This is a dog story. Not just any dog story, but one that illustrates triumph over adversity, the importance of small joys and the role of a writer’s companion. Some of you will have seen Harry in my official author photo – he brings his own special something to my life and work. He makes me take breaks and exercise regularly. He ensures I don’t take myself too seriously. He keeps the other canines in the household under control. He is a neighbourhood character, well loved by all. But it so nearly wasn’t so.
In late 2010 Harry was surrendered to an animal rescue group – a small white curly-coated cross breed, filthy, skinny and terrified. His age was given as three, though most likely he was older. On the way to the shelter, while being transferred between cars, Harry escaped and took off into what we in Australia call ‘the bush’ – in this case a densely forested area. The animal rescue people searched but he could not be found.
A community of Buddhist nuns living on an isolated property kept glimpsing a little white dog on the fringes of the monastery grounds. He was too scared to come close, but they left food out for him, and after three weeks living wild Harry was apprehended again. At his vet check it was apparent that he needed major surgery on his knees. I volunteered to be his foster carer during the pre and post-op periods.
I’ve had foster dogs come and foster dogs go. This one was different from the moment he came in the door. It took me around thirty seconds to decide that this frightened little soul was a keeper. He wasn’t especially pretty or particularly friendly. There was just that intangible something between us. By the end of the recovery period Harry had settled in as if he’d always lived with me and my (then) household of two tiny girl dogs.
The following year tested both Harry and me severely. [Read more…]