We Lived "One Day at a Time"
Where do I start.... I guess it goes way back to the 8th June 1996, when somewhere in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane Queensland, and probably around the suburbs of Inala, Jamboree Heights, Darra, a very small Pup was born. It probably had other Siblings, how many was never known.
Anyhow after this Pup was weaned, around August, it was placed in the Pet shop called Pets Paradise inside the Mt Ommaney shopping center.
At that time I was driving Semi-Trailers out of Brisbane to many North Qld and Interstate destinations and decided that I would like a little dog as a companion.
So I began looking in the newspapers for a Mini Foxie. However, as I was living at the Oxley Caravan Park I went to the Mt Ommany shopping complex to do my shopping and on one of these shopping spree's I just happened to be walking past the window of a Pet Shop and for some reason I stopped for a look and really not expecting to see such a very tiny little Pup with a tail ( yes...my dog had to have a tail and be a male) laying in the straw on the other side of the glass.
I looked up and the sign stated: FOR SALE: Tenterfield Terrier. Apply within, so I did. I asked the young Lady how much was that Pup in the window (This has nothing to do with the song) She said $290.00! There was no second thoughts, no bargaining on the price, I just knew somehow that Pup was meant for me.
I was meant to be there that day, So I just said ....I'll take him, just like that, handed over the money, and took him home.
The love affair had begun.
The next thing was to name him.
I had owned two other larger dogs during 1980's and they both had names relating to Slim Dusty’s songs:- "Trumby" & "Ringer".
I was going through song names again when my Daughter Sonia suggested ....”why don't you call him Dusty”.
Well I thought that covers “every thing” Slim Dusty, so the little Pup became Dusty.
I don't think a better name could have been given to such a true little Aussie Dog.
As I was living in a Caravan Park I wasn't suppose to keep a dog in the Park , but because I was a truckie I was not there all that much, maybe 1 or 2 nights a week.
So….. I kept him inside and popped him out by the door where he would do his thing just near the wheels of the van and then he was back in again. When we went away or returned I would carry him to the van or to the truck in a plastic shopping bag and he would stand up in it with his little head poking out the top. As he got heavier his little legs broke through the bag so I got him a proper carry bag that he used to travel in when we went into K-Marts and many other non food stores.
He was so small that no one noticed him and sometimes it was quite funny when leaving a store the checkout the girl would ask to check the bag and I used to say he didn't have a bar code.
And so his life of travel and adventure had begun, and what an adventure it turned out to be....for both of us,
I think his first truck trip was to Townsville, and his first photo was taken in the Rest Area near Gunalda Range just to the North of Gympie. I wish we had had Digital Camera's back then , back then as I have so many shots of him. Before the the modern technology was available to us most of the photo's were taken with disposable Kodak Camera's.
I can still clearly remember how he would curl up under my chin and rest his head on my neck when it was bed time, I suppose it made him feel more secure.
Dusty grew up with noises; all types of sounds were no problem to him. He was never scared - to name a few: thunder, fireworks, speedway, Mack Truck air starters, air brakes, airlines being opened, air horns, tyre rattle guns, etc.
One of his favourite places was the Beaurepaire Tyre Service at Rocklea. He would love to be sat out onto an empty semi trailer and give the workers a serve as they worked on the wheel nuts. They also got much enjoyment from his antics.
His favourite spot in my truck was up on the big curved dash / glove box area, where he could see everything including Kangaroos, Horses and Cattle, and would often give them a serve as we went by.
It was funny in the big cities like Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Often when we pulled up at traffic lights there was always some “kid” laughing and pointing at Dusty with his nose touching the windscreen and leaving little nose marks all over it for me to clean off every few days.
Just above his head was a 12v fan and sometimes when I adjusted it the guard would touch the blades and make a hell of a noise, so for the rest of his life all I had to sing out was the word FAN and he'd go off his head and bark.
It was all a grand old game for him.
Another enjoyment he had was the noise the wheels made when the tyreswent over a cattle grid. He got so good at recognising that, that as soon as I yelled GRIIIIIDDD he would jump right into action even if he was asleep. He also got to recognise the white posts each side of a grid.
He could also recognise the Toll plaza's on the freeways in Brisbane and Sydney and as soon as he saw them he would be over on my lap, but it was in Brisbane on the Gateway Plaza's where he was well known and would hang out the truck window when we stopped to pay as some of the lady attendants used to give him treats so he always expected a treat as we passed through.
Sometimes he would miss out for a couple of weeks then he would score another treat. He would take it up onto the bunk just behind the seats in the truck and just admire it for a while before eating it..... those were such good days for him, it made him happy.
I still remember the time I had to take scaffolding into the Gladstone Smelter, the Security Guard on the gate would not allow him in so poor little Dusty had to be tied up at the gate and then he watched me drive away.
I often wonder what could have went through his little mind watching me drive away, anyhow 2 weeks later we went there again,
this time I hid him in the bunk, pulled the curtains shut, went in , unloaded, ...Dusty was happy, I was happy, and the Guard was none the wiser, I mean ... was I going to let Dusty run loose in a Smelter,
When he was about 1 year old he found a rubber ring so I taught him how to carry it without tripping in it. That rubber ring was one of his favourite toys and he would walk around with it on his back. I still have the ring today and it now hangs motionless here in my caravan. He eventually gave up on the ring and toys, as I will explain further in the story.
He trusted me.
Because he was too small to jump up into the Cab of the trucks I drove, he was always lifted up into them. When it was time to get in the truck he would go to the front wheel, which on a “Cab Over” is under the door. I would then ...say UP!!!! and he would leap into the air about 400mm and into my arms for me to put him in.
It was funny when I went to Tully to drive a truck on Sugar Cane haulage. The truck was a Conventional Cab so the front wheels were well forward of the door but Dusty still went to the wheel and would jump to be put in. The photo's here would be ...left to right, 1996 and 19th of Jan' 2010,
During his life he went “everywhere and did everything” and had his photo taken either on or near something large or a monument, a sign, or some outback site or attraction.
If it was there he was on it.
I have just too many photo's to show here, but they are all wonderful memories and even though I am now retired and don't travel as much, I do remember all those things and where ever I go now I will remember something from those days, an object, a rest area, a sign, some place that has his spirit, a place where he “marked his spot” .... it's all firmly stuck in my memory. So if you’re travelling and stop at some tourist attraction, or a rest area from Cairns to Perth, or Melbourne to Darwin, chances are Dusty and I have been there.
No matter what major highway you’re on..... he's been there, Macca's “Australia All Over" or Lucky Starr's "I've Been Every Where" really does apply to little Dusty.
He was known far and wide and across the seas. You may have read some of the locations I received emails from ....... just before his passing.
So as we journeyed through life together I decided to move to USA in the year 2000.
I know now I should have left him in Brisbane and then shipped him over later if things went ok, but I didn't.
I just had to take him with me so we went through all the Government regulations except for one thing.
I didn't get him micro-chipped. Well why did I do that?
I was not planning to come back ....SO I THOUGHT!
Anyhow we arrived in LA .
I collected Dusty and even though he was in a travel cage for 13 hours he did not soil it.
We then rented a Ford Ranger Pickup and headed out on I-15 for Denver in Colorado, driving up through the Rocky Mountains that John Denver sang songs about.
It was great passing through Towns and Cities I had only ever heard about in songs or movies, like Las Vegas and Mesquite.
Onward through Utah and onto I-70 and then into Colorado, higher and higher than any road I had ever been on until finally arriving at Denver, where I met the friend, de-hired the pickup and headed for a little town in central Wyoming called Thermopolis , It was summer when we got there in June so the weather wasn't to bad, We were there just in time for Dusty's 4th Birthday, My friends Mother even made him a birthday cake
Well as it happens, things didn't work for me in the USA and my Aussie $ was only worth 50c over there so I had to make a hurried decision about getting back to Australia.
I called United Airlines and explained that I had a dog to take back and it was then I was told I could not take him home due to Australian Quarantine Laws.
Now having to catch the plane from LA in 2 days time I needed to make a fast decision on what to do with Dusty.
There's one thing I could not do and that was to take him to a pet shop or vet and explain my situation and say..... here's my dog, find him an owner!
I would have wondered and worried for many years as to his well being.
I would have never known.
Anyhow I left Thermopolis and stayed in a Motel in Riverton (50 miles South of Thermopolis and past Shoshoni) where he was allowed to sleep with me. It was here that I thought we were to spend our last night together and so it was then I made the plan to have him put to sleep in a little town in SW Wyoming.
I can't remember the name of the town, but suffice to say I could not find the vet clinic so I kept going to the much larger city of Rock Springs which is on the Interstate 80.
It was here that I really became aware of the dire situation I had put Dusty in.
This was to be his death sentence and my final goodbye.*
*That in reality was to be some years later after a wonderful time for both of us back here in Australia.
I was a mess I can tell you!
I signed the authorisation paper but the vet nurse could see how upset I was so told me to go and sit in the car while they gave him his first injection to calm him down. At the time I didn't notice anyone else in the clinic so I went to the car and damn near had to open the doors to allow the tears to escape.
Next thing I know she is tapping on the window saying .........there is a gentleman in the clinic who has offered to look after Dusty until we can sort it out.
I said no..... just get it over with.
She went back inside and my mind was all a blur but the next thing she is back again this time with the gentleman from the clinic and explaining that the man named Jeff is a customer of their’s and he and his wife Deana and their twin girls love animals and are only too happy to look after Dusty until we can get it all sorted out back in Australia.
Turns out Jeff's profession is Information Technology and has Internet and email facilities like me so we swapped details for later communication.
I gave Dusty a big kiss, shook hands with Jeff and headed for LA, down past Salt Lake City and Las Vegas arriving at LA International Airport where I phoned my son and ex wife to let them know my arrival time in Brisbane the next day.
I was told during that phone call that my Mother recently had a bad fall in Kapunda (Town in South Australia) and had passed way in the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
So there was a rush trip to SA for Mums funeral.
On the return from Adelaide I travelled via Sydney to make enquiries about getting Dusty home.
It turns out that because he did not have a Microchip implanted before leaving Australia he would have to do 6 months in Quarantine.
How that worked was that he lived with Jeff for x amount of months, ie 5 months in USA and then 1 month in Eastern Creek, NSW, this could have been 4/2 or 3/3 but because Eastern Creek was $744.50 per month I decided it had to be 5/1, USA for 5 months and 1 month in Eastern Creek.
This was all ok by Jeff.
They loved him but the only problem was that when he went to the vet in Rock Springs for his Micro chip implant, rabies check and other tests required by AQIS, it was costing me heaps.
My $ was only worth 50c.
Hell - I was lucky to have got a second year driving for Tully General Transport on sugar and general freight. Anyhow the time came for his flight home to Australia at the end of November.
All documents were in place, dates made, flights arranged from Salt Lake City to LA.
One of the vet nurses took him to Salt Lake City and put him on a domestic flight for LA. The timing was just right as it was getting very cold up North and animals can't be carried on the planes once the temperature gets too low as they can freeze to death.
Anyhow, I had sent his little “Aussie Jacket” over for him to wear on the plane and he arrived safe and sound in LA where Diana Escadon of International Pet Transportation down at Manhattan Beach took over.
During the next 2 days of his stay in LA he was prepared for flight by her and the USDA.
They had to seal his crate. When dealing with AQIS the T's must be crossed and the I's dotted or the animal could be sent back or destroyed.
So to this day I am thankful of the fantastic service Diana provided for both Dusty and myself.
Since the year 2000 he has had birthday and Christmas emails from I.P.T.
From memory the quote for all this was around $1250 US dollars.
Remember..... my A$ was worth 50c(US) so I was looking at $2500 Australian Dollars plus 1 month in Eastern Creek and all the vet visits in Rock Springs.
It turned out to be a very very expensive exercise and a huge mistake on my part for taking him over there in the first place.
But when there was the slightest glimmer of hope to get him home, all expenses were forgotten……
I loved my little boy more than any money could say.
So the little world traveller arrived back into the Australian Summer direct from the Northern American Winter.
I resigned my Tully job so I could drive to Sydney for a visit.
I went down after he'd been back a fortnight and I have never seen a little dog so over whelmed with excitement that he couldn't bark.
It was so wonderful to hold him again, and for an hour we were together.
All the way from Tully in far North Queensland for an hour, one of the best hours I have ever spent with my little mate.
Then it was time to head back to Brisbane and the agonising 2 week wait for his release.
Would you believe I had to be at the Quarantine Station at Eastern Creek between 8am and 10am on 26th of December , Boxing Day 2000.
That meant I had to drive down from Brisbane on Christmas Day and spend the night at the twin Caltex Roadhouses at Eastern Creek and collect Dusty the next morning.
Oh what joy it was to have him back and I knew he was as happy as I was.
He was back in his car, in his environment and on his way to Brisbane.
So after all that business I ended up back with the same Transport Company that I was with when Dusty was born.
Back in a T-Line International truck with Newman Transport.
One of his greatest joys was chasing small garden lizards in the garden at the Shell Rocklea Truck stop or anywhere else lizards could be found for that matter.
He never caught them as they were much too fast going up palm trees but it kept him amused.
Even a full size Goanna was good fun too.
I now needed to recoup the costs that I had spent on getting him home so for the next 18 months things just rolled along.
He was again enjoying the rides, the cattle grids, the Toll Plaza's and all the exciting things that really “turned Dusty on”.
No! ...not the girl dogs!
He was de-sexed at 6 months of age and it took three humans to hold him down when it came time for the removal of the stitches.
I think he had 14 legs, 4 tails, 3 heads and 2 bodies but also a couple of bits missing now.
Well that's what it looked like because he was thrashing around so much when they removed the stitches.
All his life he hated going to the vet.
During this stint he met people here.... he met people there and he actually met and was cuddled by Polly Letofsky from Vail, in Colorado, USA. Polly walked 14,124 miles through 22 countries over 5 years around the world, and raised over $250,000 for breast cancer.
see Polly's Global Walk ,.. we met Polly at Airlie Beach , North Queensland,
When I retired from truck driving I decided to use my Landcruiser as an Oversize / Pilot Escort so with the little fella at my side we set off on a new adventure and he became the Co-Pilot , after a while I decided to move to Mt Isa to work the car so once again Dusty said goodbye to Bruce (my Son's dog , deceased) and Casey, his playmates in Brisbane.
We were not in Mt Isa long and he had a new friend to play with, her name is Sally, and belongs to Brenda and Alan , Alan is one of the Heavy Haulage drivers , Dusty used to love going over to Sally's place when we were home, we stayed in Mt Isa for 3 years, it was time for a new change so we headed off to Perth.
We left Mt Isa on the 8th June, 2006 at 5:55pm , this was his 10th Birthday , and off we went West toward the setting sun.
We arrived at Pt Augusta at 4:16pm on the 12th June and stayed there for a couple of days and then headed out at 4:35pm on the 15th June... my Birthday.
Because I had not been to Pt Lincoln since about 1953 and Dusty had not been there either we headed down there and that was a chance to travel a road from Pt Lincoln to Ceduna that I had never been on.
It was along there I took his photo by the Bratten Plough.
We took our time going across the Nullabor , looking at this and that and Dusty was having a wow of a time, we finally got into Kalamunda at 1:30pm on the 20th June.
We went to Rick Meehan's place , he was another Pilot Owner in WA so we stayed at his place for a week and a bit until I located a good Van park which was the Crystal Brook Caravan Pk, just up Kelvin Rd at Orange Grove, we were there for around 12 months and Dusty had a great time there.
He had some other little playmates , his favorite was the next door called Bosun , there were others to but I have forgotten their names, Dusty really enjoyed life there, we went to many new places and everyone adored him, locals and tourists alike.
He loved it when I went to the Park store , I would buy a Cherry Ripe , I would then give it to him and run so happily down the Park street to our Van and wait for me, they were wonderful times spent with him.
Then one day some Tourists came in for a week and a bit, Geoff and Nancye from Canberra, Oh my, how they spoilt little Dusty, he would run over to their van and get treats and pats ...... great memories,
On the return trip from an escort job to a mine just North of Newman we met Geoff and Nancye on the highway as they carried on with their holiday around Australia so we and for a cuppa and of course the Co-Pilot was spoilt rotten again and the photo below was taken then . Below the photo are some more shots from his Western Australian Adventures.
In the Truck
Geoff and Nancye
And then it was time to end the Pilot work so me and Co-Pilot decided to head for Queensland, After leaving Perth we went to a Town called Dalwallinu, I did a few days driving a tractor sowing wheat, Dusty enjoyed the long days riding in it,
(Funny thing about Dogs and Dusty was no exception, is that they never complain, He was always ready for work, no matter what time it was)
Anyhow when the job was done we headed for Molong in NSW.
Along the way and we spent a night at Canowindra where Geoff and Nancye were visiting their Son so no need to tell you how Dusty was treated.... like royalty, and as he was all the way across Australia.
In towns such as Jamestown the local store owner gave him treats too, Thanks to Michael.
Anyhow it was good to spend 5 weeks near my Daughter and then it was time for us two to head North.
We spent another month in Warwick waiting to go to the Indy car races, Dusty had already said in his diary about spending the day with his Cousin Bruce (deceased), It was during our stay in Warwick was where I took those fantastic photo's of Dusty near the Condamine River.
While at Warwick I must add this is where Dusty looked really good, this is where he would love to run along the concrete pathways near the river, It was here his coat looked beautiful and fluffy , he was so handsome.
But it was also here at Warwick he he had a small lump under his .... we'll call it the right armpit, so for a few days he had his right front leg bandaged , once again....no complaining, and he soon back to normal.
On the banks of
the Condamine River , he was so perfect.
So it was, our 4 week stop-over at Warwick was over and we hit the road for Far North Queenland.
Along the way we stayed in Caravan Parks at Maryborough, Bundaberg, Tooloomba Creek Roadhouse, Carmilla, Ayr, and finally El Arish between Tull and Innisfail, we did go on up to Marreba for a week as that was going to be the final destination but I didn't like the town much, besides it gets a bit cold in the dry season, so we went back down to El Arish and that's where we settled for the next 8 months.
While at El Arish he met some more little Playmates, Ella and Sandy (deceased) , I too met some good people there and still keep in touch.
The Caravan Pk owners Poul and Ausa used to give him some special treatment too, He also got great enjoyment going with me just a few meters down the bank to Diggers Creek and watch as I fed the Turtles and want some bread too.
Every day he would go over to the next Caravan, our good neighbors Joan and Dennis are the owners of Sandy and Ella , he would trot off over there for a visit and see if maybe there was any left overs.
12th Birthday at El Arish
One of the things he loved while we was a walk on the beach, quite often I would take him to Mission Beach or Kurramine Beack for a swim, he also got great enjoyment from digging into the crab holes for the little Crabs.
I first began to notice he was having a problem with the right eye about February 2008, the eye looked like it had a Cataract forming, and then he seemed to not respond to my calls, so he was going deaf as well.
By June and his 12th Birthday he just didn't want to go for runs on the beach anymore, his left eye was also showing signs of a cataract but not as bad as the right eye.
He could still find his way over to Ella and Sandy's place but was beginning to get lost, I even had to be careful if he followed me to feed the turtles as he would skip about wanting some bread too and nearly fall into the creek.
Dusty was never a lover of swimming and would get into difficulties if fell into flowing water.
The last time I took him to Mission Beach he got totally lost as to where I was or the car, he always knew our car and could run straight to it but now this was not happening, he began heading the wrong way and was walking toward the road and traffic, it was no good calling him because he was going deaf so I had to run after him and pick him up and put him in the car.
At that stage I would presume he had some vision but blurred. I have a good friend that lives in the town of Edmonton, just South of Cairns , Lance thought the world of Dusty, even after we left Qld he was always asking how he was, anyhow on one of the visits for a very HOT lunch Lance said because he's going blind he will need a white cane , poor old Dusty was the center of the joke that day....see below.
As the year of 2008 slipped by in August I decided it was time to move on to a new location, somewhere in the Top End of the Northern Territory was the target,
So it was time for Me and Dusty to say goodbye to the Crazy Dog mate in Edmonton so we met at Babinda for a nice lunch and a bit of clowning around and at 8:06 on the 3rd of August we said goodbye to all our friends and pulled out of El Arish and headed for Northern Territory.
The 1st night we camped just near Hughenden, next day we got mobile at 7:43 am and went to Holy Joe Creek arriving there at 9:20pm and free camped ,and left there next morning at 7:34 and went to Cloncurry and the Oasis Caravan Pk.
I had friends to visit in Cloncurry , and of course Dusty was well known to them so he got lots of pats and cuddles, We left the Curry next morning at 8:06am and started the last section of Queensland on through Mt Isa to Camooweal.
I pushed on until 10:02 pm and free camped in a rest area across the Barkly Highway. Next night was also spent in a reast area on the Barkly Hwy, we arrived at Tennant Creek at 5:45pm on the 8th of August and stayed for 3 days waiting for mail and it was a good break and Dusty got to see Perce and do a little Lizard hunting with him.
We left Tennant Creek on the 12th and headed North, the next 2 nights were spent free camping along the Stuart Hwy and then stayed a night at Daly Waters Hotel Van Park on the 14th and left there at 9:05am and stopping behind the Katherine Weighbridge with permission of the head Transport Inspector in Katherine, It was a good spot because Dusty could wander around the large Truck park and I could keep an eye on him.
Next day we went a short drive to Manbulloo Station on the 16th for a whole week, Dusty was taken for walks there but he had to be on a lead or he got lost. We left Manbulloo on the morning of the 23rd and travelled to a nice little rest area at Bridge Creek just 33 Klms South of Adelaide River, we stayed there for 2 nights, and Dusty got dusty from the soft dirt there.
Our next stop[ was at the Adelaide River Showground Caravan Pk, I planned on a few nights here so booked in for a week, I wanted to visit the War Cemetery, Now this place looked damn good to me, plenty of room , and I took Dusty for walks on the race track , his vision wasn't to bad but still wandered off course at times, then I would have to go and get him.
I could put him on the race course and leave him alone but keeping an eye on him , after a while he would find the hole under the fence and find his way back to the van.
Then along came October and my Daughter and her friend decided to come up for a holiday, It was really good to have them visit, Dusty was so happy to be with Sonia , All the time I'm thinking Dusty won't last much longer so I bought another little Pup, I named him Coster after the Singer Stan Coster,
While Sonia was up here we went over to Jabiru, that was nothing new for Dusty, he'd been there back in 2005 when we were working out of Mt Isa, anyhow on this occasion he meets Josie the Blue Heeler at Steve and Anja's , they're friends I met via a 4x4 website, Dusty just wasn't interested in playing anymore so Josie got along ok with young Coster and Dusty just ignored them and done his own thing. After Sonia and Mark left to return to Orange in NSW we just passed time at Adelaide River and forgot all about going to Darwin, I liked this little town with all the WW2 history so I decided to stay, besides the Darwin Van Parks were more expensive and there few that took Dogs, on the 13th of December 2008 Adelaide River had a little Xmas get together for all the local Kids and they had a kiddies Merry-Go-Round so Dusty had a ride.
That was the last Merry-Go-Round ride he had ,He still had the occasional swing when ever I seen one or he went with me to the Post Office because there is one in the little Park , anyhow time passed on and next thing it's Chrismas 2008, so Dusty is 12 years old, that was his 13th Chrismas, We were invited to spend Christmas with Steve and Anja so off we went to Jabiru , I bought him a packet of treats for Xmas and I think the Andersons in Canberra sent him a gift too, he also got emails from Cairns, Orange, and Los Angeles. It was not much good getting him toys anymore, he lost all interest in playing, He wouldn't play with Coster either, Coster wanted to and would run at Dusty and jump on him , sometimes knocking Dusty to the ground, It would scare him because he wasn't expecting it .
In February 2009 I decided to have a change in Camps, having been over to Mt Bundy Station back in October 2008 when My Daughter and Mark stayed there in the Accommodation I thought it looked very enticing, so we moved , not very far, it was only 3.3Klms, I had also been asked to go over to Jabiru for a week too so after we had been at Mt Bundy for 2 weeks off we went to Jabiru, on returning to Mt Bundy the Caretaker had departed so I began mowing and doing other odd jobs around for a few months, Dusty use to like riding on things, no matter what it was he he'd ride it. But things were changing, he wasn't sure of his footing and balance anymore so I had to just take it slow for him ,
This photo was
taken on 2nd March 2009
It was just before I moved to Mt Bundy that I met a bloke from Darwin that was interested in WW2 history so Noel and I went Camping and visiting WW2 Airstrips, it was on one of those daily ecursions in the Top End Heat that really upset Dusty, He got lost in the grass, ( I could see him ) and he began to panic and got heat stressed , so we decided to call it a day and take him home, it took a few Klms with the A/c blowing on him before he settled down.
All his life he loved the A/c, he would stand on the seat with his nose right on the dash vent, It was during these times I had my doubts if he would see his 13th Birthday, I was watching him get older, and weaker. Whenever he got lost in grass he would just stand and wait,with his head drooped, puffing and panting but still no complaining, He wouldn't bark either, just wait, it was becoming a worry because if I had lost sight of him and he wandered away to far I would have found him, that was an unbearable thought, talking about barking..... Dusty never had a loud bark, and when he did get his toe stepped on or he got hurt he never yelped , the noise was more like a cocky squawk.
Well he made it to his 13th Birthday so I organised a party for him, We had some tourists here with dogs and the caretaker had a dog and a couple of Station Dogs all turned up for his party, even the little Pony called Nibbles, I put 13 matches into a Lamington that served as a cake for him, It was around that time I first noticed the sore on the left side of his bottom lip, and he had developed very bad teeth, I took him to a Vet and was told it could cost upward of $600 plus to have the teeth cleaned and the sore lip treated, they also said the anesthetic could kill him at his age so I had no option but to just leave it.
After his birthday I began driving a small truck for a building company where my mate Noel works in Darwin, it was only a small tray truck but it took us where we had never been before, so Dusty got to ....well not see but he went to new locations like way across Arnhem Land and another community down near Wave Hill, This was his last trips in a truck, he didn't really enjoy it, but he had to go, he didn't see the Cattle, and he didn't hear the Grids, It was early December when he had his last truck ride, we went to Borroloola and he was lucky , he was allowed to sleep in the motel room .
It was getting on in the year , his 13th birthday was well behind, we had done many trips to Arnhem Land and Kalkaringi , it was November, the year was closing fast, The 2 photo's below were taken on 3rd November 2009, Coster might look bigger than Dusty but he's not, Coster has longer legs but the body is about the same, It was from then on Dusty was beginning to worry me, the sore on his lip had also broken out on the right side, and I was getting the impression his mouth was getting very tender and sore, if something touched his face he would do sudden back movements, although he had been doing that slightly after he went blind, and when I say blind I don't mean totally, because he could see images if they were close enough, probably very blurred, I think at night he could see a little better when the pupil enlarged and he could probably see a little better past the Cataracts.
Dusty with Coster 2009
I tried all kinds of measures to help him like dog toothpaste, and brushing but I think it hurt his gums , in those photo's I could detect an almost expression on his face of despair, I wanted to help him but I couldn't, I began to shed a lot of tears at night,
Bloody hell..........this is getting difficult now.
It was becoming very distressing to me to watch my little boy ....A little living being that I had loved for 13 years go this way, I could see the despair and hopelessness on his face, there were times when he would seem happy and I would put him outside for wee wee but then he would just walk into things, I remember a lot of times where he walked into solid steel objects and how it must have hurt his little head, he would reel back as if something had hit him, the poor little boy, it must have been so scary, Next thing it was Xmas 2009, he had made it again through another year, then he was into 2010.
I tried to help him enjoy life but I could see the fire was going out, all he did was just lay on the floor, hour after hour , day after day he would sleep, worn out, tired, I believe his world had become a dark and very scary place and the only place he felt secure was in the Caravan, I would put him out and would teeter about for a few seconds , go do what he had to do and nearly fall over doing it, he was getting a purple stain all over his front legs from his bad gums.
I knew I had to do something, it tearing my heart out to see him going like this, I think it would have been about the 10th I picked up the phone and dialled the Vets number, I didn't get an answer and sort of was glad, I put the phone down wondering how in hell am I going to do this, and let it go for another week , then after a bad night emotionally over night Sunday the 17th I looked at him in sorrow ......I picked up the phone again, called the number hoping no one would answer, but they did, I explained the situation to the person on the other end, and had him booked in for Wednesday , 20th of January at 2pm , that was the most difficult phone call I had made in my life.
This photo above was taken on the 18th of January, and that just shows how he spent his days, I would say 23 hours a day he would be like this, or with his head across the right leg, for the next 2 days I felt lousy, and I mean lousy, I knew the time had come, in 2 days time I will say goodbye to my Dusty..............I took him down to the Post Office with me for a final swing and a lovely treat.
I bought him a Magnum Ice cream, when he was in the swing something he had done all his life he had a look of fear in his eyes, he was scared , he was so scared of the world around him, he didn't know if I was still there or not, Then I took him home, I took many many photo's of him on the 19th, many treasured last photo's. You will notice in the photo below to the left ...as I took the photo he went into a panic thinking something had hit him in the face, The despair shows in his eyes, he looked a total wreck,
I had no sleep Tuesday night, just lay in bed , wetting my pillow, the only thing turning over in my head was that tomorrow was to be his last day with me, Then the sun was rising, it was Wednesday, I just wished this Wednesday had never come, I was wishing yesterday would have lasted forever, I looked at the clock ....9am... my boy will be gone in 5 hours, then it was 12:30pm , time to head off to Noonamah, but before I went I fought back the tears and took just 1 more photo, his very last photo, of hundreds and hundreds I had taken over the 13 and a half years, this one was it.
I took off his safety gear that was his and known Australia wide, folded it, and put him in the car, I had such a lump in my throat as we left , I could hardly breathe, 13 years of memories were flashing through my mind, he was on the left seat , I knew that on the way home the seat would be empty, It's strange , here I am writing this , a box of tissues near by, on Wednesday 27th of January, exactly 1 week to this hour of 1:16pm Dusty had just over 1 hour to live, (edit...2 years on, Oh the heartache and tears are still with me)
I stopped at the Strauss Airstrip so he could wet a weed, take some good breathes of fresh air, and that piece of ground was the last time he walked on dirt, I picked my boy up, put him back in the car, and drove to the Noonamah Vet Clinic,
I was with him when he passed away at 2:34 pm, I was holding his paw, ........... and then he was all still , a piece of me was gone, thats what it felt like , the ache in my heart was terrible, I was alone with him for a few minutes after, the hurt was unbearable, Thankfully I had made the arrangements for Cremation earlier in the day, I walked out , I didn't look back ,
I loved him and I miss him so much.
his Ashes on Monday 25th
This is the little poem he wanted on his story, he knew.
Below is a list of names from many people who sent messages , If I have missed your name I'm sorry
* denotes the person had met Dusty
Di & Al Sims
"But the legend still lives on, for all
those lives he touched,
"But the legend still lives on, for all
those lives he touched,
Our long journey down the road had ended
Some Wonderful Memories