|Bella is my sister's dog. We mind her when they go away. She likes cars.|
This piece is from yesterday's Weekend Australian magazine. Author is Phillip Adams.
I'm posting it because it is a delightfully whimsical treatment of the topic canine.
I hope you enjoy it.
The dog in the pic is Bella. She's not my dog. After owning a series of Heelers down through the years our current urban location makes further involvement with Heelers impossible - more's the pity.
They're my favourite breed.
Asked to write an intro to a book on dogs. Got me thinking about them again. Not that they're ever far from my mind.
The first column I remember writing, about 200 years ago, was about a dog who followed me on my bike along the rutted, dusty roads to Eltham High. A beloved bitzer who gave dignity to the unfortunate term mongrel. Mongrel? A derogatory word - yet as fine a breed as the most pure-bred and patrician pooch. Which all too often is a canine fashion statement doomed to be dumped in the death rows of dog pounds once the fashions change.
(To deviate briefly. It is greatly to Australia’s credit that we are a mongrel nation. None of that Aryan or ethnic purity for us. We benefit from hybrid vigour. Every race and religion - as mixed up as the flora in our multi-horticultural society.)
I regard dogs and trees as superior beings to humans. Trees are reliable and beautiful. They give us shade, timber and oxygen - and the paper on which our books and this journal are published. And, unless set ablaze by terrorist arsonists with the WMDs that come in a matchbox, they also store carbon. Give trees citizenship, I say. Give' em the vote. Governments of oaks, elms and eucalypts would be a huge improvement.
Ditto for dogs. Since that first bitzer I’ve had dozens, mostly mongrels, all friends. As reliable as trees, but with a sense of humour.
Some were gifts, others refugees who just turned up at the farm. A few would die from snakebite, one was killed by a kanga, but mostly they had good lives and died of old age. All intelligent, loyal and sweet of nature. Devoid of vanity. They taught me a lot - particularly how to live in the moment. A few taught me to chase sticks but I'm still trying to learn to wag my tail. It’s not for nothing that dog is god backwards.
Perhaps He put them on Earth to keep an eye on us, to appeal to the better angels of our being. Perhaps they are angels, wingless and furry ones. With fleas. (Well Perhaps dogs are angels, wingless and furry ones. With fleas why not? The standard-issue angel resembles a human chook.)
Certainly the farm's surviving dogs - one-eyed Tommy and his son Squire - retain a degree of spirituality, despite rolling in cow dung and chasing rabbits. Looked into the eyes of an adoring dog lately? God is love? So is dog.
There's no denying that some dogs, judged in human terms at least, seem more demonic than angelic. Ask Lindy Chamberlain - or people in the bush besieged by wild dogs that tear the throats from their lambs. But let us remember that every dog on Earth - and there are hundreds of millions of them - descended from the grey wolf. Every breed is a result of human intervention. We've been designing dogs for specific purposes for 15,000 years - from the poodle to the Pekingese, the Jack Russell to the Alsatians beloved of the Nazis. Many of the wild dogs on our place were bred for pig-hunting - and went AWOL. So canine criminality is as much our fault as those poor, preposterous, powder-puff pooches created for the aristocratic lap.
While I'm writing an intro for a book about dogs, it's also about people who try to free the dogs dumped by humans on death row. Give them hope and a home. Many puppies are mass-produced in appalling puppy farms, pumped out of bitches in circumstances not much different to the factory farming of penned pigs and poultry, producing stressed and neurotic animals.
Meanwhile, ever greater numbers of unwanted dogs are being "put down", to employ the approved euphemism. Australia has one of the world's highest rates of capital punishment for entirely innocent animals.
Hundreds of thousands of dogs are executed per annum. So, think before you buy. Talk to a pet rescue organisation.
Visit a pound. Get a pre-owned dog - and save it from the needle. You will be amply rewarded. Try www.petrescue.com.au