A boy and his dog

Host: Southampton
Written by – Kylie Savidge, Owner, Southampton Station.

Continuing the theme of children and animals, the story I am about to tell you occurred during the Easter muster, fortunately with a happy outcome.

Please be aware that there is one photo in this story that may be a little off putting for some people. Though to understand this story the photo is included and whilst it is not gory it might be a bit much for some.

Our kids are precious and we, as parents, want to be able to protect them from any and all things that would hurt or harm them, this of course does not help our children in later life, when life being life throws you a curve ball or two.

My eldest son, Jack, has a little black dog named Spot, who is a rather interesting combination of Kelpie x King Charles Cavalier spaniel! A medium sized dog, with floppy ears and keen intelligence, he is his master’s loyal companion and partner in all things done around Southampton when Jack is home on the holidays. Whether this be mischief such as chasing cats, mustering goats, catching pigs, or cattle work, Spot is there on the job every time doing his damnedest to help Jack out. They have been together for seven years and are best mates.

Jack with Spot on the day Spot arrived.

Jack and Spot with the blue ribbon winning best behaved pet at the St George Show.

Spot in his preferred travelling position.

During the holidays it was mustering as usual or to quote a friend of a friend, “The Boarding School Appreciation Program.” Although I am not sure who is meant to appreciate boarding school, me or the kids!

We were heading down to the back yards (10km from the homestead) Sunday mid-afternoon to start drafting up sale cattle for the trucks that were due on the Monday to cart the cattle to sale.

I had asked Jack and his good mate from school who had come for a week’s “holiday”, Charles, to please go and open a set of gates known as the “Three ways”, shift any cattle that were on that trough through the gate and shut it whilst the rest of us started drafting cattle.

We all set off to do our respective jobs; TJ, Dad, Ben, Meg, and I to the back yards to start and the boys to the “Three ways”. Everything was going along well until Charles came tearing up to the yards, skidded to a dramatic stop, jumped over three fences yelling ,” Come quick, Spot has been run over by the bike and I think he is dying!!”

My heart stopped momentarily, my head trying to work out what had been said. I looked up and saw Jack on the ground about 400 metres up the road from the yards holding Spot in his arms, head bent over him. All of us dropped what we were doing and ran up to where he was. It didn’t look good at all. Jack was still sitting on the ground with Spot cradled in his arms. Spot was ominously still, I asked Jack what happened and without looking at me he said, “I don’t know why Mum but he jumped off the bike as I was slowing down (Spot rides across Jack’s knees on the front of the bike) & his head went straight under the front wheel of Charles’ bike. I think his jaw or cheekbone is broken and his left eye has popped out of the socket. We are going to have to put him down.”

He sounded heartbroken, Charles looked shattered and both Ben and Meg were in tears. What to do? So much flashes through your head. Kneeling beside him and looking at Spot, who had come to by this stage and was wagging his tail, his remaining eye on Jack, I felt there was some hope that his jaw & cheekbone were not broken and if we could get him to the vet we might just have a better outcome than what we were seeing now. Jack said, “It is ok Mum, I have said goodbye to him.” There and then I thought, no, if we go to the vet (120km) and are told that there is nothing that can be done then so be it, but I knew later on that if we didn’t do that and give Spot a fighting chance Jack may never forgive himself later on. I looked at TJ who told me it was my call and that they could draft up without Jack and me and told Jack to jump in the ute as we were going to town.

Getting back to the house, I rang the vet and left a message hoping that she would meet us at the surgery in an hour and a half’s time. I quickly told my Mother we were headed to town with Spot and we were on our way. Jack had placed Spot at my feet as comfortably set up as possible and was ready to drive us to town (he is on his Learners driver’s license). Just as we were crossing the bridge into town the vet rang me to say she was ready and waiting for us at the surgery, to our joint relief.

Spot on the operating table.

Spot back at Southampton, not going to be left behind.

After several x-rays it was concluded that there were indeed no fractures in both jaw or cheek bones and that while unfortunately Spot would lose his left eye he would live out a few more years as Jack’s faithful Spotty Dog yet. Once Jack knew his mate was going to be OK he looked at me and said “Well we had better get home hey Mum. Trucks to load tomorrow.”

And just like that we were back on the road again leaving Spot where he would receive the best care and attention over the next few days.

Yes the cheapest option would have been to euthanize Spot and had there been 100% proof of broken jaw or cheek bone then that may have been a choice I/we had to make. Why go to the effort of saving a dog? Well, why wouldn’t you? These loyal companions who serve us well deserve our compassion and care. We are fortunate that we are close enough to a vet that we can rush an animal to town or get a vet out if needed. Many things worked in our favour and Spot is still here with Jack.

 Jack with THAT other dog! Ziggy stepped up to help Jack out much to Spot’s disgust. Spot did not approve of being benched whilst there was still work to be done.

Our lives are full of reality and real-time consequences and there is not much you can do to sugar coat this. Nor do I try. Life is not always fun and games, sometimes it is messy and painful but as adults we are expected to deal with this in a sensible fashion and if our children are not taught about life like this then how can we expect them to cope? Letting your children learn beside you is the best form of education there is I believe.

Spot is happily charging around again although he is now a little “directionally” challenged he is learning quickly to adjust to life as a one eyed dog.