Basil the bung-eyed camp dog. Arnhemland NT, May 2012.

I’ve seen Basil (I tried crowd-sourcing a name over Twitter & FaceBook but despite some great suggestions Basil sorta worked better) every time I have travelled to the small coastal town that he calls home over the last year and a half.

Basil’s patch is the itinerant accommodation for travelling towny bureaucrats like myself in a small sandy town perched at the mouth of one of the great northern rivers as it pours into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The first time we met he nuzzled up against my leg one evening followed by a single-minded stare.

His intent was obvious – give me food. Now.

In the friendliest way possible of course.

Each time I’ve been there since he has met me at the back door, or if off on patrol in the sand-dunes he’d be back within five minutes.

Somewhere along the line I “gave him my sweat”. To do that you wipe the palms of both hands on your (invariably sweaty in this part of the world) armpits and then gently place both hands over the snout of the hound for a few seconds followed by a few good pats and kind words.

That dog will know you for life. And depending on how you treat him or her – will remain a loyal friend as soon as you come into sight or smell.

Always up for a pat and a scratch Basil usually has a smile on his face but a ready snarl for any unworthy local cur that wanted in on his patch without permit.

Then he can unleash with an urgently brief and violent response, as he did last week with his snap-rapid crueling of a lactating bitch that thought she could snatch a few morsels for the pups at home waiting to suck her already empty breasts dryer.

The bitch was dispatched to the other side of the fence within seconds.

Basil in repose. Alert but most def not alarmed.

Mostly Basil is a kind and attentive host, particularly when evening scraps are his due.

He might be ugly, rip-torn and have a bad case of bung-eye (I forgot to get some Golden Eye ointment for his conjunctivitis from the local clinic) that hopefully should be cleared up in a few days but he is nothing but loyal and mostly good-natured.

He isn’t riddled with ticks and is obviously reasonably healthy – in mind and body. In all he is just a normal dog – except that he is (technically) homeless.

I look forward to seeing him next time I’m in that town.

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