Damper Creek Conservation Reserve
Damper Creek Conservation Reserve
Damper Creek is one of 31 designated “off leash” reserves in the City of Monash.
However, being an “off leash” reserve brings with it many mindful responsibilities from all dog owners and some guidelines and helpful tips are briefly explained below.
For a list of all off leash areas in the City of Monash and further information on responsible pet ownership as prescribed by the City of Monash, please visit this link.
When a dog is being exercised off a lead in an ‘off lead’ reserve responsibilities of the owner/s are outlined below:
If you are aware that your dog may be anxious or may worry others, please keep your dog on a lead, as untrained and/or unsociable anxious dogs can attack or harass people and other animals, even if they are only protecting their own private pace.
When at home, dogs must be adequately confined to your property with an escape-proof fence and a closed gate.
A helpful tip: Always keep a doggie “clean up bag” on hand, particularly watching during the first 100 metres of commencing your walk.
Dog droppings are a major contributor to pollution in our waterways and the bay and a potential health hazard when left in parks, on nature strips or other public areas.
For broader and more comprehensive information on owners’ responsiblilities associated with the ownership of domestic pets, go to the City of Monash Website.
After a challenging professional life (mainly expatriate), retirement had arrived, and we were settling into our new life in Australia. There had been no leisure time spent with, or at that time any particular affection experienced with dogs, other than during our last five year assignment in France, prior to heading for our final destination in Australia. In France we unexpectedly happened to enjoy the unconditional affection of four devoted dogs who were introduced to us through our friends and neighbours, and one stray dog which also attached itself to us at that time. We were quite overwhelmed by this experience, as we devoted ourselves to them.
Yes, it was early spring in 1994, and we were still immersing ourselves in our new life and the remarkably friendly neighbourhood in Sunhill Road/Kalmia Avenue, and then….. here HE was! One day we faced each other next to our entrance with his countenance manifesting the serene posture of a wolf roaming in his own territory. I was immediately hooked, and I screamed out for my wife who also supported my admiration for our visitor. This Border Collie beauty who was almost completely black, had a white tail tip with some white breast armour. He graciously acknowledged our admiration and went on his way. There was obviously nobody in charge of him.
We only later learned that Prince, as we named him, was a pretty well-known loner in our area …..and which we were about to change forever. Prince was around almost daily and he very obviously commenced enjoying our admiration which we knowingly enforced by offering nice treats, fresh water and vocally praising his beauty. After all this attention, Prince also got hooked on us, and he eventually allowed us to continue to please him. Prince did not curry favour from anybody else other than our neighbour “G”. Well, our relationship became closer by the day and eventually he included our house and property to his territory to which we gratefully submitted.
After a couple of weeks we understood that Prince was most probably an abandoned dog living on his own in the then unoccupied school area in the upper Kalmia Avenue area. There was neither identification nor registration tag on his collar, although he appeared well looked after. We decided he needed the care and safety of a loving owner who he had seemed to have now chosen. We therefore contacted RSPCA disclosing our intentions which were highly appreciated, and they undertook the necessary legal steps to return our loner to “civilisation”. Prince seemed to enjoy taking up his role as pack leader of his new pack. My wife was obviously assigned as Alpha Female and I was to enjoy his Mate status which was not too bad as an initiation into my first and forthcoming experience as a dog owner.
Our pack arrangements went on pretty well until three weeks later when we received an upsetting call. A lady had laid claim to our Prince beauty in response to the RSPCA investigation. Well, bad luck for us and we returned Prince immediately to his owner “J” who was living at the far end of Simpson Drive beyond Stephensons Road – a reasonable distance from our house. Well, the following day Prince returned to his pack leader duties at our house, and stayed as usual for the day. This went on and on and on and after all we became friends with his owner “J” as we cared for the same dog. On one hand Prince ran his pack (us) and on the other hand he was a charming guest at his owner’s home where he was known as “Baer”. To catch up with his lower pack he would jump their standard 6 ft. fence outbound from his home and jump our 5 ft. backyard gate inbound. We were to be pleased to experience the pleasure of Prince occasionally granting us extended night stops, when “J” and family enjoyed holidays out of town. Our dog share relationship lasted for about eight years where we shared with “J” responsibility for medical care, treats and holiday periods and overnight stay shares. Everybody was happy so far.
However, luck was not to last forever as Prince, having crossed Stephensons Road almost daily and remaining remarkably unharmed, had not escaped bodily damage from jumping a 6ft. fence and a 5ft .gate almost daily. His adventures began to take its toll. After many years, Prince’s damaged hips could not take any more. As we were aware of our lower ranking pack membership status we successfully arranged the following duties to enable us to continue to see Prince over the next two years, on a daily basis. Upon Prince’s obvious request “J” would call us to indicate that Prince was insisting on seeing us. This initiated our immediate response and we would transport him by car to our place. We were at his service, as Prince would be angrily barking outside “J’s” house perhaps about some imaginary delay, or was he madly barking because of happiness? In general Prince was pretty impatient! In the evening around 05.00h, Prince would clearly indicate to us: “It’s enough, the visit is over, I must now see my family” which made us obediently call “J”. Upon their answer to our call, Prince acknowledged his demand by barking into the phone and everybody immediately launched into action. Prince was returned home without delay where he left our car without barking any thanks. After all, we were in his ranking on “lower ranking pack” duty and serving him so.
After two years, when “J” decided to move eastbound to Willowgrove in Gippsland, a tearful parting ensued. Separation from his pack (us) triggered Prince’s demise as he only lived for a little over a year. Although visiting him twice a month we watched his increasing frailty. Sudden paralysis followed. I was permitted to stay with our precious beauty as he took his last breath. Our broken hearts ached terribly and we wept for him.
A white curl of Prince’s breast hair kept in a special place in our home, is watched over by us, and treasured, and it keeps his memory alive of this special gift of life. We cried for weeks afterwards, and we still cry for him.
Prince/Baer was an unforgettable companion and friend. Rest in Peace our beautiful handsome friend.
W&K B May 2011
It was late spring 1994, and we had finally settled into our new home and Prince was already imposing pack leadership on us as only he could do this. One day, I was out and about looking after our front yard armed with my flat rake.
And then there she was – Jenna …………….she stood in front of me, feet firmly planted on the ground, confronting my action in our “own garden”! Properties at the upper end of Sunhill Road are not fenced and I found out that she hated rakes, and besides that, I was a newcomer in her extended territory. A massive 50 kilogram Rottweiler and Doberman cross with the head of the latter. She was pretty impressive yet not frightening. I answered her displeasure by touching down lightly at her forehead with my rake which she didn’t respond to happily at all …certainly my action was not received with delight.
That went on and on until “G” intervened, restoring residential peace by returning outraged Jenna to their residence diagonally opposite to our house. I soon learned that I had something to do to make good. Jenna used to make the most of “G’s” open door habit which was marked by a daily territorial control walk, including the checking of seven properties at the end of Sunhill Road .
Her favoured final stop was, after all, taking a rest in the middle of the intersection of Kalmia Ave and Sunhill Road which spot is just outside our side boundary. Residents’ cars were, by Jenna’s actions, requested to refrain from sailing past, and understanding residents going by, often dropped her treats.
Well, Jenna was the unchallenged local guardian of peace, and any other dog knew that respect was needed here as she had definitely established number-one-pack-ranking. Her early morning daily control mission eventually included visiting our home. After all, Jenna’s presence prevented any unknown ‘visitors’ offering unwanted calls to us.
Our newly purchased house required some maintenance and this meant in our case extensive indoor and outdoor painting. In the meantime a third dog, – Goldie – a Golden Retriever girl, had completed our pack of dog friends at our home. Their special interests focussed on my painting action – when I was easily to be cornered on top of a step ladder and all three dogs jointly rested underneath it, preferably leaning against the freshly painted wall. Apart from cleaning painting gear, dog-cleaning became a regular share of my efforts. Fortunately, I used acrylic paint which was easily remedied and removed by water and our dog friends were obviously happy with my efforts.
Time went on and unexpected events around Christmas time 1994 provided a pivotal event in our special relationship with Jenna. “G” and family were about to leave for a six week holiday trip to Europe when three days prior departure, the dog sitter had to cancel his commitment due to job constraints. Anxiety for “G” loomed as had to quickly find a host for Jenna in their absence – however, what are good neighbours for? We offered our unconditional help in that we’d be caring for Jenna whilst they were away from Australia.
This was the perfect solution in that Jenna would be staying at our place during the day and we would then return her home in the evening for food and night watch. We all enjoyed this arrangement and our relationship became very close. In the morning picking her up called for particular attention. In following me she got so excited that she bulldozed me from behind some two to three times straight through my legs, when I happened to receive an unexpected solo flight – all limbs up. Being in my sixties, I decided that this was most probably not an appropriate welcome procedure to benefit my aging bones. On future visits, as we made our way home, I rigorously forced her always to lead us.
Upon his return to Australia, Jenna gave “G” and family a weary look over her shoulder as if to say: “Well, guess I remember these guys”, which was not too well received! However, a couple of days of in-house arrest attuned her to her origins and her first family.
Nevertheless, triggered by this experience with us (and our two other doggie visitors Prince and Goldie), and having been a member of our family/pack for some weeks, Jenna’s recent experience left an indelible mark on her mind. For the following ten years she became a most regular daily visitor to our home which was strongly facilitated by the early morning open-door habit of “G”. Her obvious appearance at our entrance gate was never to be left unnoticed or even slightly ignored. Jenna would enter our courtyard and either stay there, or come into our home as she wished, as she would make a choice for an appropriate spot to rest. Most favoured areas for Jenna were my office or our kitchen. A regular phone call during those days to “G” was – “Please pick up Jenna we’ll be going to bed”, which was complied with immediately.
Occasionally, even at night Jenna would be overcome by an urgent desire to be with us which was made easier by said open door/back yard habit. Jenna could squeeze through a weak spot in a fence at will and she would get away without being noticed.
Arriving at our home any unimaginable time of night she regularly triggered the automatic entrance light which in turn almost always woke me up. I would open the gate, where she would enter the courtyard for a nap or she would sneak into my office where she would stay for the rest of the night. In the mornings, “G” almost got used to getting the surprise of Jenna’s unexpected absence.
If I slept in, Jenna apparently got very angry. Lining our entrance area there is a long brick trough lovingly and beautifully decorated with flowers and plants, to please us as well as any friendly visitor. Well, Jenna was always highly welcomed and she knew it all too well. An unanswered request for night entrance was highly inappropriate in her eyes, and she developed a pretty subtle way of conveying her displeasure by pulling out all the flowers and plants of said trough by piling them up next to the gate. The message was conveyed to us in no uncertain terms, Open the door or else !!! Well, our “else” was rather unexpected to her. We asked “G” for appropriate relief for us by stopping Jenna roaming her territory at night time, which was successfully achieved.
Jenna and Prince almost daily and jointly filled up our home, and got on well for years. What came though was a clear ranking status of the pack. Jenna was always number one and she and Prince respected each other by sharing this common ground for the next eight years.
In the early years of the second millennium, Jenna became pretty frail, with her aging mainly affecting her hind legs. Although barely able to move around, she unwaveringly kept visiting us. Every time she was about to approach our entrance we had to give her a helping hand to climb those two steps to the gate. Upon entering our home she would go straight for my office where she crashed down head first for her rest time, a bang which could be heard everywhere in the house – we would wince at that sound but it was her special visiting time and she was determined to be there.
On the occasion of my 70th birthday we held an “In Memorium of Prince” occasion as our beloved shared-dog-friend had passed away, and I was offered a very special gift from our sons – a gift of two very delightful Border Collie puppies, definitely not to be rejected.
However, the appearance of those two beautiful puppies triggered a tragedy of almost Greek dimensions as Jenna considered their arrival as being an unforgivable betrayal, and she was not in a forgiving mood at all. Although almost paralysed, she insisted on dragging herself daily to our entrance were she rested for hours, her back pointing towards the gate, and never accepting any offers of our strong affection to her. It was a heart breaking situation which lasted for weeks. Nothing could relieve her grief.
Finally after a couple of weeks a breakthrough came-and to us it was again an occasion of almost Greek tragedy dimensions again, however, this time it was a happy special occasion for us all. My wife and the puppies had passed our entrance well recognised by Jenna and they were enjoying chasing balls in the entrance area of Damper Creek Reserve only one house block away, when all of a sudden Jenna joined the party! Actually even frail to almost being paralysed she insisted on catching the ball once or twice prior to returning home. She totally disregarded the puppies keeping unwaveringly and appropriately offended, up to her last breath. They must not approach “Aunty” Jenna ever, which we and they respected.
Comfortingly for us, Jenna re-established her routine for a further couple of weeks which we gratefully welcomed. One day, after having had her regular snooze in my office, she accepted my helping hand to lift her up as I guided her on her arduous journey back home, just across the road. It startled me when I too realised how frail she looked. It was to be her final visit as the following day we received the call from “G” which we had long dreaded. Jenna was dying. We immediately hurried over to say goodbye to her. Although already unconscious it seemed that she acknowledged our final farewell visit which we were very grateful for, this last breath having conveyed her farewell to us as we stood weeping by her side.
How can we express our grief– we loved her so much. How painful it is to say goodbye. Jenna was a Grande Dame!
W&K B June 2011
A puppy was on my mind…
In February 1997, “J” and I went to “have a look” at a 12 week old black and tan poodle x schnauzer who would not grow too big nor shed hair. It all added up to the right little puppy purchase which we had been researching for quite a while. However, I said again on that occasion that we would only go over to have “a look” – we were definitely not buying a puppy today!
Well, on arriving, we picked up this little puppy for a nurse and he felt so soft and light. On pushing back his soft fur over his brown eyes, the puppy looked at us as if to say “pick me, pick me”. That was it. The love affair started from then on, so about one hour later we brought Ruffy home.
There had also been a seed thought in the back of my mind that my elderly parents (always called ‘Grandma and Grandad’) loved a dog as a companion. They had been broken hearted each time they had lost their previous dogs. They were adamant that they would definitely not be getting another dog as they said that they were now too old (now in their eighties) to make such a commitment. Well, little Ruffy soon changed their minds as on meeting him they agreed to become part-time puppy carers straight away. They were actually quite delighted.
To me, bringing Ruffy home seemed the right decision from the start in that the puppy would always have company (as at the time both of us worked full time nearby) and Grandma and Grandad could enjoy the puppy during our working hours, but would not have the responsibility of full-time care, vet visits, daily walks and grooming.
During the working week we would drop Ruffy off at their house in the next street in the morning and then pick him up after work. It also gave us a chance to have a cup of tea with them, have a talk (and enjoy discussing the antics of Ruffy) and to catch up with their day.
The puppy added a new dimension to all our lives; a little pet to talk to, and to feed, and to nurse and to love, especially for Grandma and Grandad (who were quite well and active and enjoyed gardening), as they now had a new interest in watching the puppy chase a ball outside thereby spending more time in the garden “just for him”.
Whilst raking leaves in the front garden Grandad would have Ruffy by his side and would talk to those passing by and share dog stories with them as many were dog owners too. Socialising added so much more to his day.Never once did Ruffy try to run away from either home. He knew the routine. On my regular walks in Damper Creek Reserve with Ruffy, many would say to me that there was a little puppy exactly the same in Alice Street, and I would then say, that Ruffy is “one and the same dog”.
Ruffy lived until he was just past seventeen years of age and he was a wonderfully calm and delightful companion for all of us. He had sat patiently through Grandad’s final years at home, just sleeping and resting by his side. Then in those later years Ruffy visited Grandad and Grandma in their respective nursing homes and he was greeted with great joy by them and the other residents too. They always wanted to pat Ruffy’s soft fur and say hello.
Ruffy loved walking regularly in Damper Creek Reserve and attended many working bees. Here is a picture of Ruffy in his middle years (where interestingly his fur had changed to silver grey with some black and apricot colouring) and when he practically needed a surgical procedure to remove his red play ball from his mouth. Ruffy would passionately claim his ball and walk around with it in his mouth all day long. What a great little dog!
J & HC 2014
It was in the late period of Prince’s reign of our pack, when his family happened along a radical change. A new puppy, Wheels entered centre stage and on arriving by motor bike (tucked away in his master’s backpack) he become a permanent resident in Prince’s house and domain. A tiny puppy and safely delivered by motorcycle, he naturally and immediately was named “Wheels”. Well, we agree that it is somewhat peculiar name for a dog which one doesn’t think of at once, but on reflection the name is quite appropriate and fondly amusing.
Wheel’s source of origin was kept in the dark and it was obviously of no major interest really, but we wanted to have a guess. His breed was somehow dubious. He looked quite like a German Dachshund featuring straighter legs and a shorter body, being mainly black in colour. He was a very quick to grasp his new found role as a disciple of his master Prince who had imposed pack leadership with immediate effect when Wheels put his tiny paws into the realm of that household. That initiation nurtured a kind of brothers-in-crime relationship between the two dogs as Prince assumed the role as Wheels’ minder.
This was very soon experienced and observed by us, when Prince unable to jump a fence anymore, seized any open door opportunity to introduce Wheels to the wide world of self-determined chances. They would disappear from their home aiming straight for our promised land in Sunhill Road, just near Damper Creek Reserve. As mentioned in Prince’s tale, their home was located at the upper end of Simpson Drive, which meant crossing Stephensons Road on a daily basis under aggravated traffic perils. At least this was the case for adventurous dogs because they couldn’t operate the local pedestrian traffic light simply alone.
Well, Wheels still of puppy size and quite tiny, it was reported to us, that to cross this major busy road, he sneaked underneath Prince’s belly and by this special configuration they safely crossed Stephensons Road in a sort of formation walk. It was implied that it happened not only once and because it’s such a nice picture for our imaginations, it was eagerly accepted as a genuine performance.
However, only on the occasion of their first safe crossing of the main road did we learn about Wheels’ existence. An urgent call by “J” reported to us that Prince and his new puppy companion had disappeared, with “J” inquiring of their whereabouts hopefully for them to be found at our safe-dogs’ haven. Well, that’s how Wheels got introduced to our life which was highly welcomed. As anticipated, within a couple of minutes of that phone call, the gang-of-two showed up unhurt and an irresistible air of pride was seemingly conveyed to us by these two rascals of what we imagined to read from two dogs grinning at us as if to say, “Yes, we did it “.
Well, first of all minor hiccups spoiled the next round of welcoming procedures. Wheels, as a little puppy managed to sneak through the open grill gate into our courtyard and by this act he left Prince in front of that gate, temporarily locked out, and deeply upset and angry. The pack ranking had been offended which had to be punished immediately as Prince attacked Wheels upon his unruliness and roared at him. Subsequently, and as an act of protection towards the puppy, I grabbed Wheels in order to keep him from harm but was obviously not in accordance with my lower pack ranking as Mate. After all this altercation did pass thank goodness, and we managed to regain peace after chaos by respecting the relevant pack order in future, and without any of us coming to grief on that occasion.
Wheels learned his lesson and apart from growing to a slightly broader size which foiled him from slipping through the gate in the future, he became pretty observant in obeying the rules. Prince always showed remarkable dominance when both of them were visiting us. This went on and on, and their escapes from home were always announced by a phone call from an alarmed “J”, – “The dogs have gone, they might arrive at your place soon”, which they always did. We got well used to it! Wheels later moved also to Gippsland with Prince and “J’s” family, and Wheels became pack leader on his own merits after Prince died.
From our knowledge, Wheels is still alive and we are happy to remember him as a very smart and handsome boy. As we are still in love with him we say, keep going Wheels!
W. & KB July 2011
Mascot and i, two beautiful Border Collies and brothers in harmony were born July 2004 and dedicated as a gift to us at a special gathering – “In Memorium of Prince” – which story you will find above. The puppies were a present from our sons on the occasion of our multi anniversary in August that very year. As previously related, the “boys” were my 70th birthday present. It was for us a complete and wonderful surprise.
Our first encounter and a hint that we were to become owners of two beautiful puppies were by video which made us turn into a state of hopeless admiration. These lovely boys arrived together three weeks later at my party, and to give you a measure of their size, they both fitted into a single shoe box. As we lovingly cared for them they grew up fast and strong. We had believed advice from the “experts” that two males would fight for supremacy forever, but we happily could see that this was not going to be the case.
They didn’t fight at all, apart from some minor challenges, after which Mascot accepted leadership and they continued to be discernibly respectful of each other. Their harmonious relationship has overwhelmingly been observed by us and proven wholeheartedly as they eat and/or drink together out of the same bowl. This arrangement is their choice and which we do not enforce either, even though we have noticed that Mascot is a much faster at eating which we always monitor.
Well, although brothers of the same litter they are completely different in their behaviour, manners, weight, and size but they do look very similar in shape and colouring. Soon after, when our new family ties had strengthened, we commenced walking and playing ball in Damper Creek Reserve to the great delight of other dog owners or strollers in the bush, as the puppies and their antics were often watched by passer-byes.
Chasing the ball now means that Ginger is in charge of chasing and returning the ball half way to me as I use a ball “caster”, whereas Mascot takes over at that point of return and brings the ball in close by to me – perhaps within 3 – 5 metres. They make a good team. Mascot doesn’t chase balls as he would fancy herding. Ginger holds herding in contempt!
In recent years Ginger displayed some behavioural tendencies which caused a few situations in the Reserve needing quick and respectful reconciliation with other dogs and their owners. Ginger doesn’t fancy socialising with other dogs and he means it. As soon as he has another dog in his sight, he will be on high caution, watching out and diverting through undergrowth to avoid contact, or he even might run to our home situated on the edge of the Reserve entry.
On leash his tension is immediately defused with his status fully empowered. He is a very private dog and he does not like the unwanted advances from smaller dogs or puppies. Ginger will scream out his displeasure if his personal space is not respected, so we take all actions to make sure that he and other dogs are never in a situation to become distressed. Ginger’s understandable request is “Please respect that I am a very private dog….. keep clear, keep clear”. Ginger’s response would only ever be a high pitched dog call, never displaying any aggression and he is always very obedient.
Mascot on the other hand loves anybody and foremost human beings, and the smaller the creature is, the more love he bestows.
When walking in the Reserve, there have been a couple of occasions where other dogs, who are located behind their back boundary fences, assume an understandable role as “Arch Enemy”. The dogs are naturally guarding their own space. On these meetings, there is much noise, whoofs and barking as the mock, but very jarring hostilities, are played out. The dogs on the inside of the fence are yelling out the message of either “come and play along our boundary, let’s have some fun”, or “stay away from here, my job is to guard”, but we will never really know. All we hear is a cacophony of dog barks and whoofs, which can still be heard as we continue on our way. Personally we think that it is all in a dog’s day of experiences. The fence is of utmost importance, because “no fence no enemy” has been proven as we watch all the dogs as they freely socialise in the Reserve. With a fence in between, there are obviously barking dog messages being exchanged with each other. However after five to ten seconds of vocal canine warfare, a call for ceasefire will abruptly stop hostilities and the furry passers-byes will move on, perhaps, we think, muttering doggie comments under their breath. The dogs are almost human in their mannerisms, or are humans just like our canine companions?
The second event was as stunning as it was sweet and it involved a meeting with a neatly dressed but spritely elderly lady. Some years ago the Monash Bushcrew installed a temporary fence next to the upper (Western) track to protect the indigenous plants from being trampled and to allow new growth to be established. It is a good idea in principle but at that time of this geographical change, not so good if the animals had previously had free range to fetch a lost ball.
Well, one day, a ball ricocheting from a tree trunk surmounted this fence and got to rest quite out of reach, even it was well visible. Both of our boys deeply trusting in my ability to regain any ball, were quite agitated as they alternately focussed on me and then on the ball. They were obviously saying to me “Well go and get it – what are you waiting for?”
I was trying, not very convincingly, to try and stretch over the fence, when an elderly lady, at least my age, i.e. in her seventh decade, entered on stage. Unseen before and well dressed in a summer coat and hat, she enquired about any obvious problem, which I immediately explained, together with the boys vigorously hinting towards the ball.
At once she offered some more or less convincing solutions to overcome the case in hand, including climbing the fence, which suggestion was of no help to me as I had recently recovered from a hip replacement. My idea was much simpler and that was to forget the ball because there were spare balls at home. Well, in the face of our boys’ obvious disappointment, she all of a sudden literally and figuratively leapt into action. To my utmost bafflement she climbed (not clumsily) over the fence and successfully regained the ball to the joy of our boys. My vocal protests didn’t stop her and as she returned back to the pathway, and to her walk, I left in great embarrassment. She had refused any assistance which I may have offered in the process of fence climbing, and afterwards, giving her thanks to me, departed, and we never again met in the beautiful Damper Creek Reserve.
Mascot and Ginger are still living our lives as we do theirs in harmony and this, with happiness, will be for years to come. There will no doubt be more stories to tell on this page.
W & KB, 24 July 2011
In memorium – Mascot, Border Collie and Pack Leader – our beautiful Prince .
Mascot – brother of Ginger – was an extraordinary character. His attitude towards dogs and humans was easily matching “daddy’s”Mascot attitude, the assistant Pit Bull to Caesar Milan, the famous dog whisperer.
Mascot’s nemesis was found to be Shandy, and many times Mascot and Ginger had a “fur flying” experience with him, but it was just all noise and bluster, with Shandy being “rolled over” on occasions, having to take the message from the established “pack leader”. JE and KB and families were always on good terms and let the dogs sort things out for themselves, without incidence, which was a good idea.
Mascot’s health wasn’t of any concern until November 2011 when he was struck by the strange immune system illness Masticatory Myositis which was an extremely painful and distressing experience for him and us. Mascot couldn’t open his mouth at all and this determined how he was fed, by means of a syringe – but at that time without injections or intravenous feeding. Mascot was so co-operative and tried hard with all his might, as we too tried hard to help him .
The following months were marked by a couple of emergency events and some additional concerns. However, thanks to cortisone and the vet’s administrations Mascot appeared to make a recovery. Unfortunately Mascot started to lose his fur because of the treatments and his beautiful coat diminished in lustre.
Then in August 2012 we had to face the final change in fortune as advanced Malignant Lymphoma was diagnosed with no hope of a cure. The prognosis was days or weeks at best. We excluded chemotherapy treatments to gain a few more days and which would allow Mascot to enjoy his remaining days without further distress. All medication was suspended and unimaginable spoiling was applied. Day by day his condition was recorded and in co-ordination with the vet, it granted the best possible ease of living as he approached the brink of death.
Being so aware of his imminent ending we were lastingly focussed on taking some final photos of our beautiful boy. Mascot’s fur started to re-grow, he had lost some weight and he started to look more beautiful to us than ever before. However, he had other ideas. Whatever we tried for day by day Mascot would foil all attempts for us to take a picture as he would disappear and hide from us when he saw the camera. He seemed to be reading the mere thought of our intention to snap a photo so we gave up and as a result there are no pictures of his final days. We will now remember him in his full beauty prior to his illness. We think that he was trying to protect us.
However, given the earlier prognosis was that his days were not to be long, to our amazement Mascot enjoyed life from small milestone to small milestone – Spring, Summer, Christmas, New Year and on and on the days passed by. The vet pronounced a miracle!
We were controlling his wellbeing on a daily basis and as long as Mascot was free from pain and happy we too were watching closely. We had a threshold of any suffering he may be about to face and of which were not prepared to go beyond – we needed to protect him.
However, disaster soon struck. On 21 February 2013 a night of pure horror began but which we must not recall this in detail. In consultation with the vet we decided that it was time.
Upon arrival Mascot welcomed the vet himself, his beautiful trusting eyes looking upon him, and soon after Mascot died in peace as the syringe entered his body. All was done.
Ginger, his brother, always on low profile during Mascot’s period of suffering, refused to enter the dogs’ bedroom after Mascot’s death. He seemed to know. The bedroom had to be completely renovated anyway. Ginger took over as leader of our pack and got things straight within himself and with us.
Mascot’s ashes are resting in peace in our garden underneath a newly planted Jacaranda tree. We are missing him with an aching heart. Goodbye our beautiful prince. But it was wonderful to have been given the time we shared with him.
KB & WB
Woof, woof! I was Max, a black Gordon Setter and how fortunate I was to come to Sunhill Road and Damper Creek Reserve. Barry “rescued” me from an all-concrete backyard in South Melbourne, just prior to my owners planning to have me “put down” before they departed for the USA.
I thought I was in dog heaven when I saw a green backyard, and then experiencing daily walks to the bush reserve area. I loved to paddle and lower my belly into the cool creek water as we walked over the lower creek crossings, but I did not enjoy the washing later on, at home, to clean my fur and to make me smell sweet again.
With ears flopping, loping legs and a grin from ear to ear, I really enjoyed the friendship of other dogs and, of course, their owners at the twilight time of each day. I was a very bouncy dog and the walkers in the reserve grew to know I was very friendly, as I was always seeking and wanting that extra pat.
The Friends of Damper Creek working bee mornings were a great delight to me, especially at morning tea time, when I think I ate more biscuits than the workers. Many a time I sniffed out discarded school lunches amongst the bushes, but I knew not to eat the plastic wrapping though!
Grass seed time in the Reserve was difficult for me though, as when I lolloped through the reserve my long hair and floppy ears attracted seeds which mostly became embedded in my ear canals. Then it was a visit to the vet. How I hated that! Barry had to forcibly drag me through the door of the surgery with me wincing and groaning all the way!
However, I know I was very fortunate to have had a wonderful dog’s life living in Sunhill Road and being so close to the many exciting and special Damper Creek Bushland reserve walking tracks.
DHH 7 Sep 2011
Woof, woof! I was Mack, a Golden Labrador who travelled, by Qantas airlines, from Sydney to Melbourne in 1996. My new owner Barry, met me at Tullamarine and brought me to the green areas of Sunhill Road, Mt Waverley, and I was especially lucky to be near the Damper Creek Reserve. I was there I made many friends, both dogs and their owners.
Like my predecessor, Max, I enjoyed working bees, when the biscuits were forthcoming from many of the workers. Although I could not pull weeds or help plant grasses and shrubs, I enjoyed being a supervisor and I welcomed the volunteers who always gave me lots of pats.
I accompanied my owner Barry, for many many hours, as he spoke to people who walked their dogs in the reserve. It was through his efforts that I, together with and other dogs, have been able to run leash free, in Damper Creek Reserve. I was a very obedient dog and Barry new the rules of voice control and picking up after me, and explained all this to other dog owners in the reserve. On those bushland tracks, with the wind in my hair and my ears flying, my nose upwards and sniffing the air, I thought that this was the best life for a dog.
As old age crept up on me (my owner too), and arthritis attacked my joints, I still managed to slowly walk to the edge of the reserve in those later years. I really need those chats and pats!
DHH 7 Sep 2011
Lil – a happy doggie with her eye on the ball.
My name is Lil and I am a kelpie-cross border-collie. My current owners adopted me from the RSPCA just over ten years ago, where they were told my name and that I was aged two, thus making me twelve years of age now. I have had ten wonderful years with them, holidaying in many different places and even accompanying them on a trip around Australia.
When I joined this family, I didn’t bark for the first twelve to eighteen months, making them think they had the perfect dog, but on one of our numerous trips to the bush, when I thought that someone was encroaching on our territory beside the river, I decided it was time to let everyone know who was boss. I now use my vocal communication only when I want to let my family know that I really need to tell them something.
Damper Creek has always been a favourite place for me and I have been lucky that most days I am given the chance to explore it twice a day. I have made many friends, both human and doggie. Some of them are no longer with us and sadly I have just lost my very best friend, Pepi, a friendly gregarious and beautifully groomed white standard poodle, who would enthusiastically greet me every time we saw each other. In our doggie world of saying hello, I always received a bountiful greeting when we spotted each other on our walks in Damper Creek, but perhaps Pepi had his eye on the ball that I always carry in my mouth. Pepi came to stay with us a couple of times, so we all got to love him.
Being in my senior years, my family let me choose what I would like to do, as I am very reluctant to walk in any other direction than to the pathway that leads to Damper Creek. My owners are “putty in my hands” so I have the best life – I am one lucky dog.
14 April 2012
Peppi – our joyous Standard Poodle. (1999 – 2012)
PeppiPeppi’s name was chosen to match his peppy nature. As a puppy he had very long legs and reminded his owners of a tiny giraffe, all legs, although very agile and not at all awkward or clumsy. Peppi almost pranced around looking beautiful with his soft white fur brushed and with ears flowing. He just fitted into home life, so easily.
A true friend of Damper Creek for nearly 13 years, Peppi was intelligent, quirky and affectionate, and he was always ready to duck his fluffy head forward for a gentle hand pat. Looking his very best on his daily “promenade” he always gave his special friends a joyous greeting. “S” brushed him every day, and Peppi enjoyed his regular visits to the groomers. “S” and “R” believe that Peppi had a very dignified image of his own well groomed beauty and he was well trained, but it was never in his owners’ minds for him to be a show pony. Peppi just wanted to be, and definitely was, everyone’s friend.
Peppi’s very best girlfriend was Lil, a kelpie x border collie, and they often met in Damper Creek reserve. Surprisingly, they were a fairly even match when chasing Lil’s ball. When Lil’s owner would swing the ball into the distance, Lil always made it first to the ball, but Peppi’s astute strategies allowed her some ball-time on the way back. Peppi would watch for an opportunity to distract Lil, and then off he would fly with the ball back to Lil’s owner for another go. It was great fun for both, with seemingly perfect doggie co-operation, and all in good humour.
Another friend for Peppi, who he also often met in Damper Creek on daily walks, was Ginger a handsome border collie. Ginger is shy and tentative and very private but somehow Peppi became a truly worthwhile and accepted friend. Peppi’s willing and relaxed friendship towards Ginger, won the day.
After Peppi’s daily walks in Damper Creek with “S”, and having so much fun time with his dog friends, on arrival at home his VIP friend “R” would greet Peppi with a tasty nibble. A memorable routine in the late evening would be for Peppi to collect a dog biscuit from the kitchen, after which he would lead the way with “R” and “S” following him down the passageway to bed. Peppi would make sure that they were safety tucked in, and he would faithfully guard his owners throughout the night.
The mornings were sometimes a good natured challenge for “R” who perhaps would have liked a longer sleep-in, but Peppi would joyously visit “R” and make the decision to playfully pull the blankets off him, thereby saying “time to greet the day”. “R” also enjoyed lunchtimes with Peppi and it was well established that a cheese sandwich should be shared. If this was not immediately forthcoming, Peppi would put his long nose and furry ears through the pages of the newspaper to say to “R”, “okay, time to share your cheese with me”.
One special memory of Peppi was when “S” took him along to visit an elderly friend who was in residence at an aged care facility. Peppi was gentle and friendly with everyone, and amused many of the elderly folk when some thought that in his winter coat, he was mistaken for a Shetland pony. On another occasion one elderly gent (who had never spoken to anyone since admittance to the care facility), was so delighted to see beautiful Peppi, that he astounded his carers by speaking for the very first time. Peppi was such a beauty and his engaging nature was a very special gift of delight to those who met him.
Heartbreakingly for his owners and all who knew him, Peppi departed this world suddenly just a few days ago, and it is for sure that he is, and will be, greatly missed.
18 April 2012
Woof, my name is Lady. I am a five year old female Border Collie and I live in Sunhill Road, adjacent to Damper Creek Reserve with my owners and a Siamese Cat. Lulu is OK and good company at night.
My original owner was David C. a son of a family who were the first to build in Sunhill Road or Court thereof, in the late 1950’s. David, whom I loved, was tragically killed in a motor accident. David had trained me well and I am an especially well behaved companion in the car. I am told a number of dogs and cats have previously lived at my house.
There was Brodie a Bedlington Terrier whose coat was light grey and when out walking children thought she was a lamb. Brodie loved meeting the local dogs. Her cat friend Chye would also follow the family along our fence line which borders Damper Creek Reserve but she never went too far, as she would nervously run back home to her safe haven. Brodie had a litter of two pups, one of which became a local champion. The pups when born had black coats. Unfortunately Brodie went blind in her later years and, when excited, would rush around running into tree trunks and lamp posts.
Then, my owners tell me, Kirsty, a Scottish Collie joined the family, and she loved walking in Damper Creek. However Kirsty would not cross the Bridge and would rather get wet crossing the creek instead. She had a litter of seven pups but only two survived the first night. I’m told that not much sleep was had that night. Kirsty loved meeting all the local dogs too. Her cat friend was Pepper.
Sometime after Kirsty passed away there was a knock on the front door. Our neighbours from down Sunhill Road, being Frank P. and his daughter Jacinta, stood there holding a young black and white Kelpie/Border Collie cross. Although Jessie did not fit the “description” for our “new” dog, my owners said straight away, “Isn’t She Lovely”. Jessie scampered into the house, jumped onto the couch and never left. Jacinta had found Jessie on a busy road in Malvern running in and out of the traffic. Despite many endeavours her owner could not be found. Jacinta’s family already had a dog and a new home had to be found for Jessie, so here she stayed.
(My family tell me that many of you would remember Jessie. She walked most days along the creek. She was photographed at several Friends of Damper Creek’s Annual Barbeques as well as at the construction of the Plummet Bridge. Jessie was well known and had many dog friends made over the years who she met on her daily walks. There was Lionel, Rosie, Max, Ben, Vamp, Ruffy, Jenna, Ginger, Mascot and, of course, Cinders the Greyhound owned by Bev C.
Jessie was very smart, learning to operate lever handles to let herself in and out of the house or yard. She didn’t bother to close the door or gate. She was a terror for chasing and returning sticks and she would drop them close by until the sticks would eventually be found sitting on the shoes of thrower’s feet. Her habit of rounding everything up could not be broken. As she was a terrible car traveller she was often allowed to travel in the front seat to encourage more positive behaviour.
Jessie lived with her friend Pepper, the Siamese Cat. Jessie baled up a tiger snake in our yard one day, a family story which has been retold many times. Jessie sadly died of old age and is buried in a spot in our backyard with a remembrance rose.
And now I come to me – Lady
I also didn’t comply with my new family’s “doggie” specification either which was said to be that a “new” dog should be smallish, short haired, not too energetic and a spayed female, but I do now match the latter requirement. I was two when I arrived and it was such a happy match. I am so fortunate to live adjacent to Damper Creek Reserve and I and other doggie friends are able to have walks in the bushland each day. I am very grateful to the Friends of Damper Creek Reserve members, particularly the inaugural President – Barry H. – who, some years ago now, petitioned strongly for us dogs of Damper Creek to be allowed to enjoy a “leash-free” reserve. Of course, our owners are to keep us under voice control, carry a lead if needed, and pick up any of our “doggie doings”. Now being more mature, I sometimes help to guide the young over-energetic pups.
I still meet some of Jessie’s friends around the track and I have made plenty of new friends myself – they are Maggie, Toby and Buddy – all Border Collies. Sometimes I meet Christopher whose family lives in nearby Alice Street where I occasionally stayed when David, his brother and my first owner, went away. I have not forgotten them. I love living where I live and I feel loved too.
1 October 2012
My mistress is my best friend and she says I am the same for her – we are constant companions and we are with each other all day. I am a well behaved travel companion in the car too. I go everywhere, even to the tennis club nearby where I am a special, albeit unusual Club member, and well loved by everyone. I will tell you my story.
About four years ago when I was only twelve months old, I found myself waiting anxiously and nervously at the RSPCA pound for someone to like me, and that was the day my mistress chose me and took me to her home. I have been showered with love and affection, nourishment, training and many daily walks in Damper Creek Reserve, ever since.
I apparently was quite a handful when I first started going for my walks in Damper Creek, as I had no idea about obedience and I would just pull my mistress along with my lead as I followed another dog, or an interesting sniff, bike rider, or jogger. I was really very scared of joggers or any rapid movements, so my only communication was to say “go away” with my bark, but now as I stay on lead always, I feel very safe, as my mistress shows me what I am meant to do.
My dog friends in Damper Creek are “Lady”, “Maggie”, and “Ginger” all border collies like me, as well as “Mick” a “retired” working dog.
My mistress tells friends with a wry smile about the deep scratches on top of her nice coffee table at home, for when I was first with her, I heard a sharp noise outside the house, and I just took off and scratched the top of the coffee table in my stride. I am much better behaved these days, although my mistress says at times, that I can still be a work in progress. She understands me and protects me.
I have a proud and happy incident of which to tell you. In the early days of being with my mistress, I would try and pull the lead too hard if I saw joggers particularly on weekends, as we walked in Damper Creek. Just for a change we once tried out a new place to walk at Mt Waverley near the oval and the tennis club. As my mistress had, over thirty years ago, been a good tennis player but had let participation lapse, she stopped to look at the courts with me by her side. As she stood there pondering over the past enjoyment of the days when she once played regular tennis, by chance a very welcoming lady from the tennis committee called out to us and asked if she may be of assistance.
My mistress explained her interest in tennis but said that she was already a “geriatric” to which the cheerful lady replied laughingly, “don’t worry we are all geriatrics here”. What she was really saying, is that you are never too old to have a go. The rest is history. My mistress has now played tennis at that Club for the past two years, and I feel that I too am a fully accepted member. Everyone loves me and I can happily sit on my warm mat near the courts as my mistress plays her matches, and one or other of the ladies will hold my lead. The Club ladies would not hear of me waiting in the car, as they have welcomed me totally into the group. We all benefit from this wonderful happening as my mistress tells me that I introduced her back to playing tennis. I like to see my mistress laugh and I keep her days happy. This photo takes pride of place in our lounge room.
By “Buddy”, 5 June 2013 (my official 5th birthday)
My name is Max, and I am a Maltese poodle cross (we think!) and quite blond. I have been with my owners since 2006. This photo was taken when I was first adopted by my owners from the Pearcedale pound, a very fortunate time for us all. I was very tiny at only 8 weeks old, but I am fully grown mature doggie now.
I am now 7 years old, and I really enjoy my daily walks in Damper Creek. I even walk on lead regularly with my owners up to the Mt Waverley shops too, so when I get home I have a drink of water, and a long sleep. I estimate that each day I probably walk 3 kilometres, so I am a very lucky dog to have an energetic family.
I will often wait at the front door, and look at my owners to say – “come on, time to go for a walk”.
I have made friends in Damper Creek with other dogs “Ginger, “Maggie”, and “Lady” all collies and great fun. We quite often have known the dogs’ names before knowing the names of their owners.
The most enjoyable part of my life is scampering around and exploring Damper Creek as well as lying on my bed near the fire, or playing with my toys, or playing ball with my family.
Next week I am going to my friend “Ginger’s” birthday party. I feel very privileged as Ginger is a very private doggie and doesn’t make friends easily. I am one of a few dogs who he allows into his space. He has recently lost his best friend, his brother “Mascot”, so we will certainly make his day a happy one.
One time my owners took me to a wedding and we ended up with 6 dogs in my owners’ bedroom, but I made sure I had the spot by their feet. Although I was the smallest dog, I made sure they knew I was king.
By Max 12 July 2013
“Toby – a country doggie at heart”
Hi, I’m Toby and at the time of writing I’ve been walking in the Damper Creek reserve with my owner for five years.
I was born in the country, up near Romsey, so for the first eight weeks of my life I could roam the farm with my mum, dad and eight brothers and sisters. Moving to the city was a big change – a new family, no more puppies to sleep with…and no more farm, even though my back yard is pretty big.
Those first weeks were a big adjustment – I found it hard to sleep, unless my new ‘mum’ was cuddling me, but eventually they got me a teddy bear which solved that problem.
I guess I missed the country, too, so imagine my delight when a few weeks later I got my first walk around the Damper Creek track! It was almost as good as being back in the country…and I could even walk off the lead, which meant I could explore properly and investigate all the good smells (as well as scoff down the occasional lunch thrown into the bushes by kids on their way to school). Heaven! Here is Toby swimming in the country (and well away from Damper Creek).
A few nervous weeks later and I had graduated ‘top of the class’ from puppy school, giving my new family confidence that they could walk me off lead without having to worry about the occasional nervous walker, and so it became a daily ritual.
Now, mum and I walk there virtually every morning. She enjoys the stroll and meeting the other dog walkers, while I enjoy sniffing my way around and saying hello to my doggie friends like Lady, Buddy, Max and others, although as their owners will attest, I am really more interested in making friends with them than playing with the other dogs…I just can’t pass up a good pat.
We make a special stop every day at Maggie’s back yard so my mum can have a cuddle through the fence, and Maggie and I like to play when she’s on my side . Ginger also happily ignores me when he sees me, now that Mascot is gone – he didn’t really want to socialize, and I understood that – but their owners are my very special friends; sometimes they even stop their car to say hello to me, and I look for them whenever I am out in the street.
I am lucky enough to go to the country on holiday quite often and I love running the paddocks, herding the occasional sheep or cow, chasing swallows and defending my family from the cockatoos who try and land in our gum trees. But I am used to living in the city and enjoy my life, especially my walks at Damper Creek…and my nightly naps on mum’s bed.
RF – 17 Sep 2013