Sassafras is a major tourist town in the Blue Dandenong Ranges. It’s only about a 10 minute drive from our house but we usually avoid the area on Weekends as it gets a bit hectic.
It was very windy, cold and it was raining so we thought we would take the dogs for a [slightly]
undercover walk and get a good cup of coffee.
To our surprise there were people everywhere.
Melbourne people are obviously not put off by a bit of weather.
The photo at the top shows Honey waiting for a treat. She’s very patient and she plays the ‘cafe dog role’ very well.
The second photo shows Zed tucked under the table as all the comings and goings got a bit much for him and he told a few people off for getting too close. You can see him looking at me because he got a treat every time he did not bark when someone walked by. He figured it out very quickly and got himself a lot of treats!
Even though it was only a 10 minute trip to get here, Zed generally won’t do a poo until we go for a walk so there was a lot of squealing coming from the back seat as he attempted to ‘keep it in’.
Fortunately we had a heap of pooper bags as Zed likes to have three goes at it before he is finished! Annoying but cute.
They look extra fluffy in these shots and they laugh at cold weather as their coats are very thick. Yesterday they had most of it shaved off because it starts to get knots in it if we let it grow too long. The dog groomer lady is excellent and she takes her time so as not to stress them too much [she gets along well with Zed and she gives him plenty of breaks]. They have to wear jumpers for about a week to 10 days until their coats get long enough to keep them warm at night. After a grooming session we are want to find a dog or two under the doona when we wake up!
We live in a temperate rainforest so there are plenty of ‘two dog nights’ in the Winter.
Honey and Zed like to take different walks each day.
We usually walk twice a day and I like to walk around my area so I change things a bit by taking slightly different routes in the morning and in the afternoon.
On rainy days [which we have not had a lot of this winter] we go to one of the town shopping centres and walk around under the verandahs and that way we only get slightly wet.
The photo above is from our morning walks.
We head up the hill towards Sherbrooke Forrest and hang a left a couple of streets up before it gets too steep [you try walking up a one in four incline first thing in the day!]
This street takes us to one of two ways but we usually choose to go left again down an excellent laneway, past a small creek which feeds into ours and then back up towards the highway, either taking the long or the short way home.
The photo above shows a house just before we get to that laneway I spoke of, and just before this house is a cedar clad cottage set well back from the road with a small creek [which only runs when it rains] running through the front yard.
Jack lives there.
Or at least he used to.
Jack [who’s real name is Mimi] belonged to Joy, and Joy is [was] a little old lady who used a walking stick to get painfully around.
My two would always look out for Jack [because she is a Jack Russell terrier] who was always off lead. She would zoom past us like a fighter plane and my two loved it.
I talked with Joy a few times and she always asked me the same question, “What kind of dogs are they?”. And I always answered the same way, “Shitzu Maltese”. We would talk about dogs and the weather and we would head off to complete our walks.
It seemed to me that Joy might soon get to the point where she found it difficult to walk Jack/Mimi so I gave her my card and said that I would be happy to take Jack/Mimi with us for a walk any time she liked.
She smiled but she never did ask.
Last summer her house caught fire. The local brigade put it out before it did too much damage but I guess it was too much for her family because I never saw Jack/Mimi or Joy again.
My guess is that her family thought that she could not look after herself any more and put her in a home.
It’s a good seven months later and yesterday a FOR SALE sign went up on the house.
I don’t know if Joy is still alive or not [her neighbours are not sure what happened to her], but in a way I hope she isn’t. After living in this amazing environment all her life and then being stuck in ‘one of those places’ I think I would prefer to be dead.
With a bit of luck Jack/Mimi found a new home but wherever he is I’ll bet he would rather be with this fiesty old lady who took him for a walk every day, even though it hurt, and let her zoom past the local ‘fluff balls’.
God speed Joy and God speed Mimi and thank you for being a part of our world.
Terry, Honey and Zed.
9 photos to tell the story.
It’s ‘blowing a gale’ here at the moment. We took our life in our hands walking this morning. There is debris everywhere, so I thought that ‘leaves’ was a good topic for the day.
On hot days I don’t walk the dogs until very late in the day.
And so it was last night.
It is rare that I walk the dogs without coming home with some kind of story. Mostly these amount to meeting a dog we have not met before or running into someone we know, that sort of thing, but sometimes the story has a bit more ‘umph’ to it.
A couple of times over the years we have rescued a lost dog or been witness to something interesting (a movie being made and a particularly spectacular car accident spring to mind).
Last night’s incident was just funny but a little disturbing.
We started out at dusk. The other humans in our house were too involved in endeavours of their own so we were on our own. I was vaguely annoyed not to have any human company but then again I’m often vaguely annoyed about something or other so that was nothing new.
By the time we made the decision to turn for home it had gotten dark. We had gone a little further than we usually do on a warm night.
I decided to come home via a back street which allows us to walk on the road. The dogs prefer this as it gives them more room (there are three dogs at the moment which means that there are always two dogs on one side of me and they all want one side to themselves).
We turned the corner into the quiet street and not long after I could see the headlights of a car coming up behind us. I pulled the dogs well over out of the way but instead of passing us the car pulled up along side and the female driver began to speak to me.
To begin with I thought she was asking for directions but I soon realised that she was looking for her dog. I asked her what kind of dog it was so that I could look out for it. She started to tell me then stopped herself and explained that her dog had been found and she was trying to find the address. She told me the street name and it sounded familiar but I knew that the street we were standing in was not it.
At about this point it became obvious that this lady was a bit drunk. She explained that she should not be driving because she had had a few friends around (a few drinkies on a Sunday afternoon) then her dog had escaped.
She was quite sure that the street sign said that this was the street. I showed her a map on my phone and tried to explain how to get to the street she needed, which wasn’t far away.
I’m not sure that she understood but she was going to give it a go. At this point I noticed the little boy sitting in the front seat. It is very dangerous for smaller children to sit in the front seat of a car with air bags and this lady knew it. I didn’t point any fingers but she wanted me to know that the kid had climbed over into the front and that it was not her idea (presumably the kid climbed over while the car was moving!)
I felt badly for this lady because I knew that under different circumstances she would not be driving while drunk (and she was drunk, slurred speech and all) and that she was a careful mum but she was probably the only adult who could still see straight after a warm day and many glasses of something, all done with the knowledge that there was not going to be any driving; and then the dog does a ‘runner’.
For my part I had a story to tell when I got back home and all I could do in that moment was hold my breath and hope that everyone (including the dog) got back home in one piece.
We walked off to the sound of the lady thanking us for helping her and I listened for the bang as she crossed the highway; but there wasn’t any bang and I suppose she made it back in one piece.
Her mission was probably driven by the knowledge that someone had found the dog and had “tied it up in the front yard” for her to collect, combined with a small child who wanted their dog back.
We do some things as a parent, and as a dog owner, that we would probably not do under different circumstances (like wade into the middle of an uneven dog fight to save my big hearted small statured dog. I’ve still got the scars).
It’s not easy being a parent or a dog owner and I’m both of those things so it is not for me to judge and I would like to think that it ended happily ever after………. at least until the next time.
As some of you may know I write for our local newspaper, ‘The Foothills’.
Once a year, at about this time, the paper runs a ‘short story/poetry only’ edition.
The piece that I submitted had been written a few months earlier and filed away. Initially, I wrote it for my own amusement and I was pleased with the way it turned out.
I decided to submit this piece even though it was a bit too long. If it didn’t make the cut, then so be it.
The story is basically a ‘day in the life’ of a dog. His birthday, in fact. It recounts the actual day, which brings me to why you are reading this.
The piece got published and part of it describes the walk we took in the evening. It was a large gaggle of humans and dogs and the telling of it went a long way to illustrating the way that this dog sees his world.
None of the other humans were named but I’m sure they would recognise themselves. I’m absolutely sure, in fact, as I just received a curt SMS requesting that I not include this person’s dogs in any more of my stories.
Apparently my portrayal of them as being ‘naughty’ (the dog’s point of view remember) will only increase the public’s negative perception of their breed.
The reality is that they are badly behaved when they walk with their owner as she does not see the need to make them behave.
But whether they are, or are not, badly behaved is not the point of this essay.
At the moment, I’m not a very good fiction writer but I am passable at non-fiction so I thought that I was going to have to wait until I wrote the ‘great Australian novel’ before my friends ostracised me for putting them into my work.
I’ve seen it plenty of times in the movies so I’ve had more than enough time to prepare my ‘surprise’ at my friends outrage. But, frankly, I thought I would not have to bring my silent movie acting skills into play for many years to come, if ever, and now I find a friend outraged at the description of their dogs as being ‘naughty’.
I guess I should be grateful that she read what I had written.
So what did I learn from all of this?
Firstly, that people are basically crazy, and I include myself in that.
Secondly, no matter how hard you try to communicate clearly in print mostly people are going to read what they think you said as opposed to what you actually said.
Thirdly, don’t take people’s strange reaction to your work too seriously.
And fourthly, you cannot please everyone.
It just lay there.
I noticed it as I was leaving our street for a walk with our dogs.
Normally I’m as curious as the next bloke but on this occasion I could not be bothered. I wish I had.
My mind was elsewhere and I just wanted a relaxing walk and to continue the dog’s re-education.
I seem to remember thinking that it might be a large dog poo that someone had left for later collection, but in hindsight that doesn’t make a lot of sense, why take a ‘poo bag’ and then baulk at carrying it. In any case most ‘poo bags’ tend to be old supermarket bags or those swish blue ‘made for the purpose’ bags. This bag was heavier weight clear plastic.
About an hour later we had completed our walk and were approaching the top of our street when I noticed a small blue sporty looking Peugeot pull up just past the entrance to our street. The driver was a bloke wearing dark glasses and he was illegally parked on a dangerous part of the main road that intersects with ours. Suddenly a female, late twenties maybe, jumped out of the passenger side and ran across the road and collected the plastic bag, got back into the car, and they zoomed off.
The whole thing was just slightly strange and my imagination immediately went into overdrive.
As you probably know I do a bit of writing, mostly non fiction but I have put the occasional bit of fiction on paper and besides, I have watched a lot of movies, so I find it difficult to believe that I cannot come up with a reasonable explanation for what I witnessed.
I have already dismissed the ‘poo bag’ theory. Who comes back by car to collect a poo bag after dumping it on the side of the road?
I know what you are thinking; drugs.
My devious mind went there also but it doesn’t stand up. For starters, they weren’t driving a black Range Rover and everyone knows that drug dealers drive black Range Rovers; or is that Rap singers, I get mixed up sometimes.
A drug minion perhaps? Probably not. There aren’t that many Peugeots out there so you are going to be identified too easily. Some form of Mitsubishi seems to be the go if Underbelly is to be believed.
If it had been drugs it would have been hidden a little more professionally. ‘Hidden in plain sight‘ works for some things but not clear plastic bags.
Whatever it was, someone dropped it off and someone picked it up and I have no way of knowing if they were the same person.
If only I had been a bit more of a sticky beak we would not be having this conversation.