The Loaded Dog


The Loaded Dog

"The Loaded Dog" is a popular short story by iconic Australian writer and poet Henry Lawson. The humorous storyline concerns three easy-going goldminers and their dog, and the farcical consequences of leaving a bomb cartridge unattended.

Plot summary

Easygoing goldminers Dave Regan, Jim Bently, and Andy Page are sinking a shaft at Stony Creek. Andy and Dave, fishing enthusiasts, devise a unique method of catching fish- throwing an explosive cartridge into the creek.
The three men own a young retriever dog named Tommy- or, more accurately, "an overgrown pup... a big foolish, four-footed mate." When the dog picks up the deadly cartridge in its mouth, and runs the fuse through the campfire, the three men begin to run.
Tommy the retriever, thinking it is all a game, playfully chases down his "two-legged mates" who try everything in their power to escape the cartridge.
When Dave seeks refuge in the local pub, the dog bounds in after him, causing the Bushmen inside to scatter. Tommy comes across a "vicious yellow mongrel cattle-dog sulking and nursing his nastiness under [the kitchen] ," who takes the cartridge for himself. A crowd of dogs, curious about this unusual object, gather around the cartridge, whilst the lit fuse gradually shortens in length.
The explosion blows apart the nasty yellow cattle-dog, and maims numerous others. For half an hour the Bushmen who witnessed the spectacle are laughing hysterically, and Dave decides to apologise when things settle down a bit. Tommy the retriever, who had started it all, trots home after Dave "smiling his broadest, longest, and reddest smile of amiability, and apparently satisfied for one afternoon with the fun he’d had."'

Characters

*Tommy the retriever:
**The dog that starts the entire spectacle. An black, overgrown pup "who was always slobbering... Most of his head was usually a red, idiotic, slobbering grin of appreciation of his own silliness. He seemed to take life, the world, his two-legged mates, and his own instinct as a huge joke."
*Dave Regan:
**Laid-back, likable goldminer. He and Andy are fond of fishing. It is Dave's idea to use a cartridge to catch fish.
*Andy Page:
**Like Dave, he is laid back and fond of fishing. Andy builds the cartridge after Dave made the suggestion. "Andy usually put Dave’s theories into practice if they were practicable, or bore the blame for the failure and the chaffing of his mates if they weren’t."
*Jim Bentley:
**Perhaps the more sensible of the three miners. He is described as being uninterested in the "damned silliness" of Dave and Andy's scheme. He enjoys eating fish, but is simply not fond of catching them.

Quotes

*"There is always a rich reef supposed to exist in the vicinity; the only questions are whether it is ten feet or hundreds beneath the surface, and in which direction."
*"Most of [Tommy's] head was usually a red, idiotic, slobbering grin of appreciation of his own silliness. He seemed to take life, the world, his two-legged mates, and his own instinct as a huge joke."
*"Andy turned slowly and looked, and there, close behind him, was the retriever with the cartridge in his mouth—wedged into his broadest and silliest grin."
*"The dog laid the cartridge, as carefully as if it was a kitten, at the foot of the sapling, and capered and leaped and whooped joyously round under Jim."
*"The retriever went in under the kitchen, amongst the piles, but, luckily for those inside, there was a vicious yellow mongrel cattle-dog sulking and nursing his nastiness under there—a sneaking, fighting, thieving canine, whom neighbours had tried for years to shoot or poison."
*"Nearly a dozen other dogs came from round all the corners and under the buildings—spidery, thievish, cold-blooded kangaroo-dogs, mongrel sheep- and cattle-dogs, vicious black and yellow dogs—that slip after you in the dark, nip your heels, and vanish without explaining—and yapping, yelping small fry."
*"When the smoke and dust cleared away, the remains of the nasty yellow dog were lying against the paling fence of the yard looking as if he had been kicked into a fire by a horse and afterwards rolled in the dust under a barrow, and finally thrown against the fence from a distance."
*"For half an hour or so after the explosion there were several Bushmen round behind the stable who crouched, doubled up, against the wall, or rolled gently on the dust, trying to laugh without shrieking...The publican was holding his wife tight and begging her between her squawks, to ‘hold up for my sake, Mary, or I’ll lam the life out of ye.'"
*"And the dog that had done it all, ‘Tommy’, the great, idiotic mongrel retriever, came slobbering round Dave and lashing his legs with his tail, and trotted home after him, smiling his broadest, longest, and reddest smile of amiability, and apparently satisfied for one afternoon with the fun he’d had."
*"And we all sat round the fire, thinking of how to kill everyone that didn't help us"

Publishing details

*First Published in "Joe Wilson and His Mates," Edinburgh and London, Blackwood, 1901 [ [http://whitewolf.newcastle.edu.au/words/authors/L/LawsonHenry/prose/joewilsonandmates/index.html "Joe Wilson and the His Mates" - Contents ] Accessed on April 29, 2008]

this book was publihed in 1506


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