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new zealand

King Sized Heart

Jack Russell and IA tiny dog with a kingly name and a king-sized heart passed away it was reported recently, and were he human, he would have been buried with a medal. George the Jack Russell terrier died after saving five children from a mauling or worse by two pitbull terriers in the tiny Taranaki, New Zealand township of Manaia. A place name which might sound like something an angry dog might be frothing at the mouth from, but is in fact a Maori word for a spiritual guardian that protects one from evil, a being depicted with the head of a bird, body of a man and tail of a fish, often worn as a bone or jade talisman around the neck. With a heroic small dog warding off a very real canine evil, there appears to be a touch of synchronicity in the air. Despite their diminutive size, Jack Russell terriers are as a breed absolutely fearless. Intelligent, devoted and loving yet also willful and determined, they are described as a big dog in a small dog’s body. True to his breed, this little dog with the heart of a lion leapt to the defence of the five children as they were making their way to a dairy (corner store). One of the children, Richard Roswarne, 11, said the pitbulls came at them from behind, and were going for his 4 year-old brother Darryl when the terrier intervened. “George tried to protect us by barking and rushing at them, but they started to bite him—one on the head and the other on the back,” he told a local paper. "We ran off crying and some people saw what was happening and rescued George." But the nine-year-old dog was so badly ripped apart he had to be put down—the local vet describing the injuries as the worst he had ever seen. George’s owner, Alan Gay, 69, was firm in his opinion of the notoriously aggressive pitbull breed, imploring that they be banned. "They're killers and it comes from them being bred for fighting." The dogs disappeared after the attack, but several days later two were removed from a property in Manaia and impounded awaiting destruction, with the local council pursuing prosecution against their owners. Side-stepping the non sequitur of whether dogs breed exclusively for fighting should be breed at all—this ex-postie (pictured, out of uniform, with a Jack Russell terrier) is a mail and card carrying member of the Aggressive Dogs and Their Owners are Evil Society—the heroism and sacrifice of this very small example of man’s very best friend is something to behold—even from afar. I used to be a cat-lover once, perhaps because I never had a chance to own a dog, and perhaps because somewhat like the young children in this story the only encounters I had with dogs were getting chased or barked at by extremely large, angry examples of their kind. Yet that preference and perhaps mistaken impression has long been formed anew. The sacrifice and selflessness of dogs as demonstrated so nobly by this single Jack Russell terrier moves my heart far more than feline poise and grace ever will—and don’t get me started on a cats all too common selfishness. I am reminded by George the hero terrier of a talk Sri Chinmoy gave once on the spiritual qualities of dogs, whom he often refers to as a four-legged example of the spiritual qualities of devotion and faithfulness:
“ many cases, animals, specially dogs, have given their lives for their masters. Many, many more animals have given their lives and will give their lives for human beings than human beings will give for animals. Pets can be so affectionate to their master, so fond of their master, that they can give their lives. “Just recently I read a book about animals that have given their lives and how these animals suffered. Animals far surpass human beings when it comes to sacrifice. As human beings, sometimes we get a kind of unconscious, malicious pleasure when somebody suffers. I have come to realise that in human life there is no such thing as friendship; it is all rivalry. If your friend has achieved something, immediately your heart burns. Unless and until you have established divine friendship, rivalry always exists. If you establish divine friendship, you are safe. At that time you feel oneness. Otherwise, so-called human friendship is made of rivalry and jealousy. [...] Animals do not have that kind of developed mind. True, animals can be jealous, but they are not directly entering into the world of jealousy and cursing the person who has achieved something. “[...] If an animal is evolved and very close to its master, then that animal can do something very, very special to prevent a serious calamity from taking place either in the family or among the very dear ones. That kind of supreme sacrifice an animal can make.” Excerpt from Sri Chinmoy Answers, Part 27 by Sri Chinmoy.

We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are’s recent musings on Englishness, or eccentricity really—for the two in this particular instance are painted indistinguishable—has led me directly to ponder come celebrate the woolly-brained, cockamamie qualities of my own nation, perhaps not so distant in heart from England—all be we as distant as it is possible geographically. Not so distant in blood either. New Zealand was fifty percent settled by migrants from“Old Blighty,” a key difference of these shaky, Antipodean Isles from colonial Australia, and the origin of our“New Zild” accent, with it’s flattened“i” and resemblance to the dialects of southern England of several hundred years ago. To celebrate New Zealand’s eccentricity, and the British progenitor from which it directly descends, here then is the unofficial anthem of New Zealand, We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are, as sung/performed by comedian and cultural icon John Clarke a.k.a. Fred Dagg, and featuring almost everybody who is anybody in New Zealand, including:
  • one Prime Minister,
  • one leader of a political party,
  • a cricket legend,
  • a New Zealand cricket captain,
  • a rugby legend,
  • an All Black captain,
and actors and artists too numerous and not famous to mention. God Defend New Zealand indeed. (If you spot anybody else in the video, or want to try naming any the above, don’t be shy and leave a comment).