It’s been ages since I was last in Australia. It was early last year.
There are so many places and people I miss in Australia.
There are some friends that keep a bit of you with them even when you have to say ‘see ya later’.
Flash-back: 2015 – Australia
I first met KC when she arrived at Rainbow Gathering with Craig.
KC is a lean red cattle dog with mischievous eyes. She and Craig are basically inseparable. The reason Craig doesn’t travel overseas much is because he can’t bear to parted from KC for more than a few minutes at a time.
I totally get Craig’s attachment to KC.
One of the few things that I really don’t like about my lifestyle is not having a canine companion. Traveling around the planet the way I do, I just don’t want to deal with the headache of crossing borders with a dog. Just getting back into Australia with an animal that has been overseas is a major hassle. So much expensive paperwork, quarantine procedures, etc.
I miss having a dog in my life. Traveling with a dog is a beautiful thing. Especially a dog like KC.
I started writing about KC back in 2015, so part of this post has appeared on the blog before. I’ve got some untold KC stories though, so here they are.
When KC arrived at the Rainbow Gathering with Craig, I immediately adored her. She’s one of those animals who is super-charismatic. She’s affectionate but respectful. Highly intelligent. Obedient and loyal to a fault.
Craig and KC climbed out of his truck, and I got a smile across my face like a Ecuadorian earthquake. Craig and I hugged each other. We hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks, and I had missed him.
As soon as KC saw me and Craig embrace, she bounded up to me, sniffed my hand and started wagging her tail. If I was alright with Craig, I was alright with KC.
The way Craig and I got to be friends was so random. He had picked me up when I was hitchhiking one day. He was on his way to meet some friends in Queensland.
Craig didn’t have KC with him on that trip, because the camp ground he was going to prohibits dogs.
Things didn’t go to plan for Craig that weekend. His truck blew up, and he spent all his money having it fixed. He was talking about turning around and going back south, but I suggested he could come to the hippy festival I was headed to. At that time Craig was not a hippy sort of a dude, whatsoever, but he was an adventurer, and a musician.
“You’re going to meet some really out there characters I promise you” I told him. “The location is a beautiful riverbank in the middle of the forest. There’s gonna be music, and dancing, and happy naked hippies playing in the sunshine.”
“It might end up being a bit too weird for me, but I’ll give it a go” Craig decided.
He ended up having a great time. We spent a lot of time sitting on the riverbank, playing music and talking about our lives. By the end of that week, Craig and I were firm friends. I felt like I’d found a long lost brother.
Craig and me and KC spent a lot of 2015 together, hitchhiking up the east coast of Australia.
We camped together on beaches. We scavenged for food together in supermarket dumpsters. Every night we would sit around our camp fire together. We cooked. We smoked. We talked about many things. Music. Love. Our families. KC didn’t say much during our long conversations, and sometimes if the grown-ups talked for too long she would drift off to sleep. But when we played music, KC’s ears would flick around, and she would listen intently.
Let me tell you a quick story to show you how smart this dog is.
There was a camp spot we found on the Gold Coast where we lived for several weeks. It was an awesome place, right next to the beach, hidden in a little blob of parkland beside a luxury resort hotel.
There were two trails into our campsite. We took some trouble to hide the trail entrances with tree branches and dry grass. There were always plenty of people passing by; tourists, joggers, surfers, families having picnics. We didn’t want to attract any attention, so if there were a bunch of people hanging around near the main trail to our camp, we would walk a hundred metres down the footpath, and use the ‘back door’ trail instead.
One afternoon we were walking back to camp and Craig was playing fetch with KC, throwing a stick for her. As we walked past the main trail to our camp there were a few tourists around, so we decided to use the back door.
Craig lobbed KC’s stick over the treetops into the woods where our camp was. KC took off into the undergrowth in pursuit. Craig and I kept walking down the footpath toward the back door trail. KC was usually lightning fast retrieving her stick, but she didn’t re emerge from the woods, so we thought maybe she hadn’t been able to find it.
We got to the back door trail, checked there were no people around, and ducked into the woods. Once we pushed past the tree branches that screened the entrance, it was easy to find the trail. The long grass was pressed down, and we’d pulled up some saplings and thistles to make the path easier to follow. We took a few steps along the track and there was KC’s stick, sitting in the middle of the trail, waiting for us. We picked it up and walked into camp. KC was waiting for us, sitting by the fire wagging her tail.
When we set out to hitchhike together, Craig and I were a bit concerned that we would struggle to get rides. We were two very big guys, with dirty clothes and scruffy beards. We had two backpacks, my folding scooter, Craig’s guitar and skateboard, and a frisky dog. ‘Is anyone going to stop and invite this traveling circus into their vehicle?’ we wondered.
Getting rides was rarely a problem. KC was a natural traveler. She would sit by us while we stuck our thumbs out and Craig rarely put her leash on her. When we got a ride, she would wait to be invited, then hop up on the back seat, sometimes on Craig’s lap if the car was crowded, and sit there quietly. She would never bark, never scramble around inside the car.
A few people who picked us up actually said things like:
“I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers, but I saw your dog and I thought, well, the dog seems to like them so maybe they’re alright.”
Life on the road for KC is like a dog’s daydream. She is always with her human, hanging out. She never gets left alone, or has time to be bored or anxious.
Craig takes her surfing with him.
At night when she’s with her people at the camp fire, she spends hours chasing sparks, snapping at them and catching them in her mouth.
Craig and KC share Craig’s small tent. Craig takes his guitar out of it’s roadcase, and KC curls up inside on the red velvet lining to sleep.
When Craig and I played music KC was always around. Some days we would sit and play for hours. We would go down the street at night and busk on the footpath with Craig’s guitar case out to collect money.
I started to notice that KC really liked certain harmonies. If I played an A or a G chord, she would stretch her neck out and howl a little bit, like she was singing. The first few times it happened we just laughed and patted her on the head. After a while though, KC’s singing improved and we really started to pay attention.
We’d be busking in the street, improvising some blues, and if people weren’t paying attention we’d get KC in on the act. I’d get down on my haunches and play a little riff, and she would riff right back at me.
“Doo ba doo ba doo ba.”
“Howl oww oww ooow…”
“Doo ba doo wah.”
“How ow ow owl…”
People walking past would do a double take. Girls especially were mesmerised.
“Oh my fucking god! The doggie is singing! She is so adorable! Christie, look at the doggie, she’s singing!”
Nobody payed attention to me and Craig. We were just the backing band. KC was the star of the show.
“We like to be patted too” Craig and I would tell the girls, but they were too in love with KC to even notice.
“Your dog is beautiful. Oh my god. She is so smart. She can sing.”
“Yeah, she’s talented, hey?”
“Are you guys homeless? Are you feeding this dog properly?”
“Well, you know… we don’t have much money so… that’s why we’re out here busking on the street, so we can get some groceries.”
“Christie. The dog is hungry. Look how thin she is. Oh my god, you have to feed your dog properly. Here… here’s twenty dollars. That’s for dog food, OK?”
KC made more money busking than we did.
All the attention made her a bit anxious sometimes, so Craig had to manage her public appearances to keep her happy. KC is a trooper, but like every artist she has a delicate side to her personality. KC loves to be patted and fussed over, but she values her privacy as well.
None of us ever went hungry. We were dumpster diving every other night and getting massive hauls of incredible food. We regularly filled shopping carts with stuff and wheeled it back to camp. We had so much food we literally could not eat it all, and we often hosted dinner parties around our camp fire for backpackers we met on the beach.
We found an old tent in the woods and made it our food storage space to try and keep the ants and flies away from our treasures.
That tent was constantly full of fruit, vegetables, bread, cakes, donuts, chocolate, juice, sausages, steaks, lamb chops, pickles, and every other kind of deliciousness you can imagine.
One night when we were going through the bin behind Woolworths, Craig turned up a jar of caviar. It was sealed tight and still cold from the refrigerator.
Back at camp we made a meal of gigantic proportions as usual. We started with corn chips, brie and guacamole, followed by lasagne, chorizo and lamb cutlets.
By the time we remembered about the caviar we were already stuffed to the neck. Craig and I each had a few spoonfuls, but caviar is super rich, and we just couldn’t eat the whole jar.
“This stuff is going to be off by morning. Give it to KC” I suggested. “She can have it with her lamb chop. Fish oil is supposed to be really good for dogs.”
“Good idea” Craig agreed.
We made up KC’s supper as usual with a little of everything we had eaten, and topped it off with half a jar of caviar. KC wolfed it down and licked her chops.
The next day the three of us were sitting on the curb outside a fast food restaurant, taking advantage of their free WiFi to check our Facebook messages.
A lady in a high heels and big sunglasses came out of the front door of the restaurant, and noticed us sitting there. She stopped.
“I hope you’re taking proper care of this dog” she said. “Are you feeding her properly?”
Craig doesn’t like anyone questioning his love for KC.
“This dog has a great life” he told the lady. “She eats better than you.”
The woman looked down her nose at me and Craig, taking in our stained clothing, muddy boots and beards.
“When was the last time you fed her?” she demanded.
“She had caviar for dinner last night” Craig informed her.
The lady’s lips got thin.
“Animal welfare is not funny to me, young man” she snapped, and headed for her car.
“It’s true!” Craig called after her. “We couldn’t finish it, so we gave it to her.”
The lady slammed her car door.
KC is a red cattle dog. Her breed is famous in Australia for their loyalty and intelligence. This is the kind of dog, if Craig has to go off for forty minutes and do something alone, he will say to KC ‘stay’ and she will sit there, unmoving, until Craig comes back, however long that is.
I once asked Craig “how did you train KC so well. I’ve never seen a dog and a person so in tune with each other.”
Craig told me “a lot of the time I don’t even need to speak to her out loud. If I need her to come, I just look at her, and she knows. Now we’ve been together for seven years I don’t really tell her what to do that much. I respect her and she respects me. I don’t need to whistle at her much any more, or tell her what to do. She just knows.”
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