Artists and Animals: Paul Collins & Molly
I’ve always been in awe of how much work Paul Collins accomplishes in all the different roles of his life, but I think I’ve now discovered the secret: he’s actually a red heeler in disguise!
They say a good laugh is great for well-being, and without the latter where would our imagination be? Suffice to say, I have a red heeler and a kelpie. Even watching them play tug-of-war is a good laugh, as the heeler, when losing, simply plonks herself on the ground and won’t let go as the kelpie pulls her along the carpet. Without the pups (I don’t like calling them “dogs”, as that’s a derogatory term in the human language, and I feel humans are often more “dogish” than the animals) I possibly wouldn’t be getting my quota of laughs per day.
Did you have pets as a child?
I had a rabbit called Foxy — an escape artist if ever there was one. My other main pet was a boxer called Rusty. I was pet mad as a kid, with quail, budgies, canaries, fish, rabbit, dog, etc. I even had pigeons.
Tell us about your animal companions now.
I have the two pups, also a cat shares the house (much to the disdain of it and the pups), chickens and goldfish. Luckily the cat doesn’t like getting wet, so the fish are safe. I named the kelpie Jack and Meredith loves the name Molly, so the heeler copped that. Harriet, the cat, has her name from a picture book Meredith wrote called Musical Harriet.
What would your pet tell us about you?
If you were an animal, what would you be?
Probably a red heeler. Especially if I could be as smart and cunning as Molly.
Any advice for people wanting a pet?
If we’re talking pups — get a small one if you’re not able to take it for at least an hour’s walk during the day. A medium one if you’re up for spending some time with it, and a large one if you have all the time in the world. People with small houses and a smaller garden shouldn’t get either a medium or larger pup. Personally, I wouldn’t bother with a cat or any other animal after having my two companions. Pups rule!
Favourite animal books?
Hmmm … dredging my memory here, I remember loving Fluke by James Herbert (about a pup that thought he was a human), and another book called Doctor Rat by William Kotzwinkle. For what it’s worth, I wrote a book called The Dog King, where Henry Lawson comes back as a ghost and retells his pup stories to a kid that desperately wants a pup. “The Loaded Dog” and “Two Dogs and a Fence” are among the ghostly retellings.
Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio