That There Dog O’ Mine by Henry Lawson
In That There Dog O’ Mine by Henry Lawson we have the theme of trust, connection, friendship, perseverance, dedication, struggle, escape and commitment. Taken from his When the Billy Boils collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Lawson may be exploring the theme of connection and friendship. Macquarie feels a strong connection to Tally. Something that is noticeable by the fact that he refuses to abandon Tally when he is in the hospital. It is as though Tally is Macquarie’s only friend. They have been together through thick and thin for ten years and at no stage has Tally ever left Macquarie’s side. Even though Tally has at times been mistreated by Macquarie particularly when he is drunk. This may be important as it suggests that Tally is dedicated to Macquarie and that he is willing to persevere with Macquarie regardless of how Macquarie treats him. There is also a sense that both Macquarie and Tally are struggling. Not only has Macquarie been injured in a fight and Tally has a broken leg but life in general seems to be a struggle for both Macquarie and Tally.
This struggle that Macquarie and Tally incur may be important as Lawson may be highlighting the hardships that a person (and their dog) have to endure when living in the outback. The comforts of the city are non-existent and it seems to be a case that Macquarie drinks in order to escape from the difficulties he incurs while living in the outback. This struggle or hardship Macquarie faces is further noticeable by the fact that Macquarie while injured has to walk ten miles to the Union Town hospital. The reaction of the hospital staff when it comes to Tally staying in the hospital may also be significant. They have no sense of just how connected Macquarie is to Tally. Which may suggest that they have never had to endure the struggles or hardships that Macquarie and Tally have had to endure. It is only later on in the story that the staff in the hospital realise how much Tally means to Macquarie. It might also be a case that Macquarie is examining the influence of alcohol on those who live in the outback. As mentioned Macquarie appears to use alcohol to escape. This may be a common issue for those who live in the outback with life being so difficult.
It is also interesting how faithful Tally is to Macquarie. While he is in hospital Tally is lying in the corner of the room. He will not abandon Tally just as Macquarie will not abandon Tally. It might also be important that Macquarie never abandoned Tally’s mother either as this would further suggest that Macquarie is an individual who remains dedicated to those who are dedicated to him. It is as though both man and animal trust one another. Even through times of difficulty. How serious Macquarie takes his relationship with Tally is noticeable by his refusal to stay in the hospital if Tally is also not allowed to stay. Though in pain Macquarie remains committed to Tally. He would rather suffer with his injuries than abandon Tally. It is this commitment that both Macquarie and Tally have with one another that leaves the reader respecting Macquarie. Despite the fact that he may not necessarily be an individual who merits Tally’s commitment.
If anything Lawson appears to be highlighting to the reader the importance of a man’s relationship with his dog. How both are undeniably linked together and how for some people the bond they have with their dog is far greater than any bond they may have with a human being. Which is very much the case when it comes to Macquarie. Macquarie seems to trust Tally more than he does any human being. The reader left in little doubt as to just how strong the connection between Macquarie and Tally is. Macquarie has two companions. Alcohol and Tally. Alcohol gets him into trouble but helps him escape from the hardship he incurs in life. While Tally is there for Macquarie regardless of how Macquarie might treat him. He will endure everything that Macquarie throws at him and refuse to walk away. Just as Macquarie refuses to walk away from Tally while he is in the hospital. The fact that the hospital staff change their mind about Tally could also be important as it suggests that they have come to a realization as to just how significant Macquarie’s relationship with Tally is. They know that Macquarie is not prepared to be separated from Tally. That the bond he has with Tally is stronger than his desire to have his injuries looked at. At all stages of the story Macquarie has put Tally ahead of his own needs. Something that leaves the reader realising just how important Macquarie’s relationship with Tally is.