"The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's." – Mark Twain, Letter to W D Howells, 4/2/1899

Archive for March, 2015

The Adventures of Rufus: Sailor Dog.

8747a094c363351da7f99526e702f807Sailor dog [I called him that because, strangely, he didn’t have a name], lived on board his master’s boat.

The boat was moored in the harbour when they weren’t out fishing.

My mistress and I live close to the water but not that close to the small harbour where ‘sailor dog’ lived, so I only saw him on the odd occasion. He is the kind of friend who doesn’t mind how much time has gone by since the last time he saw you.

He always greets me the same way, sounding a bit like a pirate, because I once said that I thought his pirate voice was funny.

That’s sailor dog all over.

He remembers stuff.

He remembers your favourite food and where you hide your dog tags when you are out late and have had a bit too much to drink. He remembers the name of your first girlfriend and why you have that scar on your bottom. But by far the best part of our friendship is sailor dog’s ability to tell an endless line of excellent stories —- never heard the same story twice. They are all things that have allegedly happened to him, but I think that he would need ten ordinary lifetimes just to fit in all his adventures. I once said that his ancestors must be cats because he seems to have lived at least nine lives. He wasn’t amused. He doesn’t believe that jokes about cats are appropriate. He feels that his reputation for being ‘salty’ could be irreparably damaged if people started comparing him to a cat. “Hopeless seamen, cats. Bloody things drown if you look at them sideways. Don’t know why humans put up with them.”

One thing that sailor dog is very good at is sleeping; as long as he is on board he can sleep soundly all day if need be. He does like going for walks but because of his seafaring lifestyle, he has trained himself to not get agitated if a few days go by without a walk.

Every dog needs a job and sailor dog has found his.

It’s a romantic life and I doubt that he could easily adapt to life on land, and I hope that he never has to. 


The Adventures of Rufus: Fred and Ginger.

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Every family has its legendary characters, and mine has more than a few.

Other dogs think that I lead a glamorous life, and up to a point, they are right.

My mistress attracts a lot of attention. She is a single, famous mystery author after all, and humans get excited about celebrities.

But, my life is nothing compared to my ancestors, Fred and Ginger. They too had a mistress, and by all accounts, she could party till the dogs came home. Fred and Ginger were always involved, always invited.

Alcohol is not good for dogs, but Ginger didn’t know that and she used to get ‘stuck in’ at every opportunity.

One time they found her on a freight train headed to Brisbane. No one knows how she ended up on that train, and she is very lucky that someone made the call, and even luckier that someone answered the phone. Ginger’s mistress drove all the way to Queensland to retrieve her, with Fred riding shotgun all the way. Their mistress owned a huge Rolls Royce coupe which befitted their combined status in Melbourne society.

Every cocktail bartender in Melbourne knew them by name, and when Fred and Ginger passed away [on the same day] all the bars in Melbourne were draped in black silk, and every bartender and bar owner attended a wake in their honour in the ballroom at the Windsor Hotel.

If you look carefully in Gordon park, just across the road from The Windsor, you will see a simple brass plaque which says, “Fred and Ginger, always remembered.” The problem is that it was so long ago people have forgotten. But dogs never forget. We remember and we honour our ancestors.

It’s important to know where you come from.

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Sophie.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASophie belongs to my son and his family and if you are very lucky in life you may meet a dog as good as her.


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The Purpose of Dog.

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The Adventures of Rufus: Herman 2.

0d5360f6cbdae7ddd00d5a1eec0e893aHerman and I have a lot in common.

We are different colours, but dogs don’t worry about stuff like that.

We are both small dogs and we have mistresses who we love very much.

Most of my dog friends have masters but not Herman. His mistress found him outside the post office when he was just a pup. Some dingus had tied him up with a sign that said, “Take this dog we ain’t got room for him.” As I said, Herman is small and he doesn’t take up much room so how small must their house have been if there was no room for him? I don’t understand humans, but don’t get me started or we will be here all day.

Somewhere along the way, Herman learned how to hug people. Now, generally speaking, dogs don’t give hugs and most of us don’t like getting them but we put up with it if it is someone we love.

Herman said that it all started by accident. He was jumping up on his mistress, which he is not supposed to do, and he slipped and instinctively grabbed her to stop himself from falling. His mistress was so pleased with this manoeuvre that she let out a cry of delight, which Herman recognised [other people mistake it for a cat being put through a mincer], so naturally, he wants to please her so he works out how to do it again and the rest is history.

Herman’s mistress got the plumber, who lives next door, to take a picture of them hugging, and she had it put in a frame and now it sits on her mantlepiece, just next to the photo of her late husband Eric, who died in a tragic Blimp accident just before the war.

Frankly, I think he’s nuts and if it ever gets around, he’s not going to be able to show his face at the dog park. Dogs can take a lot, and they are very tolerant, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

I’m not likely to dob him in though; he’s a mate, and mates don’t tell. We carry each other’s secrets to our grave.

I like Herman.

He’s a funny bugger, but he sure can hug good.


The Adventures of Rufus: Herman.

aae37430066e075eb7447bc5214a8d93Some people can disguise who they really are, but not Herman.

What you see is what you get.

He’s a bit scruffy, but he says he is supposed to look that way. “It’s my breed. We all look like this.”

“Maybe so, but do you all have food in your beard and dirt in your ears. Is that part of your breed, or are you just a scruffy bastard who digs holes and never bothers to clean his beard on the furniture, like sophisticated dogs do?”

“Good point. Scruffy bastard it is.”

That exchange was typical of Herman. He rarely got upset. Life is a bit of a joke to him.

His favourite trick is to lie in the middle of the road when old Mrs Thompson drives by. She’s blind as a beagle and drives like a Shitzu. “Oh my God, oh my god. Someone has run over a doggie.”

She never seems to remember that Herman pulled that one on her a dozen times and as recently as last week.

I must say that the best bit is where Mrs Thompson cradles him in her arms as he slowly comes to. She drives him home and feeds him milk and blackberries, just like Peter Rabbit’s mum did; only Peter Rabbit didn’t get any, but Herman does.

It’s all very entertaining, but one of these days Herman is going to get squished by a milk truck and I won’t have anyone to entertain me.

“Why don’t you just move in with Mrs Thompson and be her dog. It would save a lot of effort. She’d probably feed you blackberries and milk every day?”

“That would be too easy. A dog likes to feel that he has earned his tucker.”

That too was typical of Herman.

He might be a bit of a scruffy bastard, but he has principles.

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The Adventures of Rufus: William.

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We aren’t exactly friends. It doesn’t work like that. Not with William.

As William puts it, “I work for a living and you sit around a lot.”

I do my best to defend my work, but William just shows his teeth. That’s his way of saying, ‘If you keep talking, there is going to be trouble.’ He’s a lot bigger than I am, so I look away and wait for another opportunity to show him that what I do is important.

“Do you round anything up? Do you herd? Do you know what your master wants just from the sound of his whistle?”

“No. But that’s not my job. I look after my mistress. It’s a full-time job. I have to be constantly aware of any strangers who might hurt her. I have to comfort her when she is sad, and I have to keep her company when she takes those long walks. Of course, there is the ever-present menace; sea crabs. Okay, so the sea crabs are more of a problem for me than they are for her, but they are a menace, and if I didn’t bark a lot she could easily stand on one.”

“Do you go out in all weathers? Do you work in the snow?”

“Not really. My mistress sometimes walks in the rain, but she really doesn’t like snow. Not that snow bothers me. My ancestors come from snow country.”

“Lots of excuses. Stop talking now, you bore me.”

William was one of the few dogs that I could not win over with my sparkling personality; which made me all the more desperate to win his approval.

Maybe if I told him the story about finding the dead body and solving the murder.

Are sheepdogs impressed with crime solving?

I’m beginning to think that William is only going to be impressed if I round up sheep, and preferably in a blinding snow storm.

I’m going to sit in front of the open fire and give it all a bit more thought.

 


Rufus and the Mouse.

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If anyone finds out, I’m in deep shit.

My job is to protect my mistress, but everyone knows that terriers are really good at catching, and killing mice.

My problem is that one of my best friends is a mouse.

It’s a long story so maybe I should start at the beginning.

When I was in the litter, and not much older than a bottle of milk, my mum taught me that we all have a job in life and that is why our human feeds us; because we are of service. She said that some of us would be pets and it would be our job to bark a lot whenever strangers got too close to the house. She also said that we came from a long line of mousers. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I tried to make it look like I knew what she was talking about.

I asked one of the older pups what ‘mouser’ meant and he explained that because we are very patient and very fast, we are good at catching and killing mice.

I’d never seen a ‘mice’ so I was curious to find out what they looked like. I hoped that they were not as big as the horse that lived on our farm because I wasn’t sure I could catch and kill one of those. As it turned out, mice are small and furry and they dart about quite quickly so they are hard to catch.

One sunny autumn afternoon I was in the barn looking for a mouse to chase; just for practice.

I climbed up the tall ladder because I thought that maybe mice liked to be up high. I was a good climber for a young dog, but I found that being up high made me feel funny. Everything started to spin around and I found it difficult to stand up. I staggered around a bit and got my back leg caught up in a length of rope. I got a bit scared and toppled off the landing and found myself hanging in mid air suspended by the rope attached to my back leg. It hurt and I felt sick. Hanging upside down is only fun for a short while, then it gets scary.

To make it worse, I hadn’t seen any mice. My whole day was a complete failure and heaven only knew how long it would be before someone found me. I could starve, or die of thirst, or my leg could fall off. I was in real trouble.

“Do you need any help?” The voice was tiny and I could not hear where it was coming from.

“Well, do you?”

“Yes, I’m stuck. Can you get me down?” I said to whoever it was who was offering assistance.

“I could chew thru the rope, but you would be hurt when you hit the ground, so I had better move some straw under you.”

“Makes sense to me.” At this stage, any help was welcome. I could hear something rustling around in the straw and it was tiny. Whatever it was, it was going to take a long time for it to move enough straw to break my fall.

I must have passed out, or fallen asleep, because when I awoke there was a small pile of straw on the floor directly under me. It wasn’t very thick, and it occurred to me that my landing was still going to hurt.

Someone was nibbling on the rope above me and before too long I heard a small voice say, “Brace yourself, I’m nearly through the rope.”

“Okay, I’m ready,” I said.

“You won’t eat me once you get free will you?”

“Of course not, why would I?”

“I’m a mouse, and terriers catch mice.”

“Don’t worry little mouse. You are saving me so I’ll make sure that the other dogs leave you alone.” At this point, I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this promise, but I would worry about that when I was free again.

The mouse finished his job and I hit the floor hard. One of my back legs hurt a lot, but I could walk.

I was in a lot of pain, but I did say thank you to the invisible mouse before I limped off back to my pack.

My mum said I was very foolish and she licked me all over, twice!

My leg hurt for a couple of days but it soon came good and there were no long lasting ill-effects.

I went back to the barn a few times, but I didn’t find the mouse who helped me. I wasn’t sure how I would recognise him, even if I did run into him.

It was getting close to the time that I would have to go out into the world and work with my own human. Two of my brothers had already gone to their new homes. My mum was sad each time it happened, but she always said that that it is the way of the world, children grow up and leave home and make a life for themselves. It all seemed a bit scary to me, but I tried not to show it. Terriers are tough and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was weak. Mum told me to make a fuss of the strange humans who came to look at the litter, but I didn’t need telling, I like humans. Naturally, I’ve heard some bad stories, but so far I’ve only come across kind humans.

It seemed like I would be leaving any day when I made a final visit to the barn. A couple of older dogs were barking at something behind a hay bale. I could hear the mouse squeaking and I knew it was trapped. I recognised his voice and I boldly jumped into the middle of the action and barked at the older dogs.

For a second, they stopped and then they growled at me. I think they thought I was trying to steal the mouse for myself. I had to do some pretty fancy talking to get them to believe my story. They called me a bunch of bad names, but they let the mouse go free. I had kept my promise, but I was not sure what would happen the next time because I would not be around to save him.

The mouse and I talked it over and decided that he had better come with me when I get collected. This was going to be a lot harder than it sounded.

I had worked out that the humans usually brought a box with them when they came to collect one of my brothers or sisters, and the mouse would have to be smart enough and quick enough to get into that box without being seen. I could create a small diversion, but it would not give him very much time. If they saw him, they would surely kill him. People don’t like mice. He was indeed, taking his life into his hands, but I guess he knew that this hair-brained scheme was better than being cornered in the barn the second I left.

The mouse stayed close to me for the next couple of days. He hid out under a broken plant pot not far from the front door of the big house. He only came out at night and only long enough to eat and drink.

On the third day, some strange humans came to where our litter was and the big one picked me up and looked right at me. He said something to the other human and put me down on the ground and attached a lead to my collar. I’d only been wearing the collar for a few days and I didn’t like it much, but every dog seemed to have one so I put up with it.

As they led me towards their car there was a box on the ground close by. I saw the mouse start to run in its direction and I began to bark as loud as I could, which wasn’t very loud, but it did the trick. Everyone looked at me, which gave the mouse time to climb into the box and hide under the blanket.

I wasn’t too happy that the humans laughed at me for barking. They were supposed to be frightened, but I guessed that my bark would get louder as I got older, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

Getting the mouse out of the box was easier than getting him into it and he has been living with us ever since. It’s only me and my mistress these days, she got rid of the male human, apparently he was, “a no good, good for nothing, waste of space.” I guessed that this meant that he wasn’t pulling his weight, and doing his job, whatever that was.

I like the way things are now. I don’t get lonely. I have lots of adventures and I have my mistress and the mouse to talk to, but I have to keep them apart.

She really doesn’t like mice.

For such a small pleasant creature, they sure do stir up some bad feeling. I’ve talked to the mouse about it and he doesn’t understand it either. That’s life I guess.

As far as I know, I’m the only terrier who has a mouse as a friend, but then again, maybe there are others, and maybe, just like me, they don’t want anyone to know.

I have to go now.

Mouse is expecting me.

We are going to walk down to the creek and sit on a log and talk about life.


I Like Dinner.

guessWhat can I say?

I like dinner.

I work hard all day, protecting the family, being cute, being hugged, going for walks, barking at birds, sleeping at your feet, and when dinner time rolls around [I just seem to know] I’m hungry.

When you feed me I feel like I’m important. I feel loved, just the way that I show you that you are loved.


Rufus and the Dog Walker.

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I tried to explain, but my mistress wasn’t having any of it.

She believed that I needed a dog walker and I said that I had her, so why would I need anyone else. She said that she needed to finish her latest book and I said we could take a short walk; I don’t mind. She said that there was no such thing as a short walk with Rufus and I reluctantly agreed. I am a bit of a hog when it comes to walking. There is so much to see, so many messages left by other dogs, butterflies to chase. It makes me itchy pawed just thinking about it.

I must say that I think she chose poorly, my mistress that is. Sure, the dog walker smelled nice and she was pretty by human standards, but what was with those shoes? She nearly stepped on me a couple of times so I did my best to stay away from her, but that seemed to make matters worse. The more I tried to get out of her way the more she looked like she might topple over and squish me. I’m pretty quick on my feet so I probably could have gotten out of the way if she did topple over but imagine the embarrassment of being attached to an upturned human. From my experience, female humans don’t fall well. Male humans are pretty good at it and they think it is fun. I usually jump on them when they fall over, but female humans tend to squeal if you jump on them, so I try to avoid it. I don’t think she’ll last very long in this job but for the time being I’m okay with it. She attracts lots of attention, mostly from males, and I get lots of attention as well, but I think that they  are more interested in her than in me; which is confusing. She only has hair on her head and she walks, rather unsteadily, on her back legs.

I’ll never understand humans, but as long as there are treats and long walks, who cares? Sometimes it is better not to know.