Monday, October 22, 2007

Dog memories and other stuff

Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of my dog Arabel. She was a liver and white English Springer Spaniel and a real character. The only dog I personally owned, our relationship lasted for 14 years. I acquired her as a puppy in 1973 and she was real handful, extremely lively and destructive, but sobered as she got older. Cats liked her, even wild stray kittens, as she was non aggressive and cheerfully friendly to all and sundry.

When she was about 18 months old she had puppies – 11 of them! I had hoped to breed her to my brother’s Springer Spaniel, but she fancied a mongrel that leapt over the fence, the father of two thirds of the puppies. All the puppies survived and I managed to find homes for every one of them, as they were attractive dogs. I remember their first weeks of life inhabiting my room in the rented house I lived in then. They all piled onto the bed (a mattress on the floor) along with Arabel and the oriental cat, Mao. I squeezed myself between them and somehow managed to sleep quite well. Cautiously opening my eyes in the morning, I’d pause before greeting the pups, as they’d swamp me with enthusiasm as soon as I said anything. This situation only lasted a few weeks before I moved them to a sheltered area outside and started the weaning process, which then meant that I had to get up in the middle of the night and feed them. They made a hell of racket when they were hungry.

That was Arabel’s only litter and I abandoned any ideas of breeding from her – too much hard work - and such a large litter was debilitating to the dog’s health.

Where I’d go, she’d follow. I even took her hitchhiking once all the way up to northern NSW and back. She was a four-wheel drive type of dog; she’d forge her way through anything.

Her favourite song was Lou Reed's " Walk on the Wild Side". She howled along with the coloured girls going doop de doop in anticipation of the saxophone break.

She died just after midnight on 22 October 1987. It was a mishap, a bone eaten too enthusiastically which lodged in her stomach and broke through the stomach lining. We rushed her to an all night vet, but she died on the operating table. I was distraught at her death and even the cats were upset. I never felt tempted to get another dog afterwards.

I still have her collar, which even after all these years still has a doggy aroma.

The above picture is a sketch I drew of Arabel when she was alive.

Other stuff…

Spring Racing Carnival

Last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup was full of drama with the hot favourite Maldivian being scratched at the barrier. I was watching it on TV and saw what happened. Maldivian reared in the barrier and cut himself on a fitting. The horse in the next barrier, Eskimo Queen lay down in the barrier and got stuck underneath it. Both runners were scratched, Maldivian being led of with blood coursing down his neck. The race itself was an anticlimax after the pre-race drama. My fancy Purple Moon was blocked for a run in the straight and came in sixth. Here’s hoping he has better luck in the Melbourne Cup.

The Cox Plate is run next Saturday and it has a very interesting field, including Haradasun, El Segundo and Miss Finland.


Last Friday I had the pleasure of seeing Angie Hart performing at Basement Discs. Angie was promoting her first solo recording “Grounded Bird” and very pretty it sounded. Angie attained fame at a very early age as the singer in popular band Frente. I knew her before that as a schoolgirl who frequented the Dan O’Connell Hotel.


Jan said...

I SO understand you missing your dog.
Non animal lovers cant understand but losing them is devastating..but remembering all the delight helps.

chiefbiscuit said...

That's a lovely drawing of your dog - and lovely memories; well-written. I can understand you not wanting another dog, knowing that you'd have to go through the grief again. We get so attached to our dogs and cats.