There was the allusion that I was doing something brave, something risky, by moving to the outback, alone.
At times I have scrambled for my comfort zone, desperately searched for a shred of normality in a place that was so far from home. But the idea that any of it was out of my control – that’s a farce. I was coming out for a year then dusting off my blue book for a few more overseas stamps, flitting in and out like a butterfly on a summer’s day.
Of course, things rarely go to plan and from the first roo I gravely slaughtered on the road the plan became more complex than simply taking your clothes off on the Great Wall. The barren country out here is enchanting. I’ve fallen for crisp sunsets and people who tell you your boss is a cockhead when he tells you to walk through a heatwave to take a photo of them.
But the biggest change has crept up on me. It’s the dogs. Everyone has one. They’re more popular than belt buckles at rodeos and infinitely less useful. My relationship with canines in the past has bordered between difficult and distressing. You can read more about how much I loathe puppies here. It began when a simple poop-scoop in a plush Sydney park ended up all over my hand. It’s still too soon to laugh about that one.
It’s a different kennel out here.
I realised suddenly the other day that all of my friends here have these furry mates that they take to the river for a barking session. One bloke I spoke to recently owned about 40 canines. It all seems so incredibly grown up. I put dog and house ownership on the same level, mostly because they have a knack of happening simultaneously but also they require some form of commitment, although I definitely don’t profess to any genius knowledge in this area.
During my dog-hating city days I noticed that my lowly opinion on man’s best friend was rarely shared, respected or appreciated. People love their running, barking beasts more than their gardens. And it’s not as if dogs produce anything of worth. Except unconditional love, apparently.
Back then claiming to loathe puppies was the worst thing I could ever say on a date. Mens’ eyes would glaze over as if I’d started telling them about my split ends. For a while I wondered if I would become a spinster because I couldn’t handle dogs. So you can imagine my distress when I meet a nice guy and he drops into conversation ever so casually that he already has a dog. Yep, he owns it and feeds it, although the feeding is a rather liberal arrangement. Aware of my shortcomings in the dog love department I tried my hardest to win over Boots. He’s a lovely dog, certainly better than Michelle’s pal Romy, who I love very, very deep down. Boots can even ride a jet ski. But he does have a slight issue with moulting. I’m often left with a hand that could pass for an orang-utan’s left thigh. It hasn’t been too hard to wipe that on a pile of dirty towels or sumsuch.
As you can tell I wasn’t overanalysing the dog thing too much (please note sarcasm). Then I started looking for a share house. The Charleville telegraph was in fine form as I searched and found a new home within an hour. The new pad, of course, comes with Hugo. He’s a rather energetic puppy. On inspection I was licked more than an ice cream on a hot day. Apparently he’ll be sleeping outside.
So now my life does appear to be spiralling brilliantly out of control. My boyfriend owns a dog and soon I will be living with a puppy. How did that happen? I would never have allowed that when I was a city girl.
It’s fantastic. The spontaneity is going to my head. My carefully planned year out here has been hit by a dust storm and I have no idea where it will take me. Sharing the journey with new people, opening up is the next level of adventure, and one I had been avoiding, not least because I feared one day I’d be expected to love a hound.