The story of our pets mauled to death




I was at a dinner with my nephews and my sisters when I got the call.

Dee – “I think the dogs have killed a chook”. What? I said. She explained they were missing but she could see one motionless in the neighbour’s backyard.

“Ok. I’ll call you back,” I said. I was a bit numb to it all. Trying to be a good guest at this dinner, and process it all. I was thinking things like, “Maybe one had survived” and “At least they died quickly”. But both of those assumptions were super-wrong.

Then I realised I should get home. I ran most of the way. Dee picked me up at Torwood Park.

I rattled that next door gate so the dogs – two massive alsatians – would know I was attempting to come in. It took a few trys but then they started going nuts with the barking. They smashed up to the gate ready for a fight but they let me in maybe I guess they because they recognised me.

Even though I just had to trust they wouldn’t bite me if I came in – I slunk inside. They led me around the back. I was looking for the bodies and the further in I went there was nothing. Then the dogs went around the deck and up to the top of their backyard. It was like they were leading me to their trophies. I followed and it was then I saw both chooks right next to eachother in a bed of a hundred broken feathers. It almost looked like Art. Just a hideous version of it.

One of the birds (Charlie) was horribly mutilated. Her head was missing and big bits of her body around the neck were chewed out. The other was intact but messed up. She was laying on her side and the eye facing me was closed – like it was fused that way. I picked her up and her head flopped like the neck was snapped- but then I heard something like a tiny inhalation. A gasp. I thought the dogs had made the sound or it was just a crazy snap of the dirt and twigs beneath me. I didn’t realise it at the time — but it was a signal.

The dogs were still circling around, so proud of their achievement. At that moment I thought I had imagined it. The birds were so damaged it was impossible they had survived this ordeal. I shooed the dogs away as I lay down the towel (which I had grabbed out of the car) and put both birds on top and wrapped them up. The dogs were still circling around so happy with their achievements as I walked back towards the gate.

Carrying them out I almost immediately felt a warmth through the towel. “Oh god!” I thought. They are so warm – it must have just happened – if only I had got home sooner.

But then I remembered that sound. It just hit me. One of them was still alive.

Dee was waiting for me in the front yard. Even though I was not 100% certain I said, “One of them is still alive.” She was already in tears and now things were so much acute.

I laid the two birds on the deck and looked at the eye of the one I suspected was still alive. Her neck was broken and it looked like she had been dragged around by that neck. Blood was coming out of her beak. How she had survived was incredible — but still so fucking awful.

It was confirmed when her eye — three quarters closed — managed what must have been an incredible effort to stare back at me. She was indeed alive. I knew what I had to do. I asked Dee if she agreed and she said yes. I apologised to her. It was Big Red. Named after Big Red in the “Bring It On” movies. She was the biggest of the three, the most ginger. And probably the top of their tiny pecking order.

I went into the house and grabbed a plastic bag. But what was I going to do? I just realised the bag was to stop her looking at me while I killed her. I put her in and them stomped on her head. I jumped up and down as much as I could until I felt her skull was flat. (I wanted to make sure).

But that didn’t stop me opening up the bag to check I had indeed killed her. Oh god. There was blood on my shoes and on the paving. I had made such an effort the plastic bag had ripped open and the eye that she had looked at me with was now entirely free of her skull. It was massive and round and it was still looking at me. Oh god. Oh fucking, fucking god.

You don’t get a pet and look at it every day and imagine for one second that you will one day stomp on its head with all your might. And that “one day” you will stomp so hard you set an eye free and gaze into it. But that’s what I did. She made no further sound apart from the crushing sound of doom.

oh god.

At first I just stared into space. I think I started weeping about an hour later. Then we went downstairs and discovered an egg in the hutch. I started bawling again.

And today I was walking to the city to get lunch and I put on a sad playlist and just started weeping uncontrollably. Luckily no one truly looks at anyone these days. I think I managed to look half decent at the sushi-station. Maybe not.

This song is just the WORST (or BEST) at times like this:












Had another big interview at Bristol passport control. It seems that UK border control staff can’t fathom that someone could get 5 weeks of leave all at once. Plus they must suspect all Australians just want a UK job and then we’ll stay forever. After a few minutes I almost said, “Look, my dad was born here — I could get a UK passport no probs.” But thankfully I kept my mouth shut.

Another big wait for a hire car and it turned out to be a month-old Seat Leon. Great car — except the sat-nav was flaky. (Kept crashing). The guy at Europcar tried to get me to upgrade to an auto for a mere 50 pounds extra a day. “Um. No thanks,” I said. It was such a ridiculous suggestion I almost lol’d.

Next we were slugging it out with the serious traffic that is omnipresent in the UK. It took us an incredible amount of time to get over to Wales. We crossed this massive bridge — possibly the longest bridge I have ever been on. There was a toll at the end — but apparently it is only a one way toll. We made it to the hotel was in the Cardiff bay area.




So the reason for our trip to Cardiff was to meet my cousin Toby for the very first time. We are actually half-cousins — my grandmother had a child (Pam) when she was a teenager and Pam was secretly adopted out. And I say it was a “secret” because my grandmother never mentioned it to us. Grandma got married, had three children (my dad being one of them) and then immigrated to Australia.

Pam managed to locate my grandmother when I was about 10 years old and it was a big commotion. It was like suddenly my dad had another sister and I had this big branch of family in the UK — including a cousin only a year younger than me (Zoe) and another cousin just a baby (that was Toby). It was almost a scandal because my grandma is such a ridiculously uptight and authoritarian. She seemed affronted by all this information and behaved appallingly.

But during all that drama Zoe and I exchanged a few letters and then again as adults — but we only met for the first time on my very first trip to the UK in 2007. But by that time Toby had grown up and was living in Birmingham so I didn’t get to meet him. Later during the hey-day of Facebook Toby and I bonded over music and it was just a given that I would track him down this trip.


By this time he was married to Emma.

So we arranged to meet Toby at a multi-story pub/restaurant called Mt Stuart and that was awesome. Emma came a bit later as she was still working. (ASIDE: Emma was already a celebrity to me because she knows the amazing Cate Le Bon personally.) We all had a great time and Emma and Toby announced one of them was “preggaz”. I am pretty sure they used that exact term/phrasing. Totally!

The next day we went over to Toby and Emma’s place and then drove up to the Brecon Beacons for a hike. It was so fucking beautiful and because the landscape was so devoid of trees — there were impressive views almost 100% of the time. The UK is a pretty flat place — especially at this latitude — so it was incredibly refreshing to see so much landscape in all directions. I think the term”rolling hills” was coined up here.

Later we went to central Cardiff where the Roald Dahl festival was going off. There were giant peaches, big chairs, snow-sledding, frogs, fantastic foxes etc. I was such a big fan of Roald as a kid, and am so glad kids still see how amazing he is/was. He was so irreverent. My favourite book was Danny the Champion of the World. But there didn’t seem to be any monuments to that.

Then we had food and beer at this food stall section in the park. Then we were joined by Toby and Emma’s amazing friend Lowri — which is “Laura” in Welsh. Moved on to a quaint pub, then a small bar where we got to see the fireworks. Brilliant day!












OTHER BITS: in dot-point:

• Roald Dahl was born here.
• There is a Dr Who museum.
• The road signs are in English and Welsh
• People get dressed up in costume (hen’s nights etc) and climb the Brecons
• There was a massive, but very polite, queue just to get a photo at the summit marker (see below)
• There were a bunch of military doing training up there. Guns, backpacks, camo, the works. As one of them ran by us he joked, “We’re looking for a lost sheep.” Everyone LOL’d.