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PETS AND ANIMALS

Bill Bergen, visiting a school on Bougainville’s remote west coast, became aware of something nudging the nape of his neck whilst he was sitting at the back of the classroom. “On turning around,” he says, “ I came face to face with the skeletal mouth of a huge pukpuk. It was explained that this beast had eaten two children”.

Col Booth, on Karkar, visited Bob Burlington (ASOPA 63/64) for kapti one Saturday morning “while Bob had a beer as he was inclined to do most mornings”. Everything seemed peaceful in the haus wind until Bob excused himself, returning with rifle. “He took aim at the saksak roof, pulled the trigger and pieces of a large python fell at our feet”.

Dave Argent waxes lyrical about Buttons, a green-eyed lab deserted by expats who had gone finish from New Ireland. “The dog had been trained to savage locals who got too close to her owner, as we soon found. We took her up to the Highlands where dress standards are different from the coast. The uniform being an old belt with pandanus leaves tucked down the back –commonly known as arse gras. A local, intent on selling me an artefact got a little too close and Buttons went into action. The man scarpered for the nearest tree - a not too big, not too sturdy yar. Up he went, with much caterwauling. The tree, not able to fully support his weight, began swaying aggressively. On each downswing, Buttons jumped and snapped - returning to the ground with a mouthful of arse gras. When I was finally able to banish the excited hound, the fella clambered down, terror draining from his face and with gras gone from arse. I couldn’t believe my ears when he said what a good dog I had.”

Allan Jones says that at Cameron in 1995 he was adopted by a young dog called Goofy. “She hated pigs, crows, snakes, other dogs, bicycles, cars, trucks, parrots, seagulls and most humans. I paid compensation to those she bit, panicked when she had ten pups, nursed her when she was speared and again when she was bitten by a pig. In return she guarded my welfare including biting a lady of doubtful repute who I’d inadvertently invited into my house. I was going to leave Goofy in PNG when I left this year butt was talked out of it by a very rugged lady who said: “Erami will not look after that dog. You must look after that dog”. So I flew Goofy south and paid heaps for quarantine so she could continue to terrorise visitors as my living link to PNG”.

Colin Huggins accuses me of “taking certain reporting liberties” with his epistles. “I never got six-week old chickens from Moresby only to find they were roosters,” says the dear fellow. “I can also assure you that all my day old pullets survived. I kept a surrogate kanaka hen for this purpose - a photo of which I shall produce for your eyes.” He goes on to say, “Mummy chook’s existence will be verified by the one and only Val Rivers, who took a great interest in my laying pullets as she was dependent on fresh eggs”.

Val Rivers, however, has a view on this. “Colin forgot to mention that his first egg was rather small and covered in ants. He was so excited when he raced over to my house with it but was deflated when I told him I’d put a sugar coated almond on the nest”. I just know we’re going to hear more about this intriguing matter.

Colin Huggins was aghast at Val River’s comment last issue that he wouldn’t know the difference between a candy egg and the real thing. “To the best of my knowledge,” retorts the paragon of poultry, “Val’s understanding of the fowl’s habits is that the hen is the one that lays the eggs. I endeavoured to provide lessons on the subject but she was at times a most disrespectful pupil”.

Col Booth was also a chook fancier: “From 1969-72, I owned a dozen white leghorns that supplied numerous people with fresh eggs. They went with me from Karkar to Talidig and back to Karkar. Pythons would get into the pen, eat a chook and get caught in the netting when their bulge wouldn't fit through. At least they were easy to kill”.