It's a dog's life - YIPPEE!!!!
It’s been more than four months since I was removed from the hot and humid un-comforts of Sydney and transported to World’s End (as my favourite Pirates of the Caribbean describes it). Now with the quick onset of winter and shorter days, I’ve had some time to reflect on this life change and have a few suggestions should you – or your humans – be contemplating a life down here in southern Tasmania.
Dogs, dogs, dogs
I have never in my life seen so many of my kind and all well looked after (not necessarily highly pampered and groomed, but certainly lavished with attention). It seems to me that if humans want to live here, they MUST love dogs.
There are numerous dog friendly beaches and parks and would you believe it – the dog parks in the Huon Valley all have permanent agility training equipment. This is wonderful fun.
I heard SirD chortling as he watched Klady demonstrating to me how to crawl through the tyres, race around the weave poles and run over the elevated dog bridge. I just sat there looking encouraging and suitably impressed, waited for a treat and wagged my tail when she finished the demo round, dirty, puffing and panting. I awarded her 6/10 points (for effort and amusement only).
Paddymelons, spotted quolls and other wildlife
Wow – the local wildlife is different here! If Klady leaves the front gate open, in races a family of paddymelons (little wallabies), heading straight for the herbs and veggie patch. They compete in the garden with what I am told are spotted quolls, who love to dig up my secret stash of bones and pig ears, and fight during the night with the resident bandicoots.
In the past on Sydney beaches, I’d regularly find interesting shells on which to chew. Here it must be very cold because I usually find a small handful of pippi shells and lots of washed up seaweeds ranging from dark bull kelp and velvety black and green strands to pink seaweed which Klady at first thought was plastic rubbish!
For the first few days, she grumbled and mumbled while busy collecting these hot pink ‘scraps’ and binning them. And then luckily, a fellow dog walker told her that these pink and red plants usually grew deep in the Southern Ocean and appeared on our beach because of the pristine environment.
Peace and quiet
Yes would you believe it, despite the loud warbling of honeyeaters in the trees and the winter roar of chainsaws, here I sleep soundly, I no longer hear fire engines, police sirens and planes flying overhead. The planes used to be my personal alarm clock. 5:45 am and QF2 flying in from Singapore would descend over our bush house and so I knew it was time for me to get up and Klady to start the day.
These days my alarm clock is our neighbour’s very civilised rooster, who starts crowing at 8:15 am on weekdays and 9:00 am on weekends. Clever bird!
Winter warmth and the Tassie love of fire
Well the winter months are here, days are short and the air is crisp and golden. Why golden? Because it seems there is a local love for burning surplus vegetation and backyard bonfires.
With bonfires the smoky air casts a beautiful golden light but open the back door, take a breath and cough. While in the car I have passed at least 130 massive stacks of wood, piled up metres and metres high, ready for burning.
The other day while driving down the coast from Hobart, I looked ahead and barked a warning – there was a wall of fire ahead from three massive bonfires on a property right next to the main road! Klady took a deep breath, screamed and then accelerated around the sharp corner to get away. I was tossed around the back seat making me very queasy – a reason I’m sure that I brought up all the crab claws I had eaten on the beach that morning.
But the love of fire is not all bad. In fact, I have also discovered a passion for it.
The main heating in Klady’s house is through a super-efficient wood burner. Discovering that no one delivers seasoned firewood to remote Verona Sands, Klady and SirD did a 130 km round trip to fill the SUV with firewood, which Klady was assured was sustainably sourced and not stolen from local forests. After unloading their bounty, the backyard reverberated with thump, thump, thump and soon variously sized timbers were stacked next to the burner. Yum – lots of really big sticks just for me to chew on.
Actually no, Klady called me over to show me what she was doing. She had built a pyramid in the burner with small, thin pieces of wood and it was lit. Absolute bliss! I dragged one of my many beds to the front of the fire and lay there enjoying the warmth. Now I know that as soon as the sun starts to disappear, I move downstairs and lie in my ‘fire bed’ and do you know, the hint always works! The fire is lit, I lie there and luxuriate until my dinner is served.
I think l will love winter.