Monday, August 24, 2009

'Rocky Come Home' Another Adventure of 'The Collie with Class'

I could not resist sharing for the sake of nostalgia, another doggy tale from days gone by, of Rocky our beloved Lassie lookalike, the rough collie who aspired to live a more affluent life. This is one of those stories I want to preserve, which is why I have decided to write about it on my blog which is also my family journal, the story of our lives. My older children have fond memories of Rocky from their childhood days growing up on the dairy farm in New Zealand but they were too young to remember some of his more famous antics! When we moved onto the farm Rocky was older and wiser, the more carefree days of his youth were over and he settled down and even grew tired of roaming our 300 acres! His beautiful, gentle nature remained and he would allow toddlers to clamber all over him. He was the perfect family dog.

I hope you enjoy this canine tale, after all stories about pets, dogs in particular, are becoming bestselling books and are even being turned into Hollywood Movies and don't forget Hollywood's most famous dog was, like Rocky, an adorable rough collie who captured the hearts of generations of children and adults and launched some famous careers!

The original 1943 film 'Lassie Come Home' starring Roddy McDowell and Elizabeth Taylor is one of the best Lassie films. My children have not watched this since we replaced our VCR with a DVD player. I will have to look out for it on DVD. It is a great movie to have in your family film collection.

In my previous post I shared how Rocky had been offered generous country town hospitality and had feasted on gourmet fare when he gatecrashed the garden party of our neighbour, a local town councillor. This experience must have given him a taste of the good life and a few weeks later he found a way out again (despite our back garden being fully fenced) and went on his search for another venue offering more refined dining options than Pedigree Chum!
We pounded the pavements of our town, searched its highways and by-ways, hunted behind hedges and visited every park and open green space. After 3 days we gave up the search. Rocky was wearing an id tag on his collar (these were the days before micro-chipping of pets) and we just hoped someone would find him and call us and not fall in love with him and adopt him!

The Country life beckoned but Rocky was not interested in chasing cows!

We never thought he would head out of town but this is what he had indeed done! He was wanting a tree-change and gone in search of the country life. He did not have to go far as we lived right on the edge of town. I received a phone call from a lady who lived on a farm a few kilometres away. Do you own a Lassie dog?' she asked. 'He's here on my farm, he's just fine, don't worry, we are looking after him'. I had to wait for my husband to return home from work with the car until we could head out to pick him up. We found the property and drove up its long driveway, the homestead could not be seen from the road. And what a homestead it was! The most palatial, expansive country home I had ever set eyes on. A restored, opulent 19Th century villa with wrap-a-round verandas and magnificent gardens. The type of country property you are likely to see in the exclusive real estate brochures. 'Wow - these people have money' my husband remarked! I was still speechless and taking in every aspect of the glorious home we had come across. 'That's my dream house' I told my husband! And it was obviously, our dog's dream house too, for there sitting on a big comfy cushion looking very much at home on the veranda was Rocky. We pulled up in our car in the driveway but Rocky did not come to greet us. He had seen us and recognized us but even the sight of our shiny, red apology for a sports car (a Mitsubishi Cordia!) would not entice him from his regal position. The lady of the house came out to greet us and told us that Rocky had turned up the day before. They had not noticed his tag at first, hidden in all that long collie fur. 'He's such a beautiful dog, we knew he belonged to someone and we have looked after him for you, he's just had some steak for dinner'. Steak for dinner! No wonder Rocky did not want to come home! He continued sitting on his cushion with a look on his face as if to say 'Please don't take me away from here, I have green acres to roam, a beautiful spacious veranda and steak for dinner! This is the life!' It took lots of persuasion to get him to move off that veranda but eventually we managed to coerce him into the car. We thanked the lady for looking after our dog and contacting us and we headed back to our humble abode with one rather forlorn looking dog on the backseat! I had taken note of the name on the mailbox at the entrance and later discovered that her husband was the director of a NZ dairy company. We joked about there being money in dairy cows without realizing that we would be entering this industry ourselves.

This is the Country life Rocky went in search of. This was not the actual home he visited but it was similar to this gorgeous homestead. I took this photo on a garden tour many years ago, to tell you the truth, like Rocky I was more interested in the homestead! My friend and I spent the time viewing the gardens surrounding the veranda so we could take a closer look at the house!

A few years later we were able to fulfill Rocky's dream of a life in the country when we sold our home and bought into the dairy herd owned by my husband's parents, we moved onto their farm and our new abode was a very humble stone farmhouse and although Rocky was delighted with his new three hundred acres, I suspect he was disappointed to see that there was no veranda! A few years later, we indulged him when we had a rather large deck added on to the house. He even received the odd steak from time to time, as farm life meant lots of beef in the freezer! He never went walkabout again!

It was so hard to leave him behind in New Zealand but he was getting old and we knew that being confined in quarantine would have been too much for him. I later heard he moved from the farm to the city of Dunedin, I'm not sure why or what the circumstances were.. at least he had a decent fur coat to keep him warm in this very cold place! I just pray he was cherished by his new owners and spent his final days in doggy contentment!

When we came to Australia and moved on to our eight acres of eden, we found ourselves another puppy, a kelpie collie cross we called Nisha who would not require the hours of grooming a rough collie required. Sadly, we experienced the heartbreak of losing her to paralysis tick poisoning in 2005. I was not sure about having a dog with a longer coat but Faith our border collie has been a much loved member of our family for the last four years. She does not seem to be affected by ticks, we are very vigilant about checking her. I'm also very aware of the early symptoms of tick paralysis. She is a part time working dog and accompanies my son and daughter when they go to work on the next door dairy farm, she is a real pro, an expert at rounding up cows and keeping them in order when they have to be moved along our country road.

Faith is a faithful friend!

Charity is our adopted cat, she came to our door as a kitten that had been abandoned in the bush. My 9 year old son took this lovely shot of her sitting in the concrete barrow! She will be a perfect subject for a story or he can choose from budgies, a cockatiel, chickens or our bush inhabitants such as green tree frogs, geckos, koalas and our current visitors the bower birds.... catbirds, satin bower birds and the regent bower bird have all been sighted recently and are stealing biscuits from the dog's bowl!

This is the Regent bower bird.... a most colourful inhabitant of Australia's forests and an occasional visitor to my garden. Seeing bird life such as this is one of the joys of living in a forest setting! No, I did not take this picture, they are quite elusive but you cannot miss them if they do fly in. I once had one fly past and brush my ear as I stood on the patio.

I did have time to grab the camera when these colourful King Parrots came to visit the magnolia tree outside my kitchen window!

I hope you enjoyed the story of Rocky the 'Collie with Class'. If you have a furry or feathered friend who is a much loved member of your family, I would encourage you to record your memories. If you are a parent of younger children you could have your children write stories about their pets - this would make a great homeschool writing project. In fact I'm going to have my children do this shortly... animals make great subjects for stories! In my next post I will share some ideas for combining nature study and creative writing and dip into our homeschool archives to show you some of the projects my children undertook which involved animal life.

Reading books about animals may inspire your children to write their own stories, especially if you can find books that feature a pet similar to the one they own. Collies often feature in children 's books.

Your children will enjoy reading about their animal's adventures and antics in years to come and at the same time you will have helped them create a very special record of your family's time spent with their best friends! You will also appreciate having a record of the different places where you lived (and visited for day trips and holidays). The property where your children spent their childhood years will no doubt bring back many memories and you may be amazed at how many of your memories involve interaction with animals. Just thinking of Rocky the collie with class reminds me of two homes and two special places and I will always hold him fondly in my heart!


Fruitful Harvest said...

Hi Ann~

Great post....We have found our share of stray dogs and returned then to their owners!
We found a Boarder Collie,Aulstrailan Shepherd,
and a German Pointer.

What kind of dog is the black and white one pictured on your blog? Boarder Collie?

We have a Beagle! and just love him!

The birds out your kitchen window...WOW!!!!Breath taking!
I'll be right over! Put the tea kettle on here I come! hee hee!


Fruitful Harvest said...

Hi Ann~
I have a blog award for you over at my blog!~


Farming On Faith said...

What a fun post~I so enjoyed reading it!

William Dunigan said...

Greetings to all in that mighty name of "Jesus":
Each Christian of whom know him in the power of His resurrection...or, maybe I should say...those who are well acquainted with the fact, that He truly did come back from the dead...also appeared to His disciples.

Thomas was invited by Jesus to feel the nail prints within His hands. So, those who also have been convinced by only having His spirit to convince them, having never had the opportunity to feel the nail prints in his hands, as did Thomas: Jesus said blessed are those who have seen and then believed, but greater are the blessings that rest upon those who have never seen, but still believe.

I am a full time writer and an ordained minister. I have written three books so far. My first book: Reviving the dead church, by reminiscing the day of Pentecost. The second one is: Beyond the Golden Sunset and by the Crystal Sea. My third book: Off to visit the Prophet Elijah, on this one, the contract to publish has been completed and soon the book will be published.
Warm regards

William Dunigan -


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