I was recently reminded of this little expedition and thought I would share. Any comments would be very welcome, but particularly if you have met this dog, know this dog, are this dog or own this dog.
12 April 2005
I went to Glenorchy. On the way I stopped off at Twelve Mile Delta, which is probably twelve miles north of Queenstown and is certainly a river delta. It was like wandering through a mini wilderness; ribbon streams and rocks with bushes and a high stony bank as a kind of retaining wall. I had fun crossing the streams and, inevitably, got my feet wet. I didn’t care in the least. I was slightly disappointed not to see any oliphaunts, though they might have been hiding. Maybe next time. This was the spot where the famous scene in the second Lord of the Rings film, the one where Sam sees an oliphaunt for the first time, was shot.
The rest of the drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy was beautiful but uneventful. I arrived in the splendid sunshine that had been the signature of the day so far. I parked near the lake shore and decided that I would take a stroll along the Glenorchy Walkway to the lagoon and wildlife reserve. After about the first ten metres I had company. A great big, ugly brown dog with a studded collar joined me as I made my way to the edge of the Dart River as it oozed into the lake across a flat stony estuary. I walked on and he followed me. I stood for a while admiring the amazing view of the mountains all around, some with their tops covered in snow and others covered in trees covered in snow. I moved on again, and so did Big Ugly Brown Dog. The path now led through an area that was marshy with small willow trees sticking up out of the moss and grass.
I came to a sign offering two routes to Glenorchy Lagoon. I decided to take the one that went over a bridge because there was a gate at my end. I stepped through and closed the gate before Big Ugly Brown Dog had a chance to react. Triumphantly I crossed the bridge and looked back just in time to see him bound over the gate without disturbing it. I really wanted to be alone and to do this simple, little, pleasant walk in solitude and Big Ugly Brown Dog was beginning to spoil my day. I began to curse his owners for allowing him to follow strangers, I mean, you don’t know who’s around these days. I was walking in a wildlife reserve and I didn’t want anyone assuming the dog was mine; I didn’t want to get into trouble. I walked on, and so did Big Ugly Brown Dog.
As the pathway became boggier a boardwalk appeared and I strode along it while my unwanted companion paddled amongst the wet grass. I got quite a way before he noticed and came bounding after me. After a while I came to a view point overlooking the lagoon. The mountains were beautifully mirrored on the dead calm water. There were swans upending on the surface and a few scaups dibbling around. There was also a Big Ugly Brown Dog now swimming out to meet them. Luckily he thought better of it and came back to me, only to stand next to me and do the shaking all over thing that dogs do when they are wet. The upshot of that was a pair of very wet bare legs, and it wasn’t even my bloody dog.
I walked on again, shaking the drips off as I went. Eventually the path turned to cross the edge of a small golf course. Someone was playing a short way away. Big Ugly Brown Dog now bounded across in their direction and I picked up my pace and followed the path back out of ‘little white ball land’ towards the bridge I had crossed twenty minutes earlier. No-one and nothing followed me, though I suspect the golfer was less pleased than I was. I relaxed my pace and got back into enjoying-my-surroundings-mode once more. Then I heard a feint jingling sound behind me and then a panting and the sound of dog hooves on gravel; Big Ugly Brown Dog sped past me and stopped with a ‘Did you miss me?’ kind of look on his big ugly face.
I gave up and walked back to the car. By rights this should have been it because I had walked someone else’s dog for free for the past hour. Big Ugly Brown Dog should have thanked me and padded off home, wherever home might be, but he didn’t. He settled for pestering someone else for a while. Thinking I was now safe and that he would ruin someone else’s walk, I wandered along to the small wooden quay and took a few photographs of the lake and the reflections of the mountains. Leaning on the railings I pondered on just how beautiful this area of New Zealand was. I have said a great deal about mountains and lakes and what a dynamite combination they are, but I just can’t get enough of them.
I sort of drifted off, mentally, just leaning there looking around. The magic of my surroundings just couldn’t be beaten in that moment. The inner peace I felt was sublime, but short lived as I heard familiar noises behind me. He was wet again and I braced myself for what I knew would come, and it did. I stomped back to the car and got in, still dripping and just drove away from Glenorchy, away from Big Ugly Brown Dog and headed back towards the hubbub of Queenstown.