When I arrived in Darwin, Australia in June 2011 I only had a few bucks in my pocket so I immediately headed to West where -as I've heard from other travelers- the money was. Just like many miners not only in the time of Red but even today I ended up in the Pilbara a few days later. During my 5 week stay in Dampier and Karratha I heard about Red Dog. Being a hitch-hiker myself and having had worked with dogs for several years (sled dogs), his story got me at once.
Here is his short story with some quotes from people who knew him.
Red Dog (1971-1979) was a Kelpie cross, a hitch-hiker vagabond dog of WA, Australia. It is believed he was born in Paraburdoo and brought to Dampier by his first master. Although he has become a beloved member of Dampier's mining community to where he often returned during his travels and later on several families tried to adopt him, he never stayed for long in one place. Besides regular rides on the mining company's bus between Dampier and Karratha Red kept his free spirit, hitching rides on trucks, trains and cars along the West Coast of Australia. Some say during his travels he was looking for his second master who died in an accident in 1975.
Red died from poisoning in 1979 and was buried in an unmarked grave "alongside the lonely track between Roebourne and Cossack". A life-sized statue in Dampier keeps his memory alive "erected by the many friends made during his travels".
"One of the best stories I've heard was about this truck driver who picked Red Dog up in Pilbara and drove him all the way to Perth only to lose him at a beach in the city. He searched for hours before giving up but knew people back in Dampier's Mermaid Hotel would not forgive him when they found out he'd lost Red Dog. When the driver finally pulled up to The Mermaid, Red Dog was already there. Somebody had picked him up. The dog had beaten him home!" (-Nelson Woss, http://sj.farmonline.com.au)
"Around 1975/6 I was on my way to Exmouth when my car broke down. A generous truck driver assisted me by putting my car on his vehicle transport truck and away we went. Surprise, Red Dog was also being given a lift. I have a photo of him relaxing next to the truck. We spent two days and 1 night together enjoying each others company. Along with the photo, I treasure that memory and look forward to seeing the movie. I saw the stage show in Perth which also bought on the tears. What a joy to have known him." (-Marice, http://outbackvoices.com)
"I lived in Dampier when I was 17 in 1978-1979 with my then fiancé Rob(employed with Hamersley Iron). I was working at the Mermaid Hotel bottle shop on the weekends when I had the great pleasure of meeting Red Dog. It was always very hot in Dampier so Red Dog would come into the bottle shop often and sit by the cool room door. I would know instinctively what he wanted. I would open the door and leave it a little ajar. When Red Dog had cooled down enough, he would make his exit and like a true gypsy spirit of my own heart he would wonder off into the big wide world. They were precious moments in my life and I will always treasure the memories of Red Dog… He has touched many lives and will live on forever." (-Angie, http://outbackvoices.com)
"I worked at Dampier Salt for many years and got to know Red. He wasn’t a one person dog but if he took a shine to you it was a special experience. I often took him to Pond Zero at DSL for a swim in the company Mini Moke. It was a choice vehicle for him as he often stank. I recall the late Jim Fuller, a storeman at DSL being instrumental in making him a member of the Union and opening up a bank account at the then, Bank of New South Wales. Red always had the habit of gate crashing most of the functions held around the Wet Mess at Dampier Salt (DSL). We often wondered how he managed to do it, as he was here one day and 300km away the next. He was so special and so sadly missed. It was an absolute privelige to have been up, close, and personal with such an Aussie Icon. God bless you Red. (By the way, at times Red was known as Blue, all be it, not for long)." (-Derek Little, http://outbackvoices.com)
The trailer of the movie based on the true story from the short novel Louis de Bernières: