RW8: Killing the dogs


would like to hear more about your early childhood experiences in the Australian bush.

Katerate seconded this request.

My parents are anthropologists. And so a chunk of my childhood was spent on aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory of Australia.

It’s the part of my childhood I remember most vividly and it gave Reason some of her background. The opening of Magic Lessons is a direct rip of my own memories:

Sarafina held up the cards with one hand, waving flies away and patting one of the dogs with the other. They were good dogs and knew enough not to try stealing any of the women’s meat. At least not while the women were looking. Besides, they were allowed to snatch up the discarded guts.

There were dogs everywhere. Running in packs. We kids would play with them and sometimes it felt like they were keeping an eye on us. You know, like lots of Lassies saving lots of Jimmys from falling down wells. Except without actual wells.

Someone decided there were too many dogs. I don’t know who. Someone from the government, maybe. Like the health department or something. Anyway they decided the dogs had to be culled. They rounded most of the dogs up and shot them.

I didn’t see any of it. I hid in the caravan. But I heard the shots and the yelps. I’m sure I must’ve been upset, but I don’t remember that. This is not a traumatic memory.

What I remember is my sister going out and looking at the dead dogs. Not in a morbid way. She must’ve been like three or something. She was just curious. I remember feeling really ashamed that I was too scared to look at them. My three-year-old sister was braver than me.

The dogs were buried and soon the survivors were running around like nothing had happened. And so, I guess, were we.

Not everything bad that happens in your childhood is a trauma, sometimes it’s just part of the soup you’re floating in.