Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Coming of the Dogs #2

Having an outside dog move into our living area this week has turned my sense of domesticity upside down. After a week of 'prima donna ing' the privilege of the severely injured, Disaster Puppy kicked Pearlie off the couch, attacked BobCat for eating her own food and insisted that I head out into the winter dark to chop wood for his fire.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating but in reality, this dog has turned into the kind of creature that Rick from the Young Ones would describe as "a complete bastard." He has a limp and a nice pink scar between his eyes. He stretches out in front of the fire and the cat, whose natural habitat it is, lies warily a few metres away. Like a domestic violence victim, she is awake 24/7 and ready, anytime, any place, for the impending assault.

But this whole, distressing episode has reminded me that every time a dog leaves our household, (and dogs tend to leave either young and violently, or by old age - it is the way of dogs) the place feels just that little less safer. Ours is always a household that is left lockless, ringed with a force field of faith and barking dogs.

When a dog dies in our midst, there is a strange silence and a feeling that we are completely vulnerable to all the manifestly nasty human endeavours that exist.

"Dogs are the best people," said Old Salt.

Imagine the entry of mammalian dogs into a community of people who'd only known marsupials as their 'other'. Imagine those long nights spent awake, the family listening for the soft pad of the invading tribe. That all changed when the dogs came to protect them. The cultural change was as huge as the coming of electricity, but the polar opposite. The evenings stretched into periods of creativity, song and dance ... safety.

And the Disaster Puppy - it's about time he went outside and left that black cat alone. I cook him up roo meat and basmati rice on the gas stove and feed him the bones sourced from a slaughterhouse near me.

"You're not gonna kill this dog with an axe." The vet told me this while he felt the dog's body over for 'crunchiness'. His fingers were firm and brutal "He shouldn't have survived this. Take him home, light the fire and if he survives the night, let me know about his spleen, his bladder and his bowels. Let me know, if he survives."

Two weeks later, I scratch the dog's back. He leans his big fat head against mine. Fur on hair.  I know very well where this dog's allegiances lie.


  1. I'm enthralled, Sarah. One word of advice though - don't let him sit on the life-ring, it's unhygenic.

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  3. So Tom .. I tried to answer this, as I trod across the back yard with sock clad feet to get firewood and my socks got wet and now my feet are wet too and a great annoyance has set in ...

    Hygenics? Life rings?

    We are headed out to the inlet that celebrates all those who have not signed the latest social contract .... Irwins.
    Seeya when we get back
    X Sarah Toa

  4. Joke, Sarah. Bad joke maybe, but joke. Forgive my flippancy. I wonder what your first comment said...

    Fair winds to you. X

  5. Old Salt is right.

    And, cats. They also make the best people. We have the lovecats here. Loyal, loving, smart ...and you're never alone. One even gives double paw hugs.

    Animals are so clean and clear in terms of motivations...transparent, if you will.

    Glad your handsome muscle boy is doing well.

  6. Excellent segue Sarah, and insightful. I have had a dog in my life most of the time since I left home as a teenager where I was never allowed to have one. I agree they have a special place in our lives, thousands of years of living together has created a unique bond and well defined roles for both and them and us.

  7. Sorry Tom, just a bit 'tired and emotional' last night. My fault :)

    Thanks goodness for dogs and cats hey?

  8. Hi Sarah, I'm thinking 'The Life and Opinions of Old Salt and of his friend Sarah Toa' might make a very good read.

  9. Hello Ciaran! It's nice to see you in this part of the world!

  10. Hey a friend who works in the Kimberleys once told me that up there the first technological innovation the blackfellas adopted from the whitefellas were the barking dogs.

    and no, i wasn't really surprised when you pulled up alongside me today. the combination of diesel clatter and 'just fuck off' bark must have had me thinking about wheel nut tattoos.

    Heard you well before i saw you and continued to hear you long after you were well out of sight.