( Me in the ute, snapped by Paul, 2002)Blocker

The bare facts first.

I was born on June 4th, 1998, along with two brothers and three sisters, one of whom didn’t survive the night. I was a very typically black and tan kelpie, though a lot of people I know thought I was pretty darn handsome with it. My mother, Maddie, was what they call a station dog, that is, she wasn’t a working kelpie. My grandfather was a very well-known working Kelpie up at Euralla, which is in the New England Tablelands of New South Wales in Australia. He was also famous for being the dog pictured jumping through a dog food ring on the can of a product called Good-Os. My father was a kelpie stud from Gladesville in Sydney. I was number one to pop out of mum. Marilyn tells the story of how she came back from work that day to find mum greeting her at the door with me half falling out of her rear.

I was always going to be the alpha male in the pack. I was a big guy from birth, which is why I was named for a footballer in Sydney. I was way smart, maybe too much so, and would have made a great working dog. I loved playing with the frisbee, leaping up to catch it like the picture of my grandad on the dog food can. Kelpie’s can be very very focussed (not bro Daffyd, though, who I loved dearly but I gotta say was a scatter-brain who I wouldn’t have trusted within a kilometre of a pack of sheep), and Paul used to get a kick out of how intensely I’d I the frisbee or the ball waiting for it to move so I could leap into action.

The only leaping I couldn’t do was into the back of Paul’s ute. I admit it. I tried a couple of times and kinda fell and from then on Paul had to put the tailgate down for me, whereas Daffyd would just leap in in over the side. Never knew how did that. Course, when I got on the anti-epileptics it got even harder.

I was pretty rough and tough in my time: couldn’t quite get it out of my head that I didn’t have to actually chew the other dog to make my point about not mucking around with my family. So we all went into exile for a while from Sydney Park across to the Cook River, which I actually kinda liked because Paul was less on edge checking out for other dogs and moving us all rapidly away from temptation. I liked the smells of the river here cause it’s so close to where it hits Botany Bay. And it was just across from the airport, which was kinda buzzy, you know, looking at all the planes and dreaming about travelling somewhere, all of us, sometime.

Anyway, I got dealt a rotten hand. My aunt had epilepsy in her generation, and I got to have it in mine – my sisters and bros have missed it. It was kinda scary the first time it happened, for all of us. Daffyd and mum went crazy cause I guess I was giving off alien dog smells or something. Daffyd never quite knew what to do, and basically used to attack me, which would’ve been painful if I knew about it, but I was always too busy fitting. Took a lot out of me when it hit, and it often hit at the most inconvenient times. Anyway, we got me on some pills and I got another year of life out of it. It was a good year, and the last days were ultra good. We all cried a lot, but really, I was fitting too regularly and there was no way we could up my dose. I was getting fat, and lord knows I didn’t want that. I was getting kinda slow, too, losing my ball chasing vigour.

Daffyd hasn’t quite taken on the alpha role in my absence – too much of a good time boy for that. He is trying to be a bit more demanding of Paul in the mornings with his ball game after the park, insisting on a few throws at home when Paul gets up. He has never taken to playing with the water from the hose like I used to – LOVED that!, snapping at it as it poured out of the nozzle, getting it up my nose and in my eyes. The minute Paul went around the side I knew it was on and would do my sticky-eye bit until he relented and sloshed the hose my way. Yeah, I think that was one of most favourite things to do. Don’t ask me why – usually I didn’t like water much at all. Never went swimming in the pond in the park like Daffyd does – he’s an absolute fish. I took after my mum – on hot days or just to cook down after a game of frisbee I’d go in for what we call a paws-and-belly paddle, but that was it.

Marilyn has my ashes in a pretty little box in her room. Paul put me on his website and likes to look at my picture and have a bit of a cry from time to time. Well, alpha males, you know…… I’m always there with them when we walk through the park, though. Sometimes we stop on my favourite hill and Paul throws the ball down for Daffyd a couple of times and I chase along with him. We pass the greenkeeper on the oval and Paul skitches me on to him like the time I raced at the guy when he was carrying a load of fertiliser and made him drop it – that was a GOOD lark, though it got Paul into a mite of trouble and all of us totally banned from the oval. Daffyd still lies at the bottom of the bed and doesn’t come up into what used to be my space alongside of Paul.
November 2002

Yeah, I pop in from doggie heaven from time to time to be with the pack, especially now that they are back walking in Sydney Park which was pretty well my territory till someone complained about me chewing up their precious mutt.

Boy it’s changed. We don’t go on to the oval anymore, as without me there’s no need to put a fence between us and the rest of the mutts, But jeez I would love to be around to race after that frisbee under these ginormous new spotlights, banks of them, they’ve erected for the handful of times someone might want to play night cricket down there.

Down at what Paul call’s my paddock, a small flat square near the road beside the oval, they’ve tidied up all the dirt mounds that were there and planted turf. I dunno that that’s such an advance. Mum Maddie and I used to have a great time sniffing around the dirt, and when the ibises came down to drink from muddy puddles, Daffyd has a ball harassing them.

Paul tosses the ball down from the hill above for Daffyd and me to chase, and he and I have a bit of a chat about what’s changing and whether we approve or not. Well, it is MY paddock!

The sentimental slob has also put my old dog tag on his key ring – hope in an accident they realise that his name is NOT Blocker!

May 2007

You probably have read that my mum, Maddie, is now running around here with me, which is nice, makes it less lonely, though I know Paul and Marilyn miss her heaps. Not sure that Slim does, but Daffyd still hasn’t decided he can move up the bed to her old spot.

A week or two after Maddie was released back to me the weirdest thing happened. Paul and Marilyn got a call one night from a woman who wanted to know whether they owned a dog called Blocker. In some surprise M said they did but that of course I wasn’t around corporeally any more. Turned out the woman had had a dog wander into her yard – some big brown kelpie cross – who was wearing a studded collar with MY NAME TAG on it!!! This is like 6 years after I died! We won’t solve the mystery because the vet didn’t ask the guy who came to pick the dog up – the woman who found him took the dog to the vet to get the microchip checked – why on earth he had put my name tag on his dog. Anyway, Paul got the tag back so there ain’t no dog impersonating me and giving me a bad name.

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© Paul van Reyk 2019.