The last weekend here in Australia was an extra-long weekend. Both Easter and ANZAC day happened at the same time meaning we had 5 days off work.
On the last day of the break, April 26, we went off to visit Gillian and her pack of dogs. Gillian is the Secretary of the Cocker Spaniel Club of Victoria. She lives on a 10-acre property near Pearcedale, a little over an hour from our home.
We first met Gillian at the Cocker Spaniel dog show about a month ago when we took Bill along with us and had a look around. David had been in touch with Gillian previously and he had sent her some pictures of Bill. From those pictures she recognised him and called out to us.
Being strangers there we figured she must have been talking to another Bill and kept walking but she chased us and confirmed that the Bill before her was in fact the dynamic dog that she had seen in a photo of him running along the doggy beach at Altona.
After the show David and I talked about getting another pup. Figuring it was good to have a second to keep Bill company. David reached out to Gillian as she had puppies available, but we didn’t hear back. In the end, as you’d know if you keep up with the stories here, we found our puppy elsewhere and we love her very much.
Gillian contacted David the day after we go Jo, our new puppy, saying she had been having technical difficulties and had no internet and no phone for over a week.
David felt bad that we had no bought the puppy from Gillian, having told her we would and I think it’s this that led to the offer for us to visit and take some photos of her dogs.
I was notified that she had a few dogs, well more than a few… around twenty and that they would come out to meet us on arrival. Even knowing this I didn’t expect the greeting we received. Dogs everywhere around us.
Within five minutes of being on the property I was filthy from head to toe. Any time I bent down to pat one dog, or to take a shot with my camera I was quickly heaped on by five or six dogs. Dogs that freely swim in the dam, roll in the dirt, stick their heads in holes and play in the horse poo found on the property.
Being a photographer (even just a part-time one like me) you realise vanity has no place in the art. Trying to stay clean while getting a shot is a ridiculous notion. So you go with it when a small, gorgeous puppy with a swath of horse poo down its side comes bounding towards you. You pat the pup, you roll with the pup, you do whatever it takes to get a shot you like.
Gillian’s property is really massive. We took a walk around the whole property with dogs in tow. There are two huge dams, massive paddocks and a forest-like area where the dogs can run and play.
This is no ordinary life for a dog. Some of these dogs are show dogs, often in the ring and often award winning. But unlike other show dogs who are often treated as commodities and not little animals, Gillian’s dogs are loved and cherished as pets. This love shows in the way she interacts with her pets. That she knows each of them by name and is rarely confused by dogs who looks so very similar to an outsider.
Sometime in the past few months Gillian has been having problems with one of her neighbours. Even on a property like this one neighbour is unhappy about the number of dogs she owns. She has gone to great expense to dog-proof the entire perimeter of the property, but is still having hassles with the neighbour has has to consider moving from this amazingly perfect property rather than lose any of her dogs.
A note, Gillian’s dogs do a strange thing. When they find a hole they stick their head in it and lay there, like they are waiting for something to come along and say hello. Gillian thinks the holes on the property are like to be rabbit or wombat holes. The dogs don’t often find anything, but still they wait, with their heads firmly down a hole.