Our family always had a dog. From photos and stories I know that before I was born Andy 1 and Andy 2 were part of the family but the first dog I remember was Mick. Dad came back from a visit to my Uncle Geoff’s farm and I can still see myself looking through the car window. Dad told me to look in his pocket and there was the little pup. Mick was a cross between a Border Collie and a Blue Heeler, I thought he was very handsome. When I was a kid most family dogs were “bitzers”, unrecognisable as any particular breed.
I don’t think anyone got their animals desexed and poor Mick succumbed to the lure of a beautiful white Samoyed which came into the area when market gardens were subdivided and sold off for housing. The fancy Samoyed’s owners didn’t appreciate Mick’s visits and shot him.
Dad always dreamed of having a farm, that didn’t happen but we did have plenty of animals at different times. Cows, a sheep, chooks, ducks and geese. The ducks, Lucy and Lucky were considered pets but for a while my Auntie Myrtle was living with us and she hadn’t been brought up with the luxury of pets. One night Lucky appeared at the dinner table along with carrots, peas, potatoes and gravy!
Our next dog was a Golden Labrador which came from a farm in the Adelaide Hills complete with millions of fleas. We thought she was sick when she wouldn’t respond to anyone and when we hadn’t seen her pee for 2 days we took her back to the farm. On arrival she immediately squatted and relieved herself which seemed to show she wasn’t sick but traumatised by being separated from her family. We brought her back to our place again and she soon accepted her new situation.
Dad also brought home a kitten which was found at his work. Soxy didn’t need any encouragement to stay. One day though she was bitten by a snake and Uncle Geoff who was up visiting wanted to bury the apparently lifeless cat but Mum didn’t let him. It was lucky for Soxy because he recovered and seemed none the worse for his near-death experience.
Another kitten which came into our lives wasn’t so lucky. It was a gorgeous little fluffy, grey ball and I named him Stephelius after a song that was popular at the time. He had a penchant for water. If someone was in the bath he would clamber up and walk around the edge of the tub. It became obvious something was wrong so I took him to the vet. He diagnosed kidney disease and that was the end for the kitten.
I also had a couple of Guinea Pigs, then a lot more. I think I learnt quite a lot from them including the painful fact that sometimes you need to separate the male of a species from their babies. My youngest sister, Cathy, also kept some very appealing Silkie Bantams which free ranged.
Eventually we all left home but Dad always had dogs for companionship.