Mr Pete Parraday and his dog, Jerry, sat just inside the door of their bush humpy looking out at the cheerless, murky drizzle that invariably follows heavy rain in the forest hill country.
Many times before now many observers have remarked upon the seeming phenomenon of a dog, in course of time, taking on some vague but unmistakable likeness to his master –- some trick of gaze or expression that is hard to define yet often ridiculously evident.
If there is anything at all in this grotesque theory it is surely exemplified in old Pete Parraday and his nondescript do which, Pete claims, is far superior to any thoroughbred, since he is the descendant of a dozen thoroughbreds, each of different breed.
“Weather prophets!” sneered Pete, gazing dolefully at a dripping tree.
With his eyes on the same tree, Jerry growled gently.
“Knew you’d agree with me,” said Pete. “’Member me sayin’ to you, day afore the rain came -– ‘Jerry,’ I sez, ‘them weather prophets is up to putty. Rain is what we’ll have,’ I sez, ‘in spite of all their talk of summer weather.’ Didn’t I say that? An’ who was right, eh?”
Jerry barked a short staccato bark.
“Course I was,” said Pete. “An’ then, ‘member what I said to old George Jones when he wanted to argue about it? Didn’t I say to him – Oo! Golly, gosh!”
Pete clutched a shoulder as a stab of the rheumatis cut short his discourse.
Jerry whined softly and, coming across, laid his head on the old man’s knee and gazed up with soft, understanding brown eyes.
“Well, there’s no doubt about you,” old Pete chuckled as he caressed the shaggy head. “Best mate a man ever had, I’ll say that for you, Jerry. Now, rain or no rain, what about a bit of a walk, for exercise?”
Springing to his feet, Jerry began to bark joyously, eyes bright, tail waging.
“Aw, don’t be redic’lis!” complained Pete. “How could I go out with me rheumatis an’ all? You have a bit of a constitutional on your own; and mind me, no wombat holes. An’ when you come back, I got a nice noo bit of sacking to give you a rub down. Go on.”
Jerry trotted back into the hut and returned with Pete’s old felt hat dangling from his jaws.
“Gosh a’mighty! Ain’t you got no sense?” asked Pete, taking the hat. “Din’t I tell you I got the rheumatis? Now, off you go on your own, and mind what I say, keep out of them wombat holes! You don’t want to go gittin’ mange and wearin’ out yer teeth on them armor-plated pigs. Off you go.” He waved toward the door, and Jerry went a little reluctantly.
Presently, his hunting yelp was heard from deep in the forest. Pete reached back into the “Coolgardie” safe and brought forth a small flask and a tumbler.
“May as well have one, while he’s out, jist for the rheumatis,” he reflected. “Way he nags a man every time he sees me take one finger nip you’d think I was a reg’lar old soak.”
Half an hour later, Jerry returned fro the hunt and Pete, who was rubbing down the dripping body briskly with a piece of sugar bag, paused suddenly and gazed at a stain on the sacking.
“What's that?” he demanded, shoving it beneath the dog’s nose. “Yaller mud! An’ yaller mud means wombat ‘oles. Now look here, Jerry, didn’t you promise me –-“
Jerry’s tail and ears went down and he whimpered pitifully.
Pete was about to continue his lecture when, seized by a sudden thought, he paused abruptly.
“Come here, Jerry,” he said. “Now look here, ole man, the pot ain’t no right callin’ the kettle names: ‘cos while you were out I had a bit of a nip; see? Just one finger for the rheumatis. Now, look, I want to make a bit of a pack with you. Jist between friends. No sly nips for me: no wombat ‘oles for you. Willin’?”
Jerry barked hopefully.
“Right,” said Pete. “Shake on it.”
Lifting a ready paw, Jerry shook.
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2005|