Dog-Tracking 101

We have a great view of the beach from our apartment, and I have a little routine to get there: through our communal café area (greeting as I go), out the front door of our complex (hello to receptionist), left into a dead-end road (avoiding the cars being parked – often by surfers), track across the golf course between two holes (waiting for golfers to hit off, or avoiding stray balls), and voila!

I go in my thongs (flip-flops), hide them under a bush, mark the spot, and walk barefoot on the packed sand. I don’t hide my thongs to prevent a human theft – anyone who would do that needs them much more than I do – but because that part of the beach is leash-free, and some canine might think they make a great toy. And I leave them behind because (a) it’s a nuisance to carry them, and (b) I am forced to come all the way back to fetch them again.

Thar be thongs

It’s winter and I haven’t walked much lately; and I was earlier than usual the other day. The sand was quite fresh under my feet! Sometimes I find solitary walking is good for my brain, it helps me think out storylines or dialogue, but something was different on my last walk. There were no people around (yet) but early-morning dog walkers had left their trail. I found myself playing a little game about guessing which breed had left the tracks. Dog-tracking lesson 101.

I think this one that looked as if it had pranced across on one foot, was a whippet. Light-weight, long legs, and dainty foot.

Whippet Track?

I think this one was a toy breed. What we used to call the  “fluffies” when I worked in animal pharmaceuticals. Not much distance between the right and left leg, and has barely indented the sand.  Watch those claws, though. Think they need a trim.

Toy Breed?

I took a photo of something I was sure was a large breed, perhaps the Rhodesian Ridgeback I sometimes see. But I’ve screwed up my photos (which I have since deleted from my phone) because this is the same dog as above. At least it proves my hypothesis. This one comes down heavier on the back legs, but there is not much distance between fore and aft.

Later I saw a happy dog enjoying the surf. It was coming in too fast for me to capture its footprints before they were washed away.

As I continued, it was the seagulls which captured my attention. One extremely vociferous specimen offended its companions to the point they turned away from him.

It’s about a half hour walk to the rocks overlooked by our working lighthouse.

Where I observed an incoming car carrier.

And even though I retraced my steps

It moved faster than me, and was soon met by two tugs, who guided it through the well-concealed harbour entrance.

Port Kembla harbour is very interesting to an “old salt”. Ships, under the control of the local pilot, must navigate the narrow entrance through the two arms of a breakwater. The entrance rocks are painted white. Then the ship must turn a hard right, and pull into one of the allocated berths.  Port Kembla is industrial, ships bring or take coal, iron ore, steel, fertilizer, grain and vehicles of every shape and size. Berths are not random.  So primarily car carriers pull into the wharf depicted in the below photo (source quoted). Which means that from our back balcony, when all we can see is the superstructure, it looks as if they have been “parked” on land.



29 thoughts on “Dog-Tracking 101

    • We are very lucky. In so many ways. It will be interesting to see what shape it is in when this low finally passes. Big, big surf today, and some of those cargo ships were rocking and rolling. Pity the poor seaman who was trying to sleep after the dog shift.

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  1. I envy you your view, Gwen, and your flip flops. Haven’t worn them since I was a teenager off to the beach each school holidays. Still, I’ve worked it out that it would take me an hour and a quarter to get to my beach. (Didn’t know I owned a beach, did you? 🤭). Now that the gyms have closed down it could be a plan. Lovely post, Gwen.

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    • Thanks Mary. I have to confess we live in a special part of the world. Isolating is no hardship. I should do more exercise really, as I also have a routine of stretches and strength which I can do in the lounge-room. Somehow I always find different priorities.


  2. What a beautiful beach walk Gwen! Winter beaches are a favorite with dogs, birds, and passing ships offering free entertainment! There’s a raven in the woods behind my house in Oregon who, like your seagull, delights at screaming – not sure if it’s other birds, people, or just for the heck of it. Whippets and Rhodesian Ridgebacks – both beautiful – are popular in South Africa, and many families have one of each for contrast.

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    • You are probably much better at it than I, Don. But I wouldn’t like doing it in snow. That’s just for picture postcards, isn’t it? Life is good here, although we are looking nervously across the border to what is happening in Victoria. The crossings have just been closed.

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  3. You are so lucky with your view. I’d spend all day watching boats coming and going – maybe something to do with Mr O being at sea for all those years (not that I ever went to Liverpool to see his boat coming in. I used to keep my eye on him through ShipAIS. If I could see his ferry in the lock at Liverpool Docks, I had an hour before he could phone me. ( ) Very handy if there was bad weather and doubt if shipping could sail or not.

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    • I meant to rush straight home and check the local port authority. Then I could have added where it was from and where it was heading. But I got distracted when I got home. Both hubbie and I worked in the industry (land-based), so it is lovely to have the reminders on our doorstep.
      And I agree, isolation is no great hardship when we have such beauty and peace all around. Although I have noticed I’m achieving less and less each day.

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      • I think we’re all suffering from pandemic overload. Maybe even though we think it’s not affecting us too much, there is still that part of us that wants to rush out of the house, scream at the top of our voices and run back inside again. Aaaaaarrrrggghgg!

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    • Gosh! You were quick onto that. I nearly asked if you wanted to join me for a drink downstairs earlier, but I hesitated. Is Thursday AFD? Anyway, Bill watching footie now, so I got onto the laptop. Maybe you in similar situation. Xxx G


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