The Old Blue Dog


Sunday, bloody Sunday, reflects Bluey sourly. Usually its a day of joyous action, fishing and swimming with the kids down at the waterhole, treeing the odd goanna or giving a bunny or two a run for their money. Living it up!Today is not going to be like the other Sundays.Hes heard high pitched and persistent complaints that indicates the kids are being washed and made dress in their Sunday best, under close supervision and scrutiny. Something is going on up at the homestead and here he is chained up for the day so that he will be fresh for the muster tomorrow. He will be running his legs off in the hot sun, swallowing dust galore and with feet sore from bindieyes.He is the best all-round sheep and cattle dog in the district. Hard working and conscientious to a fault, and whats in it for him? Belted around, abused and half starved. Take a look at the accommodation will you? A short section of hollow log for a kennel. Big deal! In the summer it wouldn't throw enough shade for a mozzie and in the winter the wind and rain howls through it like a Wurlitzer.The old corn sack he sleeps on is either wet or a flea trap. Hed dig a hole under the log for some shade only hes over a network of bull ant tunnels.Hed be crazy to start anything there. Still, to his credit, the ants clean up any left-over scraps which help keep the flies away. The trouble is the ants dont wait for the scraps to be left over. At feeding time the ants are out in force and completely ignore Blueys growls from the other end of the bone.

Bluey is hot and thirsty, but the water in his old billy is almost on the boil and half full of bull ants. The ants use it as a swimming pool, floating happily around on their backs,looking up at the blue sky, just waiting for Bluey to shove his nose in for a drink.Then they latch on to his nose and use it as a fork-lift. They get a lift onto terra firma, and by the time Bluey has shaken them off they have also taken a hunk out of his nose to take home.

Every so often a movement of the still, hot air wafts a faint odour of roast turkey in Bluey's direction. There is some thing special on at the homestead. He knows from the howls of protest from the kids that they have been made to wash and change their clothes. Obviously there is some VIP coming to dinner and the excitement is mounting.

Bluey switches 'round to get a better look at the proceedings. All Bluey's fleas, formerly in the shade, are now exposed to the sun. They make a mass exodus for thee shadier side and all is forgotten as Bluey bites, thumps and scratches until peace is restored. What luck! Somehow in his frantic scratching he has unhooked the catch on his collar. He's Free !!!

There is even greater excitement over at the homestead. The new parson has arrived, making his first call to all his country parishoners. He hopes the food is better than the accommodation as he is usherd into the rough bush hut with its earthern floor, a mixture of antbed and cow dung, and apparently fairly recently laid, if his nose is not wrong!

And now is the time for Bluey to make his move. In the general excitement he slips into the hut and insinuates himself between the Parson's legs - a good strategic position with less likelihood of being booted outside. It is obvious from the codiality accorded the Parson that he is really family. He belongs.In Bluey's simple mind, humans are just two-legged variations of the dog family, only there smarter than the average dog. The Boss is the undisputed leader of the pack, next comes the missus and kids, and apparently high on the list of grudgingly tolerated outsiders is the Parson.

So, more to show that he is accepted into the pack than anything else, Bluey lifts a leg and christens the Parson's pants. Just a short token burst, but Bluey never finished the project. Next moment he is airborne, on the toe of the boss's boot,on a collision course with the door post. It took little effort on Bluey's part to maintain the same rate of speed into the nearest timber.

Bluey feels there is no percentage in hanging around, so he makes his way down to the remains of the dead kangaroo which is not all that hard to find, as it has been there for a long time and has reached the right stage of epicurean perfection. He deliciously savours its rich full flavour - and then rolls in it. By the time Bluey gets back to the house, everybody is settled around the festive board and wiring into roast turkey and all the trimmings.Bluey picks his moment and slips in under the table again.He rubs up against the Parson's leg just to let him know that his new found buddy is down there and would appreciate an odd scrap or two of turkey. The Parson gives Bluey a nervous pat which might have been interpreted by a more sensitive dog as "p.. off". Bluey promptly licks the hand that spurns him and passionately gazes into the Parson's eyes.What an actor !!

At this moment the full impact of the dead kangaroo aroma that Bluey is wearing hits everyone at once.The boss was the first to react.His hob-nailed boot lashes a wild haymaker. This is fielded neatly on the shin by the Parson>Bluey's mad dash for the door is just ahead of a saucepan load of boiled potatoes. Using the woodheap as cover, Bluey scuttles in under the Parson's car. Later, when things quieten down a bit, Bluey crawls to the Parson's car and curls up on the back floor and sleeps it off.

The Parson can't cut his visit short enough, and after the goodbyes climbs aboard his jalopy and thankfully puts a few spedy miles between himself and that unforgettable dog, even at the risk of broken springs on that unbelieable rough road. However, distance does nothing to ease the memory of that overpowering dead kangaroo. If anything, it seems more pungent.

A muffled sound behind him caused the Parson to turn briefly to look into the expressive eyes of Bluey, that said only to plainly, "I've just been sick". Whether the road was too rough or the 'roo to rich, or it was a combination of both, Bluey never waited to explain, for when the car stopped Bluey took off, and for a dog not feeling the best, he made remarkable time back home.

At last, making himself as inconspicuous as possible, and giving the house a wide berth, Bluey is right back where he started from. His jaded eyes took in the familiar scene - The sawn off hollow log, the water billy, the bull ants, the old chaff bag and the chain. It's not much, he thought, but it's home.

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Submitted by John Chandler