Nat­u­ral- born nur­tur­ers

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PETS - Luke Bow­den Any­one in­ter­ested in shar­ing their best friends’ sto­ries can email luke. bow­den@ news. com. au

FOR reg­u­lar Mer­cury read­ers, the name John R. Wil­son of Daisy Dell is eas­ily recog­nis­able as a con­stant cor­re­spon­dent to the paper and a great ad­vo­cate for the Tas­ma­nian wilder­ness.

So I felt priv­i­leged he took the time to write to me about his 12- year- old long- haired white chi­huahua Jessie.

Now, John, you didn’t just pluck the name Jessie out of thin air, did you?

Jessie is named af­ter a Ho­bart res­i­dent I much ad­mired, Jessie Luck­man ( who passed away re­cently).

Jessie was a cen­te­nar­ian, con­ser­va­tion­ist, fi ne con­cert pi­anist and also the fi rst woman known to have climbed Fed­er­a­tion Peak.

Like Mrs Luck­man, my lit­tle dog has shown no fear of heights – or any­thing, to be hon­est – which is great, given my part­ner Peter and I live on a pri­vate na­ture re­serve at Daisy Dell sur­rounded by na­tive wildlife.

So Jessie has no qualms with the other na­tive in­hab­i­tants around you?

Well, when she came into our lives 12 years ago, we had only just started build­ing our abode, Ike’s Hut, at the re­serve and were liv­ing in an open air tent on site.

As a pup, Jessie would wait up ev­ery night to be en­ter­tained by pos­sums, wal­la­bies, quolls and young devils. We would feed the wildlife at night by the campfi re so they vis­ited reg­u­larly.

I guess she was ac­cepted straight away by all the an­i­mals – even the top preda­tors. Back then she was as small as a lab­o­ra­tory mouse, but de­spite this we have wit­nessed her touch noses with a spotted- tailed quoll and even play joy­ously with mis­chievous young red- eared Tas­ma­nian devils.

Af­ter 12 years of Jessie in­ter­act­ing with the land­scape and na­tive wildlife, one story must stand out…

Yes, it was a day not so long ago when we were walk­ing and Jessie sud­denly stopped in her tracks and pointed to some­thing in the bushes.

It was a young wal­laby that had got one of its legs tan­gled in a barbed wire fence and was hang­ing upside down, ex­hausted but alive.

The poor thing had tan­gled it­self so badly we needed to rush home and get pli­ers to re­lease it, and even then it was an ef­fort.

We took it home in a blan­ket and put it on a woolly rug by the fi re to warm up and rest.

With­out any ado, Jessie hopped in next to our lit­tle pa­tient and kept it com­pany all af­ter­noon, lick­ing its face and be­ing licked back in re­turn.

That evening, af­ter it had re­cu­per­ated, we re­leased it back into the bush.

What’s great about hav­ing Jessie?

I sup­pose it is the char­ac­ter of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a dog and mas­ter that de­ter­mines a dog’s pre­dis­po­si­tion and be­hav­iour to­wards oth­ers.

In this re­spect, Jessie and I have de­vel­oped a very close affi nity over the years and we un­der­stand and com­mu­ni­cate with each other very well. We share many in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing the wel­fare of the out­side world and the wildlife in it.

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