Archie Weller: THE DAY OF THE DOG
The story takes place in Perth in Australia, where a young 19-year-old Aboriginal man,
named Doug Dooligan comes out of prison after eighteen long and lonely months. He has
been put behind bars because of a brawl. Now he is celebrating his freedom and getting drunk
to forget those horrible nights on lumpy beds in the overcrowded cells. In prison there is no
privacy, no peace, nowhere to dream by yourself, that is what he missed most of all.
Suddenly he meets two of his best mates in the past: Sylvester Jackson and Floyd Davey.
They are getting drunk together, although Doug has promised himself, that he will never go
back to them and be a “street-person”, because he doesn’t want to live from stealing cars or
other things like and to come in a brawl and so in jail again. So the two’s girlfriends Valerie
and Rebecca come with Valerie’s sister and Rebecca’s cousin Polly. After talking and
drinking Doug and Polly get together. Polly isn’t even fifteen years old and “on the run” from
the Community Welfare Department. After sleeping in Valerie’s flat, where all of them live,
Doug goes to visit his mother.
She welcomes him happily, although she knows that he has been out since the day before and
he has spend his first day with these drinking and stealing streetboys..
She hasn’t had a good life. It has begun happily: he has married Doug’s father Carey and they
have had a nice farm. But then Carey always has got drunk and they have had to sell the farm
and to move to city. At that time Doug has been twelve years old. One day Doug’s father
hasn’t come home. And she has had to care about three children: Tom, Jemina and Doug.
Tom has died during the Vietnam war, Doug has put into prison and Jemina has got a nice
family and a little farm.
For a week Doug hangs around the house, watching TV, reading comics and listening to
music. On Friday he goes to see Mr. Salvadorez, his parole officer. After that he meets his
friends and gets drunk again.
When he arrives at Valerie’s flat, he sees Silver lying in bed with Polly. Angrily he attacks
him with a knife, but Floyd calms him down and warns Silver with a death threat, if he will do
something like that again.
So the spend a nice weekend together. Silver apologise for his fault and Floyd tells Doug that
he will get a baby from Valerie. On Sunday evening Doug goes back to his mother, who tells
him that she has find a job for him in a horsestable. After working the whole week, he goes to
Valerie and Polly. There he hears that there was a quarrel between Floyd and Valerie. So he
decides to make a nice evening for the two girls, after such a horrible day, because for his
work at the stable he has got a lot of money. When they decide to go home, they meet Doug’s
exgirlfriend Jenny. So a big fight begins, because Jenny is a member of the Nuclear clan- the
enemy of Floyd and his friends, but nobody is hurt hardly.
Next day Floyd comes to pick up Doug from his mother’s house, because it is Floyd`s last day
in Perth. After a long and funny drinking night Doug and Polly wake up in Floyd`s car by two
police men. They arrest Doug, because they think he has stolen the car, which Floyd has
stolen in reality.
But he gets out soon and now he wants to have a normally life: working and living at his
mother’s house together with Polly.
But one day he meets one of his cousins, who tell him that he could see his father, who has
escaped from prison.
So he and Polly go to see his father, but they make Doug stealing a car to flee. The police
catch up with them and only Doug can escape.
A few days later the Community Welfare Department catches Polly and Doug loses his job.
Without any hope he goes to his sisters farm to work there. That would be good for him,
because he always loves working in the nature. But one day he steals his sister’s husband’s
car and loses his job again. So he meets Floyd, Silver and Shagger, who also work on a farm.
To make some money, they get an assignment to make a robbery. They want to rob a shop,
but they don’t see the owner’s wife, who shoots at Floyd. So Doug also shoots at the old lady,
who dies immediately. Doug, Floyd, Silver and Shagger run to their car and escape, but the
police catch up with them. The disaster end in a big car crash, where the four die.
He is a nineteen-year-old Aboriginal. Since his family moved to Perth, he always has
problems with drinking, fighting and stealing.
After getting out of prison, he wants to start a new life, but he doesn’t get out of this vicious
On one side he really wants to start a new life, but on the other side he also wants to stay with
his best friends drinking and having fun. In Doug’s world friend are even more important than
money. With friends around him he is able to be the king or jester and it’s all the same. Mates,
girls, cars and alcohol: that is all he needs to make life go around.
I think Floyd is the cause of getting problems. And that is because Floyd is Doug’s best
Doug has had a had life: first he has had to leave the farm, which he really loves, because his
father always has got drunk. Doug’s only dream is to have a piece of one day. Then his
brother Tom, who has looked after him almost from the day he has been born, has died.
With all these problems and shocks he goes astray. I think normally he is a very shy and quiet
Polly, also called Nana:
She is the sister of Floyd`s girlfriend Valerie, and the cousin of Silver’s girlfriend Rebecca.
Like most Aboriginal girls of her age she is “on the run” from the Community welfare
Department and she supposes one day they will catch her, but she doesn’t make a real attempt
At the age of three she has been taken from her drunken wreck of a mother and placed in
Sister Kate’s house, but she has run away and now lives in Valerie’s flat.
Her philosophy is to squeeze as much fun out of life as she can while she is able and don’t
plan for the future. But when she meets Doug and his mother, I think, she wants to live a
normally life without drinking and stealing.
Sylvester Jackson, also called Silver:
He has turned into a “street person” early in life. He is loud and brutal.
Normally he never says sorry, unless one time, because of the thing with Nana and Doug. He
is the only with person in this gang.
He has long curly red hair and deep blue eyes. He has tattoos all up his arms, over his back
and chest. With seventeen he has been the youngest of the gang, but yet he has a record longer
even than Floyd`s. He is short but very stocky and quite willing to use his muscles. He is not
clever, though and never thinks before acts.
Floyd Davey, also called Pretty Boy:
He is quite and sly, soft-footed and sometimes shy, but he is as cunning as an old dingo. He is
tall and loose-boned. Most time he is the boss of the gang and with Doug’s mother’s view he
is a bad influence in Doug.
Problems of “Street persons”:
There are several problems like drinking, stealing and fighting. Mostly there are fights
between several gangs. And many people, also Doug, get problems with police because of
these violence. But they are never free, they are trapped in a lifestyle, they can never escape
=> vicious circle.
Alcohol: many of these young people have problems with alcohol, also Doug. But the
strange thing is that also Doug’s father has had a drinking problem. And because of that they
have to leave their farm. And so Doug has got depressed and also has begun to drink. But that
doesn’t change anything. He reacts in the same way like his father.
Stealing: Because of their drinking problems most of them don’t get a job. So they begin to
steal to be able to buy some alcohol. So this vicious circle turns and turns.
Fighting: There are many gangs and these gangs battle with other gangs. Because of these
fights most of the people get problems with the police. But I think the cause of these fights is
racism. Many Aboriginals aren’t accepted in these areas and they have problems to adapt.
“There would always be husbands drunk and brothers gambling and sons in jail and fighting
and swearing and everyone giving up.
But as long there where babies to hold and love, hope would be reborn all over again and
there was something worth living for.”
I think babies are very important for them, because they give them hope and they are someone
to care about. But they are also problems because many young people haven’t enough money
ever for themselves. Another problem is that so one generation after the other grows up in
these bad conditions and the chance to get out of this vicious circle is very low.
Friends and having fun with them are the most important things, but without any money?!?