I first laid eyes on my dog on my 13th birthday. My mother had hinted at a surprise when I returned home from school, and I couldn’t wait. I left at lunchtime and snuck into the house using the spare key. Confused and curious, I began to snoop around. I heard a strange whining noise coming from the laundry, and when I opened the door a bundle of tan and black fur ricocheted out into the hallway.
I couldn’t take my eyes from her. I sat there, engrossed, until I heard the front door open. Shit. My mum was home. I wasn’t supposed to be here for another half hour. I quickly bailed out the laundry door and over the fence, and hid at a nearby park until I was due to arrive.
I decided to call her Jezebel. A few months later I looked up the etymology, and I discovered a jezebel was a biblical name for a prostitute. To my shock, I had named my dog after a whore. I shortened it to Jezza, but she still showed the characteristics of a morally unrestrained woman. Down at the beach she would disappear, wandering between barbeques. She’d flash anyone who paid her any attention a pitiful glance, attempt to scab a stroke or a free sausage.
Jezza came on her first adventure at age six. I had begun to train her to sit on the beach while I surfed, and coincidentally, I needed to create a photo-story for a university assignment. Jezza was the perfect subject, and I spent the weekend shooting her in serene locations around WA’s South Coast. Now, no trip would ever be the same without her.
Jezza has dodged a few bullets in her 9 years. Once, we were setting up a camp on the Blackwood River, and I was nervous because a sign indicated there were 1080 baits around. She could sense I was on edge. When I turned my back for a moment, she wandered up to me with a quill of dried meat in her mouth and dropped it at my feet.
Another time she ate all the rat baits under our house, and I took her to the vet to purge her of all the poison. When I returned home, I decided to board up all the gaps under the house to prevent a repeat episode. The job was done but I heard a muffled whining sound, and wasn’t sure where it was coming from. I walked around for a few minutes scratching my head, when I realised I’d boarded up Jezza under the house.
We climbed a mountain once. We’d spent 12 hours in the car, lost in a remote National Park where the roads were so bad it took us four hours to drive 40km. We finally arrived at a campsite, only to find it occupied by rambunctious government workmen who could’ve given me a $400 fine for bringing a dog into a National Park.
We moved to the foot of Mount Ragged, and in the morning we trudged 400 vertical metres to the summit. The last part was so steep we had to scrambling, which isn’t easy when you’re carrying a golf club in one arm and a dog in the other.
She’s travelled a few kilometres now, and she can sense when we’re going on another adventure. When I’m packing the car, she comes and sits in the front seat, staring longingly as if to say ‘don’t forget me!’ Placid, affable and faithful, she is the perfect travel companion - even if she doesn’t put in for fuel.