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.

Twitter: @ToryShepherd

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDST.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • the hot dog says:

      06:35pm | 19/12/12

      every dog has his day

    • Grandma says:

      06:27pm | 19/12/12

      When my marriage broke down after nearly 30 years I was shattered. I’d wake up in the morning not wanting to get up, but there at the door was my beautiful Belgian Shapherd, wagging his tail and a hopeful look on his face, so up I’d get and go for a walk. His greeting when I got home made life worth living, and when I left he came with me. . It was his love that kept me going through the bad times, He was as gentle as a lamb with the grandbabies and I never worried about what they were doing with him keeping an eye on them. I lost him a couple of weeks ago and miss him more than I missed the ex. I feel like I’ve lost my best friend.

    • Sarah says:

      05:46pm | 19/12/12

      I moved to night shift this week because I can take my dog to work with me then. She’s a tiny chihuahua, but she’s as smart as Red Dog.
      I cried absolutely terribly over that movie. I’m an Aussie, married to an American. The week after we got engaged, he flipped his truck on the highway. Thankfully he survived, but that movie made me so sad because it could have been the same for me.
      I loved Red Dog, and when we get a bigger property, I intend to get one.
      RIP Koko. You were a better actor, and better person than most in the industry.

    • Kipling says:

      04:59pm | 19/12/12

      We have three dogs presently, all rescued. The most recent we were fostering and just did not feel right about a “trial” option that came up on the other side of the country. Poor little bastard had already been booted from pillar to post with six different homes in fourteen months of life, prior to coming here, so we adopted him too.
      Would not trade any of them for anything. Even though the newest is fear based aggressive, we have done an immense amount of work with him and now he does not automatically go into kill mode when he sees other animals. Local cats are certainly at risk still from him and one other of our dogs, however, they are under control for the main part.
      I am astounded by the number of non dog people who frequent the local off leash beach and then whine to dog owners about their dogs. I got so sick of the pat response to “you know this is a dog beach” (the response being “they’re meant to be under control”) that, given how under control our first two are I have stolen from Billy Connely and now respond with, “They are under control, I have trained them to detect arseholes….” it is a good bad conversation closer…
      We have had other dogs (also rescued previously) who have long since ventured across rainbow bridge, they are still missed somewhat.
      Sad about Koko.

    • Ags says:

      04:16pm | 19/12/12

      Your dog will be on (and by) your side, no matter what may happen to you, or what others may think, or say, about you.Protection, loyalty, love, and devotion are what dogs are all about. They miss you every minute you’re away, and adore every minute your’e with them. Hearts always open for you, life on the line (if necessary) for you, Your dog is the embodiment of blind love and trust. I know mine is - gods bless her little soul! I’m sure she must have one.

    • Gregg says:

      03:52pm | 19/12/12

      Seven is far too young for a good dog but hopefully Koko had seven of the best years.
      Our old fella is into his sixteenth year now, fifteenth with us when I brought him home from the RSPCA and mostly black as black then and now also needing a lot of colouring if he was still to be black for he is getting an enormous ammount of grey hair, enough around the mouth he could easily play Santa Dog and he is as gentle and considerate as they come except to Cats! or even little boys visiting who he might get jealous of.
      The other endearing thing he would do if someone was visiting and he thought he was being ignored would be to quietly start munching away on one of my best thongs, demolishing half in a matter of minutes.

      He still likes to go for his regular morning and afternoon walks, often a trip to the beach for a romp in the waves, has always been a voracious eater and then these days it’s early to bed for about ten/eleven hours sleep on our bed of course.

    • Eda says:

      02:00pm | 19/12/12

      Tory, thanks for a touching/loving post.

      RIP Koko, it was pleasure watching you in Red Dog.

    • Macca says:

      01:58pm | 19/12/12

      May parents have a golden Lab who is about 11. She was diagnosed with Cancer, cateracts and diabetes all in about a 6 month period. Back in May, she was really sick, and I thought that was stumps. I bailed on my Football match to go see her, and after about 2 hours of playing in my parents back yard, I said my goodbyes and cried the whole drive home, at which point I went to the pub and drank myself stupid.

      That dog is still going, somehow, and she’s happy as larry, albeit a bit slower than in her past.

      I desperately want my own beagle or retriever, but apartment living in Sydney just doesn’t cut it. Need something more docile and independent. Thinking a Saint Bernard will do the trick wink

    • K-9 says:

      01:52pm | 19/12/12

      Thanks so much for the article Tory. Still haven’t gotten over our little Charlie Chuckles after almost 3 years, but I make sure I say good morning/night to him almost every day from our balcony (he’s next the bird bath in the front garden). He was my wife’s only baby for 15 years, so you can imagine how she still feels about it…

      We now have 2 new-ish little panda pooches (B&W shih-tzus) to keep the slightly older golden-boy company, as he did Charlie in his older age. My wife still hasn’t been able to watch Marley & Me, or Red Dog, or Hachiko & probably never will *sniff*.

      From one adoring dog lover to another, spoil them rotten for Christmas & cherish every moment in doggie years, walk them & play with them like every day is their last, no matter how much agony you have to go through in the end.

      And have yourself a very Merry Christmas & a super puppy safe NY! wink

    • Sarah says:

      01:31pm | 19/12/12

      I grew upw ith 2 german shepherds and it wasn’t until I got my golden retriever at the end of 2010 that I realised how people can compare there dogs to children or how someone can get so upset when one passes away. My dog Ava has given me nothing but love, everytime I come home in the afternoon I am greeted with a big smile as if to say “where have you been all day, I’ve missed you” and then doesn’t stop until she gets her scratches and then on to to the lead til we go to the dog park, she sleeps with me, she has been there through some sad times and even though she sometimes has selective hearing when I tell her to do things I couldnt imagine life without her. I will be truly devastated when she passes away and even though that day is well 10 years away it is always a dreaded moment to think about.

    • Jamie says:

      02:19pm | 19/12/12

      I couldn’t agree more, our Molly (cavoodle) who we were lucky enough to become parents to at 8 weeks old and who is now coming up on 4 yrs old, I too have had thoughts of that difficult day when our friendship comes to a close, it is just hard to think that the blessing can’t be for longer. On 3.5 weeks annual leave at the moment and the first thought was I’ll get to spend quality time with the dog smile

    • Baloo says:

      01:30pm | 19/12/12

      Why is there people in this article commenting about how tough their cat is?

    • Baloo says:

      03:22pm | 19/12/12

      What are on about phil?

    • Philosopher says:

      01:56pm | 19/12/12

      don’t let little Tinkle hear you say that or she’ll stop purring!

    • Megs says:

      01:30pm | 19/12/12

      When Red Dog the movie came out I had my own red dog, a stunning looking red kelpie cross border collie.

      I’ve owned a number of dogs, but this fella was something special and not always in a good way. I have never invested so much energy in an animal before and my heart near broke when his time on earth was over.

      I understand the sentiment ” I can’t think too much about it”.... wipes tears

      I’m now mending my heart by being a puppy raiser for the Guide Dogs and all being well this little guy will go on to become something ever so special to a lucky person out there.

      As for Red Dog, I think it will be a long while before I am brave enough to watch it again. Perhaps when the sinuses need a really good cleansing.

    • Vicki says:

      01:27pm | 19/12/12

      Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

      When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
      There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
      There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

      All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
      The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

      They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

      You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

      Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

      Author unknown…

      (With all my heart I wish this to be even just a little like what the reality might be)

    • Jo says:

      02:04pm | 19/12/12

      Oh my goodness, this has me in tears! What beautiful sentiment! And I hope my little Aussie Terrier Ollie (also a red dog!) is waiting for me when my time comes (having said that, he is only 3 years old, so I hope we both have a hell of a long time left first!)

    • BCLover says:

      01:04pm | 19/12/12

      Recently I holidayed at the beach with m family and our beloved Border Collie. Every morning I exercised her on the local leash-free dog beach (well signposted for those who wished to avoid frolicking pooches). Without fail every person with a dog greeted me with a cheery “Good Morning” as our dogs socialized also, happily running, sniffing and playing. Truly, people who love dogs and are responsible owners are awesome, as are their animals, in all shapes and sizes. Not one moment of aggro or misunderstanding was encountered, just peaceful coexistence. I wish the rest of the human race were like them.

      And goodbye, Red Dog. Seven is young for a kelpie to die. Glad you had a great life, mate, and you were loved in return.

    • Fed Up says:

      12:58pm | 19/12/12

      Sad to hear about Red Dog…liked the flick…like dogs but not their idiotic owners….
      I have a Burmese cat…smarter than dogs…comes with a hand jesture,knows when i yell “chicky"its food time,can easily open doors…closing not that good,clean..never makes a mess,guards the house and keeps other cats away.
      So in short Bullwinkle rox.

    • Philosopher says:

      03:59pm | 19/12/12

      Matt: my childhood pet bluetongue lizard (Likky) used to take phone calls when we were too busy. Plus he knew his own latin name. Beat that!

    • Matt says:

      03:34pm | 19/12/12

      Wow, can open doors, understands hand gestures and certain words. Every dog i have had does these things. Not super smart, just standard. Come back to me once Bullwinkle catches flies, can recognise the council pound car, can steal a dinner table full of sandwiches not leave one clue while the family is in the next room and understands the name of 25 different toys getting the right one every time.

    • Philosopher says:

      01:29pm | 19/12/12

      Burmese cats are the best! Like dogs, only better. We had two… now tearing up, damn you.

    • CHA says:

      12:47pm | 19/12/12

      I lost my Foxie Tamara when she was only 6 months old -I will never get over it
      She was the most special little friend and in reality my one and only real friend in this world - I loved her from the day I got her at 6 weeks old - she was smart , affectionate and wonderfull company
      I know she will be waiting for me in the next world - I hope to join her very soon

    • Irisa says:

      12:45pm | 19/12/12

      I love going home to see my parents.  Usually only once a year I rock up for a couple of weeks and the reception I receive is crazy.  The dogs are so excited to see me that one of them pees herself!  I see them once a year and every visit it’s the same excitable reaction.  The cats on the other hand, I may see them by Day 2 of my visit!  Dogs rule!

      RIP Koko ...

    • CHA says:

      12:42pm | 19/12/12

      I lost my Foxie Tamara when she was only 10 years old.
      I loved her from the day I got her at 6 weeks old - she was the most marvellous little friend and in all honesty my only friend.
      People tell me to get another dog but I just can’t do that
      -I will never forget her nor will I stop loving her - even if some say I am wierd for being like that.
      I just know she will be waiting for me in the next world - I am hoping it will not be too long

    • drew says:

      12:42pm | 19/12/12

      From Byron’s ‘Epitaph to a Dog’:

      But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
      The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
      Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
      Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
      Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
      Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth –
      While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
      And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      12:31pm | 19/12/12

      I like your comment about trying to fool your dog by spelling dinner.

      We have cats and refer to dinner as “that time”.

    • Mr X says:

      12:30pm | 19/12/12

      Cats rule!

    • X says:

      12:21pm | 19/12/12

      “But we obsess about them because dogs really are the best people”. I prefer to think that dog-people obsess about dogs because of the people they (the people) are - not because of anything a dog is.

    • Evalee says:

      12:06pm | 19/12/12

      I grew up with a dog but never loved dogs until I got 2 dogs within 6 months of each other 5 years ago.  Now I am a moron of the highest order and pine for the time I get to spend with them.  They love me, make me laugh, take me for walks and care for me.  I love them without reservation.  My dad used to say that there is nothing worse than a reformed anything.  Well I am a reformed non-dog person and I have it bad.  And I am OK with that.

    • lea says:

      01:24pm | 19/12/12

      “Now I am a moron of the highest order”

      lol, I’m with you. And I’m OK with that too.

    • Anthony Sharwood

      Anthony Sharwood says:

      11:57am | 19/12/12

      Pffft. I ljke cats

    • Ripa says:

      12:28pm | 19/12/12

      My wife has 2 cats,. Stinky furry smelly fussy pussies. The most disgusting thing about these 2 cats is one sometimes vomits her food, then the other (male) comes along and eats it.

    • Ziggy says:

      12:11pm | 19/12/12

      Give me your address and I’ll courier ours over together with his medical insurance and history of vet’s bills from all the fighting with everything from Monitor lizards, red belly snakes and,recently, a goat! Dogs are of no consequence to him as he finds them a lot of chicken hearted cowards. He weighs 8.9kgs - no fat. Like the Burmese people say - brick in velvet.I think he actually belongs to one of the bikies gangs - or should.

    • TheRealDave says:

      11:49am | 19/12/12

      I have to stifle a giggle everytime I see or hear the word ‘Red Dog’. It means something completely different to the blokes I played footy with wink

      ...but…back to the movie. I put it on for my kids a few months ago, my oldest girl was 12 and the youngest 9…..and they were both absolutely howling by the end…not sniffles - but actual sobbing and bawling their eyes out…..

      ...friggen girls….my 3 year old boy told them to stop being sooks and chased them with a plastic bat.

      Boys rule!

    • Philosopher says:

      01:03pm | 19/12/12

      ripa: that’s how cats ‘share’.

    • Gaz says:

      11:29am | 19/12/12

      Is it an accident when they shit on my lawn

    • Colin says:

      01:36pm | 19/12/12

      @ Gaz

      No, Gaz, it isn’t; they are directed to do so through commands from the remote-controlled synapse-stimulating electrodes I have had implanted in the brains of all of the dogs in the vicinity of your house.

      Merry Christmas.

    • Jay says:

      11:24am | 19/12/12

      We have a Malmute that sounds like she is talking when she sees her leash and ready for her walk. Aboslutely adorable and she is such a smart dog. Our cat on the other hand, comes home at 6.00am after a night on the town, meows incessantly until he is fed, then without any acknowledgement finds a bed he likes and sleeps for the whole day.What a life. If our malmute gets in his way the cat slaps her on the cheek and then moves on. I hate that cat.

    • Paul says:

      02:13pm | 19/12/12

      @ Jay: I bet the local, native wild and bird life hate your cat more than you do.

    • TheRealDave says:

      11:45am | 19/12/12

      We recently lost (a few months back) our Malamute, best dog ever….

    • shakazulu says:

      11:03am | 19/12/12

      The bloody cat we have would just kill him!! Neighbours have complained about him terrorising their dogs which includes a doberman for God’s sake.
      Swap the phsycho cat for Red Dog any day.

    • sunny says:

      10:54am | 19/12/12

      He was a better actor than Sam Worthington, yet didn’t get half the opportunities. Show business is so unfair.

    • SM says:

      10:52am | 19/12/12

      sad about the dog, but sadder still the state of the domestic film industry when this film is the hit of the year

    • SM says:

      12:32pm | 19/12/12

      never said it didn’t, but the highest grossing film of the year?  Good lord…

    • Vicki says:

      11:53am | 19/12/12

      Even sadder that the film brought you no joy.

    • NigelC says:

      10:51am | 19/12/12

      It’s not the length of life that’s important, it’s the quality. Koko may have lived a short life but in his role as Red Dog he will continue to bring tears of joy and sadness to many people for a long time to come.

    • TChong says:

      10:51am | 19/12/12

      Yes the dog ( Koko) was good, but….
      The fillum actually relied on canine flatuence as an integral part of the storyline.
      Great Dog     5 stars.
      Shitehouse movie.  1/2 star.

    • Ben says:

      04:34pm | 19/12/12

      I agree with TChong;:it was a cringeworthy and overrated movie.

      @Angry God of Townsville

      Whether it was a “workers story” is beside the point. I thought it a bit PC myself: how many people were smoking in that bar scene supposedly from 1979? Answer: none.  Give me ‘The Castle’ any day/

    • Angry God of Townsville says:

      04:21pm | 19/12/12

      As someone who has spent time in the west, I can tell you that places like Dampier are actually real and that the groups who worked out there did exist. By all reports the story was based on the real red dog. The statue is there, the stories were legendary and probably assisted by the ale, but the legend was based on a real dog.

      So the story, the books and the facts do not matter to you, explains a lot about the comments that you contribute.

    • TChong says:

      12:35pm | 19/12/12

      WTF you on about.?
      Your dogs a champ, ? thats good.
      See above, I give the dog 5 stars.
      Real workers story?
      If you want to believe its a real story, go knock yourself out.
      Most people would think its fiction but if you reckon its a doco, all good for you.

    • TChong says:

      12:33pm | 19/12/12

      WTF you on about.?
      Your dogs a champ, ? thats good.
      See above, I give the dog 5 stars.
      Real workers story?
      If you want to believe its a real story, go knock yourself out.
      Most people would think its fiction but if you reckon its a doco, all good for you.

    • Angry God of Townsville says:

      11:39am | 19/12/12

      Funny how people can hate something for such a minor point. Personally the fight scene between the cat and Red Dog was poor, but I let it go and enjoyed the story.

      It was a bit of irreverence and a real workers story. That was probably the real location of your anger at the movie.

    • CP says:

      11:28am | 19/12/12

      TChong, this isn’t a dog and/or film review. It’s a story about animals and their ability to change our lives. My dog is one of my best mates. That’s a 5/5 in your parlance. Grow up.

    • Only good dog's a hot dog. says:

      10:50am | 19/12/12

      Dogs are like that pathetic little kid at primary school who’d let you borrow his toys, and never return them, if you’d just show him a little bit of kindness.

    • Gregg says:

      03:34pm | 19/12/12

      @Lee and Baloo
      You need to read it with the commas working overtime.
      Martin has it and like me may feel the hot dog guy is saying dogs are there to just be treated as a bully type person would one he bullies.

      Not really a kind post, especially if you love animals.

    • Baloo says:

      12:47pm | 19/12/12

      I don’t understand, are you trying to troll?
      I agree with Lee, I’m so confused.

    • Martin says:

      12:25pm | 19/12/12


      The voice of experience. You’ve clearly grown into an adult version of that exact same pathetic kid.

    • Colin says:

      12:05pm | 19/12/12

      @ Son

      “Wow - your horrible”

      What’s so wow about HIS horrible? You should see OUR horrible..!

    • Son says:

      11:37am | 19/12/12

      Wow - your horrible

    • Lee says:

      11:27am | 19/12/12

      Pretty sure this sentence doesn’t even make sense.

    • iansand says:

      10:38am | 19/12/12

      The original Louis de’Berniere (he wrote Captain Corelli’s Mandolin too) story is pretty special as well.

    • Bill says:

      10:06am | 19/12/12

      So sad to hear about Koko.

      I can only trust that he is chasing cats in heaven now,

    • bananabender says:

      06:10pm | 19/12/12


      one of my mates had an extremely agressive blue heeler. The dog’s best friend was a cat. They always slept and played togather.

    • Philosopher says:

      12:55pm | 19/12/12

      haha Colin, excellent work smile

    • Colin says:

      12:43pm | 19/12/12

      @ Philosopher

      That’s all Well and Good that the offending miscreant mutt is being basted eternally over a roasting fire, but I very much doubt that the same (Christian?) hell would be where those from Punchbowl and Blacktown would be housed, surely..?

    • Philosopher says:

      12:00pm | 19/12/12

      Colin, I checked with the Big Guy and he assures me your Rotty is being spit-roasted as we speak; along with bogan souls throughout Punchbowl and Blacktown.

    • Chris L says:

      11:34am | 19/12/12

      Maybe they could add a few bunnies to mix it up a bit.

      If dogs don’t have an eternal soul I don’t see how humans could deserve one.

    • Kika says:

      11:12am | 19/12/12

      Not necessarily. All the dogs I’ve had love cats. My dog and my cat as a kid were best of mates. My dog would spend hours grooming the cat, running his teeth through his fur and making this weird whining noise at the same time. They both enjoyed it.  My dog now loves cats more that she loves dogs. Her first friend was a kitten and they used to play endlessly. She still loves them. She loves spying cats when we go for walks, she just gets upset when they don’t return the love.  And when I bring my cat over she tries to kiss her through her carry cage. The cat doesn’t appreciate it as much as Charli does.

    • Colin says:

      11:02am | 19/12/12

      So. if there is a “
      Doggy Heaven”, that implies that there must - ipso facto - be a “Doggy Hell”..

      At least, i hope so; because if that filthy rottweiler that severely macerated my leg some years back is being roasted slowly over an open fire by his cat overlords, then there must be a god..!

    • Alice says:

      10:33am | 19/12/12

      Hmm..Dog heaven kind of sounds like cat hell.


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