Friday, 10 March 2000


This is the story of Bazil. As stories go it is not a great story like the stories you read about in the paper. Nor is it a famous story like the story of the life of Laurence of Arabia. It may make you smile in places and it might make you laugh. But in the end you might think that it was more than just a story about Bazil - and you would be right.

Bazil came into our lives when we lived in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. In those days we were young and we had a young son named Aaron though we all called him Chester after Chester Burnett - a famous blues singer who's picture had hung above the crib and then the bed that Chester slept in for some years.

Margaret and I were invited to pick from the litter of a fox terrier that belonged to one of our friends. The litter was a funny mixture as can sometimes occur with dogs for there had seemingly been more than one sire. One of these was known to have been Shadow - a giant of a dog and pure-bred German Shepherd.

I can see your mind wondering how such a union might have been accomplished - and we certainly thought up a few hilarious solutions ourselves - most of which placed Sloan (the bitch) on various pieces of furniture during the act.

Anyway, I was very lucky to be first to choose for Bazil was the obvious choice - he was absolutely darling. He looked exactly like a small furry fox. When I sat at the door of the garden shed where they were whelped, he immediately came to me and i picked him up and smiled. This was the one. There was no question.

Bazil was returned to the litter so that he could be weaned at six weeks. Not long after we picked him up (with many a sigh of loss by the owner who was now aware of the uniqueness of this pup). Bazil became one of the family and Chester was elated for every boy wants and needs a dog to love.

There are so many stories i could tell you about Bazil. We were living out of a bus and travelling a lot when he was a young dog - he went everywhere with us.

In Sydney, during peak rush hour shopping we could leave him at the door of a department store and tell him to stay - and we could come back hours later and he'd still be there - he would wait and if anyone tried to pick him up he would evade them. He was a cool dog.

Once we stopped at a beach and parked for a bit before moving on. Nobody noticed he was not with us when we took off and it was late and i drove for hours before realizing he was gone.

We did not see him for a long time - many weeks until eventually someone found us through the university i had gone too.

I took a train way out of Sydney to somewhere out of Hornsby. I had to walk for miles afterwards. When i got to the house where he was and walked through the door he jumped clean off the ground higher than my head and danced around my shoulders like a crazy bird yelping as if to say "i missed you so much, i'm soo happy to see you".

The people were sad too because they were hoping that he would be happier with them because well gee, he was just a special special being.

I took him back on the train in my duffle bag because it was not allowed to have a dog on the train.

Another time we were in the mountains - we took a run along a track that ran parallel to those awesome cliffs you might have seen if you've ever been to Katoomba - hundreds of feet of sheer faces. Really amazing day. We came to a place where we had to get across a gap maybe a hundred feet deep and a few feet wide - and on the other side the ground was at least 6 feet higher than that we were standing on.

There was a small but sturdy tree there that i leapt across and grabbed. Then, holding on to the tree with one hand i swung back and whipped Margaret and Chester up beside me. Leaving Basil whimpering with worry behind on the rock.

I leaned down and crooked my arm and said "Bazil you just have to jump and let me catch you and i showed him my arm and yelled "come on Bazil".

He inched up to the edge of the cliff, looked down, took a sudden few steps back and looked up at me with a look on his face that was unmistakably the dog equivalent of "are you completely crazy? Do you honestly expect me to jump over THAT?

In a very level voice i explained to him: "Bazil, there's no other way for you to get over here - you just have to jump and trust me."

He looked at me and his face fell - it was if he was saying "bummer". He inched up to the cliff edge again and looked down. He looked up at me again with a huge "please don't make me do it".

I said "Bazil. You can do it mate. You are the best dog anyone ever had. You can do anything. Now JUMP!"

Margaret and Chester called too. "You can do it Bazil - come on boy."

And he jumped. Right into the air in reach of my arm - right over that hundred foot drop.

I dropped him down beside us and he just went berserk with excitement as if to say "see, see what i done! Aren't i just the most amazingly brave dog in the world yippy!" And we were all over him with admiration too.

What a dog. What a being. He was so much like a person. So very much it was awesome.

if you liked this story you might also like "Creature

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