THE DOGS OF DOVER
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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The dogs are our main reason for staying in Dover for nearly 6 weeks. The other reason was we wanted to be off the road during the peak holiday season. After an unexpected encounter on a Brisbane golf course last August, it worked out that Mick and Ulla needed a dog sitter during their trip to London and that we would be in Tasmania at that time looking to stay put somewhere for a few weeks.
it took us some time to get into a routine with Ernie and Bertha; they seemed to be testing us out all the way. Walking on a lead did not make anyone happy so we scrapped that idea early days. Fetching a tennis ball in the back yard was our idea of a simple exercise regime for them; Bertha was never interested but Ernie sped around retrieving the ball until he wore us out and then one day he decided that this game was not for him and no amount of coaxing and praising convinced him to get going again. Funnily, Bertha even got involved in our efforts to get Ernie back on the ball by chasing it herself with her eyes firmly on his reactions. We tried regularly but this game was over.
So the exercise regime consisted of packing them into Mick's truck and driving 4kms to the 140 acre block. Well, this is heaven on earth for the two red heelers and as soon as we released them from the vehicle it was top speed away through the hay fields and forest, chasing rabbits, rats and whatever.
While they were "working out", the two of us got to work removing noxious weeds from the land. Thistles and Gorse both have huge prickles/thorns so removal needs care and also strength because the roots are very deep. We were armed with a fork and thick gloves On each visit to the block, we found a patch and worked at it for a couple of hours.
As you can imagine weeding a 140 acre property feels like finding a needle in a haystack and by the way there is a whole shed of stacked hay as well as fields of hay because the block used to have cattle on it.
When Ulla and Mick purchased the block they also got the cattle. Ulla hated the idea of killing her bovine friends so when the last one was butchered and put in her big freezer at home she pledged to give up on beef production.
We discovered that the fields of hay brought on severe hay fever in both of us on warm windy days but never mind our mission was set; weed removal and dog exercise. Because the hay was knee high+ the two dogs were virtually invisible when they took off and we often encountered challenges locating them to go home. One day, failing to catch sight of them, we went home and returned 2 hours later to find them crouched beside the hay shed waiting for us and we thought a very loud scolding would prevent a reoccurrence. Well it did happen again and this time we searched for them until 9pm to no avail and we were, by this time well and truly stressed and hoarse.
We advised Mick in London-(must be great to hear that your dog sitters have lost your dogs when you are on the other side of the world), but he advised leaving them overnight and collecting (hopefully) them on the following morning. His calmness and understanding placated us and yes, we found them next morning, crawling toward the truck from the shed.
We were much relieved and gave them a severe reprimand (do they understand for what???) and they stayed in their kennels all day obviously sorry for their escapade!!!!????
How to get the dogs exercised without the fear of losing them???? We now stay with them and march them around the block retrieving sticks- yes Ernie loves the retrieving game on the block and Bertha makes an effort too. Both of them compete to “get the stick” from the water in the dams and we have maintained their interest which is great because they are running and swimming solidly for an hour+; both are panting heavily as we coax them back to the truck.
Bertha is always on the lookout for a lapse in our concentration so that she can take to the wild but, despite a couple of near misses so far so good. Sadly our mission to rid the block of thistles and gorse has been put aside, although Sheila has managed to dig up the ones she finds near the dams!!!
They have led us a merry chase but we love them!!