This morning when I got out of bed, I opened the front door to empty the coffee pot into the poppy flower bed and found a dead kangaroo joey on the doorstep.
Late afternoon yesterday, I had walked along the driveway with my dog to visit Ms Mer and her deckie at one of the weatherboard huts halfway along the ‘main street’ of the squatter’s shacks. I stopped by the orchid garden on the driveway to have a wee (toilet’s blocked and I’m still waiting for the enzymes to do their work) and my dog ambled out of the bush track to the gravel road. After about an hour at Ms Mer’s hut, I realised my dog was nowhere to be seen. This was unusual. Selkie is normally right by my side and can’t bear to miss out on a social event. I opened Ms Mer’s fly screen door and called her. Nothing. No clicking of the medallion on her collar, no panting happy dog. Nothing. This was really weird. I put my empty wineglass on the sink and told my hosts that I was going to look for my dog.
It was getting dark as I walked past the abandoned shacks, calling her name. I passed the gateway guardian, a tree so disfigured by breast-like burls that Holy calls it the mammary tree. I heard a big kangaroo crash into the forest, then stop, waiting. In the darkening night I saw my dog crouched under the giant marri tree. I called her but she stayed there.
This morning I found the disembowelled carcass of a joey on my front doorstep and I did wonder at my dog. That crashing about on the hill that I heard was its mother seeking out her joey. Kangaroos don’t come down to my place often. They smell Selkie and stay away. ‘Well she’s a big dog and she’s fast,’ said my Mum when I expressed my dismay that Selkie may have actually killed the joey.
‘Well, it is all very well that your dog was a predator,’ I said, grumpily, referencing Wolf, that dog of Mum’s with one eye on his food bowl and another on the chickens/sheep/kangaroos available. At sixteen his teeth were blunt but his head still snapped sideways at a paddock full of prey as we flew past in the car. ‘But I feel very upset about my dog being a killer.’
‘She’s a dog.’ Said Mum.
This afternoon Pete came to stay and mentioned that he’d seen a doe hanging around on the track. In retrospect, after what you’ve told me, he said, she was probably looking for her child. When I looked at the dead animal’s munted body, I thought it had been hit by a car. Maybe my dog dragged it back to my place, to deliver it up like a roadkill gift for me. But she seemed spectacularly uninterested in the carcass this morning. Maybe when I’d stopped for a wee on the driveway, Selkie had gotten nose of some roadkill up on the Broke track. But there are no drag tracks on my driveway. This joey is heavy, I know this because I’d lifted it onto the back of the ute to dump it up the road. Selkie bringing it home would surely have left drag marks. The whole thing is very strange. If she’s killed it, she surely would have shown some ownership over her prize. I drove up the Broke track today and there were kangaroo tracks in the middle of the road just past my driveway. The tracks suddenly stopped, like the kangaroo had leapt straight into the sky.
I don’t know what to think. I look at my dog differently now.