Where sleeping dogs lie
By Meghan Hawkes
Graves created from tiles and bricks lie alongside simple wooden crosses held together with pieces of twine. Plastic flowers gather at the feet of ornamental dogs set sentient in concrete. Some dogs are penned in by elaborate railings, confined in death as in life. A food bowl and a sporty hubcap wait patiently on the grave of a tyre-chaser long gone.
The rows of names are a roll call of man’s best friend. There’s Toby and Bella Mae nuzzling in with an affectionate lick. Bandit lollops with Zeus, who was a “loyal mate”. Ben was the best mate of Deaf Jeff. Freckles, Dusty and Tammy gambol with lolling tongues dripping doggy drool. Cocoa and Scooby nip and growl then obediently shake paws. Molly and Scamp, with dirt on their noses and holes dug, playfully roll over. Rusty, Twistie and Bubbles chase dream rabbits, sticks and bouncing balls.
Sooty and Shep and Dexter press wet noses into idle hands. The impressively named Grizzles Boysie Galbraith slobbers at fleas, leaving a flat wet patch of hair. The mournful eyes of Tramp and Stubbie and Charlie Brown gaze upwards in adoration. Trigger slinks away in a naughty blur of fur.
Now they are all playing dead, this time for real, leaving behind bones chewed, collars worn thin and shoes ruined. Painted paws trot across one grave, while shrivelled Christmas tinsel withers on another. A small fresh flower has been placed in remembrance of the long-ago click of claws on floors and the thump of a welcoming tail. “Lady – you meant the world to us. We will love you forever”.
Humble structures of rocks mix with mini-temples, painstaking in their creation – tributes to companions loved and lost. The succinct epitaph on one grave – “See you when I get home” – contrasts with this frisky tribute to Jedda:
In memory of the greatest dog that ever walked, talked or danced
She chased rabbits but only to play
She chased dolphins just to say G’day
She swam like a fish, danced like a horse
Now she’s travelled the full course.
Some graves resemble their human counterparts. Smooth concrete pads with their tops and sides levelled, carefully embedded with decorative tiles and topped with crosses.
Doo Darls Caley howls at the moon and perhaps it is she, or he, who discarded the lone rock lying at the base of a tree – ghost dogs playing in the night. The inquisitive noses and wayward whiskers of Rex and Caesar led them here. Both died of snakebite and are buried together.
It was the death of Strike, best doggy mate of Paddy Wright, which led to the cemetery’s establishment in 1974. Alan Henderson then buried his dog alongside and built a headstone. Originally, he maintained the cemetery and the headstones but as time passed others took responsibility for different gravesites.
The shire encourages people to make their own monuments but when that isn’t possible it will supply a simple concrete stone with an inscription.
This is a lovely, awful place. You can’t spend long here. Corrigin Dog Cemetery is a tremendous tribute, honouring man’s best friend, a canine celebration of that steadfast fellowship.
Dogs in utes
The dog cemetery isn’t the only doggy feature of Corrigin. The other is the town’s dubious honour of holding the world record for the number of dogs in utes at any one time (1527 in all) in a parade of vehicles that extended bonnet to boot for 5.5km.
That happened in 2002 and on top of a large pole in the centre of town sits the monument that attests to the fact … a flaming Holden (what else?) ute with “bugger” emblazoned on the back tray and a model dog hanging out of the driver’s window!
This annual event does have a huge upside with local emergency services, including the famous Royal Flying Doctors, benefiting from the funds raised each year, usually around $100,000.
Pet Cemetery resources in New Zealand
You can find a list of Pet Cremation services, Pet Memorials and Pet Cemeteries of New Zealand here.