You could be a dick

Twice a year we award worthy Australians with Medals. I get excited on both Australia Day and the Queens Birthday weekend in anticipation of reading the lists. As someone who has spent so much time recording stories and interviewing people it will not be any shock to you that it is the stories behind the awards that I like the most.

This year we have a cracker. The wonderful Dick Smith was awarded the country’s top honour and his is a lovely story, that should resonate with an entire generation.

Mr Smith is an achiever. The Americans would probably call him a winner. From humble beginnings he toiled to eventual business success and now seems to spend his time giving his money to people who need it more than he does.

The part of his story that should have ears burning everywhere, is his schooling. Marked 45th of 47 students in his year, he went through the apprenticeship route rather than to University. Many a young person is led to believe that if you haven’t made your mark academically by 12 or 13 you are up against it in the success stakes.

Dick Smith would have everyone know that he was not good at school but pretty good at business, leadership, learning and (in my opinion) being a good bloke. Personally I find it interesting that school failed to provide him the opportunity to shine. Though it doesn’t surprise me. The point though is that he didn’t let a thing like academics get in the way of success.

I am not teacher bashing either, some of my favourite people are teachers so this is not about teaching standards or anything like that. It is important for young people to know that the bumps and scuffs that almost inevitably occur during a young persons schooling are not an excuse to give up. In fact they should be providing the motivation to dig a little deeper and work a little harder. Dick Smith’s story shows there is more than one way to skin a cat. We need to be creative in the way we look at success, the way we approach hurdles and the methods we use to shine the light on the big world. Thank you Dick.

A puppy on the way

There is a dog on the way. We have been pet free for almost a decade and have enjoyed it immensely, but it is just not the same. Over the course of the next few months no doubt I will be writing about the way this hound has changed our lives. I hope I am writing about the joy and not the tears, but inevitably with pets there is a share of both.

It is not just any dog either. It is a fauve. The Basset fauve is an interesting breed that looks a little like a cocker spaniel and a little like a basset and a little like a lot of things but has its own distinct look. Hardly a succinct explanation but Im sure once you have seen a picture you will agree. When most people talk about fauves the first thing they say is “their ears are painted on” and that was the thing that instantly grabbed my interest. My poor long suffering teachers used to say the same thing to me in school. So instantly we have a fair bit in common.

Our pet free decade has included a few overseas trips and a few spontaneous weekends away, all of which will come to a screaming halt when the hound arrives. We have vaguely puppy proofed the house but not with any real zeal so no doubt he/she will find the most valuable item left at eye level to chew on. I say He/she because even though we have committed to owning the hound, the breeder is yet to allocate animals to buyers.

The litter consists of four girls and one boy. We initially said we were interested in a girl, but so is everyone else, so we have also said that we don’t want to miss out. Interestingly several people in the group have said the same thing. So this weekend we wait, holding our breath to discover if we are fishing around for a few suitable boy names or girl names. We have in the past had boy pets including Simpson the Labrador (famous for eating an entire worm farm, all three trays, in one sitting before requiring the local vet to pump his stomach). So perhaps it’s time for a girl but time will tell.

No doubt my witty son and even wittier bride have a long list of clever and beautiful names on a notepad somewhere waiting to be short listed. We have a six hour drive to meet the new family member and the same return so my first wish is that he/she travels well. I feel sure the name will settle almost instantly.

We have put our adult son in charge of training. As he continues to battle his way through the rigours of chemotherapy, his no nonsense approach to training everything (including me) will be put to perfect use. I am looking forward to the widening of our social circle as is the way with owning an animal in the inner city. Parks and routines become the catalyst for making new friends provided of course you do not own a killer.

I am also living in the hope that owning a dog will have an effect on my ever burgeoning waistline but I suspect the laziness that is clearly the root cause of the problem may be the very thing that causes the hound and I to cross swords. Im sure it wont be long before he/she looks up at me as we re-enter the house as the thought bubble hovers over his head saying “really that was not much of a walk bubble butt”.

I am genuinely excited about the new family member and look forward to sharing our adventures with you.