Speaking of...with Sarah Gaul

Season 1: Episode 4

Speaking of… Love, in today’s story, musical comedian, actor and improvisor Sarah Gaul reminisces on her first true love.

Watch Sarah’s video or read it in full below. Enjoy x

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Patch/Patrick by Sarah Gaul

This love story starts when I was two or however old children are when they first speak, and my first word wasn’t mum or dad or literally, it was ‘dog.’ I used to sit by my neighbours fence and just babble away to their two massive dogs. The dogs would sit on the other side of the fence and patiently listen, towering over me and probably occasionally drooling on or around me. I grew up in a small country town where most of the dogs were no distinct breed, but often large and scary looking but with hearts of gold.

I was sceptical about this – I obviously don’t remember it myself, but it sounds like the kind of thing people make up as an origin story after the fact – like do we all believe Taylor swift was playing guitar at three months old or that Justin Bieber came out of the womb performing perfect vocal runs instead of crying – but then parents pulled pixellated VHS footage of indeed me sitting by the fence in an embarrassingly fashion-forward bucket hat and dungarees, chatting away to those dogs.

As soon as I was old enough to run around my pretend playing didn’t involve dragons or mythical creatures or spies, it involved dogs, and me owning, rescuing, grooming dogs – you name it. I once had myself convinced that there were stray dogs at the park that needed my help though I never found them or evidence of them. I was a frequent visitor to the backyards of neighbours who had dogs, if a dog walked past the house and I saw it it was like Christmas come early.

One time Christmas did come. When I was 9 years old, on Christmas Eve, there was a knock on the door and I opened to see no one there. but when I looked down there was a tiny little terrier, no bigger than my head at the time, with a red bow around his  neck. Mum had got him from a local pound, and he was mine. We named him Patch and he became my best friend. He was always there to see us off to school, greet us after school, I remember one memorable afternoon I brought him in to show and tell. This was pre-regulation days where you could do that kind of stuff without reams of paperwork and concerned parents shrieking and writing to the local paper.

He was there for primary school, he was there the whole way through high school. He saw us off to sports matches and came along to a lot of them, school dances, he met all the first boyfriends and girlfriends, he was around when  I graduated, and he saw me pack the car and head off to uni.  He went missing one afternoon, put posters everywhere, turns out he ran into an empty canal and couldn’t get out. He was waiting patiently when someone found him.

He was food obsessed, one of the many things we had in common, and one time he snatched a brownie off the side of the road that turned out to be a hash brownie. He walked in circles then slept it off for 12 hours, we thought he was going to die but he was just high.

He eventually got sick. He had a disease called cushings disease, which meant lots of medication and trips to the vet. He got grey hairs around his big brown eyes, he would spend more and more time hanging out in the garden, sleeping, and he slowly lost his eyesight. Some of my fondest memories are in those finals years, sitting in the garden with him.  He passed away when I was 23 – I wasn’t home at the time, I was at uni, but it was like losing a member of the family. It was losing a member of the family.

That was 7 years ago, and we still occasionally find dog hairs in things around the house. I have a photo of him pride of place in my room, his tail is blurred in the photo because its’ wagging so goddamn hard. From his spot in the photo frame, he still watches over my comings and goings like he did from the front gate when I was 10 years old. When I think of love I don’t think of the notebook or titanic or some dude in chinos proposing to me. I think of a little dog with a little bow around his neck sitting on my front porch 20 years ago, wagging his tail, waiting to play.

Sarah Gaul is a musical comedian, actor and improvisor based in Sydney. As a comedian Sarah has toured internationally and spent a year in New York where she made regular appearances at Gotham Comedy Club, Club Cumming, and Broadway Comedy Club. She has appeared on Tonightly With Tom Ballard, and released her first studio album, Slumberland, in 2016. Sarah has won the National Championship Theatresports title in 2016, and stars in web series On The Fringe, which was selected for LA Comedy Festival, Copenhagen Web Fest and Pilot Light TV Festival (UK). Sarah also stars in Australian feature film HOT MESS, which was selected Seattle Film Festival, Perth Film Festival, and Sydney Underground Film Festival – THE CURB named the film “one of the best films of the decade.