The Boss's Dog
A small black tornado disrupts my Easter
I was looking forward to my Easter camp, and The Boss took me and a mate into the hills on Thursday afternoon to set things up.
The weather was balmy, the bush fragrant and, after I had cast a critical eye over The Boss’s tent pitching, water gathering and wood chopping, I enjoyed a peaceful dinner by the fire while they nattered, with a boobook owl providing the rhythm section.
The big moon was near full but I heard nary a dingo nor wild dog howling all night. I slept like a dog (as you’d expect) until I woke up The Boss around dawn and took him for a brisk walk up the hill to watch the gilt-edged mist lifting from the valley.
In other words, Easter was off to a great start. I should have known it wasn’t going to last.
Around lunchtime, the young Missus arrived with the fur-child from Melbourne, along with the first battalion of grandchildren … and a tsunami named Billie.
This tiny black bundle looked bewildered for two and a half seconds, having never set foot in the bush before — but she took off in ever-widening circles, as if one of those robot vacuum cleaners had been dialled up to full speed and cut loose.
Then she spotted me and I could sense trouble heading my way. She danced and jumped around on her skinny back legs so she could nip my ears and sink her needle-like teeth into my lower jaw and, while a low growl was enough to send her off, I had that sinking feeling that it wouldn’t last long.
I was right. Five minutes later she was back, testing to see if she was mistaken and that my tender jowls didn’t mind being bitten into. Another growl and she was standing back this time, peering at me like I was an unreasonable hindrance to her progress.
At 12 weeks of age, Billie has only two speeds — flat out and zonked. The flat-out speed was camp-consuming: she had five doting grandchildren to scratch her belly and rub her ears — and seven bemused adults to provide back-up — but she worked through them all before falling back on the long-suffering four-legged company. Of which there were only two.
The fur-child took a lot of the pressure off me but she had been living with this compact tornado for several weeks already and the strain was showing. She would bat away the razor teeth with a paw, then mouth Billie’s pesky little black head with an absurdly gentle open jaw — but then just get up and walk away, looking forlornly at the young Missus, pleading for respite.
I’ve never felt sorry for the fur-child before but this time I did. She and I always have some playful sparring when she visits but not this time: she didn’t have anything left in the tank. She was exhausted. She snatched a few minutes’ sleep whenever she could, until the flying black bundle of fur landed on her head again.
Then, suddenly, all would go quiet. The black hurricane would collapse into a deep, sound sleep and we’d breathe a little easier – for about 20 minutes. Then, refreshed, renewed and re-energised, she would hurtle back into being.
This was the pattern for the entire Easter weekend, day and night. At night she had a blue light on her collar to alert me to her current direction of travel. This was handy because she couldn’t otherwise be seen.
A little warning was all I could hope for. Eating her was always a last, desperate option that could have unpleasant consequences for me. I had to put up with her taking the edge off my Easter. I hope yours, on the other hand, was trouble-free. Woof!