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My office at the 4WD centre led straight onto the sales and reception area. And I was used to seeing a great variety of customers, their families, friends and (occasionally) pets. 

As most people in the motor sales industry know, you can risk losing an important sale if you judge a potential customer by his/her appearance. A classic example was the middle-aged man who wandered in and expressed a desire to purchase a new, luxury, 4WD wagon. There was nothing really odd about that. Except, his outfit consisted of just a white singlet, black socks, black business shoes, and white underpants - which were longer than his dark blue shorts! The oddly dressed guy displayed a keen interest in one of the SUVs in stock, and said he would return the next day to pay for it. Oh yeah?  

True to his word, he arrived, dressed in a top-level suit, signed the papers, and arranged for the total price to be transferred to our bank. He apologized for his appearance the previous day, and explained that, after a stressful day at the office, he liked nothing better to rip off his shirt and suit, slip on some shorts he always kept in his briefcase, and let the air-conditioning in his Mercedes wash away the stress on the long drive home. Later, we learned ‘home’ was waterfront mansion that (today) would be worth more than $15 million! 

So, I didn’t take too much notice of a dog that was crouched in a corner of the reception area. It probably belonged to someone who was out test-driving one of the 4WDs we had for sale. 

An hour or so later, the receptionist mentioned that the dog was still there, and she didn’t think it was very well. Closer inspection revealed that it was seriously injured: it had a cut at the back its mouth and it couldn’t stand on all four legs. As it was close to the end of the day, we had to make a decision about the dog. It didn’t belong to anyone that had visited the 4WD centre, and its appearance suggested it must have fallen off one the trucks that travel along the main highway. 

We couldn’t leave it where it was, so I was ‘chosen’ to transport it, in my Landcruiser, to the nearest veterinary hospital. The vet checked the dog over, told me it was a Queensland Blue Heeler (an Australian cattle dog), determined that it had a dislocated hind leg that would need surgery, and then suggested that I leave it with him for a day or two, in case it was claimed by the owner. 

At home I couldn’t resist telling my sons about the day’s events. Big mistake! By the time I left for work the next day, it was ‘their’ dog, and they were calling him Sam. 

Two days passed, and with no owner in sight, I spoke to the vet again. He said, if I wanted to have the dog fixed up, there were two alternatives; the ball at the top of the leg could pushed back into the socket, or they could cut the ball off and - over time - the muscle around the joint would build up to compensate for the lack of the ball. This second option sounded pretty drastic to me, but the vet assured me it would be the best for the dog, as forcing the ball into the socket often resulted in acute arthritis. He then gave me his estimate for the ‘repairs’. Ouch!! I had to make a big decision: have the dog ‘put down’ and walk away, or fork out hundreds of dollars for the operation. There really wasn’t an alternative. After all, Sam was the boys’ dog.  

That night we realized there would be further expense. One side of our house wasn’t fenced and, for aesthetic purposes, we didn’t have a gate on our ‘gateway’. And the local regulators didn’t take too kindly to dog owners who let their animals roam free. Ouch! 

With a massive hole in my pocket, I drove the new member of the family home. On the way, I remembered the time when I was amazed by the price my brother paid for a pedigree German Shepherd pup. Now, I had outlaid much more for just a ‘truck dog’.

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