I know this may seem like an odd post for me to write, as I am not an enormous preacher of animal love, I could never truly understand that emotional ‘hook line and sinker’ people felt when they bonded with an animal, to me they have always been workers and pets, never a best friend. Dogs passed through our home regularly and left just as quick as the working standard was not there and the yap of their undisciplined bark echoed the township. Until little Woody came into our lives, fresh from England 10 years ago and this afternoon we will bury him on the property he loved for so long, overlooking a valley he got lost in too many times.
To little Woody – thank you for taking care of dad when I moved out, thank you for being a companion, I have never seen dad weaken to the likes of a dog until your eyes clouded and bones weakened with age, until he started to heat your milk up of a morning and swap your old cotton bed to one of fresh merino wool sprawled beneath his sleeping feet. Every time I would jump into my car to head back to Wagga Wagga, dad would pick you up and hold you close as the emotional strain tore beneath the surface and you provided the warm comfort of companionship he so desperately needed for the time I was away.
Thank you for softening the harsh exterior of my father, you came into our lives beside a man who didn’t stay, he lived with dad for a two years as dad employed him, you were forever getting stuck under our feet and causing an annoyance, no emotional connection between you and I irrupted until he left and returned to his home country, back to England and left you behind, left you with us and all his belongings, however, you being the most valuable belonging we could ever inherit. That emotional connection between us sparked when you began to comfort me in times of need, when the troublesome woes of high school got too much you would curl into my arms, when the pain in my chest would irrupt and you’d howl beside me, two pals, a dog and a girl, one abandoned and one suffering mental torment.
I think now would be an appropriate time to apologise the amount of times I dressed you up in funny dog outfits, sat you on the back of my horse and paraded you around shows, for the time I had a few too many Carlton Drys on year 12 muck up day and you ran crossfire to my projectile vomit on the walk home from the pub, although it remains a funny story among my friends I still feel bad for the quick wash I had to give to before putting you in dads, the smell of wet dog and vomit didnt impress dad all that much, nor little Woody I believe.
When I packed up my room, you knew the ache id leave behind as my father and I relied on each other daily to continue, you knew the dedication to be a man’s best friend now sat solely on your little brown scruffy shoulders and that you would have to have an even bigger impact daily to dad’s life, and you did, every trip home I saw you and dad grow closer and closer and the walls of a man who ”doesn’t like mutts” strengthened and you moulded an empathetic changed character, in the shape of my father.
For the community of Tallangatta, it hurts me to announce the little mascot of the township passed away last night, expectedly, as old age now rattled his body, my father and I would like to thank you all for a number of times you had to pick him up from the main street and return him to the work yard, for a number of times he baked in the sun mid road and a number of times he came into your home, uninvited but desperately appreciated.
Two days before the little guy passed away I announced to dad I recently bought another dog to edge the loneliness of being away from home, Woody must have known it was okay to go now. I hope Peggy meets the standard of you Woody, I hope she touches peoples lives the way you did.
I was not an animal person until you came in and changed that, now I ache for everyone who has lost a dog.