Fifi McGee …

Since I happened to mention the dog I thought I might give you her back story.

Grandpa and Grandma lived on a farm in the Victorian Goldfields. They have two daughters. One is the lovely Gayle, my current squeeze, and henceforth TLG. The other is TLM. If you read any journal articles you will adjust quickly to the abbreviations, if not you’ll get the hang of it eventually.

TLM is married to TUJ. The two daughters between them have provided Grandpa and Grandma with three granddaughters. So far I have mentioned nine humans, now lets tally the dogs. This is a dog family. Between them they had eight dogs at the time in question. Which meant that there was a significant deficiency. Grandpa and Grandma normally had a dog each but Grandpa’s Border Collie had shuffled off this mortal coil.  TLG and Bobby McGee had no dogs, they liked dogs but also liked their freedom.

One of the granddaughters, Sara, loves her Grandfather and sought to address the deficiency. She had often heard his stories of Fox Terriers that he had kept in younger days. She would buy him a Foxie.

Since Grandpa was 87 at the time there was every prospect that there would be a dog left over at the time of his eventual demise. No problem says Sara – with so many dogs in the system there is bound to be a vacancy for a sweet little Foxie when the day comes.

Grandpa fell in love with the dog and named her Fifi.

Fifi was a monster, a total nightmare. She whined non stop, bounced all over her housemate Fleur, a beautiful old black labrador, she bounced all over the furniture. She reduced a couch to shreds. She bounced so much her feet barely touched the floor. On average she was an aerial dog. Grandpa doted on her, the rest of the world detested her.

A year later the folks had to leave the farm because of Grandma’s failing health. No dogs were allowed in the retirement village by order of the residents committee. TLG is one very persuasive human. She doorknocked every unit in the place and got the rules changed, one dog could go.

Now if that dog were Fifi the rules would soon change back again. Fleur got the nod, Fifi got the flick.

Next port of call for the unruly Foxie was TLM’s house. Confronted with a psychotic, rebellious dog that had never been confined or walked on a lead or disciplined or left alone, didn’t shut up and rarely touched the ground … it had to fail and it did. The decision was made in two days. Sara you got us into this mess you take her.

So Fifi joined two other dogs and proceded to turn its new residence upside down. TLG and Bobby McGee began to take her at weekends to give Sara some respite.

Sara lived in a suburb that limited households to two dogs. When someone dobbed* her in the choice was stark. She came to live with us. Fifi, not Sara.

No problem. I grew up with dogs and knew exactly what to do. The objectives were simple. The dog would :-

  • walk on my left without pulling
  • sit on command
  • come when called
  • sleep in the laundry
  • stay away from the table when we were eating

The retraining was intense and took about 12 months but in the end I was successfully retrained.

Five years have passed. Grandma and Fleur have both passed away. Fifi gets to see Grandpa most days and they are still very much in love. These days Fifi generally sleeps on our bed, will sit on command if the grass isn’t wet and sometimes comes when she’s called. TLG and I now camp in State Forests rather than National Parks.

And what could be better than two fine companions, a campfire and a bottle of wine?

Translator’s note * To dob in, Aussie slang for to tell tales, tattle, rat out.

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