‘The garden looks resplendent today, don’t you think Lola?’ She ignored me as per normal. ‘Resplendent,’ I said again. I wasn’t sure what the word meant, but what did that matter? I’d heard Sooz using it and I liked the way it sounded. It had a way of dropping off my tongue in that satisfying way that some words do… r – e – s – p – l – e – n – d – e – n – t.
I ignored her lack of enthusiasm. ‘Doesn’t the garden look resplendent today?’
She swung her head to gaze at me. ‘You are joking aren’t you? You’ve been listening to Sooz again and now you’re showing off. Paddington there are times when you’re a total bore! I wish you would leave home.’
‘Bore? Leave home, but… but Lola where would I go? You would miss me if I left home. Am I really boring?’
She pushed up and turned her back to me. She’d been sitting under the shade of a fur tree and now wandered away her tail sweeping from side to side as she made for the fence line that bordered our property from the road.
I heard the sweet roar of an engine accelerating towards where we stood and I saw Lola lift her head in interest. She might be getting old, but there was nothing wrong with her hearing and she could still show a burst of speed when a vehicle whizzed past. She took off slowly, but as I belted after her she was hurtling along the fence towards the sound as though she was a two year old.
I saw the banner of dust before the vehicle as it made its way along the dirt road towards us. It was moving fast, but at the last minute slowed and turned into our driveway.
‘Visitors,’ I barked, turning a quick one eighty degrees and racing up the slope and back towards the house.
‘Sooz… Sooz,’ I woofed. ‘Visitor.’
‘What’s all the noise Paddington? Calm down, will you?’
‘Yes.’ I was panting hard as I pushed past her into the kitchen. I turned a sharp left my claws scraping across the stone floor and nearly collided with the wall when my paws failed to grip the surface. But I corrected myself and continued down the hallway to one of the many front doors that exited the house. I skidded to a stop throwing my front paws onto the window and pressed my nose to the pane. I knew most of the cars that visited the house, but this one looked different. A tall man climbed out and looked at the house. He seemed undecided as to which door to select and I understood his quandary as there were at least four possibilities.
He saw me peering at him and made his way down the steps towards the door with his mouth open in a huge smile. `He looked nice, tall like Pete, but bigger in size. I instantly liked him.
He tapped the window at me as I continued my perfected welcome of barking and dancing and showing my acrobatic skills.
Sooz arrived and gestured to him to go to another door and I raced after her as she made her way into the indoor outdoor room. I needed to become acquainted with the new visitor and the only way to do that was to have a close up sniff.
‘Paddington, WAIT!’ she looked at me with her “do as you’re told eyes” and I tried to remember the ‘wait’ rule. It was something to do with not barging out of doors or past her. There were so many rules to remember, that at times like this, when more important issues arose, I tended to forget.
Sooz opened the door and I inched forward until my nose moved past her leg. I picked up an interesting smell discharging from him and couldn’t place it.
‘Sorry about that,’ said Sooz to the man in her cheerful voice. ‘He gets a bit over zealous,’ she grabbed my collar. ‘Can I help you?’
I listened to their conversation while thinking I’d seen the man before, but where?
‘My name’s Silvio. I’m a sculptor. I live around the corner on Swamp Road and my wife and I have been talking to your two dogs down on the fence line for sometime.’
Yes of course, that’s where I know him from. I recognised the smell, but still wasn’t sure what it is. ‘It’s true Sooz, they stop their car and chat to us. He seems like a nice man.’
‘I wondered whether I could take a few pictures of him?’ continued Silvio.
‘Please come in,’ said Sooz. ‘You say you’re a sculptor?’
‘Sooz… don’t you think you should introduce us?’
‘What’s his name?’ Silvio bent down and took my head in his large hands. He rubbed behind my ears and I melted under his touch.
‘Arrrrr… that’s nice… just a bit further around… yes that’s it… and there… arrrrrrr.’ I pushed up against him enjoying the massage.
‘His names Paddington,’ said Sooz.
‘Of course it’s a great name! I’m famous. There aren’t any other Bearded Collies who can say they’ve travelled through the outback… not like me. And I’m named after a famous bear that comes from Peru... only I’m real.’
‘You say you want to take his picture. Can I ask why?’
‘I’ve been commissioned to make a sculptor of Bob the Railway Dog. He’s a famous outback dog that travelled the outback trains around the Peterborough area back in the late 1800’s. From my research I think he looked a little bit like Paddington. He was about the same size and had a rough coat and similar head. I think Paddington would make a wonderful model.’
‘What was that about another outback dog… one that looked like me… but how can that be the case? No, I don’t believe it!’
‘Are you saying Bob was a Bearded Collie?’
‘Not really. I’ve only managed to obtain one picture and from that I’d say not. But the shape and size will help. Would you mind?’
‘It’s okay Sooz. I don’t mind if he takes pictures of me. I’m already famous… it won’t go to my head.’ I shifted my stance, made myself look taller by holding my head high. What will Lola think of me now?
‘Do you want me to stand him for you?’
‘What does that mean Sooz…? I sometimes don’t know what you’re talking about. Stand me… is that a show term?’
‘I’d like a series of pictures of him standing, sitting, from the back and front,’ said Silvio.
‘Not a problem. Come Paddington.’
I trotted over to her and she positioned my legs to stop me slouching and pulled on my tail. ‘Hey Sooz… I’m not sure about this. I can do this stuff by myself.’ I wriggled out of her grasp jumping away.
Lola arrived from the garden, panting. ‘Look at me Lola! I’m going to be famous.’ It’s a wonder she came home, I thought. She hates strangers… she usually stays away when we get visitors. ‘Lola, it’s that nice man that talks to us sometimes on the fence line… you know the one that stops with his wife.’
‘There’ll be no talking to you soon,’ said Lola. She turned around and walked back the way she’d come ‘You’ve already got a head the size of….’ Her words disappeared with her. I wasn’t surprised she took off, she really preferred her own company and I guessed she’d make for the fur tree she so liked to lie under and anyway I didn’t need Lola cramping my style.
Sooz grabbed me again and the next fifteen minutes she stood me for Silvio. I could hear the shutter click… click… click… as he snapped shot after shot.
‘Sooz, I’m getting tired… any snacks?’
‘Is Bob the Railway Dog’s story like Red Dog from the Northern Territory?’ asked Sooz.
‘Slightly different circumstances, he became something of a legend with men who worked on the railway. His travels took him all over the state and the railway men looked out for him. His registration was always kept up to date and they had a brass plate engraved for his collar that read, ‘Stop me not, but let me jog, for I am Bob the driver’s dog.’
‘That’s a bit like Red Dog. The people of the Pilbara did the same sort of thing.’
‘Yes, that’s right. Like Red Dog, Bob made an impact.
Why is it that when Sooz got talking to someone she ignored me? After all, I’m the star and all this posing is making my stomach growl. ‘Sooz I’m starving.’ I gave her my best beguiling stare and batted my eye lashes in the way I’d heard her say was becoming. Still she took no notice. I nudged her with my nose. ‘A biscuit would go down well now. Sooz, perhaps Silvio would like a biscuit?’
She wasn’t taking a blind bit of notice of me, it appeared our new friend was far more important. Time to do something to draw her attention back to me. I looked around to see what I could pinch of hers. Nothing stood out, but I knew where there were a few precious items… the laundry! I remembered seeing a few delicate items lying near the washing machine this morning when I passed by… time to pop in and nick something… that generally got a reaction.
Silvio, stopped me in mid stride when he came over and dropped down to speak to me in person… face to face. ‘See Sooz, at least someone cares about me.’ His hands were very large and I sluiced my tongue over his skin. He tasted quite nice. ‘Will I be able to see the sculpture when you’ve finished it, Silvio?’ I gazed into his face with my sincerest expression.
‘You must come and see the sculpture when I’ve finished it,’ said Silvio looking at Sooz, while scratching me behind the ears.
‘Silvio I asked first!’ I wondered if people had trouble understanding me… I would ask Lola… she would tell me if I had a strange accent. ‘I don’t suppose you’d ask Sooz to get me a biscuit… would you Silvio… please?’
I gazed after Silvio as he pushed up. ‘If only they could talk,’ he said to Sooz.
‘Paddington gets close at times. I’d love to get into his head.’
‘What! Sooz have you had too much sun or something? You know darn well you understand me! Don’t try and cover up by saying you don’t. You answer me when you want to! Well, I’m not happy Sooz! What will Silvio think?’
‘Thanks for letting me take the pictures.’
‘That’s fine. Let us know how it all ends up.’
‘Yes, sure will. Goodbye Paddington, see you around.’
He dropped the palm of his hand onto my head and I rubbed against it. Such big hands, I thought again.
The front door closed on me as Sooz walked Silvio out to his car. What a strange day it’s been, I thought. I wondered if I would get to see the sculpture of Bob? I hoped that if Sooz got an invite she might take me. Silvio might be commissioned to make a sculpture of me one day Yes, I reckon he will, after all I’m famous, far more famous than Bob or Red Dog. How could they not make one of the only Bearded Collie to travel the outback?
With that thought I bounded into the garden to find Lola and tell her the news. ‘Lola… Lola… Lola… I’m going to have a sculpture made of me…
For more information and pictures of Bob the Railway Dog visit www.bobtherailwaydog.com and Silvio Apponyi – www.apponyi.net