15 June 2013

Adventures With A Dog - Part One

On my ninth birthday my parents gave me a dog.  There was some discussion about what we would call him.  My cousin, Jimmy, had a terrier called Pal. We liked the idea that the name should indicate comradeship so we named him "Chum".  Chum was a bitser.  He was black and white and predominantly fox terrier but seemed to have some spaniel in his mysterious ancestry.

My father was a disciplinarian and dogs were meant to know their place and be obedient.  So from quite a young age Chum was taught to sit on one spot until called and to come from anywhere when called.  Dad was his trainer, Mum was Chum's provider and I was his mate in adventure and trouble.  It seemed natural for Mum to feed him and I would help when necessary.  One of the things my mother seemed to think was necessary was to wash Chum now and then.  Chum hated this.  Whenever he heard a tap running for his bath he would try to escape or hide and when we'd lift him into the tub he'd go rigid and stay rigid for the whole procedure.  He certainly used to look clean and white after his wash and drying but that didn't last long.  As soon as we released him from his torment he'd race off to find the nearest cow or sheep dung and roll in it.  On one occasion I remember him coming back positively green and stinking.


Chum's Kennel and Dad

My father was good with tools and he constructed Chum a good weatherproof kennel.  It had a removable top so the interior could be easily cleaned and his name was painstakingly painted on the front.  He had a blanket to sleep on.
It didn't seem long before we both found a common interest in rabbits.


BLS and Chum out Rabbiting

We lived on the edge of the town in Hastings.  Over our back fence were paddocks and the further away from home you went the more plentiful the rabbits.   So it wasn't long before I'd come racing home from school and together Chum and I would run rabid after rabbits over the paddocks.  I don’t remember very many rabbits being caught.  Most rabbits never strayed far from their warrens so much of our time was spent digging furiously into warrens.  More often that not we came home empty handed and dog-tired.  Often we'd get home almost on dark and we'd be in serious trouble – sometimes getting a hiding or being sent to bed without any tea.  Mum and my sister, Karen, usually managed to smuggle some food to us.  But within a couple of days we'd be off rabbitting again.  This phase was not good for my academic  advancement.  I don’t think my school homework was done and I slid towards the bottom of the class.