Dogged determination 31/5/2006
Matt Price gets amusingly grudging about Mark Vaile:
Like a flea-bitten, three-legged mongrel farmdog who bounces off tractors but still manages to chase sheep from dawn to twilight, Vaile seems to thrive on this endless industry. You suspect he’s almost enjoying the current maelstrom, which sees the workaday Deputy PM trying, if not obviously succeeding, to juggle domestic and international duties while presiding over Cirque du Nationals.
We had one of them when I was a kid. His name was Rusty and Dad got him as a pup from a family of hillbilly alkies who’d knocked off one of our sheep.
The old man reckoned Rusty could count sheep. After drafting a mob, Dad would yell “44″ or whatever number he thought had gone through the race and Rusty would bark once if he agreed and twice if not. Two barks and Dad would run them through again. He swore that every time he discovered he’d been wrong on his first count.
One day, the old man travelled 15 miles south of our place to inspect some cows he was thinking of buying. As always, he took Rusty in the truck.
They arrive at the farm and Dad gets to yacking with the cocky and forgets about Rusty who’d gone to inspect this unexplored territory.
The old man was almost home when he realised he had left Rusty behind. So he U-turned back to the farm to learn that Rusty took off after the truck.
Well, the old man scoured the laneways and road reserves all the way back home, but no sign of Rusty. He waited at the back door for a couple of hours until he was convinced something tragic had happened to his beloved workmate and headed into town, as he usually did at that time of day, to down a few sherbets. This time, he sadly reflected, he would be toasting the memory of definitely a man’s best friend.
He pulled up at the pub and who should be stretched out on the doorstep, but a thoroughly exhausted Rusty. Seems he had returned to our place, but seeing the truck was absent, continued on to the one place to which he knew the old man would eventually return.
That line in The Pub With No Beer always sparks a fond memory: “The dog on the veranda, for his master he waits…”
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