Feb 28

Letter from Floss

My dog Floss on the beach at Batley.

If car chasing’s your game, allow me to recommend Batley. It’s car chasing heaven or so close to it, you won’t know the difference.

No more standing for hours by your garden gate only to have cars zoom by and leave you in the dust. Batley’s a dead end so your victims start slowly and you get a head start. Plus lots of them tow boats so they’re really slow off the mark.

I especially enjoy jumping round in front of cars and you can only do this if you pounce early. When she’s silly enough to let me off the lead at home in the hope I won’t run away, I duck down the drive when I hear a vehicle start. If she sees me leave I ignore her shrieks and go for it.

And man, can she shriek. One day the farmer, who I only follow when he’s on the quad, stopped dead and said: “That shrieking sound you make. Is it really necessary?

“Yes,” she said. “Sometimes it’s the only way to get Floss to listen.”

Listen! Has she not noticed that I curl up on the ground with my paws over my ears? We dogs have highly sensitive hearing.

I even ignore her when we’re walking on the road. Boy, does that send her into panic mode. The instant she hears a car she’ll call me like she’s some kind of sergeant major and, if I get close, she makes a wild lunge for my collar. Then she gives me the sit down command and holds onto me like I’ll explode. Sometimes she even puts that horrible choke chain on me for a while.

The fact is it’s a drag when she’s around. I can tell she’s annoyed when I chase cars because she yells and yells, “Come here, Floss” like a cracked record.

But here’s the kicker – when I finally run back to her she’s pleased with me cos I’ve just done what I’m told. Geddit? Man, have I got her sussed.

The post van is great to chase because it comes every day. Last year she put a note in the box for the post man warning him about Houdini lambs with no road sense (in my view they’ve got no sense of any kind) and this year she apologised for me even though I heard the mail guy say he likes dogs and doesn’t mind if I chase his truck. But still she gets her knickers in a knot. And she says I don’t listen!

Two weeks later:

You won’t believe this, but cars have started throwing out electric shocks. At least they’re not as bad as the ones I’ve got off fences. Man, have I had some doozies off fences. I guess all up only about half a dozen cars threw off shocks. They hit me on the neck and, frankly, they’ve made me reconsider the car chasing game.

At first I wondered if it was her, but when I’d run back to her after getting a shock she’d pat my head near this great big collar she puts on me sometimes and say, “Good dog”. Nope. Wasn’t her.

Now every time we’re on the road and I hear a car coming I sit down immediately. I get the feeling she’d prefer it if I didn’t sit in the middle of the road, but I’m still a bit fuzzy on that. So, yeah, I’ve given up chasing cars and, if you don’t mind, I’ll retract my earlier invitation. It’s just not worth the hassle.

Signed: Floss

PS: We get on better now I don’t chase cars even though I still go nutso over cars with dogs in them and she still bangs on at me for licking fresh cowpats. The farmer who I only follow etc also yells at me over that. What’s their problem? It’s processed grass . . . just like milk. One little lick and they’d be addicted.


About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.