The Primary Pooch
Primary Pooch...First Dog in my Heart
Kim was an Airedale, crossed with something (maybe several 'somethings') and so his features were softer than the usual sharp angles of his breed.What I do know for sure, was that he was the first in a line of great and treasured canine characters that have shared my life.
There are some people who can never bear to have another dog when they lose their first - but I've always felt totally opposite to this. My life has always been too empty without a dog to love.
Kim was in fact, the reason for all the rest who would follow in his paw-prints... and I must tell you, they were BIG prints to fill!This then, is my tribute to my 'first love' - my Kimmy.
I'm the little squirt on the left - the one on the right is my cousin Rae - and no need to mention the 'star' by name, is there?
... for both of us
We all know how 'Lucy Had a Little Lamb, that followed her to school one day'.Well, my Kim followed me to school many, many days, and I didn't try too hard to discourage him - for good reason. Sometimes he could stay draped over my feet, under my desk IF he behaved himself (and he did!...perfectly understanding the 'ground rules')... and then the teacher would make me take him home again at recess time.But sometimes the command would be "right now".
Of course, I would need a friend to accompany me - for safety and to help (?) me take my big dog home. And of course, when we had made the 'delivery' - we would just have to pop into my Dad's butcher shop and get some slices of fritz. And into my Mum's kitchen to get some home-made biscuits and a drink of milk. Finally, there was no choice but to go back to school - the good news being that the school morning hours had shrunk immeasurably!
Uh-oh. Just thought - if you aren't Australian (in particular South Australian), you probably don't know what Fritz is! Well, it's a large cooked sausage usually containing several types of pork, basic spices, and a binder, that you eat sliced, usually in sandwiches. Traditionally, all butchers give any child who comes into their shop, a slice of fritz...(maybe to keep the kids quiet? Good thinking Mr. Butcher)
We Were So Afraid
...of things that went 'BANG'
Kim and I hated fireworks - in fact, to be perfectly honest, Kim and I were terrified of fireworks. We would become craven cowards, shivering miserably in our skins at the first explosion. He would knock down the door and anyone standing in the way to get in and under the first bed he could find. For Kim there was no question - all fireworks were to be avoided at all costs.
And for me, the only acceptable fireworks were 'sparklers' - they were just magic. Little sticks that sputtered into an orb of sparkling stars and when you waved them about in the air, left magical diamond trails for just a few moments. But of course my brothers (being typical 'big brothers') couldn't help themselves from taking advantage of my moments of distraction to throw 'crackerjacks' around my feet. These demonic inventions made heaps of bangs and explosions and sparks, and seemed always to get pulled along behind you as you tried to escape them. I still shudder just thinking of them.
Now He Was Afraid
Thunderstorms had the same effect on Kim. To him these were just more 'bangs' to be endured - again, from the most removed position under Mum and Dad's bed - in the middle - where it was most difficult to get him out.
I tried often to tell him these were different, but my pleas fell on deaf ears..even when I wriggled under the bed with him and told him up real close and personal! He would just lick my nose, and shiver and shake and smell scared - eyes wide and puffing fast and hard.
It was a shame really, because I loved thunderstorms - still do some 60+ years later! There's something so appealing about the tremendous power and noise, and maybe blackouts, that I always found exciting - an adventure. In those days, the outside wall of our back verandah was all windows in a chest high wall, and I would pull up a chair and stand up on it to watch the lightning and scare myself (but never enough to stop watching!) - until my Mum would pull me down, terrified I would be hit somehow.
But not Kim. He was more than happy with the view under the bed.
My First 'Adoption'
...of the Furry Kind.
Even though I shared 'parenting' of this best mate - he was my first doggy love. In reality he belonged to my brother. But Barry joined the Navy, and handed over the responsibility of sole parenthood of Kim to me (at 7 years old). The photo shows how I felt about this!
One of my favourite playtime activities was blindfolding friends, and leading them around to touch all manner of things. One of these was putting their hand into Kim's mouth. That was good for a squeal or two - sometimes tears...uh-oh! Some of my little playmates just didn't 'get' it, that Kim would have bitten off his own paw before he would hurt anyone, particularly 'little' anyones. He was such a big, goofy love of a dog.
PS: Did I tell you that Kim loved my Ted Bear Esq. too? Not as much as me, but Kim did see himself as a kind of 'Father figure' to the young Ted. He wasn't actually allowed to play with him, as Ted found him just a little too boisterous.
Guess we'll never know which...or both? Out of the blue, he would abscond - or go AWOL on a 'tour of duty' of the neighbourhood - sometimes for several days. There was no fence or gate he couldn't scale when he wanted 'out' - and being chained up was the only way to halt his progress. We couldn't handle this too often.
It would not exactly be a hero's welcome home when he returned. In fact seldom has there been seen a more pitiful sight than Kim slinking down the driveway - not quite crawling on his belly - but close! He would stink of unmentionable dead things he had rolled in. His fur was often caked with mud and horse 'whatsits' that he had also felt the necessity to wear.
Best of all was the expression on his face. We have heard of a 'hang-dog' expression - but this was like he carried the guilt and shame of the Spanish Inquisition or similar and the exhaustion of an Olympic marathon runner.
You Dirty Dog!
...come clean about it all.
The outcome of these escapades was inevitable.
We have all heard of cats hating water and being wet - but you have never seen anything more pathetic than a BIG dog, cowering and shaking at even the hint of a 'bath'.
Because of his size, only Mum's double cement washtrough could accommodate him. Dad had to lift him in, with a few other family members helping - with much hilarity - and pain - and getting knocked about as Kim threshed about - and squealing. It was a fine kind of madness.
Finally, Kim would resign himself to the inevitable and try and work the 'sympathy' angle to its utmost.
Woebegone? It was like he invented the word. Hysterical was what it actually was - seeing all this misery peeking out of the poor soaped up creature. (Father Christmas - eat your heart out!).
He seemed to know that the rinse part was the beginning of the end - and the next trick was to heave him out and hold onto him until you got outside - and then RUN! Because he was going to have a monumental shake - and drown the closest, hapless, slow-moving victim as he transferred ALL of his bathwater. It was great in the Summer - then we could all wear our bathers...but we won't discuss other seasons!
It IS a Dog's Life - ...however many stories you read!
Kim had one seriously bad habit we just could not break - he loved to chase cars. Hard to imagine that today's busy main road was once a quiet suburban street, where the milk and bread were still delivered by horse-drawn vehicles. There were many cars - but not 'traffic' as we think of the word today. This was the early to mid 1950's, and a dog roaming the streets or chasing a car, was not unusual.
But there had to be the one time he was just too close and was hit by a car. Strange, just one small cut on his head - after all he had survived.
This was my first experience of death - my first tragedy. I would have grieved much more if I had known I would not be able to have another dog of my own for almost 10 years.
Some people who have loved a dog feel they can never have another - feel it would seem disloyal somehow, like replacing the one they lost. They usually also say they don't want to face the pain and grief again. I feel totally the opposite. Because of my great love for Kim, and the huge gap he left in my life - to finally get another (and another, etc., etc.) was a tribute to him and that great love. Each one has been special - each one an individual with its own character. There was never one who could compare with another. And how could I weigh up the loss against the great joy each one gave? No, I wouldn't have missed one minute of what I've shared with them.
I believe in Doggy Heaven...and I believe in the Rainbow Bridge.
And one day, I believe I will cross that bridge and my sweet Kimmy will be the first of my many special beloved 'best friends' waiting there to welcome me.
We Did it Our Way!
Dogs - Had quite a few
I'd say almost - too many to mention
I did what I had to do
I loved them all without exception
I've lived a Life so full,
With each mate, another highway
Sometimes weary, often footsore,
But we did it OUR way.
I've loved, I've laughed and cried
Each one gave me my share of losing
And now as tears subside
Remembering all that was amusing
A hug, a lick, a pat
They want me to say - not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
'Cos this was OUR way.
For what is a woman - what has she got
If not a dog - then she has not
The chance to really truly feel
The Love that walks behind her heel,
My record shows - at each Life's close
We did it OUR way.
...apologies to Frank Sinatra
A Bit of a PS
...to the Saga
As the years rolled on, there were two other dogs we gave the name 'Kim' and 'Kimmy' to - thinking it a tribute to this Kim that I had loved so dearly as a child. Sadly, it turned out to be a 'bad luck' name when recycled.
The first Kim was a huge fully-grown German Shepherd we rescued, who was undernourished and quite neglected. We found the reason within days, when we had our vet check him. The poor big fellow had suffered Distemper and his gums were becoming tender, preparatory to the next step of enamel falling off, followed in short order by teeth. Because our youngest child at that time was just a toddler, the vet recommended Kim's prompt return to the Shelter, as he was highly likely to become 'aggro' with his pain and eating difficulties, and cause harm to anyone near him. This happened, and he was put down...there was no other future path than a terribly painful one.
And again, some years later - another German Shepherd - but this time a puppy. What a beauty this Kimmy was - what a pride and joy. What a lifting of our sagging spirits in the days following the loss of a beloved farm due to financial downturn. We were renting a farmhouse for the time it would take to get back on our feet again, and our Kimmy had a wondrous huge yard to run free in.
But one day Kimmy was found out in the farmer's paddock near a dead lamb, (following the killing of a few others) and the farmer believed our sweet dog responsible. Nothing could change his mind, and we were ordered to get rid of the dog by the end of the day, or he would shoot him. I can't elaborate on the feelings...it's still too painful, after all these years. We were able to take Kimmy to a shelter where they found a home by the next day - with a family who lived near a beach, and walked there daily. Kimmy would never be near domestic stock again...and would live safely.
The ultimate 'salt in the wound' was that the killing of lambs continued...it had been a pair of foxes all along. Our sweet Kimmy had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time...simply checking the situation out.