In every sense of the word. Some of them are the size of a small horse, like our friend the possum-worrier in New Farm Park (above); and you see a lot of them about.
Australians love dogs, even more than Brits do, if that were possible. Many people have a matching pair. They love to congregate in dog off-leash areas, fenced areas provided by Council where dogs can roam free: they've even been known to have parties there.
The dogs have great fun, too. Sometimes there's trouble, especially if a squarehead gets involved. Unfortunately, there are lots of squareheads in Australia, too, especially Staffies. You can feel safer here, however, because dogs have to be on a leash at all times in public spaces. Most Aussies adhere to this most of the time. They may lapse on near-deserted beaches.
Poodles feature prominently in the designer creations of cross-breeders. They are intelligent, it is alleged. (That's not the reputation they have in the UK, is it? I always thought they were a few sandwiches short of a picnic and wore silly bows in their funny fur, well in the bits that hadn't been shorn and shaped. Maybe that was their owners.) Oh... and they don't 'shed'.
There seems to be no end to the permutations. Yesterday I heard some people, when questioned by a passerby, explaining that their dog was a Moodle. That's a cross between a Toy Poodle and a Maltese. This has opened up a whole new world to me. Do you know there are Aussiedoodles, Cadoodles, Cavoodles, Foxhoodles, Irish Doodles, Labradoodles, Moodles, Poogles, Rottles, Scoodles, Schnoodles, Spoodles and Woodles?
And if the unfortunate Poodle-cross caught it's creator on an off-day, it might have ended up with a name like Bich-Poo, Jack-A-Poo, Pekepoo, Poo Shi or Siberpoo.
I kid you not. If you doubt me, visit dogbreedinfo.com/ poodlemix.htm.
There are more little white dogs in Australia than you can throw a stick for. Hundreds of thousands. Some of them are strange breeds: Bichon Frise, or Volpino, or Cotton of Tulear, or Bolognese. If you cross a Bolognese with a Poodle, of course, you get a Bolonoodle. Many little white dogs may be crosses – between Malteses and Westies, or Toy Poodles and Yorkies, for example. A lot of them are yappers and, if you watch them in the dog off-leash areas, many appear to have Little Dog Syndrome (LDS). This is when a small dog acts way beyond its size and bulk in order to protect itself or because it's spoilt (Baby Substitute Syndrome?) and hasn't been disciplined properly or trained how to behave.
We know a little white dog. He came for supper the other night. It was quite nice to have him, actually, exploring the house and garden at his leisure, even though I have had cause to complain in the past when he barks at nothing in the night. I don't think he's got LDS. His name is Chas.
Since so many people have dogs in Oz, they tend to assume that everyone is tolerant of their animals, even when they bark, persistently, at inappropriate times of day. Australians put up with many things without protest – admirably so in certain circumstances – and they don't seem bothered if a dog, left alone in a house for instance, yowls for hours.
There are uniquely Australian breeds, too. There are Kelpies, bred from European sheep dogs so they could work stock over vast outback stations and withstand the harsh climate. They're well-balanced, obedient, affable, bright and companionable. It's a shame their name sounds like something Scottish fishermen would land at Ullapool.
The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD, as you have learned already) is also known as a 'blue-heeler', I guess for obvious reasons. There is a bit of Dingo and Collie and Dalmatian thrown in the mix of this loyal, courageous cattle worker.
Surprisingly, given the subtropical temperatures in Queensland, there are a large number of dogs with very thick coats. Alaskan Malamutes, which look a lot like huskies, are very common. We even saw a splendidly groomed Chow the other day. And two Afghan Hounds live in Bulimba. They wear scarves – a bit like snoods – around their necks, pinning their ears, but I know not why. I've seen lots of people asking their owners, but somehow I can't bring myself to do that. I noticed one day that when these hounds approached the dog off-leash area, pandemonium and all hell broke loose among the members already coralled. To such an extent that the Afghans were led away. I'm sure it had something to do with the scarves. 'Twas just as if the other mutts were saying, 'We don't want those woofters in 'ere, mate.'
Just in case those who know me well are concerned I am becoming a dog person...
This post was last updated on 29 September 2011