Today, I’m staying at my grandparents farm on the Mid North Coast of NSW.…I am sure that many of you have fond memories of dogs from your childhood, or even one that you currently have.
I recently read a post from a friend, who I think you would describe as burly, tough and someone that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley (if you didn’t know who he was), who had to make that heartbreaking decision to put down a beloved pet dog who had obviously been an amazing companion and to hear him speak of his dog the way he did, it brought me to tears.
I have lots of fond memories of dogs from throughout my childhood. My grandparents had what could only be described as an odd bunch. It was always a thrill to see them and, the majority of them, enjoyed having young, fun companions.
My earliest memory is of an old black scragedy dog named Tim, who was my grandmother’s companion. He was the dog that you did not mess with. If you were with my grandmother and wanted to give him a pat…that was fine. He had the most silky hair on his face that was so soft to touch, but over the years the rest of him wasn’t so pretty.
The most famous story about Tim, involves a baker, who used to deliver bread all the way out to their house once a week. Now…Tim (apart from his beautiful soft face) wasn’t known for his good looks, or his mild manner. He was known for being my grandmother’s protector. When your menfolk are away from the house for the day (and remember, no mobile phone, no radio), he was a handy dog to have around.
The baker was doing his normal delivery when my grandmother enquired whether he had any fruit loaf (I don’t blame her). The baker, who Tim knew only came to the door once each visit, dutifully went back to the van for more supplies and returned to the house with the fruit loaf…and Tim dutifully lunged in to take care of the imposter and ripped his pants. I’m sure at the time it was an extremely serious offense and my grandmother did organise for the purchase of a replacement pair of pants, but over the years the story received much laughter from recipients and from my grandmother who would tell the story with such joyfulness.
After growing up with Tim as the house dog and him passing on to dog heaven at a very old age, he was replaced with Butch. Oh Butch…if any of you have ever loved a Labrador, you will know why we had such an affection for him. He was the total opposite of Tim…accept for his devotion to my grandmother. Butch meant fun times and lots of cuddles and excitement!
Amongst our other tractor companions was the mother dog of all mother dogs, Biddie. She was just about entirely black apart from a lovely white marking on her chest. She was always carrying a few extra kilos, plodded along behind everyone and had teats, that due to many years of motherly duties, were…umm…generous. She seemed like she was around forever.
The most beautiful dog that they ever owned, was a dog called Dingo. She was caramel and brown and she ran like the wind. We believed that due to her striking looks that she was a cross with a dingo. Dingoes were very common on the Mid North Coast back then. She had the loveliest manner and just had a natural instinct when it came to handling the cattle. She died as a result of a white tick.
Tick’s were common place on the coast back then, and….brace yourselves non-rural readers…we would perform eradication measures on any unlucky invaders that dared to face the hot-blooded beasts on the farm, which concluded with a big splat with our gum-boot, destroying the invader and impressing fellow on-lookers.
Our last addition was a collie named…affectionately….Maggie. She was beautiful, looked extremely intelligent, was great fun and not much of a cattle dog. She had also been a transportation job in the car from, at that stage, Parkes, where we have moved to.
Having a farm that had a system of creeks and dams running throughout, there were plenty of opportunities for the dogs to have a quick freshen up and the obligatory shake off, which usually occurred once they had returned to the carry-all with their human friends. Nothing like that smell of wet dog hair to freshen up your day!
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