When I was eight years old, our family dog died. He was a black labrador named Black Dog who had been my father’s best friend long before he met and married my mother. In those days, dogs were not always walked on leads. Black Dog, who must have been 12 or 13 at the time, liked to roam the streets and go on runs with my father.

One day, my father came home after his run but Black Dog was not with him. At some point on their route, my father guessed, Black Dog fell behind, staggered into the bush, collapsed and died. It was a week before my father found his body, in the bush a few kilometres from our house.

That’s the story as I remember it. I also remember crying for days afterwards. For years, every time we passed the bushy rise on the south-bound freeway near our house, I looked out the car window and remembered him.

This is an edited extract of a story published in The Saturday Paper on 22 April, 2023, titled “Turtle love and the messages of Roald Dahl”. Subscribers to The Saturday Paper can read more here.

Photo: Peter Galleghan/ALAMY