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The Loaded Dog


A group of men devise a creative way to catch multiple fish at once. They throw an explosive cartridge into the creek, but one of the men’s dogs, Tommy, retrieves it and begins to chase the men around the area. Dave, one of the group, runs into the pub, but the dog follows after him, leading to all the patrons running outside in panic. 


Soon, other dogs join in on the fun, but as time passes the fuse shortens, and the cartridge eventually explodes. A few dogs are injured in the explosion, but the men are not bothered; instead, for half an hour afterwards, they laugh hysterically.

Cultural Assumptions

The Landscape and Everyday Australia

It is clear to the modern reader that the situation the men find themselves in is incredibly dangerous: a dog is running loose with an explosive in its mouth. However, through his use of jargon and the jovial tone it contributes to, Lawson is able to counterpoise that obvious danger with the men’s relaxed and unbothered attitude, which captures popular stereotypical image of Australians as responding to crisis with laughter and a laid-back attitude. The bizarre nature of the situation for audiences from the city, reveals how this laid-back attitude comes from a life amongst the harsh bush landscape and adjusting to its consistent dangers.

quote table

“Blanky retriever”,”coloured food”,“come nosing round again”
Australian vernacular and idioms
Australian landscape, Identity
“But the dog dodged; he snatched up sticks and stones and threw them at the dog and ran on again.”
Importance of dog,
“The retriever with the cartridge in his mouth wedged into his broadest and silliest grin”
Irony, Personification
Humour, Importance and obliviousness of dog
“Andy’s legs started to jolt; his legs started before his brain did”
Descriptive language, Repetition
“He made a cartridge about three times the size of those they used in the rock. Jim Bently said it was big enough to blow the bottom out of the river.”
Descriptive language, Metaphor
Larrikin identity
“We’ll have to leave it … to give the fish time to get over their scare when we put it in … we’ll want it well water-tight”
Collective nouns
Mateship, Collective identity
“They had a big black young retriever dog—or rather an overgrown pup, a big, foolish, four-footed mate, who was always slobbering round them and lashing their legs with his heavy tail that swung round like a stock-whip.”
Alliteration, Simile
Humour, Importance of dog
“Run, Andy! Run! Run!!! Look behind you, you fool!”
Larrikin identity, Humour

The Stories

The Drovers

Our Pipes

Shooting the Moon

The Union Buries its Dead

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