Why I never throw a stick

Growing up I used to love roaming through the paddock checking out every rock, tree, plant and wildlife I could find whilst visiting our horses, cattle and lambs. Of course, this was done with my best mate by my side. I never went anywhere without a dog, whether it be Missy, Mitch or Gypsy. With an imagination that ran wild and the ability to totally zone out my parents took comfort knowing that my dog could bark and alert me to any possible danger. They had the dual role best mate and security.

One day during the school holidays when I was visiting my grandparents, I was happy to see that my uncle had left his dog Whisky at their property while he was at work. I had a play mate!

We all loved Whisky, he was a beautiful brown medium haired dog that had been bred by my pop. Although he had the colouring of a Kelpie he looked more Border Collie than anything. He was great fun to play with too as he had that high level of energy I was used to with my dogs.

Just before leaving for work my uncle picked up a stick and began throwing it back and forth to Whisky. I found this intriguing as I had only seen balls thrown to our dogs at home. I remember thinking what a great idea it was. I’m forever losing balls, but a stick is so easy to find. My uncle headed off and I took on the stick throwing role with great relish. Both Whisky and I were having so much fun. Until ….

To this day retelling the story makes me sick to my stomach but I feel it’s a lesson everyone can learn through me retelling it. So, there I was throwing the stick and Whisky retrieving it happy as a pig in mud. I threw the stick for the umpteen time and it stuck in the mud with one end of the stick facing slightly upward. Whisky excitedly ran to grab the stick at his usual top speed, and I heard this almighty scream of pain. When he turned towards me, I could see that the stick had skewered the bottom of his jaw and was jammed through his mouth forcing his jaws apart.

Screaming I ran to get my grandparents. From memory I couldn’t get much more than ‘Whisky’ out but that was enough to send them heading in the right direction. As an eight year old I was distraught by the sight and the realisation that I had hurt one of my best mates. Would he survive this? How do they get sticks out of dogs? What had I done?

Grandma came to console me while gramps took Whisky to the vet. After a what I can image was a rather big operation for poor Whisky he came through to live on ‘til a grand old age of 16. While Whisky never learnt his lesson, regularly picking up sticks hoping I would throw it to him, I had.

I will never throw a stick for a dog to fetch again.