Juanita, our German short-haired pointer, was the smartest dog I ever knew. In the intelligence stakes she left us all for dead. And looked after us like an angel into the bargain.
One night in the Drummoyne house, Juan–we called her for short–went to the front screen door and started barking furiously. Someone went to see what she was making such a commotion about, but could see nor hear nothing unusual in the darkness outside.
A short while later Stuart went to bed in his room at the back of the house. He came out moments later saying he could smell smoke. We all rushed out the back to find the next door neighbour’s house on fire. Flames were shooting out through the OPEN front windows. We knocked urgently on their door but no one appeared to be at home. I went in to call the Fire Brigade. In fact, I don’t think we had a home phone. I had to go up the street a bit to the public phone. The red trucks, sirens blaring, took twenty minutes to get there. And the station was only in the next street!
Meanwhile, the guys got our garden hose and buckets and put the fire out. We were about to start moving our furniture through our front door to save it should our house catch fire because the blazing house was surrounded by trees. Blessedly we didn’t have to.
Later the insurance investigator informed us they suspected the fire was started by arsonists. The tenants were conveniently away that night and had strangely left their windows open. Our landlord owned both houses. He lived on the hill opposite us. Apparently he had been offered an enormous sum of money by developers for the land. Our house also was later sold and we eventually had to move out. It would be impossible for us now to rent or own a house in that harbour-front street in Drummoyne. Places there go for multi millions of dollars today.
From this we figured out why Juanita was barking crazily at the front door that night. With her remarkable senses, she heard and smelt the arsonists walking stealthily down the neighbour’s driveway. And she knew they were up to no good.
That was not the only time Father used our wonder dog Juanita to protect us. Another night I alone was the object of not only her faithful protection, but a witness to her payback too. We hooted with laughter about this episode for weeks,well 32 years actually!
I was in the habit of running along our very narrow, winding street, in the dark down to Birkenhead Point, a shopping centre at the far end of the suburb. But never without Juanita to keep me safe. One night as we ran towards the point, two guys passed us running the other way. They made an altogether too familiar comment to me as they passed. I took absolutely no notice of them. But Juanita did. Of course, not having the ability like our clever dog did to read minds, I didn’t know this.
Juan and I reached Birkenhead and turned back for our homeward run. Several hundred metres along, the dog ran behind a large shrubby bush on the footpath and refused to come out, despite my earnest pleas to her to do so. Frustrated, I turned around, shrugged my shoulders, and continued jogging, leaving Juanita to her game or whatever it was she was doing.
About another fifty metres or so I passed the same two guys on THEIR homeward run. This time they jogged by silently. I suddenly had a premonition and turned around to watch, a question in my mind, and a curious expression on my face. As the two men got to the shrub behind which Juanita was hiding, she jumped out at them and barked as furiously as the night of the fire. Then ran back to me with what I could have sworn was the wickedest grin a dog ever had on it’s face in all of history.
If I had not been there and seen it myself I would not have believed it. Those two guys must have jumped six feet into the air in fright. Upon bouncing back to earth, they turned towards me, standing innocently waiting for my dog, and abused me for skitching her onto them. Juanita and I had a good laugh all the way home, as did the guys with whom I lived when we got there. Michael in particular was thankful for his favourite two girls.
We left Juanita with Stuart, Juan’s next best mate, when we went overseas. He took her to live in South Australia with him. But like Dave (see my last post), we were destined never to see her again. I visited Stuart in 2002 and he narrated the sad story to me of how Juanita would go walkabout, as had always been her habit, and one day never returned. Maybe a snake got her, or a truck on the highway, or maybe she was just too friendly with someone who fancied the good-looking German dog and invited her for a ride to their place somewhere far away. Whatever happened, Michael lost both of his beloved girls.