On the value of microchipping: Red Dog – The Sequel ( a story in two parts)

The Sunday Tasmanian, Weeky column, Anne Boxall, Sept 30th and Oct 7th 2012

Part One

In a worthy sequel to Red Dog, here is Brown Dog’s story, another true tale of adventure, love and loss from Australia’s outback.

Brown Dog, whose real name is Garry (yes, Garry) is alive and well and now enjoying the good life in Sydney.

But it wasn’t always so. Garry’s story comes in two parts – part one sets the scene and part two provides the conclusion in next week’s column.

In the meantime rest easy in the knowledge that this is one lost dog tale with a happy ending. Thanks go to Garry’s people Dom and Lucy for sharing this story.

It all started in 2006 when young Dom had the idea of a quick road trip up through Australia’s Red Centre. The breathtaking colour and isolation of outback Australia struck a chord and what was envisaged as a three month foray into the grandeur of the Alice Springs area became a sojourn lasting years. Dom found employment as a tour guide and settled down in the Alice, even buying a house there. Over time, Dom decided he would love to have a dog.

A friend found a little stray of indeterminate breed and age – possibly a Jack Russell cross, possibly aged around four years. Brown dog became Dom’s dog and was promptly christened Garry. Garry was mainly brown, with patches of white, grey and black. Extremely intelligent, quick, loveable and affectionate, Garry soon secured a huge place in Dom’s heart, even though Garry turned out to be the Houdini of the Alice.

He was an accomplished escape artist, with a daring passion for adventure.

Although Garry was well looked after by Dom and his house mates, he had no qualms about scaling their 1.8m high colorbond fence. No one ever saw him do it but somehow he did. Garry seemed to appreciate the stability that life with Dom had brought but also loved roaming the streets of Alice Springs and in particular calling by at the local back packer’s hostel. The tourists had great delight in sharing their dinners with this appealing little dog.

Then on Christmas Eve 2010, the inevitable happened – Garry went missing. It had happened before but Garry always found his way home or Dom tracked him down. Dom scoured the Alice for days and visited the local animal shelter in the hope that he would find his little mate, all to no avail. Weeks and months passed but there was no news and Dom was heartbroken, thinking his little mate had probably been hit by a car and killed on the road…..to be continued.

Red Dog – The Sequel (Part Two)

This week we conclude the story of Garry (aka Brown Dog) whose adventures in the Australian outback are reminiscent of Red Dog, from the film of the same name.

In a quick recap of last week’s column, Garry was a small stray dog, taken in and cherished by Dom and his housemates in Alice Springs. Garry was one of those dogs with a real spirit of adventure and was capable of scaling a 1.8 metre high fence – an unfortunate combination. Garry’s previous forays had ended well, with him retrieved from the local backpacker’s hostel where he was often found sharing dinner with the tourists. But on Christmas Eve in 2010, Garry went roaming and never came back.

Weeks and months of searching found no trace, leaving his owner heartbroken and surprised because Garry was registered and micro chipped. Dom had been confident he would find him. It was starting to look like Garry may have been run over and was laying dead somewhere. That thought was too upsetting to contemplate but Dom accepted the inevitable and life went on although he never forgot Gary or stopped wondering what had happened to him. Eventually Dom moved to Sydney to settle down with his girlfriend but part of him remained in Alice with his old mate Garry.

Then in July 2012, Dom’s mum received a phone call from the Litchfield Vet Clinic just out of Darwin. Amid the somewhat hysterical screaming of both the vet receptionist and Dom’s mum, it seemed the microchip had come up trumps. Dom was incredulous that his little mate had turned up after all hope had gone. Garry had been found, flea infested and with a few additional scars but otherwise in remarkably good condition.

Who knows where he had been for the last 18 months and what sights he had seen.  Did he jump on a road train or the Ghan? Had he found someone to temporarily adopt him? Had he walked the 1500 odd km to Darwin from Alice Springs? Maybe he’d followed an itinerant family around for 18 months or perhaps had a succession of owners before continuing his nomadic existence.

This little dog has a huge story to tell, if only he could. Pet air transport was organised and Garry and Dom were finally and very happily reunited. The little dog was traumatized when he arrived at Mascot Airport – despite all the wandering he had done, a plane flight was something new and he was frightened by the noise and vibrations.

Now safe in the arms of his real owner, he fell asleep almost instantly upon arrival. Garry quickly settled into life in Sydney and despite it being cooler and highly urbanized, adjusted well to being spoilt rotten and snoozing under the Doona.

The benefits of micro-chipping cannot be under estimated. In this case, it was his microchip that enabled this much loved pet to be reunited with his owner after 18 long months – one phone call from Darwin to Sydney and little Garry found his way home for good.

aboxhall@bigpond.com

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