Among her papers I found a letter from Mr Bert Howard of Robertson. It was obvious from the letter he had shared an interest in the history of Australian Cattle Dogs with her. There was also a sympathy card from him to Berenice’s daughter, Christine, following her mother’s death. From the note inside it was clear he and Berenice had been very close and corresponded or visited each other for many years.
Based on my previous experience of contacting people, and my estimate he would be in his 90s. I didn’t hold much hope of assistance but wrote to him anyway.
What a surprise to not only receive a reply but to read he would love to meet and talk about Berenice. He invited me to morning tea.
I really need to learn not to assume. Driving to my destination I kept hoping I was not wasting my time. I hoped he was coherent and his memory clear.
I had prejudged the man. I met a sprightly and intelligent 92-year-old gentleman.
He is the recognised authority on the history of the Australian Cattle Dog, knew Berenice for over 50 years and had a memory of which a 20 year would be proud.
Over a cuppa he shared his memories of Berenice as a cattle dog breeder, a wife and mother and, of course, as the Dingo Lady.
He is still researching and writing his history of Australian working dogs. He has sent me his manuscripts to review and suggest changes and I have sent him sections of the biography. His input into the section about Berenice and her husband being the leading cattle dog breeders has been invaluable.
We correspond regularly about our projects, share information and give each other encouragement and support.
When I am questioning why, at my time of life, I have started my project I think of Bert and his love for his support, excitement of discovering new information and seeing progress made with his book. He is truly an inspiration.
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