Louis De Bernieres
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In 1998, Louis de Bernieres—acclaimed author of Corelli’s Mandolin—came upon a bronze statue in a town on Australia’s northwestern coast and was immediately compelled to know more about “Red Dog.” He did not have to go far: everyone for hundreds of miles in every direction seemed to have a story about Red Dog. He was a Red Cloud Kelpie, a breed of sheepdog known for its energy and cleverness. But Red Dog was a kind of ultra-Kelpie, energetic and clever enough for an entire breed in himself.
Dubbed a “professional traveler” rather than a stray, Red Dog established his own transportation system, hitchhiking between far-flung towns and female dogs in cars whose engine noises he’d memorized and whose drivers he’d charmed. The call of the wild was matched by the call of the supper dish; Red Dog’s appetite was as legendary as his exploits. Everyone wanted to adopt him (one group of workers made him a member of their union), but Red Dog would be adopted by—or, more precisely, he would adopt—only one man: a bus driver whose love life quickly began to suffer and who never quite recovered from Red Dog’s relentlessly affectionate presence.
Independent, clever, sly, stubborn, courageous and foolhardy, impatient with boredom and the boring, Red Dog endeared himself to (almost) everyone who crossed his path. These funny, surprising, and touching stories of his life are certain to endear him to every reader.
and encouraging him to eat them. With apparent relish he ate paper bags, sticks, dead rats, butterflies, feathers, apple peel, eggshells, used tissues and socks. On top of that, Tally ate the same food as the rest of the family, and at this moment carried in his stomach a goodly load of yesterday’s mashed potato, gravy and steak and kidney pie. This is not to say that Tally ever raided dustbins or browsed on garbage. That would have been very much beneath his dignity, and in any case, he had
the window, and the awful smells he made, and they felt completely miserable. When at last they reached home, late at night, they found Red Dog waiting for them outside Patsy’s caravan. He had hitched a lift home from a truck-driver who recognised him. He hadn’t liked Perth all that much, with its bottle-brush and peppermint trees, its pretty yellow sourgrass, its military-looking Norfolk Island pines, and its shiny modern buildings. He preferred the tougher life up north, with its poverty
he’s a tough fella, and just recently he’s been losing fights and getting hurt more than he ought to. I’m going to check him out for heartworm.’ ‘Oh, yuk,’ said Don, ‘what’s that?’ ‘Just what it sounds like,’ said the vet. ‘It’s a worm that circulates in the blood when it’s a larva, and lives in the heart when it grows up. Sometimes you get a great fistful of them living in there, and then the dog can die. It’s getting more common, and I’ve got a feeling that’s what’s up with Red. The trouble
turns to hold onto him and quell the convulsions during the long hours until the vet’s arrival. No-one held out any hope for Red Dog’s survival, and as they drank tea in the crowded little police station they reminisced about their old friend whom they were about to lose. ‘I remember once,’ said Nancy, ‘I went to the Miaree Pool with my family, and we had the cat in the back, for some reason, and anyway, when we arrived, there was Red fast asleep on a mudbank. The trees were full of white
and sandwiches, because there weren’t too many decent places to stop for refreshment, and for the same reason she remembered to put some dunny paper into the front glove box of the car. You never knew when you might have to stop and take a short stroll into the crinkled cassia. When they were ready to go, Jack called Tally Ho and opened the back door of the Land Rover. ‘Up, dog!’ he commanded, and as Tally jumped in Jack quickly shut the door and jumped into the driver’s seat before the dog