It has been a long while since our table mate left for the bathroom. I started wondering if I should go and check in on her.
The only dinner place in the little seaside town of Denham, Western Australia open that night was crammed with customers. We spotted two empty seats next to an older couple and zoomed in.
They welcomed us to their table and quickly, over a couple of bottles of beer, while we waited for our food, a friendly banter ensued. Last year they have spent three months driving a Winnebago around the United States. It was an unforgettable adventure. They loved the people. They loved the National parks. Couldn’t wait to save enough money to go back.
They were truck drivers, running water and hay for the farmers in the big Australian outback. Hard working, salt of the earth people. When I asked about retirement, the wife answered, pointing at her white haired husband, “He is only 84, he will die of boredom if he quits.” A few years younger, she had been a truck driver since she was 16, just to spite her mother, who did not think it a fitting profession for a girl. She had met her husband some 8 years ago, when her truck broke down. “Came to my rescue on the road, my knight in shining armor,” she said laughingly, patting his hand. She had an easy laugh and a twinkle in her eye. There was no obstacle that could stop her. She was planing to acquire a third truck next year for their little company.
Now she was striding back to our table with a fresh bottle of beer in her hand. Her husband looked up from his steak (“you need to take a loan from the bank, to pay for food here”, he had said), and asked quietly, “Is he OK?”
“Oh, fine, sleeping on the bed, but I left the TV on,” she answered softly and took a swig. She wasn’t eating anything, “she never eats anything in the evening, but likes a few of them light beers.”
My curiosity got the better of me and I asked, “Do you have a puppy with you?”
“A baby kangaroo, but shh, don’t tell the hotel, they don’t allow pets!”
For a moment I thought she was pulling my leg, but no, she wouldn’t. Not her. There wasn’t a mean bone in her body.
“What?” my husband said, nearly falling out of his chair. “Are you serious? How old is he?”
“Three months! We got him when his mom was killed on the road. People know to look in the pouch for baby joeys if a mom gets killed. They brought him to our pub. So we took him. We’ve had a few orphans before. But this one is a special character.”
“He is very gentle for a boy and he is so attached to her,” the husband jumped in. “He follows her everywhere, he really thinks she is his mother. We can’t leave him with anyone. So we have to take him along when we go on a job.”
“Well, he is getting a little bit more independent,” said the wife. “Now, when I take him for his morning walk, I don’t put him on a leash anymore and he is starting to hop in a bigger loop, further out, not just sticking to my leg.”
“What do you feed him?” was the next question.
“He is raised on bottles with special non cow milk formula. Joeys spend a long time in mom’s pouch. They are tiny jelly bean size creatures when they are born and can not survive on their own until eighteen months.”
“What will you do when he gets too big? It would be really hard to let him go, I am sure,” I stipulated.
“There is a special rescue place that takes orphan kangaroos. It is pretty big, so they can be quite free. But we don’t advertise its location widely. Kangaroos raised by humans can’t really be rehabilitated to live in the wild. It is nice that we can come visit.”
“What did you name him?” asked my husband.
“Boss, because he is a little bit bossy.”
I looked at my husband across the table and saw he was just as curious as me. We had to meet Bossy, the Kangaroo!
“Do you think we could see him on the way from dinner?” I asked excitedly.
We refused desert and coffee and in no time we paid our bill and were on our way out the door and in the corridors of the hotel. As they quietly unlocked the door a surprise was awaiting us. There in the entryway stood Bossy on his oversized hind legs with his diaper on and his long tail sticking out.
“Oh, did you wake up, Bossy?”, asked Bossy’s mom and scooped him up. “Oh, you are cold, poor baby!” She grabbed a big gray pouch and wrapped him in it tightly. My husband totally surprised me by asking, “Can I hold him for a little bit?” He then proceeded to gently rock him on his lap. Then he patiently fed him his bottle of milk! After a little while Bossy was warm and ready to come out. He hopped around the room and took a little snack of rabbit food. Despite the best effort of his mom to get him into bed, he was not interested. Perhaps, like a little kid, he was too excited to have visitors!
“Let’s see if we can get him into the pouch to calm down,” his mom suggested. “It is interesting when they are little and they first learn how to hop into the pouch. It is a bit of a reverse process, as in real life they have to first learn how to gather courage to hop out of their mother’s pouch. The grey kangaroos don’t leave their mother’s pouch for good until they are 11 months old.”
My husband had the honor to get him into the pouch and naughty Bossy didn’t make it easy for him. When finally he was in and settled, we knew it was our time to say goodbye to Bossy, the Kangaroo and his wonderful parents!
P.P.S. Don’t forget to play all the video clips!