2010 Winners

The Babies of Walloon Award – Open Age Bush Poetry

Highly Commended

Charlie and The Doc
by Catherine Clarke
Mona Vale, NSW

When Jenny's end was imminent poor Charlie took it bad –
went off to sit alone and think, subdued and very sad.
His chum had been extr’ordinary - lived with him for years;
a tough and clever noisy mutt, with lots between the ears.
She'd bossed around the others, over which she'd held firm sway;
despite all remonstrance would just perform her own sweet way.
But Charlie loved his Jenny, and he knew he'd badly miss
the stubborn, rugged sheepdog's loving eyes and nightly kiss.

She'd mothered several pups, some good and some a little rough,
so Charlie had decided keeping two was quite enough.
The sleek, compliant Misty was as steady as a rock,
but Doc was like his mother, quite the chip from off the block;
as forcible with straying sheep, and just as smart and loud-
a wild part-dingo line of which old Charlie was quite proud.
Doc looked and acted this part well, was orange-yellow hue;
he seemed to prowl instead of run - was always coming through.

All Charlie's mates then told him he should go for better bred,
and though he was reluctant he took note of what they said.
He bought a pricey, gutless border collie named Big Bob,
but whilst he worked the trials well, at home he failed the job.
The wild and woolly jumbucks were too numerous to cope;
ten thousand of them all at once were quite beyond his scope.
Still Bob remained, and Charlie held them all in high esteem –
the Doc, Big Bob and Misty were a good hard-working team.

In eighty-nine the price of wool collapsed, and Charlie bought
some Hereford-cross calves and cows, the wild erratic sort!
The cows were cheap, and hardly handled - shifting them was hard;
they went berserk at all the dogs before they'd left the yard.
Then driving didn't even work, so Charlie went to '5hoo’ –
he left the dogs in back and walked, to see what he could do.
He slowly crossed the paddock - made it only to the half,
when one cow trod unconsciously upon another's calf.

The mother bellowed, panicked, in a frenzy of distress,
and swung towards old Charlie, who stood frozen motionless.
He had a weakened ticker, he'd been told to take things slow –
at knowledge of the danger he could feel the pressure grow.
He couldn't turn around - he roared, and backed off from the charge,
whilst hoping for a weapon to defend himself at large.
The cows stirred up, and more began to threaten and approach;
a lot went through his mind as he felt fear and dread encroach.

He closed his eyes - the ground began to shake, and all went dark ...
but suddenly above the noise came deaf'ning, howling bark!
Then Charlie glimpsed a flashing blur of orange leaping by,
which showered him with dust and dung and caught the leader's eye.
He stared in disbelief at Doc who, latched on to her nose,
was hanging on for very life in single-minded pose!
He Iurched towards the ute, and sensed the mob become aware,
then turned to see the frantic cow swing Doc high in the air.

She smashed him to the ground - he took her weight on top of him!
Poor Doc was bludgeoned ruthlessly, his chances looking grim.
She tossed him to and fro and charged again, intent, enraged –
severely injured, Doc persisted, courage not assuaged.
Retreating slowly, still he barked and growled and stood his ground –
legs broken, face cut up and bruised, his eyes cast all around.
He could have risked a run for it, yet bluffed and faced the brute,
allowing Charlie access to the safety of the ute.

Big Bob and Misty stared at all the action from the tray –
they weren't about to interfere with this distasteful fray.
Exhausted, Charlie contemplated this unfair attack;
the badly limping, still rebellious Doc, who held them back.
Then motivated, gunned the engine, started up the ute
to charge into the maddened mob with manner resolute,
distract them from the bleeding, broken dog within their sight,
and rescue Doc from more distress before he lost the fight...

There isn't any room for crippled sheepdogs on a farm,
and Charlie knew the rules so he observed Doc with alarm.
Although he knew the vet would say he ought to let him go,
the dog was only five - he baulked at this scenario!
He looked upon the mutilated body, trembling, torn –
Doc's matted fur all caked with blood, his eyes half-shut, forlorn;
and Charlie made his mind up that no matter what the cost,
he'd pay the price and not give up the loyal dog as lost.

He did survive, though crippled bad, and when the next dawn broke,
old Charlie rested on his porch and gave Doc's ears a stroke.
He tenderly caressed the swollen, rugged, battered head,
and knew that but for this true friend he could be lying dead.
He wondered what it was that made Doc leap to his defence
whilst so-called 'good dogs' sat and watched with cool indifference.
Although that's what they'd both been told to do, you would presume
that instincts to protect their own would overtake, consume.

Well anyway, the word got out and made the locals think;
reporters came to ask the secret of their special Iink-
a bond that only few men have with their most trusted friend;
unique and indestructible - a treasure to defend ...
The Doc lives on, presented with State's bravery award,
yet Charlie's sheer devotion is Doc's ultimate reward.
No canine could be happier, retired from daily slog –
no man more proud than Charlie, of his crippled, ugly dog.


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