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Over the festive season, I sent out my latest poem Why I Talk to Kelpie Dogs to all my friends, family and associates. I received more replies in a single day, than for any other email I have ever sent.

How could so many people relate to the sentiment of loving a dog?

How many of you could handle life without a dog?

Why does a dog mean so much to you?

Why so many questions about dogs?

Perhaps after reading the below comments you will be more equipped to answer them!

“I loved reading your holiday letter with the story about your sweet sheepdog. Scooby is a favourite of mine too, and Steph and Brad know that I have first dibs on their doggie in the event he ever needs a new home!” Melissa, Los Angeles

“I must say I almost shed a tear reading your poem about Tiger. I used to be a petsitter and lived with a Kelpie called Jazz for a few months – she was secretly my favourite of the pets  – so smart and they really do communicate with their eyes.” Victoria

“Great poem, I know how you feel. For me it was a border collie called Deefa (D for Dog), a blue cattle dog called Cee-Off (Clancy of the Overflow) and then Fridge the German Shepherd cross (real name = Refrigerator Destroyer because of his habit of flying at fridges with food in them). Dogs, cats, horses, cows – I love them all (but I eat cows too, which often seems odd, but being human it is a result of being what I am – a yin/yang thing I think).” Juel

“Many thanks for sharing your kind greetings and sharing your poem – every child should know the love of a dog.” Ron

“I hope you will find another Tiger one day. We are not designed to live without a dog.” Bails

“Love the poem! My son is returning from a 5 year stint in Kalgoorlie, where he adopted a Kelpie and called him Kevin. They have become inseparable! They will be staying with us and our Golden Retriever.” Ric

“Great poem, thanks Ron – never bite a postman. My old dog Digger (a blue heeler) and I ran away from home when they forced Digger to go and live somewhere else.” Viv

“Thanks for sharing the poem. We also love Kelpies – a very dear friend of ours has one and it is almost human.” Kelvin & Heather

“What a great poem. Having to say goodbye to my farms dogs many years ago was not at all easy, and I missed them for many years. I now play golf at Mosman Park which allows public access particularly in the mornings when owners take their dogs for a walk. There is only one breed of dog which shows genuine interest in its owner, always looking back to see what should be done. I needn’t tell you they are all Kelpies, mostly red. Wishing you all a great Christmas. As far as I know the Puccinellia (salt-eating seed) you kindly mowed up for me all these years ago is still thriving out on Aroona Station 70 miles east of Esperance.” Ian

“Thank you for the poem, it made me cry. It was a such a sad a sweet story in many ways. Fancy you remembering from a 4 year old.” Irene

“Thank you for sending me that touching poem/tale. I think dogs have a very special relationship with humans (but perhaps not postmen).” Malcolm

“A marvelous story. Brings back very fond memories of the Kelpie cross called Nipper, or mostly Nip that grew up with me and my brother. During the long summer holidyas he accompanied me on my bike to the Claremont baths nearly every day and faithfully guarded my bike outside for hours on end. Needless to say it was never ‘borrowed’ and no one ever let down my tyres. In his other spare time Nip vigorously chased and barked at any unknown car that ventured into our street. He didn’t need to go for a walk! He had a more peaceful ending than Tiger.” Peter

“That is a great poem Ron. I will send it to my family.” Gordon

“Bittersweet poem.” Sally  

“What a beautiful poem.  It brings tears to my eyes, but also a big smile.” Charlie 

“Love the poem.  Just proves you still have a soft heart.” Brian

“Thank you, Ron.  That’s lovely and sad and inspiring.” Tom

“I’ve had a kelpie or two, but no postie making deliveries to their back yard (they are very good listeners, the kelpies).” Paul & Christine

“We’re getting a new dog just before Christmas, so this struck a chord.” Graham

“Ron you sure do hit nails on the head. I had not known about your brother, but share your love of Kelpies. My 4 year older brother was given a Kelpie pup we called Bob, and Don went away to school in Charters towers, Bob became my friend and protector when I was miles away from in the bush with a rifle. When we went to Townsville in 1948 Bob died within a week, run over by a car he was chasing. We had tried to protect him in a town, but a good Kelpie spirit could not be contained. But Kelpies always smile back at me because they all know I knew Bob. And on the other side of Australia at that same time was Ron Manners with his dog Tiger. But your story is a lot harder stuff. Anway, in a daft world, Australia remains the country of Kelpies and Ron Manners – don’t know which ranks higher, both stratospheric. Go great old son.” Ross

“Reckon this is about the best Christmas present I will get this year. A beautiful reminder of so many things to look back on with happiness, sadness and above all, love in a long life. So I send you my thanks.” Tony

“I had a wonderful border collie dog when I was young. Jock was his name and he gave me and my family 18 super-lovely years (perhaps the last year of his life was NOT so flash). However, your poem brought back the memories, nonetheless. Thanks for your thoughtfulness Ron.” Peter

“Your message stirred some neurons. I was at Oakley when my Dad was foreman at the Butter Factory. He also bred Kelpies. My sister is 18 months older than me, and here is her recollection of those early days, before I had much idea of anything (I’m still learning). But apparently Kelpies like me. The family story records me wandering around the back yard singing my version of a hit song of the era on Radio 4AK Oakley which went something like ‘Bill, Bill, stick with me Bill, money won’t alter the case.’ Apparently my version went something like ‘Bill, Bill dick me me Bill’, somehow relating our then current Kelpie Bill to a song which made no sense to me in any case. But I was too young to remember anything of this period and have never heard anything resembling that song in my cognitive years, but I can vaguely recall Bill. Federal St was opposite the ‘pit paddock’ which contained the mullock heaps of the old Federal (underground) coal mines which powered the steam trains of the era.

Here is Beth’s story:
Tiger was the Kelpie given to Mum after she and Dad married and went to live in Oakley, where Mum was lonely, not knowing anyone, until she and Mrs McGrath became friends through Dad’s friendship with Mr McGrath. Tiger loved Mum and was very protective. He was well trained and would do anything she asked of him, and, if I remember correctly was sudden death on snakes. Then I came along, and Tiger apparently resented me. He would not obey Mum when she had me in her arms. He accepted you though, and was no problem if Mum was nursing you and gave him an instruction.

All this was in the Bridge St house. Then we moved to Federal St, and my earliest memory is of us in the backyard, with Mum scrubbing the steps. I don’t know what I did that upset Tiger, but he knocked me over and I screamed as his mouth came over my face. For perhaps the only time in her life, Mum threw something accurately and the scrubbing brush hit the dog. She ran to pick me up. He had another go at me as she held me. So he had to go too, but I think they found a farmer who needed a good dog. And maybe he was the father of Bill, of whom you used to sing, and who was the father of numerous puppies. I think Lady was the mother or maybe it was Lassie.

Cheers, and thanks again.” Jock 

Well, after this comprehensive review, I can feel another animal poem coming on. Perhaps one about a wombat?


  • No wonder you had so many telling you how good your story about you & Tiger is & how touched they were when reading it, as I was. I know you wrote it as a poem & I suppose these days it may be would be classed as a poem but to me if you just wrote it with out putting it into lines, it would have had the same affect it had on us all as a beautiful touching story.

    In case you haven’t had time to look at my doggie poem from Vol XV Beyond the Loving, here it is … Like you I put it into lines . It is mostly a poem . This is why I call Tof Nanushka “Thoughts” because so many are just thoughts. I didn’t put the name of my dog so others who may want to use it when they lose a dog they love can do so with their doggies name.
    Have changed the lines on this one from the way they are in Vol XV to make it not so long. It still means the same.

    My best friend died last summer –
    that lovable little character
    who wore her own fur coat –
    She was my confidante,
    my comfort and my clown –
    she was my warmth, my welcome home.
    We buried her near wild mint & thyme –
    I wept for her all winter,
    then in early Spring,
    white daisies made a garland for her grave
    where passing birds & butterflies call in
    to visit nature’s shrine.

    Who knows what happens to us when we die –
    I like to think her spirit’s running free,
    perhaps to grace a person in some other life –
    what a wonderful human being
    that would be ………

    Would love you to use any of my ‘thoughts’ as long as you just say they are from “The Thoughts of Nanushka” copyright Nan Witcomb.

  • Yep, we had a Kelpie called Bob at Evelyn, wonderful spirit and wisdom from
    when he was a tiny pup, who got run over within days of going to Townsville
    when I was 10. I always nod to Kelpies, with those knowing eyes, and they
    always nod back, because Kelpies know I knew Bob.

  • This is my briar patch.

    This is a sociological field study that didn’t go past the ethics committee.
    (Of course those sociologists that hid behind the ethics committee, predicted and
    understand none of this)
    This is real life.
    I have seen previously subtle things made bold and clear.

    We always live in an anthropological field study…
    …now the Bunsen burners have been turned up.

  • I loved your poem. I have had many – wonderful companions and worth their weight in gold on a farm.

    I am manufacturing hand sanitiser now. Bid shortage of ingredients and containers and dispensers worldwide of course, but I have plenty, happy to give you any quantity if it helps.

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