Vale Red Dog
I’m pretty sure my dog looks sheepish when he farts. I also caught him rolling his eyes the other night when we were trying to fool him by spelling out D-I-N-N-E-R.
I know for sure that it’s not an accident when he bumps visitors’ wine glasses only to dive in and lap up the spill.
I’ve written quite enough about my own dog. It’s indulgent, sorry.
But we obsess about them because dogs really are the best people. The love we have for our furkids can be annoying, trite, expensive, ridiculous. We dress them up. We put them down. In some ways we are kinder to them than we are to people.
And when they die, it’s a very specific sort of grief. One that can crumple hardened farmers and devastate children – often it’s their first experience of death, the way they learn about happy frolicking in eternal paddocks or … nothingness.
I was thinking about dogs because – sorry if you hadn’t heard – Red Dog died. Obviously the original Red Dog died a long time ago, but just recently the dog Australia fell in love with in the film Red Dog died. He was only 7; he died of heart disease. He was a red cloud kelpie who had to have his hair died a bit red for the film.
His name was Koko. And he was not just any dog.
Owner and Red Dog producer Nelson Woss says Koko was his “best mate”. “He certainly changed my life forever,” he said.
But it was Koko’s original owner, breeder Carol Hobday whose words will break your heart.
“I can’t think much about it,” she told ABC radio.
“He was a dog that was a little bit different to the rest. He was the first to do everything and he’d make sure all the other dogs got out of the way so he could do it.”
She wanted him back after the movie. But eventually allowed Nelson to have him – and you can see why in the screen test above.
“I’ll remember him as my dog … the dog that loved to chew my bracelet, my necklace, any piece of metal that he could… the most affectionate dog,” she said, choking on tears.
A dog that never forgot me. Every time I went to visit I got the same response, the same reaction, every time. He loved me to pieces. It was lovely. I just remember him as a wonderful, wonderful dog.
So vale, Koko, and Red Dog, and every other dog that was loved and is gone.
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