ON THE remote patrol posts where I worked as a kiap before Papua New Guinean independence there was always an established pecking order.
First was the officer in charge, usually an assistant district officer or a patrol officer.
Next – in order - came the station clerk, police corporal, police constables, interpreter, station dog and, last of all, the cadet patrol officer.
Somewhere between the station clerk and the police corporal there might have been an aid post orderly, a teacher or two and occasionally an agricultural officer.
I have fond memories of all the occupants of these various offices from the patrol posts where I served. Except perhaps for a couple of errant cadets who tried everyone’s patience.
But I guess we were all cadets once and it wasn’t really their fault if they occasionally rubbed the boss kiap up the wrong way.
I had two dogs in Papua New Guinea. One met an unfortunate end courtesy of a rampant Land Cruiser but the other one survived and I eventually brought her back to Australia with me.
She had a proper doggy name once but the police on the station where she grew up referred to her as the Buka Meri. She joined a long line of black dogs in Papua New Guinea with the same name.
And there weren’t any racial overtones because the corporal who gave her that name came from Buin. Maybe she reminded him of someone at home. Or maybe he liked dark rum.
It cost me a small fortune to get her to Australia. There was the aircraft freight fee and the cost of her six months stay in quarantine but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Her stay in quarantine was over winter and when she was finally delivered to my door in South Australia she had grown an impenetrable mat of insulating fur.
Buka Meri had come from hot tropical rainforest to the driest state on the driest continent in the world, but it didn’t seem to faze her at all.
We spent several years together beating around the hot deserts of Central Australia with nomadic tribespeople before old age caught up with her.
After she had gone there was a succession of other dogs of all shapes, sizes, temperaments and types.
Without exception they all displayed an unerring loyalty and companionship given unconditionally.
Their passing was always heartbreaking and hard to get over. Dare I say, I felt their inevitable demise harder than I did that of certain of my human relatives and acquaintances.
That’s not so much a reflection on them so much as the quality of the dogs I have known.
The latest in this line of canine friends, an old black and white cocker spaniel called McGee, passed away about 10 days ago. He developed pancreatitis, was sick in the morning and gone by evening leaving a tremendous void in the lives of both me and my wife.
We are now saying we won’t get another dog but it’s still early days and I suspect a pooch will show up sooner or later. Life without a dog is a life missing something I think.
Mankind and dogs have lived together since before Adam was a lad and it seems only natural to have one.
Or as a dog would say, it’s only natural to have a human.