Some Things Are Worth Barking At, Some Not

Monday 31 August 2009

I thought I was in the Matrix for a split second earlier. Lester and I got out for a walk after this afternoon's rain, into clean-smelling air. He was sniffing good smells and licking the grass at the same time. I hope this is because he likes the taste of water droplets on grass rather than the more sinister idea that he likes licking the urine of the dogs he's just been smelling. Who can say, with a dog's taste? They're a tad different to mine. He stopped to take big, long draughts of rainwater, fresh from the sky in the gutters. Whenever he wanted he stopped and had a wee on something green. I tell ya, it's a free dog's life.

Before we left for our walk, the stupid dribbling black chihuahua with a bell around its neck came into our yard. It is fascinated by and terrified of Lester. It stares at him, runs when he goes near it, and runs from the sound of my voice. The chinhuaha's pet, an elderly Asian lady with no English, followed the sound of the bell into our yard and after a whistle the dog came trotting. She put it in a small child's stroller.

Lester and I began walking down the driveway and she followed. "Isn't it beautiful now it's sunny!" I called out. She didn't have a clue what I was saying but words are not necessary when you're making small talk, I find. She nodded and smiled.

We walked to the new IGA just around the corner and bought dog food and yoghurt, Lindt 85% chocolate and a litre of milk. The woman gave me $1.05 change which I carried in my hand, having no pockets in my trackies and having already strapped my heavier-than-before backpack onto my back. We walked past the life-size bronze sculptures of Aussie Rules local icons Dougie Hawkins and Teddy Whitten that stand outside the local pub. Lester barked at them as he always does, whether on foot or in car. The other week he nipped at Dougie's foot but he declined to do that this time. Earlier he had barked at a white plastic bag that had flapped itself up against the chain link fence of the local primary school. Lester barks at the giant white horse outside the Whitehorse City Council in Nunawading. Cows in paddocks are an extra special exotic barking delicacy. I think he thinks they are giant dogs.

After we passed Dougie and Ted we rounded the corner of the housing commission flats and I flung the $1 coin and 5 cent piece into a gap in the fence where three or four palings had come loose, along with a prayer that some little kid who was young enough to get a thrill out of finding a gold coin on the ground would find it in his playtime.

We passed an elderly Asian man with a jeep and two sandy coloured chihuahas. He was putting junk mail from the jeep into the letterboxes of the commission flats. Neither dog had a bell; one barked at Lester as we passed. Lester was too busy sniffing and the chihuahuas too small to disdain a response.

We continued walking, round the shabby streets of my neighbourhood back to home. On Darnley Street, smart people had planted different sorts of succulents in their front yard, plants that thrive on the drought conditions that are Australian living. Such strange, odd and curious shapes. I am liking them more and more.

We continued on and walked past the street that runs parallel to mine. There was the elderly Asian lady with her stroller again, with the dribbling black chihuahua in it. We waved as we passed each other.

The next street was mine. As we turned right to go into it, an elderly Asian man was crossing the road. He had a jeep full of junk mail and a sandy coloured chihuahua. For a millionth of a second I felt my brain stop and get ready to glitch out on the influx. But it was a different man. The single dog proved it, Mr Anderson.

We rounded the corner into our street. When we looked back, the chihuahua was standing at the foot of our street, staring down at Lester. It barked. Lester was too busy licking water droplets off the grass to bother responding.

In rather more attractive surrounds, Lester at the Olinda Arboretum


  1. hmmmm
    there's a lot of them chihuahuas in your neighbourhood

    love the image of you tossing those coins through the fence on a whim and a prayer to brighten a little kid's day

  2. I love reading your posts about people..whether its people in the street or on the train You have such a lovely way with words!!

  3. Kel - there is an extreme overabundance of chihuahuas around here. I don't understand the attraction myself but at least they were the long haired ones not the creepy short haired ones :)

    Yes, I had fun tossing that coin :)

    Andi - thank you darling. It is fun writing about people. They are so interesting!!!!

  4. I too love reading when you write about people. And good for you for tossing the coinage...that was so sweet. I would love you if I was the 6 year old who found it.

  5. It sounds like pretty primitive country, out there in chihuahua land!

    Add me to the list of readers who enjoy reading your posts on everyday people.

  6. Erin - I didn't really realise it until I got there I was going to do it. I do SO hope an excited kid found it!! Please, God!

    Sherry - oh, yeah, there's just chihuahuas everywhere, it's a shocker! :) Thank you :)


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