EVEN the name of the species, Ratus ratus, is enough to make most humans shudder with revulsion.
A glimpse of one anywhere around a home will bring shrieks of disgust and terror.
Ratus ratus, the rodent that came to Australia with European settlement and has been credited with spreading the "black death" plague, is an ugly sight.
For the past 10 years, my family has had protection against rats through the services of a specialist rat remover.
PENNY, a Tenterfield terrier, came to us, thanks to the marvellous community of classified advertising.
Wife spotted ad and announced, "There’s a purebred Tenterfield in the Pets column for $25." Dad pretended not to hear but two little girls ensured he received the message.
Then he said the price must have been a ‘misprint’ dropping a zero or two. But soon the family walked to the front door on an acreage property.
A relative of the advertiser had bred Penny, then 18 months old, but an older Tenterfield had dominated over her and the owners decided it was best to find her a new home.
The low price tag was a statement of principle to say the dog was not simply a worthless giveaway, we were told, as Penny shook nervously in her basket.
SO the dog came home with us. When she was inside our house for the first time, she rolled on her back and weed. I felt like taking her back. It seemed we had taken over a lapdog with severe psychological problems.
But Penny did not have any more many accidents like that.
Within a few weeks she was running the house -- and neighbourhood when she could – showing an amazing physique with bulging muscles and sharp ears.
This type of dog often trembles but it is not a sign of weakness, that’s for sure.
WE had Penny for several years before I saw her pounce on a black snake on our block. She levitated off the ground with the snake in her jaws, shaking her head amazingly fast.
Then she dropped the snake’s lifeless body and, apparently dizzy from all the shaking, staggered around in circles.
At that point, I resolved to never judge a book by its cover. This was not the quivering jelly that had appeared to suffer from extremely bad nerves; it was a machine, sleek and efficient.
Some time later, we saw her chase a rat from the property and catch it within about 20m. The rat didn’t have a chance.
IN an amazing contrast, Penny welcomed a tiny kitten to the household with a play bow and they immediately became good pals, rolling and running around in mock battle. The dog would also protect our cockatiel against feline instincts by positioning herself between the cat and the bird, just in case …
We had lots of good times with Penny, who died this month. She was the best dog we could have had. For me, she will always be the Queen of the Classifieds.
THANKS for joining me to meet the great creatures in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This story has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia.