MY BEST FRIENDS

Jed

As long as I can remember, my mother has said that I have always liked dogs more than humans. And, mostly, she's right. Apart from you guys, my best friends have always been of the canine variety.

My latest canine companion, and my best friend, Rocky, has been with me for over 12 months now. I rescued him from the RSPCA pound in Launceston in September 2016. Words cannot describe the difference he has made to my life, my well-being and my sense of what it means to be partners. Although I mention all my dogs below, Rocky is clearly a standout. He's incredibly friendly, will always walk away from a fight, and even likes cats. He sleeps beside me and I let him have all the bed he wants. If he dies before me I don't know how I'll cope. All he wants is companionship, as do I. He only ever barks at strangers walking past the front fence, and I have recently realised that he is not protecting his space but mine. I love you Rocky.

Before I moved to Tasmania, my next door neighbours in Kiama had two bloodhounds, Radar and Edward. We got to know each other oh so well. But it wasn't an instant attraction for Radar, the larger and older of the two dogs. He bit me twice before we finally became great mates. Edward, on the other hand, was more a lover than a biter. He craved affection, and he returned it in spades. Unfortunately, last week Eddie passed away. At just two years of age, his kidneys simply collapsed. He took almost three weeks to pass away after being diagnosed, and we spent many precious hours together in that time. I miss him almost as much as his owners, Ron and Lianne.

My own first dog was a black cocker-spaniel named Butch. I got him when I was two years old and he was my constant companion. I loved him very much – almost too much. A few times I cuddled him too vigorously and hurt him. Each time he climbed under the side gate and ran away. Then the people next door got a dog, and Butch would get so jealous when I played with it through the fence. Finally, when I was three, he had a go at the other dog when I was patting it. For some reason I responded by pinching Butch on the back as hard as I could. This time he ran away and didn't come back. I'm not sure how hard my parents looked for him as they were tired of doing so. But that was it, no more Butch.

I begged my parents for another and when I was about five or six Dad finally agreed to rescue one from the pound. I distinctly recall walking from cage to cage talking to all the dogs there. I don't think we found a suitable one the first time, but we were back there a few weeks later and I immediately fell for a young cross-breed I named Lucky. He remained with us until I was 17 going on 18. For the majority of that time we lived in Robertson Street, Campsie before moving to mum's current address at Roselands in 1967.

One particular incident I remember was when I was about seven years old. I was playing in the front yard, when a savage stray dog attacked me. I remember being on the ground trying to hold it off. Lucky somehow managed to jump the five-foot high side fence and save me. I still don't know how he did it.

By the time we had moved to Roselands, Lucky was aging noticeably. I had my drivers license and my own car at this point and spent very little time at home. The lack of time I spent with Lucky in the last year of his life is a guilt that I still feel today. Eventually my parents chided me and told me he had lost control of his bowels. I hadn't even noticed. I drove him to the vet and was told that he needed to be put down. I asked if it was possible to bring him back the next day and that arrangement was made. I spent the most time I had ever spent with him in one stretch that night. I slept with him on the back verandah, holding him even as I slept. The next day the deed was done, and my very best friend was gone.

I was without a dog for some years after that. My next experience with a dog was in 1972 when I was travelling throughout country Victoria selling manchester for a company called Knighthood. I had just met your mother and fallen in love. So, the travelling was difficult as I missed her enormously. But I had a companion named Brian Boggs, a Kiwi with as little idea of what he wanted from life as myself. In Ballarat we somehow came across an abandoned  Pekingese  that we called Geraldine. It became our travelling companion for several months before we briefly returned to Sydney for a break. Before we left again we asked Brian's elder brother to mind it for us. It was at that point that its name changed to Gerald. Brian's brother knew a bit more about these things than us.

When we returned to Sydney some time later, Brian's brother, who had two children, begged us not to take Gerald from his family. They had fallen in love with it. So, I said a sad farewell to another of my best friends.

I didn't have another dog until Bear, and you well know that story. If only I had agreed to have him de-sexed. My ignorance cost him his life.

You also know the Jed and Buster story, my very best friends right throughout my second marriage. I miss them so very much, especially Jed (pictured). He was probably my best friend ever.

Dogs are the only creatures on earth that can love so unconditionally. They love their owners more than themselves. They are so very special. It's no wonder I have always liked them more than people.

Geoff Mooney