Red Dog: a legendary dog
Red Dog was an Australian mongrel dog who became known for his many individual travels in the Pilbara area. His travels were legendary. Red Dog was a dog who had friends all over Western Australia. He managed to make friends wherever he went. The dog enjoyed life and made friends with the people he had chosen himself. He lived in Australia and stayed a lot in the city of Dampier where he belonged to everyone. He became a hero who is commemorated with a bronze statue outside the city of Dampier.
- Red Dog lineage and origin
- The Life of Red Dog
- Passing away
- Books and the movie
Red Dog lineage and origin
Red Dog was a cross between a kelpie and an Australian cattle dog. He was born in 1971 in Paraburda (Western Australia). He was originally baptized “Tally” by Col Cummongs. It is thought that Col Cummongs would have been his first owner bringing Red Dog to the town of Dampier. The dog was given different names in the region according to the places it visited. For example, he was called Buey, Tally Ho, Pilbara Wanderer and Northwest dog. Its nickname “Red Dog” comes from the red substance found in the soil of the Pilbara region. The dog was always covered in the dust of wandering. The dog was also nicknamed “stinker” because of the many smelly winds he let out due to intestinal problems.
The Life of Red Dog
Red Dog was a drifter from the countryside. He could walk four miles at a stretch. He managed to survive on his own and stand up for himself through bones and pieces of meat he got in the backyards of people in the Dampier area. The dog made himself home to the men of the Hammersley Iron mining site when it suited him. He also developed a close relationship with John Stazzonelli, a bus driver who did the rides between Dampier and Karratha. Because of this, he often became an unofficial passenger on the bus, among the Hammersley Iron troupe. John Stazzonelli was seen by Red Dog as its second owner. When John was killed in an accident in 1975, Red Dog was said to have waited weeks for his return, after which he left and made many long journeys on his own. Legend has it that Red Dog traveled the country to find his owner, John Stazzonelli. He was supported by many people and that gave him the opportunity to hitchhike to Perth, Broome, Roebourne, Point Sanmson and Port Hedland.
When he returned to Dampier after a long search and was not accepted by the new bus driver on the bus, the new bus driver quickly became aware of the animal’s special status through popular protests. He had long ago won the hearts of a large community of people in the mining of iron ore, among whom he lived. He was treated like a pet by many in the community. Red Dog became an official member and mascot of the Dampier Salt Sports and Social Club and the Transport Workers Union. He even became a financial member of the Metal Trader Union and officially registered, opening a bank account for him with the Bank of New South Wales, who also treated him as a mascot. Several people wanted to give Red Dog a permanent home, but the dog never stayed there long. He was a vagabond through and through.
His death is believed to have been caused by a poisoning, a lump of meat laced with strychnine that he is said to have eaten. After his condition was diagnosed, he had frequent convulsions and the police took care of him until the vet was available. With the treatment he seemed to recover at first but his condition deteriorated again, so the vet had to put him to sleep. Red Dog is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere between Roebourne and Cossacks. A bronze life-size sculpture was erected through donations from all over the country. The statue is located on the information bay near the entrance to the Dampier townchip. There is an inscription that reads: “RED DOG The Pilbara Wanderer Died November 21, 1979 Founded by the many friends made during his travels.”
Books and the movie
Several books have been written about Red Dog. The most famous book is “Red Dog: the Pilbara Wanderer”. The author is Beverly Buckett. The book was published in 1993. On August 4, 2011, the first premiere of the Australian movie “Red Dog” was also broadcast. This is a moving Australian film based on Louis de Bernière’s book. The English writer researched the stories that circulated about the dog. The book “Red Dog, An Australian story.” is Bernier’s interpretation of the life of this famous dog. The book was also translated into Dutch with the title: “De Rooie hond” by Mea Flothuis. The first edition was in 2001 and it was published by De Arbeiderspers. (ISBN 90-295-0420-x)