BF suggested that we went to see the movie ‘Red Dog’. It was very thoughtful of him because he knew that a full day’s inductions would be stressing me out. He also knows that I love any movie with my beloved red earth country in it.
I loved it. With a few notable exceptions (and I won’t list them here, because I don’t want to spoil it for you), the film version was very true to real life. It is a real feel good story. Louis de Bernières wrote the book version that attracted the movie people but Red Dog was already a Pilbara legend long before he attracted national and international fame through the book.
I used to do site tours for Rio Tinto in their Dampier operations base and my ex husband’s family, who lived in the area, had Red Dog drop in regularly for a feed. He would eat the plate of dog food put out for him, rest in the veranda shade and move on to the Hamersley Iron worker’s bus stop just outside on their street; ready for the next leg of his constant journeying. The worker’s bus would pull up, Red Dog would sit in the vacant seat always left immediately behind the driver for him, and he would travel to the HI plant in Dampier. If somebody got in his seat, he would growl and bark until that person moved elsewhere.
The movie made it appear as if everybody loved Red Dog but that wasn’t always the case. He was extremely annoying at times and peer group pressure (ie everybody else admiring him) made it difficult to object to him. If he wanted a lift, he would simply walk out in the road in front of a car and make it stop. Once in the car, you had to take him to where he wanted to go, or else he wouldn’t get out. If you couldn’t read canine mind, you were in for an awful lot of driving until either you figured it out, or he got bored with your company.
Yes, he really did travel to all of the places mentioned. Growing up, I lived next door to the vet mentioned in the film, down in Perth, and he used to tell me all about the Red Dog stories. The funny thing is that I never remembered seeing Red Dog myself in the Pilbara, although I lived there in my childhood years.
The town entrance outside Dampier does sport a statue of Red Dog and people held a town vote over his monument, rather than a bust of William Dampier, as the town entry statement. I think poor Dampier’s votes were embarrassingly low.