Now that I am officially out of the closet as a dog lover, other doors are opening in my mind. It’s like the windows have been thrown open, the curtains drawn back, and a fresh breeze has been allowed to blow all the old stigma out.

Magoo is my mother, so named because of the way she constantly adjusts the steering wheel, left to right, right to left whilst driving. She’s a crack-up! She is also responsible for the many neurotic  behaviors I display.

You see I was raised to believe that dogs were yukky. I can’t remember a time when I was little, that I was encouraged to pat a dog. If we did happen to touch one we were marched palms up toward the nearest sink and subjected to the kind of hand washing a surgeon requires. Perhaps Magoo was savaged by a dog when she was a child, or maybe she was raised to distrust them too? All I know is that Magoo has mellowed over the years and at 75 finally allows my little dog Pooh a bit of love. She calls her “little Grand- doggie”, but u can still see the fear in her eyes when Pooh jumps around her excitedly.

When I first moved into the lake shack with Fitty, his old dog Razor was still with us. Razor was a lovely dog, big and bold and friendly. I didn’t trust him. He had fleas. He rolled in dead animals in the bush and frequently smelled like a carcass. He was able to let himself into the house and would sleep on Fitty’s old dusty lounge. I moved my very expensive lush new lounge that I had scrimped and saved for years into the lake shack. Out went the old dusty lounge and out went Razor. He resented me, but night after night of scratching flea bites on my feet in bed made me unwilling to compromise. The dog stays out. The fleas stay out. Perfect sense to me?

Over the years I softened and would allow him in on cold rainy nights, when he was ill, or later as he was dying of cancer. I still didn’t like him inside, but I had begun to change my opinion about dogs generally. Weren’t they smart, loyal, loving etc. Fitty encouraged me to change, but I still stumbled over the hygiene issues and fleas! 4,5,6,7 and 8 who were all at home living at the time resented me for this, and would often let him in when I wasn’t home anyway…

My how things have changed, these days I am a veritable animal whisperer, talking to all the wild life. We live in the middle of a National Park and we are constantly surrounded by animals. Kangaroos and wallabies, both bush and water birds, as we live on the edge of a huge lake. My morning routine is to take my coffee onto the balcony and read/day dream/listen to the birds quietly until the rest of the house awakens 2 hours later. Watching the sun brighten the day as the birds sing along has become a bit of a ritual. I often lean over the balcony calling to my furry friends “have u got a baby in your pouch?” “Look at you all fat and fluffy”, “don’t you eat my agapanthus heads” and screaming at goannas to “get outta that rubbish bin!”

Was very embarassed one day last year when I was sitting outside concentrating on finishing a stunning auto biography about a man with Tourettes Syndrome, when about 4 Kookaburras set up in one of the trees beside the house and began to laugh. “Shush, I’m trying to read here!” quietly to myself. Then louder. “What? What? What’s so funny?” Finally I stand up and shout, ” what the hell are you guys laughing at you freaks! Why don’t you go and do something useful with your lives, instead of getting around intimidating people?” Then I notice the people walking along the road between our house and the lake, all laughing hysterically at the mad woman shouting at the birds!