Towsytyke Cairn Terriers, Australia


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Brigadoon lives at the mission to seamen in Bunbury WA. This is a hearwarming story and shows how much a little dog can give - and yet he asks little in return.

Brig’s mission at the Mission to Seafarers:
Written by Rose Hopwood
We intentionally chose a Cairn terrier as we needed a dog that was going to be super friendly and not be too “precious”. Brig has proved himself over and over. He has actually taught his two-legged colleagues how to be better humans by displaying unconditional acceptance regardless of race and creed and also how to “read” people and give them what they need.

For example, I’ve told you about the welcome he gives all seafarers as they arrive – well it seems he uses this time to make an inventory of the mood of each because invariably he’ll play with the ones who are up for a good time, sit quietly with the ones who just need to chill and beg in front of the ones who are a sucker for a pretty face! There isn’t anyone who can work a room like Brig on pizza night. We’ve managed to stop the constant feeding (much to Brig’s disgust) by taking a snap of a seafarer feeding Brig, getting it enlarged then putting a red circle with stroke through it. It is on the wall behind the cash register and seems to cut through all the language difficulties.

One of Brig’s favourite pastimes is to sit under the table tennis table and wait. The second a seafarer misses a shot he’s on to it. He grabs the ball and runs. The uninitiated run after him and much hilarity ensues but the wiser ones just grab another ball because they know that even if they caught Brig (highly unlikely) the ball would not be in any condition to play with.
The seafarers don’t know about Brigadoon - the mythical village in Scotland and so think that he has been named after a type of ship called a brigantine which is small but extremely fast. His name is also apt as, during his first year of life, he spent many an hour in “Brig’s Brig” a kennel run he hated but we used as punishment when he stepped out of line.

One example springs to mind that proves Brig’s innate ability to read people. Sometime ago I took a seafarer to the airport. He was going home to bury his wife and young son who were killed in the Mumbai bombings. Brig sat on the seat beside him during the 2½ hours journey with his head on the seafarers lap, allowing him to stroke him absently (something he doesn’t usually tolerate for long). I’m a counsellor by profession but nothing I could have said would have offered the same level of comfort as Brig did that day.

He is so much part of the every day goings on of the Mission that when he’s not around he is quickly missed. He sits to attention quietly watching me raise the flags every morning and when I finish I look at him as say “How’s that?” and he’ll give a quick bark of approval. He also goes to the monthly committee meetings and is listed in the minutes as being in attendance. One time someone had inadvertently shut him outside and the meeting wasn’t opened until he was present. He is also a great little guard dog albeit his bark is worse than his bite.

The Mission is on the main street of Bunbury and sometimes gets some unwanted attention from late night revellers. One night three decided to jump the fence to relieve themselves in private and got a nasty shock when Brig launched himself out of our flat at the rear of the building. They definitely jumped back over the fence quicker the second time. Another time we were working inside the Mission in the late afternoon when we heard him bark with a very different note in his voice. We went out to investigate and found him barking at a cigarette butt that had been thrown over the fence and had started the bark mulch smouldering. Clever little dog!

And one more thing, the first Christmas card for the season arrived yesterday and, yep, you guessed it – it was addressed to Brig!





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