From the time I was 18 months old, our family has owned dogs. It was only natural then I recently moved out of home that we should have a dog or two. The new house faces semi-wild grasslands and open forest which hug the curves of the Orphan School Creek. So, at 6am most mornings I walk out lead by Bonny and Sukey, a border collie and Shetland sheepdog cross respectfully. We’re out so early the sun is still peaking though the trees in the east and the sulphur crested cockatoo family are silent in their hollow tree.
The long grass, pale with dew, is churned dark by the two dogs, two tugs leaving a deep blue green wake. I would like to think I’m some graceful cruise liner guided into to port. I’m sure it’s more like a kite. I do get some say in where we go, as obedient tugs they steer in the directions ordered by a good pilot.
Which is a good thing for I would never want to miss spotting a jewelled dragonfly waiting for the sun to dry it’s sparkling wings, or the swish and bubble of some unknown creature of the creek.
We head towards the cool darkness of the casurina grove. Pine like leaves and heavy bows make a cool cave that collects water and frogs. Tadpoles and dragonfly lavae dodge careless paw falls as the dogs wade through the puddles oblivious as they chase after the source of some rustle in the wild wheat. Under the canopy I feel miles away from neat and fenced suburbia. In the trees, we are wild creatures hunting lizards.
Ironically, it is here, in the jungle like grove, suburbian banality reinsert itself with a neat stainless steel bridge over the creek.
A concrete path leads the way through mowed lawn and planted garden beds. The dogs slew back and forth distracted by smells and the bright morning cheers from passing “goodmorning” people. No dragonflies, no tadpoles, no dark pine needle smell of the grove. The creek is further away, we are separated from it by manicured grass and colourful play equipment surrounded by bark chips. We pass quickly through this mundane world and turn towards home at the next road bridge.
As the dogs enter our property I take off their leads. They are free again to go where they choose, I have given them back control. Bonny’s first thought is to turn and lick the tip of my nose, a tiny gesture of gratitude and friendship and I thank her for it. My tugs turn back to me as we head inside, checking I’m still with them and ready for the next step in the morning; breakfast.
My dogs are just that, companion animals that can not replace human contact. But neither are they toys that I can play with and then throw away when I’m bored with them. They are my partners, we walk through our shared lives together just as we walk through the park, the woods and the reserves near our house. They follow my commands, but only because my commands are good and keep them safe and happy. I can’t imagine a life without them.