It’s a dog’s life on the wombat trail
WITH the same mix of excitement and trepidation that we first experienced on arriving in Australia 19 years ago, last June we left behind our life in Melbourne to begin our journey through the Australian landscape.
The next phase of our lives is being spent living in a caravan while we travel the highways and back roads of this fantastic continent.
Sharing this adventure with us is our white German shepherd dog, Astro. We adopted him from the Keysborough Animal Shelter in Melbourne just 14 months before we left and now all three of us have bonded like musketeers. We didn’t initially realise what a difference Astro would make to our journey. We knew he would exclude us from places such as national parks and conservation areas, as well as many beaches. But the positives have far outweighed the negatives.
Most places we go, Astro’s size, colour and good looks generate more attention than we could have imagined. In Victoria, there were no whales to be seen from Warrnambool’s Logans Beach, so the disappointed tourists photographed Astro instead.
Sitting outside a cafe will invariably attract admirers. Astro does did not always appreciate the attention from the men but he delights in receiving it from women. His ears fold back and, with a gently wagging tail, he leans against them. This is his sign that he likes them.
An older couple rushed over in an Albany car park crying, “There’s Storm. Oh, he’s just like Storm.’’ Storm was their much-loved white German shepherd, which had passed away a few years before. Not everyone recognises Astro’s breed. In Perth we ordered coffee from the Kings Park cafe. While we waited for it to be delivered, a waitress (sans coffee) rushed over swooning, “He’s beautiful! What type of dog is he?”
She then returned, still without our coffee, with a bowl of water for Astro, which he lapped at more out of politeness than necessity.
Further north, in Dongara, Western Australia, a shop owner came out of her business and asked if she could photograph Astro. Her mother’s white German shepherd, Shadow, had died recently and was still much missed. We are now nine months into our trek around Australia. Although Astro may never have a statue in his honour, we’re confident he will continue to bring joy into people’s lives. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: email@example.com. Columnists receive a pair of quality beach towels in bright prints and structured geometrics from popular lifestyle brand KAS Australia. $119.90 ($59.95 each). More: (02) 8035 2244; kasaustralia.com.au.