A Soundless Plea for Help!

One summers morning in the late 60's I was sitting by a breakwater on the beach at Aspendale in Victoria, enjoying my surroundings and watching the comings and goings. Then far away around the curve of the beach, I saw a small white dot moving along just above the receding water. Several times over the next 15 - 20 minutes I caught sight of it. Eventually I was able to see that he was a medium sized smooth coated terrier, well grown, fit and about 18 months - 2 yeaers old. He was moving at a brisk trot around sand castles and avoiding family ball games etc. He ignored everyone. Definately a dog on a mission!! He suddenly changed direction. He came up the beach and stopped in front of me and looked straight into my face. As I sat up straighter (mainly to put more distance between his face and mine) he lifted his head to keep eye contact. I noticed that he was continually swallowing, then I saw why. He was wearing a puppy's collar, done up in the 4th hole, and as he had grown it had ridden up his muscular neck and was in a deep groove, tight up under the back of his jaw and behind his ears. Slowly, I undid the first part of the buckle then stopped. I was apprehensive because I would have to pull the collar even tighter to release it. I didnt know this dog and he didnt know me. If he misinterpreted my actions and decided to defend himself - our faces were only a hand span apart! His gaze didnt waver. I said out loud "I will have to make this much worse in order to make it better, just stay calm". That is just what this remarkable dog did. As I gently pulled the collar tighter, he stood stock still, his eyes never left my face, his only movement the compulsive swallowing. When the strap was free it was obvious that the ends of the collar actually could not meet around his neck. I said "There you are fella, you should feel better soon". He kept eye contact with me for several more seconds, then, abruptly, he turned away and at the same brisk pace resumed his journey. He left me stunned! Why this day, when he had obviously had the problem for most of his life, and why, from the hundreds of people on the beach, did he choose to put all his faith in me? Forty years later I am still humbled by this memory.

Lorraine Harrison
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