‘No, he has hip dysplasia. You don’t want him. No one will want this little guy.’
‘I do want him. I will take him please.’
…and the conversation went on about his gorgeous sisters and only having a couple left.
‘I want this boy please. I’ll take him now.’
I took him.
You came home in the palm of my hand.
Sleepy and gentle and so very small.
5 ½ weeks old.
I loved you instantly.
I called you, Dawson.
I had never raised a dog from a pup. I didn’t know how.
So, I raised you as a person.
There were expectations and boundaries and there was praise and a few timely reminders.
You wanted to please. A telling off broke your heart.
You had 3 smacks and no more than a half a dozen scolds in your lifetime.
You didn’t need them.
You knew what was expected and your manners were impeccable, not immediately BUT…
Before long you had grown. You were no longer a dog I could hold in my hand.
You attended and passed Puppy Pre-school at the top of the class in Port Augusta.
We went off to dog training to blitz it there too.
Disaster! There was a pig in our group. The pig was thick and you got bored waiting for the pig to stop eating and participate.
I got tired of getting up early on a Sunday to suffer the porker’s bad ways.
I knew you’d just be good.
You could sit and lie down and wait. That was enough…
Or was it…?
I had to go to work and you had to stay home. That was the deal.
Port Augusta was so hot and you had the air conditioner left on for you.
You wanted company.
You would leave home and go to Flinder’s View Primary School to see the people.
I would have to come and get you.
Anyway, Port was HOT! I didnt like swimming in the gulf so….
I bought a pool. A blow up pool that was half a metre deep.
You ate it.
You swam in it when I was at work. Every time you leapt in, you bit it.
Ultimately, you ate it.
You also ran through the house wet.
You skidded on the floors and flung mud up the walls.
You walked on the table and plastered mud all over that.
You trashed the place SO many times whilst you amused yourself.
I bought another swimming. One with a metal frame.
You ate that too.
That was the same day you ate the bean bag.
I didn’t really enjoy coming home that day.
I took you to the gulf most nights.
You learnt about dolphins.
The dolphins learnt about you.
They were amazing swims.
I was concerned you were lonely as you continued to eat your way through things. Mostly those things were furniture.
I’d go to work, you’d eat a sofa.
I took you to Whyalla to choose a brother or a sister from the rehoming vet.
You chose Parky (Gusta Park, Parks’n’Wildlife.)
A camp dog. An abused little guy who distrusted me for nearly a month. He only trusted you.
Soon he was ours. He trusted us both.
You still ate the furniture. I had 2 dogs and you still ate the furniture.
You ate 4 chairs, 1 table, 1 sofa, countless quilts and pillows, the door stops, the 2 pools and most electrical cords.
Then you grew again.
You became 4 and the furniture was finally safe.
You and your brother were now the sort of dogs I could take to Adelaide to stay with Grandy and know you wouldn’t destroy anything.
Grandy loved you regardless but I felt better knowing that she still had chairs to sit on when we left.
Loo rolls and plastic bottles became the next ‘must haves.’
Squeaky toys (with the squeak pushed out) were ok, balls were great BUT nothing beat a loo roll or a plastic bottle.
Every time you grew, your soul grew too.
Not always your common sense though.
We moved to Adelaide.
Grandy died and we had inherited Beau Beau and Tilly.
We were 16 Legs and Me on the edge of the desert for a while and then we moved.
I got a new job. I bought us a new house. It was going to be fabulous.
My first day at my job and I trotted off knowing I had settled you all in.
Well thinking I had….
You clearly didn’t like it.
You showed the 12 legs how to escape.
You were picked up, all of you, on the Northern Expressway.
…and luckily by a vet.
The vet called me and explained that she had 4 dogs and thought they belonged to me as ONE microchip had a valid phone number. Not yours!
She asked me to describe you all.
How was I to do that? This was my new job and I was on a personal call and it wasn’t my lunch break….
‘Hairy Maclary’ was my fast response, ‘You know? From Donaldson’s Dairy?’
She laughed and said, ‘Yes!’ And she kept you all safe so I could complete my first day at school. She also cleaned Beau Beau’s ears as a bonus.
And then you grew some more and learnt that it was safest to stay home and that Hannah would come to walk you.
You loved people.
The more people you were with, the happier you were.
House Concerts brought you enormous joy, as did Catherine Fitzgerald who arrived concert after concert to make sure we actually had tables on the grass and umbrellas in the air. She loved you to the extent of taking the double plastic bags to the grass to ensure the lawn was clean for the arrival of the audiences. That’s total love.
The audience fed you for hours and when you became so belly full and tired you snuggled on the deck sofa with a kind person and listened to the music as you dosed.
Jon English threw you balls, John Swan spent time stroking your head, Horse McDonald loved you so much and she accompanied you to the vets, walked you on beaches and roads, talked and played with you. You lay at her feet and soaked up her company. Katey Brooks had a deep soft spot for you and wrote songs with you cuddled next to her on the sofa. Caroline Gilmour, Mike Roberts, Rose Roberts, Sue Baker, Gabrielle Ballard, Kelly Menhennett and Nick Longford all took time to show you they accepted the love you were offering and they gave it back to you by the bucket load.
When the bands weren’t playing, you connected to everyone who visited. Katrina and you had a long and everlasting love affair that spanned years, she let you sit on the leather sofa when I said, ‘No way.’ She was your confidante and you got away with murder when she was at your home.
Jen and Lynn from Scotland and Gill from England became your friends and still love you from afar. School friends from Lake Windy and school friends from Loreto and the neighbours all showed you loved and were lucky enough to feel the love you offered.
Ryan and Sue and Karen who came regularly to help with the garden and to massage you, all connected with you in a special way. And Crystal and Russell groomed you with love and care because they too, loved you.
Lyndon and Amanda and Damien and Cia, Dan, Matt, Lissie, Josh, Chloe and Tim – family love…and Poppy Paul. Poppy Paul and you were ‘old guy’ mates and your gentle friendship warmed my heart.
Then ….Hannah. The love of your life. Hannah who walked you, stayed over with you, checked on you, let you sleep on the bed with her…Hannah. Your love for Hannah was enormous. You knew her name. Every morning I would tell you, ‘Hannah is coming, be good until Hannah comes. Look after the others. Mummy loves you.’ When I said, ‘Hannah,’ your ears cocked. You knew.
Again, you grew some more.
You got a new brother.
And finally you grew just a little bit more.
You grew to old age.
You had loved as much as you had time to love.
Your soul had spread itself as far as it could reach.
You had reached perfection.
Your job on earth was done.
Dawson, I thank you for blessing us. I thank you for your love.
Go free tomorrow when your earthly remains are cremated and be with Grandy and Beau Beau and Parks’n’ Wildlife and George and Jessie One-Eye and Tibby Dog.
Look for Sydney and Gnash and Ruda and Phoebe and Scooby Doo and Johnson.
Try to find Gilly and Abby and Zoe and Mandy and Scottie and Poppy Paul’s, Cindy.
Sending my love forever and wishing you loo rolls galore.