“I know what dead people look like. I worked for a summer at our local hospital. I told my mother that I was gaining experience for my future career as a writer. I’m not sure if she believed me, but she let me go. To be honest, my goal was spending money, boys and parties; and I succeeded on all fronts. Along the way, there were several dead bodies.
A dead body is a dead body, but some dead bodies cause more problems than others.”
I was only a pup when it happened.
He didn’t come home one night. Lots of people came to the door. I barked at some of them and my master was too upset to tell me to stop, so I picked the ones I didn’t like and gave them a full-throated bark. They might be fooling the other humans, but dogs know stuff — like who is good and who should be driven away.
My master was very quiet for a long time and we stopped doing the things we usually do.
These days, we are back to something like our old routine.
We go to the big market before it gets light — I find this bit hard, but a dog has to do his duty. He talks to the other men and loads up his handcart. It has his name printed on the side. I don’t read ‘human’, but I know it is there because other humans comment on it.
“Love the old signwriting mate. Did you do it yourself?”
“Yes,” my master would say and the other human would look disappointed — they always wanted to hear more, but my master doesn’t say much — not to them anyway — he talks to me though.
We go out most days, rain or shine and I stay close by.
“Sanderson and son, eh?”
This photo was probably taken in 1980.
The little boy is my eldest son, and the puppy is Ginger, a red Australian terrier.
I grew up with greyhounds, but my first dog was Digger, also a red Australian terrier. Digger was really my dad’s dog. Mum would not let dogs in the house so this little guy lived in the garage. My dad loved him very much, and he loved dad. About ten years after this shot was taken my dad died suddenly, and my mum was left with her grief and a dog she did not want. A few months after dad died mum found this little guy lying dead on the back lawn. There was nothing physically wrong with him he just missed my dad.
I’d heard the expression ‘he pined away’, but this was the first time I had seen it happen.
It breaks my heart, even now, to think of it.
With what I have learned, if this had happened now I could take that little dog and look out for him for his remaining years, but back then I was dealing with my own grief and foolishly did not think I could take care of a dog.
I have very few regrets in life, but if I had this time over again, I would not let this little guy die of loneliness.
Every day, at about this time, I walk down to the beach. My mistress, the one who writes books, has a house not far from the shore. She likes to come down here when the weather is warm. “No bloody telephone, and no one dropping in unannounced. Absolute heaven.” I don’t much care where we stay as long as I can protect her. She doesn’t need protecting at this hour of the day. She is in her little shed writing mystery stories. She’s reasonably safe in there, so I have a bit of time where I can come down to the shore and take in all the aromas.
The seagulls can be a bit of a nuisance, but it’s this damn crab that really gets up my nose. It should be frightened of me, but no matter what I do it does not seem to care. It bit me on the nose the first time I encountered it. I keep my distance since then. I run at it and bark at it, but it just stands there waving its legs in the air. I get the feeling that it would be quite tasty, but how the hell do you get hold of it.
I’ve wasted enough time worrying about that crab. There are other spots that need checking, and then it will be time to go and check on my mistress. She has her tea in the middle of the morning, and if I am close by and particularly well-behaved, I usually get one of those human biscuits, so I don’t want this annoying crab to make me late for biscuits.
The best part of my day begins when my mistress gets home from work.
Her train gets in about half past six and she is through the door about ten minutes later. I jump about a lot and she scratches my ears.
She picks up my lead and we head for the beach. Sometimes we just sit there and look out at the water. I wonder how I can catch one of those birds and she wonders about stuff that human females wonder about.
The next bit is fun also — fish and chips from the shop. I’m not allowed to have any ‘until they cool down’, which seems to take forever.
As it gets dark, we walk slowly home and I’m allowed to sniff anything I like, no matter how long it takes.