and bowel. But she seemed so willing to persevere, and with so much going on in my life, with us still down in Sydney dealing with a family illness, I was convinced, or at least hopeful, that Morgan would stick with me until I could get her home to Byron Bay again, where, if she wanted to prepare for her final rest, she could rest in the peace of our green, tranquil land.

Not to be. On 3 November 2007 Morgan awoke and was a very sick dog. Fearfully, I got her to the North Shore Vet Hospital, where they found a twisted bowel and some serious internal bleeding. There was no other option. She passed away in my arms at around 11.30am.

The final photo of Morgan, 31 October 2007

Such profound heartache. I write this on the day she left, and everything is raw and deep and so bitter-sweet. What an amazing dog, a magnificent friend, a gorgeous loving gentle creature. If I could have just an ounce of her good nature... I wonder how life would be.

When I can get back home to Byron Bay with Morgan's ashes there will be a memorial ceremony for her. More on that when the time comes.

*** One year on... November 3rd, 2008... and I have not been able to let go of the ashes yet. It's not the right time. She is with me in my heart every moment of every day. Everyone urges me to get a new dog, but they don't understand that it's not that easy. One day there will be a new pooch for me. But not yet. ***

Meanwhile, please check out some other pawfect pooches, past and present, on my Canine Friends page.

And now Morgan has a page on Dogster! Never too late, even for an Angel Dog.

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