My family has had a long, if somewhat erratic, association with Queensland Blues, so when I sloped off to the country once again about a year back, I decided that only a proper dog would do. None of your silly, city terriers. It had to be a man's dog. A mate and a pub fighter, a back of the ute barker, one of those bastards that terrify all comers by slavering at the end of a chain. When I mentioned this to my companion at our five acre weed factory, she became very alarmed and wrote to her sister, who replied that such an animal sounded "quite horrible".Satisfied that anything which upset Beverly's sister was a good omen, I stuck to my decision and contacted an old mate of mine who specialises in things that fall off the backs of trucks. Now, everybody has a mate like this, except that mine is odder than most. While others deal in crocodile skin bags, wrist watches and stuffed bears, plus the occasional chook, my mate does dogs.
When I rang him about the matter, he gave me that terrifying Australian reassurance in reply, "No worry, mate". I should have twigged then, because every time that cry is uttered in the land, it means, at the very least, that your house is going to burn down, or to use the old line, somebody is going to run away with your wife and send her back. But because he was a mate, I was lulled into a sense of false expectancy. The old Brendan wouldn't muck things up, would he? He wouldn't let me down. Not bloody much he wouldn't! Anyway, there was silence for about three months and I forgot about the matter, continuing to seek my simple, solitary pleasures in the public bar of the Molonge's Exchange Hotel, (which in this part of the world , passes for Thoreau's Walden Pond.).
Then good old Brendan rang. Not only did he have one blue, but he seemed to have about a thousand of them, of all shapes and sizes, sexes and ages. They were all line bred, and they were all for free. Pushing the thought from my mind that he had perhaps conducted a one man guerrilla raid on the N.S.W. Cattle Dog Society's Annual Show, and now had the slavering horde confined in his third floor "studio apartment", I said I would take one, one only, and I thought it only fair that it should be the first one, rather than the last one he had grabbed, so that is how Bingara Mayo's Son, officially known as Buddy, but more generally referred to as Dickhead, came into my life. But before one gets down to the horror of it all, a little history about the noble breed for the benefit of outsiders.
As with everything Australian, nobody is quite sure how they began, which is why Crufts Dog Show wouldn't have anything to do with them until just recently. It began with the working dogs brought out from England having difficulty with the Australian conditions. They simply were not tough enough to be able to handle cattle in the vast western plains which had been opened up over the Great Dividing Range. Basically, in the old world, dogs had never been used to working cattle anyway, let alone the half-wild scrubbers that developed in this country. Then around the 1850's, a drover from Bathurst, named Timmins, decided that since the native dog was doing fairly well at the business without any training whatsoever (apart from the unfortunate idiosyncrasy that he tended to keep the animals for himself, rather than bring them back to their rightful owners), mucked around with a couple of his own dogs and a couple of wild dogs. His breed was known as Timmins Biters. The dogs were silent like the Dingo and would heel. But something went wrong and the breed did not develop any further after its initial success. Somewhat later on a breed known as Halls Heelers, started to be noticed in the working dog world. Once again they appeared to have a lot of Dingo, plus smooth haired Collie in them, but there are tales of other crosses. One early cross was said to have included the old Dalmatian, or fire dog, to give a guard strain. Another, the old English meat market dog, known as the Smithfield, has made some sort of a shadowy appearance. All this is still argued about by the breeders of blues, but some exactness starts to appear in the 1890's, when Robert Kaleski appeared on the scene and started breeding cattle dogs in earnest in Sydney. At that time it was generally claimed that a separate strain had been continuously bred at Musselbrook, in the Hunter Valley, for about 18 years.
No matter.What we then finished up with, was a heavily built, broad faced dog, with blue or red markings and a harsh, waterproof coat. By breeding, the dogs were silent, but they bit and they bit low. Then somebody introduced a blue highland collie strain onto the breed and so we went on. What one had, more or less, was a dog fruit salad. Since the Dingo has been put back into the strain to stop it from going soft, and there has been a lot of mucking around to make the paws more cat-like so they can work over rough, burr infested country.
The news of the arrival of Bingara Mayo's Son was not taken with any wild enthusiasm by the other half of our greenie, groupie commune. She had gone through a deprived childhood, one that had been completely pet free, so one had to answer innumerous questions about housing,( chain the bastard up), attitude to strangers, (chain the bastard up), fleas, (chain the bastard up), sex life, (chain the bastard up), and general obedience, (hit the bastard with a piece of four by two). But one question absolutely floored me. "Do you," she said, "do you think we should get him some boots? No, now come on Richard, I'm serious, I want to know these things."
"Booties for a blue heeler? " I replied, more than somewhat thunder struck. "Have you gone completely and utterly raving mad? They'll fall down in the local boozer. We'll be the bloody laughing stock of this town. The owners of the only limp wristed cattle dog in Australia. And what about the other dogs? Think of the shame of it. He'll either learn to walk on the prickles or lump the things as far as I'm concerned. Good God!!" The rest of the evening passed in restrained silence.Anyway, the great day arrived at last. Brendan arrived with an extremely confused tale about being delayed on the road by bikies, of taking Buddy, son of Bingara Mayo, to a C.I.B. press conference, of introducing him to Ita Buttrose, of great journalistic fame, in some dammed lift, and of how both of them, (he and the dog, not Ita), were banned from Sydney's Evening Star Hotel for fighting - He,( Brendan ) doing the fighting up top, and good old Buddy doing the floor work.
Buddy got out of the car and looked around with an expression of pure horror. I was handed a pile of blue ribbons which said animal was supposed to have won. I read them….Campbelltown, Dapto, Warringah, Sutherland Shire, Fairfield, St.George, Hawkesbury, and to cap all, "Blaxland - Glenbrook R.S.L.& Citizens Kennel & T. Club"."Don't exactly move in high society, does he?" I said. "What’s the owner been doing with him? Hiding him in the bush before painting him brown and trying to take out the Irish Whippet Cup at the Royal?" Brendan maintained a dignified silence, apart from saying with some semblance of hurt, "Anyway, he bit a collie, yesterday."
My further reply that I would have liked Bingara Mayo's Son somewhat better if he had managed to bite either a copper at the C.I.B. conference or Ita Buttrose, didn't go down to well, so without further ado, we adjourned to the pub for a couple of rums. But just before we departed, a stray kitten that had been hurled over the fence by some generous neighbour the night before, walked up to the dog. Hello, I thought, here's a go then. We'll see a bit of action and get rid of that cat at the same time, without the messy bit of sacks and drowning. The moggie walked right up to Bingara Mayo's Son and stuck its nose on his. The dog looked thoughtful for a moment, then turned tail and slunk away under a tree.That was the start of it all. Since then the brilliance of his character has unfolded day by day. We found out, for instance, that he not only had no idea what a raw bone was, but that as far as we know, he is the only dog in the world, who, instead of digging a hole and putting said bone in said hole, attempts, by sheer physical strength, to force it underground by pushing it directly downward with his nose. Since our soil is solid clay, Bingara Mayo's Son's nose is somewhat squashed.
He possesses some rudiments of dog etiquette. He knows that when one meets another dog, one has a piss and a sniff, but he can't cock his leg properly and falls over on his side. He is also dimly aware that when one meets another dog one usually scratches the ground up a bit with the back feet, but he doesn't realise that one has a piss then a scratch, so that he just stands there in one spot, scratching and sending grass and clods of earth all over the place in all directions, while the visiting dog looks on in amazement.He can't understand what sheep are and sits gloomily watching them for hours. And as for horses - well, they bother him so much that he pretends they are not there at all. Enemy dogs are also no problem, because he doesn't seem to have the mechanism to get his hackles up. But he's game. He stands directly in front of the enemy and barks straight into their face. Oddly enough, the said adversary usually opens his jaws and fastens them firmly on Bingara Mayo's Son's nose. This upsets him. It upsets me. It upset's the other half of the greenie, groupie community. It upsets dam near everybody in the hamlet. But where does one find a blue heeler school of street fighting? The yellow pages are no help.
One can go on : about his method of seeing intruders off the place - (barking once and running like hell in the opposite direction): about his sneaky and cowardly habit of trying to bully the cat when he thinks no one is looking : about the day he got everything totally wrong and made a sexual pass at the cat and got his face slashed: about the time he was badly scared by Beverly defrosting the refrigerator and cowered under the house for three hours; about the time he got a nasty scare from the coke bucket: about the time he got an erection and tried to bite it off in sheer panic: and of how the Wag Tails make his life one misery.
In retrospect, apart from this mornings infamous and humiliating magpie toast-stealing incident, the worst day was when we attempted to take him for his first ride in the ute. Now, everybody knows that country utes and blue heelers go together. I'm not quite sure about it, but I believe that in the country, there is a law that you are not allowed to drive a ute at all, unless you have a slavering barker carrying on like a maniac in the tray. So, we didn't give it a thought, did we? It was just that one day we were going for the usual scenic trip to the local tip, so, for a treat, I hurled him in along with the gunge. Instant paranoia set in. We hadn't gone three metres when he leapt out. We left him quivering on the side of the road. This was just too much. Enraged, I rang good old Brendan. "Do you Know?" I shouted, "that bastard can't even ride in the back of the ute? What sort of a dog is this?" Brendan remained unmoved. "You'll have to train him, like," he replied. "Sit in the back of the ute with him. Get him used to it. Besides which, the bloke who bred him said he would be much better once he's had a bit, you know?"I gave up then. Visions of cuddling the bugger in the back of the ute to stop him panicking, then teaching him how to have a root after we got there, were just too much for me. What the hell. Let him be persecuted, I reasoned. A few weeks back, the breeder who had donated the dog for free, rang to see how his little darling was getting along. I gave the opinion that our lad was harmless, but perhaps, just perhaps, he was as thick as two bricks. There was a thoughtful pause at the end of the line, then the breeders said carefully, "Well, I know what you mean, though I wouldn't quite put it that way. He's going to take a lot of training, like….(a longer pause here) ….he's sort of dormant.
So there he's going to sit, the old dormant dickhead, the last of a long, proud line, stretching back to the Timmins Biters. But it is not only dogs that are failing these days. I mean, it's a whole generation thing! I was at a country gathering the other day, having yet again failed to induce Bingara Mayo's Son the delights of ute travel, when a kid of about fourteen strolled up to me and asked for a smoke. I said I didn't have any tailor -mades, but he could have the makings if he needed one badly enough. He scuffed around for a bit, looked somewhat embarrassed, then said, "I'd like one…. If you could roll it for me."I was so bloody startled that I did roll one for him. He wasn't quite gormless, though, because he did have his own matches. I mean, what sort of a nation is this turning into? what the hell has happened to the spirit of Anzac? Cattle dogs that can't bury a bone and kids who can't roll a fag! They'd make a good pair, Buddy and that fourteen year old. You can just see them now, can't you? Together, I mean. Buddy would be falling on his side trying to have a piss and the kid would be trying to stick Champion Ruby in his ear. And as for chatting up a pair of likely sheilas….. Forget it!
And finally, what about his poor old dad, the famous Bingara Mayo himself? He's a true blue. He's led a good life, worried a few cattle in his day, bitten a few blokes, tried to bring the fool up right. Where did he go wrong, I ask you?
Submitted by John Chandler