Dogs in my life

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We can all divide our lives into groups or periods. Segments, if you prefer that description.

 

Example, I can list my life periods into the planes I flew in as a passenger, that is simple.

 

First the Dakota, then the Grumman, then the Constellation and Super Constellation, then the Fokker Friendship (F27) and now the Jumbo.

What next ? A spaceship to the moon ? Doubt it as it's far to cold up there.

And they don't allow dogs, or cats, only lunatics. And Americans of course.

Puti, sketch on paper

But sitting in my very comfortable chair in my head looking out the two 'windows' or eyes, I am looking at my life now in these separate periods. Be it planes, or lovers or favourite colours or dogs.

At the back of my head is the room full of books and the hundreds of librarians working for me full time, poor buggers.

But this is the 21th Century.

Now I have next to the chair in my head a table with a laptop connected to Google. So what the fellows at the back cannot find, Google will for sure.

 

I have made up my mind. Today I'll divide my life into the periods of the dogs I had. By it's nature, the fact that we live longer, it ends up nearly always with a tear or two.

 

1950

In memory of Puti

Anyway. Our first dog was in Indonesia, in Djakarta, just renamed after being called Batavia for a few centuries. My sister Johanna, now in Heaven, was born in Batavia.

 

It was a sweet little white dog aptly called Puti, Indonesian for white.

But one day Puti came home frothing at the mouth and the servants were throwing buckets of water at him so he'd not bite them.

 

Mad and sad as it was I can still see it as if it happened yesterday. I would have been 5 years old.

My father was there, thank God, and he had to take matters in hand. And in hand he did. He caught little Puti and had to strangle him.

The photo of a stuffed dog, here on the right,  is in honour of Puti.

A vet took out Puti's brain and sent it to Bandung, where the Pasteur's Institute was, and after a short while we got the message it was 'positive' and that doesn't mean good but that is was indeed rabies.

So next thing we all flew to Bandung where for two weeks we got the most horrific injections in our stomach.

One day in the left side and the next day the right side of my tummy and so on. Every day I tried to hide in the hotel but a hand would soon drag me from under a bed or out of a wardrobe.

I had to sit on the lap of a nurse and she locked me in with her legs and held my arms back and my naked tummy was punctured again and again, and again, so it seems. We then had to run around a field to get the serum in one's blood I imagine and then I fainted as I was slightly allergic to the stuff. Or it was simply too much for a little kid.

Remember also walking, or being dragged to the place of horror passing hundreds of cages with rabbits in them. They made the serum in those days with their help.

And when we left the hospital I saw every day a poor woman without legs,

sitting against the wall begging. I hope we gave her something. As

a child I couldn't imagine how she got there and back home at night.

The worries of a kid.

 

Anyway, my mother told us we could never never never have another dog.

In those days the Republic of Indonesia wanted to get, rightly so, rid of all the Dutch people so there was an outpouring of pink people. My father had been a junior officer with the Royal Dutch Indonesian Army (KNIL) during the war fighting in Dutch New Guinea and was kept in house arrest for a bit as a punishment.

My mother had a nephew at the Australian Embassy and he pulled a few strings and we sailed out of Djakarta to Holland on the luxurious SS. Oranje, 1st class and cabin 100. Without our poor daddy.

 

1956

 

Paul and danny in 1956

After a few years living in The Hague, my father had been sent to Iran by Shell Oil Company and my mother stayed in The Hague for a while. Sorting out schools.

One day she took us on a Sunday to the movies and we saw a Danny Kay film. On the way back home we passed a pet store and the sweetest little cocker spaniel was jumping up against the shop window and I made eye contact.

 

Never, never, never a dog again ? Never ?

 

I pestered my mother, threatened to kill myself, as a typical 11 or 12 year old kid does, If I didn't get that dog.

I did and named him after the film actor Danny Kay, Danny, of course.

Photo on the right is me as an 11 year old with Danny.

 

1962

 

I loved Danny. Everyday I walked him with a rather masculine Miss H, whose dog was called Pinky.

But things changed. At 17 I was admitted to the Royal Academy (KABK) and my parents were in Iran. I lived in our own house with an English school teacher and his wife. He, Mr.Goodenough, was a teacher at the English School in The Hague but I remember his utter fondness of my dog.

 

My father had been offered a job in Nigeria.

Danny with stick in 1958

 

But my parents decided they had had enough of working in funny countries and wanted to return to Australia.

In those days the white Australia policy didn't only not allow non-whites but also NO animals, no dogs. Not even cats.

I had a holiday job at an advertising company, also my sister Ursula.

Me as a photographer's assistant and Urs as a coffee girl. There I met a lady who told me she had a friend who loved dogs and especially cocker spaniels and she'd be delighted to take Danny.

My brother Norman drove me to this lady's house in the very posh village of Aerdenhout.

The lady had a kennel in her backyard with unwanted, maimed or abandoned dogs and in her house she had a huge blind dog and 5 or 6 cocker spaniels. She was obviously wealthy.

When we handed over Danny she told me not to look back as we drove away. I didn't cry or show any emotions. But a door had slammed shut in my heart and truly, I heard the bang. Still can hear it.

My heart was broken and for the second time in my young life I decided to sack my parents. I simply wouldn't love them any more. A bit drastic but I was only a young teenager and oddly enough 'till this day I always feel the spirit of Danny between me and the rest of mankind. You'd think I should get over it, no ?

Photo above is Danny with his 'toy'.

Danny, charcoal on paper

 

In Australia I went to some art school in Chatswood, Sydney, but it simply wasn't like the Royal Academy, the oldest art school in Europe.

So one day I came home from that silly school and announced I was going back to Holland, back to my old art school. Had a job sorting mail at night at the GPO and working at Grace Brothers in the packing room.

One day my father said in a slightly irritated way he'd make up the rest of the money needed so I could buy my ticket to Europe. He had this silly fantasy of an united family. A real family. Ha!

Hopped on a boat and went via the Panama canal, as Sues was stuck in a war between Egypt and Israel. What's new !

 

At the art school I had a lovely group of friends, and in my class I met my future wife Helena, married after graduation and 6 or 7 months later we had the lovely baby Renate. Now an opera singer with an angel's voice. Google her or click : Renate Arends.

 

But I was restless so after some time I had to leave and went back to Australia, then to the Azores and back to Holland and then to Portugal again. Now I have lost track. Shit, I was a restless human !

 

1969

 

Got a great job as an art director on a then very popular magazine called POL Magazine owned by the loveable crazy Gareth Powell.

Then back to Portugal , then Holland where I made allot of paintings and now, a  jump time wise, iafter  living on a farm I spent some years with Biki in a village called Terena. But I'm jumping to far ahead of time.

 

1980

 

Biki in Terena

I lived on a 600 acre farm with 120 cattle and two bulls. Beautiful Pig oaks and olive trees and huge rocks scattered all over the land. Bone dry in summer and very very hot. Also many snakes.

No water, electricity or bath facilities but, the house was traditionally built on a hill, and at the bottom of the hill was a well. Every day I'd go down to fetch a pail of water, and one day I saw two yellowish ears looking at me. It was a small dog.

Obviously lonely and for about two weeks I'd feed him. I'd throw bisquits in his direction calling Biki, biki,biki.

One day the dog ran straight passed me, into my house and hopped on my bed. God knows how he knew his way !

That was then Biki, again the most lovely dog on Earth. I moved from the farm to a small village called Terena ( by coinsidence a mix up of Renate). Biki was as happy as can be and would sit outside my beautiful 17th Century house under the whipping pole with my maid Rita's slightly demented husband Sr. Luiz.

Luiz and Biki had about the same intelligents and they adored each other. Sr.Luiz always called my dog Diki.

Egypto on a farm near Terena

After a few years poor Biki became sick and I had to make the horrific decision to have him put to sleep. One of the worst days of my life. Even writing about in now, 30 years later, I get tears in my eyes.

Grow up Paul Bakker.

 

I then moved to a farm 60 km south of Terena, near Beja. There one morning I found this skinny thing trying to get food out of the oil drum I used as an occasional incinerator. That was a beautiful tall black fella with brown paws. He reminded me of a pharao's dog so I called him Egypto.

 

I was then sharing the farm with an old school friend Jeremy. A posh Pommy/Turkish snob. Jeremy washed his hands 50 times a day !!! He was clean and mad.

 

Before I knew it I had another lost soul with us called Scotty and a dog dumped by a local farmer, a little bitch called Pompinha (dove).

 

But I needed to move on. Egypto was actually very mad, as mad as the above mentioned guy. Mad as a hatter. I left all the dogs with Jeremy. He was English but a total Luzophile. Couldn't help himself.

The gouache on the right is Egypto. He was in life better looking. But far too dangerous to be with people as he'd go for them. Try to bite and that wasn't good. Country Portugeese see dogs as working animals. Guard dogs or sheep/cow dogs.

Only city dwellers see them as a luxuary item.

 

Anyway, went back to Holland after a few months trying out Paris.

Then Portugal again then Australia became my home. Again  Again, and again still restless.

 

I did over do it with booze. Like I was at the Olympics for Beer drinkers. I won the gold medal, for sure.

After some time in Sydney I lived in a place called Armidale. Where I rid myself of the beer thing.

A lovely rehab called Freeman's House. A lovely lady Tracy was my councillor and we still write and chat about life and love. I was told I had a sickness, not a weakness. OK, sounds better, no ?

It has a name but I cannot remember. Alsopolics, cilohocla, Surrealists or Mothersuckers ??????

 

I had a nice appartment and worked a few hours a day at The PCYC as an art teacher with young kids.

But one day I was  sitting in my appartment staring at the tv thinking: Life is over... I'm not happy.

 

Then I received an e-mail from my old mate Clemens.

 

His lovely wife Gerry, they married in Holland at 19,  then emmigrated to Down-under, had passed away a few years earlier. He suggested we share a house and I come up and live in Queensland.

I loved the idea. It was miraculous timing. Anyway, I was bestman at their wedding in Holland and God father to their first born son Mark here in Australia. Then they had the twins Casper and Rick.

So I am a little bit family, beside knowing Clemens for more than 60 years !

 

2012

Senhor Michael Angelo (Angelo); the nicest dog on earth.

 

But life has become a full circle. Here we now have two dogs, two of the most lovely dogs, again, on Earth. How often have I written this 'most lovely' ?

 

One is called Angelo, after Michael Angelo, and the other is Vinci, after Leonardo Da Vinci.

We walk every day with the doggies. Angelo will hop on my bed in the morning and give me a total facial lick if he thinks I am sleeping too much and wants his walkies. Vinci a soft little kiss/lick.

 

So, one could say that life is pretty perfect. I get a pension from the Government, can hop on a train a few times a year for nada and if I would need medical treatment it is free.

 

Senhor Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci)

Of course in my family we had a few other dogs but they weren't mine. My father had a sausage dog called Suzi and my sisters have and had dogs called Paula (a cocker spaniel) and Izzy ( Isabelle )and my brother a dog called......cannot remember. Old age.

A friend in Melbourne has or had a dog called Bakker !!!!

 

And this is the story of my dogs.

Comments

Dearest PauloHow I enjoy your writings. In fact all your works of expression!   I sense your calmness, contentment and purpose through your wonderful beloved dogs and Clemens, with your life you have created and live today. Kisses for them all and for you. Love Tracy (((((xxxxx)))))