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dave the dog

We’ve all seen those Border Patrol dogs sent sniffing down a line of international mail until they stop and sit, tail wagging by the side of a parcel containing about a month’s worth of blow your cousin’s second best friend in California assured you that by packing it in a specially constructed bag covered in vegemite impregnated silver paper and buried deep inside a solidified paste of composite dust, resin and fibreglass shavings gathered from a boatyard in San Diego would ease through Customs no worries. Done it a million times.

Problem with that is the blokes manning Customs this side of Pacific have a weapon capable of defeating dope smugglers – they have dogs like Dave.

Because dogs like Dave have very inquisitive noses.

This became apparent to us one late summer evening when the family, together with Dave, was gathered on the second story verandah of their Avalon home for dinner and one of the young grandsons flicked a beer-bottle cap over the railing and into the overgrown garden below.

Dave sat up, twitched, bolted.

Ran from the verandah, through the living room, down the stairs, banged through the back screen door then along the outer courtyard, down the stone steps, across the lawn and finally over the sandstone boulders that have rested on this hillside for a thousand years to the bottom terrace by the back fence where nobody ever goes – it being a home for bush ticks, brown snakes and the young bloke who squatted down there when it rained and howled at the hidden moon. This was early Avalon and not everyone was compatible. Ralph. His father put his head into a freezer bag one day, tied it around his neck, sat in a chair in his living room and waited for his wife and son to come home to see he had suffocated himself. Three weeks earlier when he was in hospital I visited him and passed over a milk bottle containing half a bottle of Dewars whisky. I now regret doing that.

Back to it.

Minutes passed. We drank smoked, laughed and forgot all about the bottle cap and Dave until he re-appeared with it clamped in his mouth, what we could see of it.  His tail wagging hard enough to raise dust from the floorboards. Then he dropped the cap onto the floor and I kid you not, challenged us to do it again. That kelpie look. Which of course we did. Again and again. Dave did not tire. Dave did not fail to retrieve the bottle cap every time.

Sometimes late at night I’ll lean over the side of the bed and my hand will find him lying there, fully alert, and if I was to turn on the bedside light I know he’ll have the bottle cap close by.

Because for dogs like Dave the game is never over.

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