Nat Gould

His life and books

Brody's Dog and Another


By Nat Gould

Brody's dog was a curious annual, and bore a reputation in the district second only to Brody's buckjumper, of which much has been written, and more said. Brody's dog was of no particular breed, but favoured many breeds. There was a dash of the dingo in Brody's dog, and unmistakable signs of the lurcher. Being a dog of many breeds, Brody's dog - he had no other name - had a variety of characteristics peculiar to himself. No one had ever discovered Brody's dog asleep; in fact, he was always very much awake. There was no watch-dog on the station to he compared with Brody's dog, and, mongrel that he was, he inspired respect and even awe. New chums inclined to snub Brody's dog were severely sat upon, and given to understand the animal must he treated with respect. The colour of Brody's dog was almost as mixed as his breed. There was a dash of yellow, a stray dab of brown, two or three patches of white, and one leg was almost black. He had the fox-like head of the dingo, but his eyes were quiet and sympathetic.

Jim Brody never told any one where he found the dog, but in answer to questions said, “Saved him out of a fire.”

“That accounts for his being such a scorcher,” replied a new hand, venturing upon a joke with Brody.

“Scorcher is it,"”said Brody, glaring at him. “The fire I pulled him out of was not half as hot as your hair makes a chap feel.”

When Brody's dog first came to the station he was a demon for mischief. The manager swore the dog was possessed of an evil spirit, and vowed to exorcise it. He would not have dared to shoot Brody's dog, much as it would have pleased him to do so. One night Brody's dog howled in a minor key. It sounded worse on the still night air than the wail of the banshee.

“I'll cure that dog,” said the manager, and crept out of the house for fear of disturbing Jim Brody. He took Brody's dog by the back of the neck and dragged him to an outhouse. “Get in there, you brute,” he said, “and if you howl again I'll dissect you.” Brody's dog howled no more that night, and the manager chuckled and thought, “I'm the man to train dogs.”

Next morning, when he went to let Brody's dog out he received a shock. The reason for the ceasing of the howls was apparent, for Brody's dog had been otherwise occupied, and had no time to indulge in his evening hymn. On the floor lay two new saddles, or what remained of them. The padding was missing and the stirrup-leathers were ragged and in strips. But this was not all. A new set of buggy harness had been hauled down from its peg, and Brody's dog had made a satisfactory meal off it. The debris was scattered all over the floor, and in the midst of the ruin sat Brody's dog, positively smiling at the manager, or at least the enraged man fancied there was a grin on the dog's face.

The news of the exploit of Brody's dog circulated, and a notice was posted on the door of the homestead which read as follows “When Brody's dog howls apply two new saddles and a set of buggy harness. Signed, THE BOSS.”

The manager had a little girl three years old at the time. She was "great pals" with Brody's dog. In those days there were more dingoes about the station than there are now. If you want a good idea of a dingo, visit the Zoo, and look at the Australian wild dog in his cage. Dingoes are curs, and dangerous curs at times. They are fond of mutton, and kill sheep without asking permission from the owner. They have been known to attack children, and even men. Brody's dog having a bit of the dingo in him, had a great dislike to these outcasts. He was a civilised dog, and scorned the dingo portion of his anatomy.

Jim Brody relates the story, for he saw what happened, and he tells it somehow in this fashion, although he has a style all his own.

“It was a scorching hot day, and I'd been out late to the big run. I was precious tired and half asleep; but I knew I must hurry on home as the boss was in Sydney. Well, I was making tracks for the homestead as quickly as possible, and the dog was away ahead of me. There were heaps of dingoes about then, and they were audacious curs, and hovered around the homestead. Many a one I've shot within a mile of the yards. Looking ahead I saw the nurse-girl out with the little 'un. She was a bonny lass - I mean the little 'un - and we all loved her, including the dog. For matter of that we all love her now, but she's bigger-like, don't you see, and it makes a difference. I can cuddle and kiss a little lass of three, but put ten years on to her, and you begin to fall back from her and to take off your hat and call her miss, and so on. Tommy-rot, I call it, but there, you can't alter facts and feelings. 1

“But as I was saying, the nurse-girl had the little one with her, and as is the way with such folk, she was reading a blood-and- thunder yarn about a duke who married a nursemaid, which of course they never does, and thinking very little about the child. The little lass had strayed a good way from her, and was plucking berries off some cover lying handy. Suddenly I saw a dingo sneak out of the cover. At first I thought it was my dog - I begged his pardon after, for ever classing him with such a cur, but soon found out my mistake.

"Yell? Yes; I reckon I 'raised Cain.' But that nurse-girl was either deaf, or in love with the duke she was reading about. My dog was wide awake, and he saw what was going on. The dingo rushed at the little lass and had her down in a moment. Lord, how I galloped towards her, but my dog was first. The dingo saw him coming, but stood his ground, and still held the child down. My dog flew at him and caught him in the rear. That was the way to take him, and it made the cur loose his grip on the child. He was a big dingo, the biggest I ever remember seeing, and my dog was not near his size. How they fought, my dog and that other one. They rolled over, and bit and tore, and growled and yelped until even the nurse-girl fancied there must be something wrong. When she comprehended the situation, that girl made more noise than any two females. She shouted 'Save her!' 'Oh, mercy!' and so on, but sat still and watched the proceedings. It's my belief she was too 'skeered' to move.

Well, my dog hadn't much the best of it for a round or two, because the other one was mad for blood and wild with rage. I didn't care to interfere while my dog had a chance. You see, I know his nature, and felt he would prefer to settle the cur himself. They'd been at it a good ten minutes when my dog got a grip of the other one's throat, and then it was soon over. That dingo never had such a worrying before, and he never wanted to fight, or thieve, or attack children again, because my dog took the life out of him, and shook him until he was as dead as a stone.

“Talk about dogs being sagacious, that animal of mine's more sense than all your new chums rolled into one. When he turned over the dingo he went to the child and licked her, and fondled her, and danced round her for joy. You dunderheads may not believe me, but it's gospel truth when I say that dog cried for joy. The little one was not much hurt, only frightened, but if my dog hadn't gone for the other one there'd have been no Miss Mabel to-day. As for that nurse-girl, I gave her a lively five minutes. She wanted to pat my dog and thank him for what he had done, but he declined the honour and snarled at her. As for the little one, he followed her about for months after, and when she comes home from school for her holidays, he wags his tail until it is fit to come off."

“How old is your dog, Jim?” asked a new hand.

“Don't know,” replied Brody. “You had better examine his teeth."

This offer always settled the question. Brody's dog was sensitive about his teeth. Old age had not improved them, and no canine dentists had been invented to give him a new set. There was, however, a lot of power left in the jaws of Brody's dog, as inquisitive tramps quickly discovered. Brody's dog was also a great friend of Brody's buckjumper, the one that went to Sydney and took down the “Wild West" boys.

The dog and the buckjumper understood one another, and made common cause against enemies. They slept together, or rather Brody's dog kept watch while the buckjumper slept. The manager changed his mind about Brody's dog after the fight with the dingo. He forgave the tearing up of saddles and bridles, and regarded Brody's dog as the best on earth.

“That dog saved Mabel's life when she was a little girl. You wouldn't think it to look at him,” he said to visitors at the homestead.

Dogs live to a good old age sometimes, and enjoy life as very few animals do. Brody's dog reached the full limit of canine existence. When he died he was buried under a big tree, not far from the spot where he fought and killed the dingo. A board is nailed to the tree, and bears the inscription “HERE LIES BRODY'S DOG.”

This short story by Nat Gould was published on 14 August 1897 in Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.