Farewell Fooey: Guardian of the ABC’s PNG bureau, a friend to correspondents and an enemy of stray cats

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A 40-kilogram German Shepherd is barrelling down a hill in downtown Port Moresby, as a young man frantically chases, a lead and collar hanging uselessly in his hand.

Somewhere behind the flurry of fur and feet sits the ABC News compound, overlooking the town’s glistening harbour.

But I do not know this pursuit is occurring, as I wait in a bank branch at the underside of the hill.

I actually have only been living in PNG for a few weeks, and I’m desperately attempting to turn into a signatory on the ABC’s account when my phone rings.

“It’s Fooey,” my partner Joel pants.

“She saw another dogs and got away from me throughout the walk.”

Fooey on a walk, not exactly ruling out the opportunity of breaking free for a solo adventure chasing other dogs. (ABC News: Natalie Whiting)

He’s recaptured the wayward dog that we happily inherited with my correspondent job, however the two of them need collecting.

Joel stays within the automobile with Fooey as I return to the bank, and he or she sulks within the back, disillusioned to have had her rebellious freedom curtailed. 

“You do not understand it yet, but we will be best friends,” he says to her.

And he was right.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a friend.

The massive job that got here with an enormous dog 

For nearly 4 years we’ve got had the enjoyment of calling Fooey a member of our family.

She faithfully served the ABC for greater than a decade, officially as a guard dog, but with a side hustle as an emotional support animal.

A great big German Shepherd licks a woman's face as she grins at the camera Because the bureau’s longest-serving worker, Fooey was often tasked with welcoming recent PNG correspondents. (ABC News: Natalie Whiting )

The longest-serving member of staff, she oversaw the work of 4 ABC correspondents. 

Fooey earned herself a fearsome popularity around Port Moresby after terrorising some guards and tradespeople in her bid to guard the property.

No stray animal within the yard was secure and no-one dared approach the correspondent’s house while she sat out the front.

Even when safely locked inside, she would emit a deep low growl from behind the opaque wire door — a terrifying warning for anyone with in poor health intent. 

But for those she let into her heart, she was probably the most loyal and faithful companion.

A German Shepherd takes a rest on a step, while a young woman speaks into a camera in the background From gathering stories in the sector to overseeing live crosses for ABC TV News, Fooey was there for all of it. (Supplied: Joel Isbister)

Once I was interviewing for the position of PNG correspondent, the person I used to be replacing, Eric Tlozek, was on the panel and asked if I used to be a dog person. 

After I got the job — possibly because I assured Eric I loved dogs — we had a handover meeting in Australia. 

Around a 3rd of the time was dedicated to Fooey’s wants and wishes.

A superb girl with a fearsome popularity

It didn’t take Joel and me long after arriving to grasp Eric’s preoccupation with Fooey’s care.

We had lucked upon the very best dog on this planet. 

She had one ear permanently bent, vivid eyes and an enormous head.

An attractive German Shepherd with one ear folded down, looks out thoughtfully from a porch Fooey’s trademarks were a permanently floppy ear and a fearsome bark that might strike terror in any stranger. (Supplied: Joel Isbister)

Once she had adopted us as her people, she quickly took to following us across the house, and intently watching any time we left it. 

Our final image within the rear-view mirror before driving out the gate would at all times be her Batman-esque silhouette on the balcony.

Within the office, she would sleep beside me while I worked, a smile-inducing presence, except on days when she had bad gas.

Yet she still managed to take care of a sassy, independent streak that I admired.

Fooey would come out on jobs around Port Moresby that could be dicey, riding behind the Landcruiser.

Her mere presence was the very best security you might get.

A man in sunglasses and a pink shirt bends down to wrap his arm around a handsome German Shepherd Fooey takes a moment to pose with one among her favourite longtime colleagues, ABC operations manager for PNG, Richard Cassey. (Supplied)

A fearsome guard dog on the surface, she was a softy at heart.

When Joel and I were away visiting Australia, Fooey relocated to the verandah of the caretaker’s house, where the groundskeeper Jonah Mondo and his family live, for company.

Jonah’s eldest daughter loved toddling after her, giggling “Fooey!” and Fooey loved sniffing and licking her eye-level face.

Jonah’s wife, very reasonably, put a ban on Fooey coming inside their home, given the dog moulted a lot the remnants often looked like someone had sheared her.

But I do know Jonah used to bend the foundations if there was a very bad storm at night.

The one other person in Fooey’s inner circle was the ABC’s operations manager, Richard Cassey, who was her steadfast friend between Eric leaving and me arriving, and who would cheerfully greet her with a “hey girl!” each workday.

A German Shepherd sits down wearing a headband featuring two Christmas trees while her photo is taken by a crowd In her later years, Fooey embraced a softer image, donning a festive headband for Christmas. (ABC News: Natalie Whiting )

Everyone else maintained a respectful, barely fearful, wide berth of her.

On the beach, crowds would part for her, but people would surreptitiously take photos.

For one Christmas carols event we put a scarf adorned with Christmas trees on her, in an incredibly successful effort to make her less intimidating.

The grand dame of the ABC 

An individual can learn rather a lot from a dog.

Fooey taught me about loyalty and friendship; and the ability of quietly being there for somebody after they need you.

A lovely big German Shepherd lies on a her back In exchange for her services as a guard dog, Fooey asked just for belly rubs. (ABC News: Natalie Whiting)

Once I got here home from covering an upsetting story, she at all times looked as if it would know, and would gently lay down next to me.

She mellowed in her old age, began sleeping more and using a ramp to get into the back of the automobile.

An older German Shepherd walks up a wooden ramp into the back of a jeep while a man helps her The ABC’s PNG bureau made every effort to make sure Fooey could still hit the road with the remaining of the team. (ABC News: Natalie Whiting)

She could now not roll onto her back to demand a belly scratch, although her leg would still run in appreciation when one was delivered.

After just a few months of in poor health health this yr, the fight finally left her.

Fooey will maintain her post guarding the bureau 

There is a spot within the garden outside our house, where Fooey used to prefer to stand and bark on the guards’ post after they got here to do their rounds of the property at night.

A German Shepherd lays in a lush garden overlooking Port Moresby Fooey was laid to rest in her favourite spot within the grounds of the PNG bureau. (ABC News: Natalie Whiting)

Joel and Richard took turns digging after which the three of us buried her there, facing out over that guard post, without end on watch.

Jonah and his family arrived afterwards, and his wife helped their youngest daughter to place down a flower.

The next day I discovered Jonah had been back to place a hoop of stones across the grave, marking Fooey’s place.

I believe he did it as much for Joel and me, as he did for Fooey.

A young woman sits on the floor cuddling a lolling German Shepherd The ABC Port Moresby family has lost one among its most beloved members. (Supplied: Joel Isbister)

There’s nothing more to do now, and no solution to fill the massive big-headed, ear-folded hole in our hearts.

I am unable to help but glance around for her after I enter a room, and within the quiet moments I still find myself shedding a tear. 

Not for her, I do know she is resting now after a great life, but for me, because I miss my friend.

An excellent German Shepherd sits on a couch wearing a headband featuring two christmas trees Rest in peace Fooey, the ABC’s best girl. (Supplied: Joel Isbister)