|It’s Star Wars Day and thus quite fitting that we go to liberate a wookiee from captivity. It’s six weeks since Munson was last a free dog, with a big day out visiting markets across central London. That six weeks comprised about ten days in London and then a month in Sydney quarantine. |
As we’re collecting him on a Saturday, there’s only a half-hour window 10-10.30am for us to retrieve him from the quarantine station at Eastern Creek. When we pull up to the security gate on Wallgrove Road, there are five vehicles ahead of us waiting for permission to enter. We’re fourth in line at the departure counter, and I’m ready to announce Munson’s name and present my driver’s license as identification to Toby the duty officer.
”Ah yes, Munson. I brought him up here… or should I say he brought me.”
We’re directed out the back, but instead of turning left toward the pens as done on the last five visits, we turn right to where all today’s releases are sitting forlornly in their travel containers. That means Munson is in the rebuilt wooden crate that he travelled in after kicking out a panel from the original he was supposed to fly in. As the door opens, I’m ready to slip on his collar and then with his leash on, he’s out the door and free less than a minute later. His reaction when he’s boosted into the back of the car – well, the photo above speaks for itself.
We took him down to the Everleigh Markets in Redfern first of all, just to get him in the swing of being back in his old neighbourhood. Of course we now really stand out from the crowd with Munson, and old friends and acquaintances can now pick me out at a distance. A quick circuit of Newtown’s King Street followed – Munson remembering where all the shopfront water bowls are stationed – with a great round of butt-sniffing the local dogs. He was really straining at the leash sometimes, despite me reminding him that everything was still there after three years’ absence and was not going to disappear if he didn’t visit them five seconds sooner. Evenso, when we parked ourselves outside Vargabar for coffee, he was more than happy to just lie on the pavement and bask under the dual suns of memory and fresh compliments.
The reaction I had been waiting for was that when we took him back to the house where he had spent the first half of his life. Gustav and I had moved in on Tuesday and have had a busy week cleaning, shopping, performing minor repairs and getting utilities hooked up. We even lucked out with the loan of a washing machine yesterday after helping a friend move and install his very heavy new machine.
The place doesn’t have much more furniture than Munson’s quarantine pen right now, and we’re on a borrowed mattress until everything finally arrives sometime in June.
From the moment we pulled up outside the house, I could sense Munson knew where he was and he wasted no time getting through the front gate and onto his patch of grass, my minuscule front lawn
As soon as we’d moved in and had a temporary fridge delivered, I started collecting meaty treats for Munson – a few bags full of chicken carcasses, ready to be frozen for his slow delectation, and a larger meaty bone for today’s arrival. He was definitely interested in that bone, probably the first decent one he’d seen since leaving the farm two months ago, but he was more intent on keeping me and Gustav in close proximity. If we weren’t going to stay outside, then he wasn’t going to stay out there with the bone. Lying at our feet was the ultimate return to normalcy.
By mid-afternoon it was time to take him to Sydney Park, to renew his acquaintance with both the place and its furry citizens. Today is the fourth anniversary of Bondi’s last visit here so it’s good to invest the date with something more positive. I arranged for Munson to be able to meet up with his old buddy Scout who missed him terribly in the months after we departed for France. The short relationship they had was very important to Scout’s development, and even if you’re read about it earlier, it’s worth being reminded of some milestones here, here and here.
Poor Scout has been through the wars recently with surgery, pancreatitis and a painful abdominal rash. Munson was very solicitous with him, as watchful as he’d been three year ago.
We also met up with some other folks who’ve been awaiting Munson’s reappearance. I think Munson was as happy to see them (and sit on them) as he was to see his old doggie playmates.
As a cool wind settled in over the park, plunging temperatures to the mid-teens, chilling everyone but me, we took Munson home again. He was very happy to be given his first frozen chicken in several years and I was even more happy that its consumption began cleaning his teeth of the yellow film that had discoloured them since his quarantine began. I don’t know whether it was something in the dry food he was given, or simply the complete lack of abrasive foodstuffs for a month, but his perennial whiter-than-white teeth really took a tumble during April. Keen eyed readers will also notice that Munson’s pink snow-nose has retreated in the Aussie warmth.