Wal’s off-sider and comic heart of the farm, he will take you round the daily goings-on and end the tour beneath the freshly hung carcass in the macrocarpa tree. Of course he's usually out at work eye-balling sheep, but if not, he might well be in his water-tank kennel or keeping vigil at Jess’s bitches box.
Dog was born on October the 13th in the dirty clothes box in a bathroom cupboard at Aunt Dolly’s holiday home for cats in Tauranga. He was adopted by Ninky Pooh, a Persian cat, who taught him all he needed to know about vomiting up fur balls.
"Thoughts are the best form of insult!"
If you've got big boots to fill, ask for the main man, Wallace (Wal’) Footrot. As the farmer of Footrot Flats and The Dog’s best friend, he is the bloke to turn to if you have any sheep to crutch or a tree to cut down - though he might be more likely to challenge you to a round of farm golf or a game of cricket in the side paddock.
Wal’ is a good humoured fellow who smiles readily. The last time was when his mate Cooch got his arm stuck down a rabbit burrow while trying to rescue a rabbit. He laughed aloud when the rabbit bit Cooch. At school he excelled at tractor reversing and rooster imitations.
"Will you get in behind ya mangy mongrel?!"
Wal’s fussy and slightly over-bearing aunty is keeper of the keys and maker of the finest pikelets with jam and cream this side of the black stump. Apart from having a tendency to want to blab The Dog’s unspeakable name, and doling out dinky-dog bikkies to her indulged corgi, there are worse old birds to have around.
Dolores Monrovia Godwit Footrot was born in Cambridge, Waikato and educated at Lady Hinemoa Sacks-Grenville School for Young Ladies where she was captain of the Hockey, Lacrosse and Boxing teams.
"In Aunt Dolly’s case, her physical appearance is somewhat like that of one of my aunts. Her nature, on the other hand, is more like that of my grandmother, my mother’s mother - or ‘Frankenstein’ as my father called her. But not so she could hear him". Murray Ball
Raupo Township has never had a seductress the likes of the belle of the hair salon. Blonde, buxom and with a painted pout, there is no-one who makes heads turn at the pie-cart like Ms. Hobson. If her charms are directed anywhere within 180 degrees of Wal’ Footrot, he is helpless. Hopeless.
Cheeky is a bit snooty. She wears stockings (not socks). Owner and manager of La Parisienne Hairdressing Salon, Te Kooti Street, Raupo (pop.409)
"Wallace, call this crazy Dog off or I’m going straight home!"
If you turn over a fern you will see its silver underside, and if you turn over the hand that turns over the fern, you'll find Cooch Windgrass, lover of head-winds and the only farmer to register blackberry as a protected species. Hats off to the bean-pole built, humble Cooch, Wal’s best friend and fishing companion.
Cooch was bitten by a venomous spider when he was a boy. He had swum out to sea to rescue the spider, who was marooned on a piece of floating driftwood. He also collected enough mice to start a local infestation, re-set possum traps so they would catch the hunters, (not the possums) and assaulted the school’s grounds man for carrying out ,what he called, ‘worm genocide’.
"Cooch’s place; wild weedy willowed and warm." Murray Ball
No-one knows where this legendary tom cat came from, but he likes it here at Footrot Flats. There are fly screens to shred, dog bowls to dominate, eels to snatch from creeks and rats to keep in their place. All creatures great and small give the scowling Horse a wide berth, lest they get a Zorro mark scratched on their noses.
Like Cecil, Gussie, Pew, the Goose and the Rooster, Horse the cat was a real life animal. He caught eels, owls, ferrets, rats and rabbits. When he got sick he would sleep on the frosty grass to cool his fever. He was VERY tough.
"Horse was real. He strolled into my life through a rhubarb patch, ignored the broom I threw at him, beat up our two toms - He was a concrete brick of a cat with muscles as hard as green quinces." Murray Ball
Sultry canine charm and the scent of hays-sheds in her pelt, Cooch’s sheep-dog Jess is everything a male dog could want. Unfortunately for THE Dog, he is not the only canine within coo-ee. Who is the father of those puppies anyway?
Likes - Major, but Loves – The Dog.
"She is neat and VERY interesting. She loves and admires me. She has very good taste…except at certain times of the year when she also loves and admires every other dog in the district…she is very liberated." The Dog
Proud and scarred from battles with tuskers, this alpha-male pig-dog has plenty of reason to strut around the yard. Male rivals yelp and scarper, bitches swoon when the leader of the pack is upwind. Only the Murphy's band of mongrels can raise the hackles on this guy.
Has a secret soft spot for ‘The Sound of Music’.
"Major hit him from the side, Like a demolition ball. Smashed him through the hedge, then dragged him back, yet made no sound at all." The Ballard of Footrot Flats
Rescued by Cooch this mischievous magpie dives from the sky like a black and white kamikaze, usually toward the brim of Wal’ Footrot’s hat. While many stake their claim on the patch of dirt known as Footrot Flats, there is no argument over who rules the sky above it. Look out! Here he comes again!
Pew became an orphan after Wal’ cut down his family tree. He has dedicated his life ever since to dogging Wal’s footsteps and having a bit of the poor beggar any time he exposes a sensitive area.
"Ka-doodle Ka-doodle Ka-doodle …mate!"
A larrikin in every respect, don't let those pig tails and freckles deceive you, this young lady has attitude AND gum boots that go places. When she teams up with Rangi on school holidays, anything could happen, and usually does.
Pongo insists Wal’ calls her Pongo because she is good at ping-pong – NOT because he once had to change her nappy!
"A rotten hard case kid with sticky fingers and pony tails." (The Dog)
What Aunt Dolly sees in this overweight softie is anyone's guess, but a corgi can waddle his way into anyone's heart or kitchen if he's allowed to. Ignoring the jibes, nips and trips of the fellow dogs is easy for Prince Charles. Cradled in Aunt Dolly’s arms he blows a raspberry to the lot of them.
They are all just jealous.
Prince Charles is a Welsh Cattle dog. He belongs to Aunt Dolly, who feeds him caviar, Turkish delights and sago-pudding with golden syrup.
"Poor, useless Charlie has had to carry my republicanism on his hairy, little shoulders (I refer to the corgi, not the Windsor)." Murray Ball
Rangi What isn't special about this young fellah? He’ll take on the biggest swing in the puriri tree, or swim a river infested with Murphy’s carnivorous pigs for a dare. He’s keen on getting himself a dog-skin cloak one day, but jokes aside, he'll teach you to tackle sheep, or even tackle you if you’re not careful!
Rangi is named after a kid Murray coached at rugby – he was feisty and full of himself and fast as a rabbit.
"Will it come down with snow on it Wal'?"
He seldom climbs on to a ewe for anything other than a quiet nap. A ram that does little more than wink rakishly before dozing off. Wal occasionally pops him in with his ewes just to see the ‘hunted’ expression on his face and watch him try to climb back over gate
ENORMOUS and not altogether friendly… until that is she has eaten a feast of fermented fruit from under the old apple tree. There is nothing quite as terrifying as an intoxicated she-pig. Just ask poor old Boris.
The other sheep follow Gussie everywhere…often down Wal’s driveway and along the road towards Raupo school. She is REALLY friendly and likes to climb up small kids so they fall down. She has found that’s a great way for them to be able share the apples they’re carrying in their pockets with her.
Mangy, balding and gingerish. Smells like a bulldog’s belch. Irish is the deer thieving, dog shooting, ball room dancing leader of the infamous Murphy clan.
The evil, nasty neighbors to the Footrot Farm, this family are destructive and vile.
A bully of the worst kind…he’ll steal your lunch before raiding the pig trough for anything that looks like one of yesterday’s sandwiches.
Hunk is a nasty piece of work, vile and smelly he is one of the Murphy brothers.
Suave if not sophisticated, Spit runs rings round Wal’ on the footy field. He reckons Cheeky will fall for his wily charm … but it will be over Wal’s dead body!
Even the mighty pig slayer Major steers clear of the gang of three known collectively as ‘The Murphy’s Hell-hounds’. They run up and down the flimsy barbed wire fences separating them from all that is decent, scowling and snarling at everything that passes by. They fear nothing and no-one …except of course…Horse
Rangi’s little city cousin, is a tenacious kid. She sort of keeps popping up to see what the fuss is all about. The Footrot’s think she’s a bit weird, but they forget that they’re the ones who swim with eels and drink milk from cow and not a carton.
He’s a loveable little guy…but when Dolores is on the rampage he really wishes he wasn’t LOVEABLE at all!
You’ll never see her face, but she goes barefoot and makes whitebait fritters. Cooch is smitten. One day,…one day… he might find the courage to ask her out.
Nero is around to keep the ewes, as well as poor old Cecil on their toes. While Cecil is blessed with wit, charm and experience, he is no match for the Don Juan of the back paddock.
The smelliest most niggly animal around, he eats roses and blackberry thorns as though they were asparagus. He’s also pretty partial to chewing Wal’s underpants off the clothesline. Another one not to turn your back on.
Great hairy monsters, chest high to a tall man, who patrol the swampy bogs behind the Murphy’s barbed wire boundary. It says ‘No trespassing’, and the ‘croco-pigs’ make sure of it.
The meanest animal on the farm. Even nosing ahead of the rooster who likes to jump on Rangi and Pongo’s backs then ride them around the orchard while pecking their heads.
Another of Dog’s enemies…The turkey would end up on the table at Christmas, but the cunning beggar is just too darn smart to get caught.
Darts, touch rugby, backyard cricket…tiddlywinks… Wal’ tries in vain to win a trick from his naturally gifted brother.