Red Dog of the Northwest
This week’s true Saturday dog story features a kelpie/cattle dog cross named Red, who became famous for his travels throughout Western Australia’s vast Pilbara region. Red Dog was born in the mining town of Paraburdoo in 1971 and became a much-loved member of the Pilbara community in Western Australia.
Known simply as Red Dog, the red kelpie was famous for stopping cars on the road by walking right in the path of the oncoming vehicle. until it. When it stopped, Red would hop in and travel to wherever the car’s driver was going. He also took bus rides and, once, when a new driver booted him off her bus, the passengers all disembarked in protest.
Red was called by a variety of names by those who knew him, including Bluey, Tally Ho, and Dog of the Northwest. The nickname “Red Dog” has been attributed to the red dirt of the Pilbara Region, although it is a common nickname for red kelpies and heelers.
Red adopted his second owner, John Stazzonelli, a bus driver with Hamersley Iron, who took the dog with him in his bus. Re travelled with John on his bus as far as Perth, Broome, Roebourne, Point Samson and Port Hedland.
Following Stazzonelli’s death in 1975, Red Dog spent a lot of time traveling on his own. He was also taken in by many members of the community, and a veterinarian who treated him. Red was also given a bank account with the Bank of New South Wales, which was said to have used him as a mascot, with the slogan “If Red banks at the Wales, then you can too.” Red had many adventures, several owners, and ultimately died in 1979.
Red’s Story adapted to a Movie
Red Dog’s story and statue captured the hearts of visitors passing through Dampier, including author Louis de Bernières. He later wrote a book, which was based on Red’s legend. The novel was later adapted as a critically acclaimed feature film. You can watch it on Amazon Prime.
The movie stars American actor Josh Lucas, Australia’s Rachael Taylor, Noah Taylor, and New Zealander Keisha Castle-Hughes. The movie highlights the landscape and unique character of the Pilbara region as well as telling the story with humor and great affection.
Red Dog was a legend
In addition to his travels, there are many interesting stories about him, such as:
- Red Dog was a fully paid member of the Transport Workers Union, an official member of the Dampier Salt Sports and Social Club.
- His travels brought him as far south as the Western Australia capital of Perth but mostly among the mining communities of the Pilbara and the coastal towns of Dampier, Port Hedland, and Broome.
- He was quite well known as the “Pilbara Wanderer.”
- Red is portrayed in the first Red Dog movie by the red kelpie, Koko.
- Louis De Bernières acknowledges his novel’s sources as two factual accounts by Nancy Gillespie and Beverley Duckett, respectively, as well as press clippings in the Dampier and nearby Karratha local libraries. That said, the human characters in the book (and the movie) were mostly fictionalized.