|Town Hall Clock, Gympie|
|Front Entrance to Gympie's Central State Primary School|
Without fail he’d be at our double garden gates every afternoon waiting for my brother and me to arrive home from school. He didn’t wear a watch; he didn’t own one. Seated in his usual spot he couldn’t see the Town Hall clock just across the way; but he was never late. He would have been able to hear the Town Hall clock strike every hour and half hour, of course, but, to my knowledge, he couldn’t count. I guess he just instinctively knew the time of the day; no matter what the day was. He could differentiate between week days and weekends; although I don’t know how he worked that out, either. It must have been instinctive.
At opposing ends of the fence fronting the street upon which we lived were two sets of gates. Well, we didn’t actually live on the street – you know what I mean! A narrower garden gate swung between two posts, one of which held the letterbox at the end of the concrete garden path; or perhaps, at the beginning of the path, depending on which way we were headed – coming or going! The double gates at the opposite end of our front yard were separated from the single gate by a garden ablaze with a pale pink-blossomed climbing rose bush, and a garden abundant with zestful zinnias, generously-hued gerberas and composed chrysanthemums.
The double-gated entrance was wide enough for a car to drive through, but it was never used for that purpose. We didn’t own a car.
When going to or coming from school the double gates were the ones we passed through. At that end of the yard they were the logical choice.
Gympie’s Central State Primary School was situated just up the road a few yards and around the corner in the next street from where we lived. Close enough for us to walk home for “big lunch”; or run home!
It didn’t take him long to learn our habits. He was a clever fellow. That’s why daily, excepting Saturdays and Sundays, he set up his sentry post at the double gates; he was no dummy.
On Saturday afternoons we always went to the matinees at the Olympia Theatre; and upon our return from the picture theatre he’d be there waiting at the smaller gate; not the double gates. When going to the Saturday matinees, the smaller garden gate was the one we always used because that was nearest to the direction we were headed.
Every afternoon when we rounded the corner as we headed for home from school, we’d spot him. I’m sure he always saw us before we saw him because he’d have already jumped up from his seated position; his body quivering with excitement and his tail wagging frantically from side to side. His senses were more alert than ours; and each afternoon he found it difficult to contain himself, but somehow he managed…just!
He knew he wasn’t allowed out on the street. Impatiently he waited; heart pounding; tail wagging, body quivering, ears wired for sound; an excited smile across his tan and white face; a smile that would convert any Sad Sack into a Happy Jack. After a welcome that made us feel we’d been away for a month, not a few hours, he’d jump with joy; and the race would begin! Up the back stairs my brother and I galloped; Graham ahead of me; both of us clearing two steps at a time.
However, smugly, our excited, impatient friend always won the race! And, I always came last!
Peter was his name. He was a tan and white smooth-haired Fox Terrier.
Peter was the first dog we ever had. In truth, he really was my brother’s pet; I had my ginger cat, appropriately called “Ginger”; but I had enough love to share around. My love for Peter wasn’t diminished.
He was a fine, cocky little fellow who loved to chase a ball, a stick or shuttlecock about the yard. Peter was a frisky, inquisitive dog who enthusiastically joined in all our games. He may have been little in size, but he was gigantic in character.
And then, one afternoon he didn’t greet us at the gates. Our hearts were broken. There was little our mother and grandmother could do or say to console us; though try they did. We had to learn to work our way through our grief in our own personal, individual way.
Pets play such a special, crucial part in a child’s life and development. Animals teach children so many of life’s lessons; necessary lessons about love; kindness; respect loyalty; joy, and of course, sorrow. All the emotions that help mould us into being decent human beings.
Oh! Dear! Sorry! And here am I about to give you some hot dog recipes to woof down!
Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Hot Dogs: Heat grill to med-high. Combine 1tsp each tomato sauce and Dijon mustard. Separately mix 1c drained, roughly-chopped sauerkraut with 2tbs chopped onion. Slice 4 large knockwurst/bratwurst/kielbasa sausages down the centre, lengthwise, creating deep pocket; don’t cut right through; coat insides with mustard mix. Place strip of cheddar cheese in each pocket; top with sauerkraut; encase cheese at ends so none is exposed. Tightly wrap a bacon rasher around each stuffed hot dog so stuffing stays in; secure with toothpick at each end. Oil grill; place dogs on grill, stuffing side down. Grill on all sides until bacon is cooked. Toast 4 hot dog buns; remove toothpicks from hot dogs; place in buns.
Sticky Hot Dog Jackets: Rub 4 baking potatoes, each about 225g, with a little olive oil; sprinkle generously with salt flakes and black pepper. Wrap each in double- thickness foil; cook on bbq 1hr, turning often; or bake unwrapped in 200C oven, 1hr. Glaze: Combine 2tsp maple syrup or honey, 1tbs balsamic, 2tsp wholegrain mustard and 1tsp tomato puree. Brush over 8 pork sausages; cook on bbq, basting until cooked and sticky. Combine 8tbs mayo, 2tsp wholegrain mustard and 3tbs finely-chopped chives or shallots. Split the spuds down the middle; not all the way through; add mayo and sausages (like a hot dog).
Hot Dog Rolls: Lightly grease tray; line. Cut 2 sheets thawed puff pastry into 12 pieces; sprinkle with finely-chopped onion, 1tsp chicken stock powder and 1/2tsp chilli powder or black pepper. Using 12 wieners; wrap each in pastry; seal with beaten egg; and brush tops; sprinkle sesame seeds on top of roll; bake in preheated 200C oven, 18-20mins or until golden.