A decade or so ago Phil and I moved from the Big Smoke to rural Victoria. A classic tree change. When we arrived, we felt like outsiders. City slickers. Some of our more seasoned neighbours muttered that we wouldn’t last. (I suspect they’d caught glimpses of our bungled attempts at “working the farm”…doing and undoing each chore at least a few times before finally and accidentally getting it right.)

When a crusty old fencer turned up on our property, he warned me to keep our border collie Rosie out of the paddocks because, he expanded with a sideways glance, the kangaroos would lure her into our dam and drown her. I figured he was playing with me, but I kept the information on file just the same. And even went to the trouble of relaying it to another local bloke while asking him to please shut the paddock gate. He replied that he’d lived around here all his life and had never seen the likes of that.  [read more below]

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Yet he’d barely uttered the words (and hadn’t quite shut the gate!) when bullet-like Rosie shot through ready to round up a mob of kangaroos grazing a hundred metres away. And, lo and behold, within seconds one of them had hopped into the dam and swum to the deepest part with Rosie madly paddling behind. It wasn’t until the kangaroo faced her and started swiping the air with its razor claws that Rosie thankfully had second thoughts and hightailed it back to shore. Nevertheless, while scrambling across the paddock (the bloke pleading with me not to jump into the water), I’d managed to scream so violently that I was hoarse for days.

A pack of dogs can do horrific damage to a lone kangaroo. But a dog on its own does not stand a chance. Normally the kangaroos stay in our paddocks so when a 6-foot-tall rogue male bounded past me in our front yard this morning, I got a serious fright. Where was my little Lila pup?!? My heart racing, my eyes darting around searching for her while charting the trajectory of this massive kangaroo. And then, just as he sailed over the fence back into a paddock, I spotted her. Clever girl. There she was hiding behind a shrub. Wide-eyed and stock-still. Waiting for me to rescue her. We looked at one another and mopped our collective brow.

[If you have received this post by email, please click “dog downunder” or “lila the labrador encounters a kangaroo” in order to view accompanying video in a web page.]