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Bonzer Words!: A Religious Experience

Tony Williams tells of the day he disowned his dog.

Tony writes for Bonzer! magazine. Please do visit www.bonzer.org.au

Back in the sixties, my family had a border collie named Rusty on account of the coppery sheen that ran through much of the black part of his black and white livery. Rusty and I were teenagers. We lived in Port Noarlunga South, a coastal community south of Adelaide, a pleasurable mixture of sand dune and spit, rocky reefs, river mouth, and limestone and ochre cliffs crammed with fossils. A small convent stood near the edge of one such cliff, overlooking everything. Occasionally, the nuns strolled along the beach, chattering in groups or wandering solo. Except in hot weather, of course, when their black habits would have been intolerable.

One weekend, I took Rusty for a walk along the beach. Rusty constantly tore off into the distance chasing waves, then returned to check up on me, bounding about my feet. At one such checkpoint, a nun sat on a hump of sand in quiet contemplation, staring out to sea. She may have been mulling over some deep theosophical theory or simply enjoying the scenery. I had no idea.

Rusty’s interpretation was otherwise.

To Rusty, here was a great big black post in a desert of territory markers. He raised his leg and a stream of bright yellow urine splashed down her side leaving a dark stain on the sand. During all this, she did not move. She did not even turn her head. I was horrified, flushed with extreme embarrassment. Should I apologise? How do you address a nun?

The nun continued to stare out to sea. Rusty had disrespectfully charged back to the surf before I could even think of telling him off. So likewise, I turned my back on the whole disgraceful scene and headed towards home. Now and again I peeked over my shoulder, hoping against hope that Rusty would not notice my absence until I was well out of sight of the nun.

For the time being at least, that dog did not belong to me.

© Tony Williams


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