The Communist Dog
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The Communist Dog

“I don’t know how the locals here can eat dogs” said Mick. “Not for me either, I replied. “Especially those mangy flea bitten ones we see at Vung Tau”. “You ever seen inside one of the butcher shops? asks Mick. They’d hardly pass the health regulations back home”.

“Often wondered if they breed them like we do with sheep and cattle”, I said. “Maybe they do, but I’ve seen a few wild ones on some of our patrols, they’d probably eat them too, given half a chance” says Mick.

Did I ever tell you about the wild dog I shot to save one of my Roo platoon in ’66? Mick asked me. “C’mon Mick”, I said, “there’s only you and me here mate, why don’t you save it until the rest of the blokes arrive?” “No I’m fair dinkum” says Mick, looking offended.

When Mick was ready to tell one of his yarns, it didn’t matter if there was one, or six of us to hear him out. When he was in the mood, you just had to let him get it out of his system. There was no stopping him. So, as was often the case, I said “Alright, go on then Mick.”

“As I was saying before you interrupted me”, says Mick, “I’d sent my Platoon of Roos, across what looked like a few hundred yards of open ground. Except that it turned out to be a lot further than I estimated. They’d covered the ground quietly at the rate of roughly 20ft each leap. Less chance of them setting off any mines too. Anyway they managed to get across the exposed clearing that finished at the edge of the jungle safely enough, and were waiting for my signal.”

“I got a call on the radio and we were to be sent in another direction. Someone had stuffed up and it wasn’t me. So, I signalled “Big Red” and he passed the message onto the rest of the platoon. I knew that I could count on him, as always.” “Sure enough there bounding back to me as ordered. All except the youngest of the platoon. He’s still back at the jungle edge and I grabbed my field glasses to see what was holding him up.”

“A problem alright, a wild, mongrel dog and it’s got the little seven foot fella baled up in a clump of big trees. He had nowhere to go. My first thoughts were that he could look after himself as I’d seen what a Roo could do to a dog when cornered. But this wild dog looked like it’s natural instinct was to attack and kill. Then it dawned on me, it was a bloody “Communist Dog”. As you know, I’d already lost a Roo, during the trip over on the ‘Sydney’ and I wasn’t going to lose another one.”

“I decide to shoot this mongrel VC Dog, so took careful aim and gently squeezed the trigger. Well I couldn’t believe my eyes, I missed it, and I don’t often do that, I can tell you. I checked with my field glasses again and nothing was happening. They were both backing off a bit and looked a bit scared of one another. But I couldn’t understand how I missed that dog.”

“So I decide to make myself a brew and think about my next move. I rolled a smoke and then started to pack up my gear, this must have taken me a good ten minutes.”

“I had another look with the ‘glasses’ and got the shock of my life. That Communist Dog jumped up as the bullet hit him and somersaulted a good ten feet into the air, then fell down dead. In the time I was having a brew and smoke, the bullet was still on it’s way to the dog. That will give you some idea as to how far away it must have been”.

“As I told you I don’t miss too often. It was a lot further than I’d estimated, because of those wriggly heat waves, and as a result I’d misread the distance. Just shows you how wrong a bloke can be at times.”

“Like I said Mick, I wish you’d have waited for the blokes, as a few of them are coming over now.” “That’s alright” says Mick, “when they’re been here for five or ten minutes, just bring up the subject of fishing or something.”