[Photo - Hazzie 13yo, photo credit Hannah Phillips]
Many years ago when my father passed away suddenly, I watched the Boss Dog (his faithful old bitch) sit at the back gate waiting for him. I was totally heartbroken and I could see that she didn’t understand what was going on around her.
A couple of days after his passing, just on daylight, I heard her pushing on the back gate and whimpering so I went out and let her in. She looked at me gratefully, slunk in the gate (she knew she wasn’t allowed in the yard), went up the back steps and lay down beside his work boots and hat on the veranda.
I knew then that she understood, so I just sat there with her.
For those who don’t know what a ‘boss dog’ is, here is a brief description.
Boss Dog – old, faithful, hardworking, and self-appointed protector of the boss. They are unequivocally in charge of all the other dogs whether they like it or not. They are never far from the heels of the boss and always ready to snarl at other dogs who get too close to the boss. They are always found in the front driver’s corner of the tray or in the front seat of the ute when the boss is driving and will only relinquish this position upon their death. On the motorbike, they are the closest dog to the boss on the back or on his lap, often based on the boss dog’s individual preference and on the number of other lowly dogs on the bike. The boss dog is often considered cranky, intolerant, and a bit too bossy by onlookers but that is simply because they don’t understand the title and position of ‘Boss Dog’.
Here is my poem from the perspective of a dog.
Waiting For The Boss
She lay dozing by the back gate, as only boss dogs do,
Twitching in her sleep, sweet dreams she’d caught a roo.
Her age it was apparent, her fur had lost its gloss,
She was soaking up the morning sun, just waiting for the Boss.
Stirring from her slumber, a sound had pricked her ear,
A threat she had to warn of, a vehicle drawing near.
She sprang into the fray, to frighten friend or foe,
This calls for full alert she thought, so barking she did go.
With hackles up and growling, no time for her to stall,
She had to let the Boss know, when people came to call.
She raced out to defend, as the vehicle slowed to park,
Strangers wouldn’t know, she was less ferocious than her bark.
It looks like Sal and Pete, from over there next door,
She eased her barking down a bit, just ‘til she was sure.
She looked towards the back gate, expecting Boss’ cheer,
She knew he liked to chat with Pete, to laugh and have a beer.
Standing at the back door, the Missus she did spy,
Sal rushed passed without a glance, as Missus began to cry.
She walked on over to the gate, trying hard to see inside,
She sat and waited there, with head cocked to the side.
Still no movement from the house, the noonday sun did shine,
Sniffing ‘round she found a spot, beneath the Athol Pine.
She wonders what is keeping Boss, he’s never been this late,
She scratched her ear and settled down, just listening for the gate.
Maybe she should check again, and lap around the shed,
Boss might have slipped out quietly, while the kids were still in bed.
As she disappeared around the ute, the sun sank in the sky,
Amidst the deafening silence, she heard the Missus cry.
Another vehicle rumbled in, she barked her warning strong,
This place is like a freeway, with a line of vehicles long.
Delighted in her guard dog work, she wagged her shabby tail,
She had never let the Boss down, never did she fail.
She waited for his whistle, and him calling to ‘get up’,
He’d trained her well for many years, since she was just a pup.
They chased mobs of sheep and goats, or bullocks through the scrub,
And when the long day ended, her faithful head he’d rub.
Come on Boss let’s do some work, what is the plan today?
Let’s check the troughs, fix a fence, and give the bulls some hay.
What’s with all the people, and why are they so sad?
She snapped a fly and licked her lips, it didn’t taste so bad.
As another group of people, made their way inside,
She didn’t really understand, why the Missus cried.
Those whispered words she heard again, ‘we’re sorry for your loss’,
But she kept right on sitting there, just waiting for the Boss.
by Mary O’Brien