Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Strange animals - Part 1

You know, I've been thinking ... (uh, oh - that is always dangerous in her case, you suddenly say) - but I think that every animal/fish I have ever owned is such a personality and so strange, that it just felt natural that they should be part of our family. Owning an animal is the wrong phrase - they are really their own person, er...living thing, but if you are lucky, they invite you into their world.  Maybe that's it!  I've been invited in a lot!

I began to notice this with Elsa- my Australian terrier.  She was the runt of the litter and scheduled for 'deletion', but I stepped in just in time and took her to my classroom, and into my heart. She lived with me for many years and while jealous of Bronwyn's arrival in the beginning, became a fierce protector of me, and the family.  She often would put herself between me and a snake danger, knowing she could die if I didn't take notice. Thank God I did!  In the process of having her first batch of puppies while we lived on our wheat and sheep property in the early days, I was so worried about her.  I didn't know where she was and walked the extent of the farm yard calling for her. I knew "..nothin' about birthin' babies, Ms Scarlett", yet knew that when she suddenly ran out from under the old farmhouse, that she was in the midst of something.  She ran up to me, licked my hand somewhat frantically, (she stood all of barely 12 inches tall!) and ran back under the house and gave birth to two more puppies.. Now how many human Mothers would do that for a worried dog??!!

As time went by, we moved to a small but energetic Queensland town.  We started a manufacturing and supply business, and found that we needed a guard dog to guard the grounds at night-time.  We bought a rottweiler from excellent stock, and while we travelled overseas to see family for awhile, he boarded eventually with a retired police officer, who trained him.  He was an excellent guard dog. Without even looking like he was trying. But it stopped there. If asked to jump into the back of the work van, he would just stand and look at us pleadingly.  Apparently he was afraid of jumping or heights, as we would have to pick up this huge dog, and shovel him into the van....even in a car it was much the same.  However, as years went by, he discovered the back seat of the family sedan.  He loved riding in there at night-time.  Sometimes we just took him for a drive so that he could put his enormous head out of the back window and bark at the lights!  He loved them!

While he was on guard duty, Kurt had his normal morning tea break with the guys.  The pie van would pull up out front of our factory, and they would all go buy their pies and cokes, and Kurt would be be given his normal order--a steak and kidney pie!  One of the young apprentices had what can only be called a 'nasty habit' and after finishing his meat pie and coke would let out an appreciative burp--after a while, Kurt developed this habit too--so after he devoured his pie, he would sit down and with a happy look on his face would look at everyone in the room, and just burp!  Talk about being one of the boys. 

During the day, Kurt wondered the floor and watched what was going on, but at closing time, when the guys clocked out, Kurt would more or less clock on.  That meant that if any delivery man made the mistake of making a delivery too late in the afternoon, Kurt may let them in if the back doors were still open, but there was no way they could leave.  He would corner them, until we called him off.  The delivery guys soon learned to deliver on time.  Kurt ate at closing time, according to a colour, this was done so that during the night he would not be distracted by proposed poisoned food introduced to him, by break and enter 'villians'.  A very positive and proactive defense tool!  It was part of his training regime. So once we put the food into his dish, he would be called to his food dish, but would not touch the food until the magical 'colour word' was spoken--I think he ate to the command of Blue!  We would leave and lock up the gates, and Kurt patrolled all night. 

When we moved to Rockhampton, Kurt retired.  Not that he was that old, but he no longer needed to really be on guard duty.  He loved his new life.  We lived on 20 acres, without fences, so he could roam everywhere, and in the beginning he did.  But as time went by, he was content with staying close to home to keep a better 'eye' on things there, and would often be found laying at the top of the driveway, under the shade of the poinciana tree.

At the time, Elsa was his side-kick, and when people would walk up our gravel driveway for a look around or a chance to leave their car, and walk around, Elsa would start barking.  She was a great terrier guard dog--very good at early warning barks....but Kurt would just stand up and go to the driveway entrance and just stand there, not making a sound. 

If the people kept approaching and didn't stop at Kurt's preferred turn around spot for them to leave, he would suddenly appear even larger, and let out a growl and a bark of "Grrrummppp!"

Sometimes, when I heard this commotion I would stand at the first floor front windows and watch with wonder as the walkers suddenly realised that there was a Rottweiler watching them, and standing at attention ready to attack if needed.  It was amazing how many of them just stopped dead in their tracks and then just started walking backwards, looking at Kurt the whole time until they felt safe enough to turn around and head down the driveway as quickly as possible...I know it was cruel thing to do to them - but it was our property!






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