Monday, May 13, 2013


One of the great things about satellite TV is that you can pay a monthly fortune to be able to watch old movies that you last saw many years ago on free “Welfare” TV.
Thus it was that Mrs Kaartman dug out and dusted off “Never Cry Wolf” on M-Net, an almost-cult movie from 1983 starring Charles Martin Smith as a researcher who is dumped into the Arctic wilderness ostensibly to find out whether too many wolves are eating too many caribou. It’s based on the 1963 book by Farley Mowat and is memorable for the toasted mouse sandwich and pretty fine scenery. Back in the day our home-village of Plumfoot could only receive one TV station; the reception was so bad that naturally-snowy films were particularly popular. We were very fond of the movie for other reasons, too.

There’s a great line in the flick that became a regular part of the Kaartman family lexicon. Charles is explaining what he’s up to, to a toothless young Inuit, Mike [played by Samson Jorah]; every explanation Charles offers is met with a finely-accented, “Good idea.”
Mrs K and I settled down in front of the box for the recent re-run, our faithful hounds fast asleep as usual at our feet. Charles wandered off into the snow-covered wastes and, sure enough, before long somewhere a wolf howled. Years ago the small Kaartmannetjies were watching a cartoon, “The Hound of Castle McDuck” I think it was. There was a large luminous dog-thing, with lots of red glowing eyeballs and much passionate howling. While one of the Kaartman kleintjies [he was only eight, hey, a sensitive soul] hid behind the couch the then-Kaartman doglet Lucy [long gone] sat back and howled every time her improbable Disney counterpart did the same.
This led me to expect a similar reaction from Daisy and/or her older companion, Ruby, but neither pooch turned a hair. It was much further on into the movie that a scene of rollicking wolf-cubs, complete with suitable Wolf-baby whimpers and squeaks, flashed onto the screen. Daisy sat up and peered myopically at the images. The scene shifted to a lone, white wolf running from left to right across the screen. Daisy’s eyes followed the wolf; then, as it disappeared into the wings off right, she jumped up and trotted around the wall, into the kitchen, clearly in search of the vanished Canis lupus arctos.
Daisy watched the rest of the movie, our first-ever TV-besotted dog. Whenever the white wolves appeared she pricked up her ears. The brown wolf made her growl. When Charles-the-actor came walking over a distant ridge, she barked at this stranger. She made several trips into the kitchen in search of the disappearing figures. She was entranced.
Good idea ... Loomin’ hoomins ...
Daisy liked this ... disliked this
Whether Daisy dreamed of wolves that night we do not know, but the next morning there were further surprises awaiting us. As usual Mrs K and I took the dogs to Muizenberg for their customary dawn walk on the beach. There is a collection of Familiar Others who do the same, and many of them greet and are greeted. One of them walks a slightly aggro-looking bull terrier and, presumably because his animal is not well socially-adjusted, he and his dog stay up in the low dunes that fringe the beach. 
There we were, a few hundred metres along the sands, when the bull-terrier man appeared in the dunes, as he has often done before but without any reaction from Daisy. This time was different. Daisy had been watching “Never Cry Wolf”, a terrifying film about strange large dogs and unknown men who loomed menacingly over the skyline. Suddenly a man loomed menacingly over the dune skyline – exactly as Charles had done the night before. With a wolf by his side, nogal.
Daisy freaked. She clamped her shaggy tail firmly between her legs and ran – all the way down the beach and into the water. Further along the beach she kept really close to us, with frequent glances over her shoulder and jumpy jumps every time anyone else moved anywhere on the beach.
The lesson from this story is that not all TV programmes are suitable for dogs; some contain disturbing scenes for sensitive viewers. Next time we’ll have to put Daisy to bed before we watch a film.
Daisy asleep in front of the TV,
enjoying one of her favourite smells
Oh – by the way, Daisy has had a reprieve. She still has most of her unmentionable bad habits, but her extraordinary personality has won the day – and now we love her.

Kaartman, Mothers Day 12 May 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment