When I was a kid, I had a dog. The dog’s name was Jimmy. Each afternoon, he’d hear me coming up the driveway home from school and he’d race out the front to meet me, scraping his wet old tongue all over my face. Sniffing my crotch. Some days, that old guy’d get so excited on account of me being home, he’d pee all over the exposed aggregate driveway.

One afternoon, Jimmy wasn’t in the driveway to meet me. Mum and I, we ran all over the goddam house, looking for him. It was me who found Jimmy, rolled on his back in the garden, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, phlegm and blood pouring from his nose and eyes.

Jimmy had eaten rat poison some bright nut of a neighbor had decided to put out a little too close to our fence line.

The vet tugged up the legs of his flared trousers and bent down to talk to me, so as we were on eye level. “Jimmy’s got some problems with his brain, Geoffrey, and even if we can save his life, the hopes of him ever being like the Jimmy you love are slim. Probably best, son, if we stop Jimmy’s struggle and let him rest peacefully.”

My little guy fists were red raw that night because I banged them so hard on the lino floor of the surgery. I never saw Jimmy again.

And it’s funny how things that happen to you when you’re a kid can fashion the way you view all sorts of things when you’re a man.

While I was eating my Coco Pops this morning, something I read on Crikey, reminded me of old Jimmy. Like Jimmy, print is dying. It’s put its curious, whiskered snout too far under the fence and sucked back a truckload of rat poison. And it’s never going to be the same: “media analysts Goldman Sachs JB Were claiming dramatic falls in classified advertising in Fairfax’s traditional metro papers for December.” Falls were reported in all of Fairfax’s classifieds including motor, real estate and employment.

Problem is, unlike my sage and compassionate vet with the flares and lino, those with the say-so in media empires like Fairfax are not prepared to put print gently to sleep. They’ve whacked it on a respirator, and pumped a bunch of chemicals in its bloodstream in the hope of its survival. Even if it manages to live, it’s gonna have major spasticity in its arms and legs and it won’t be able to control its need to defecate. It’ll never be like the print we once loved.

It should be laid to rest peacefully.

Moral of the story is that, a few months after Jimmy passed away, Mum and Dad bought me a new dog. Name was Taffy. Truth is, I actually liked Taffy a bit more than Jimmy. Taffy was energetic and a bit brighter. I taught him to beg and sit and he even managed to catch the mice that came into our kitchen through a crack in the wall in winter. Plus, Taffy still met me in the driveway each arvo — but he never once sniffed my crotch or pissed on the exposed aggregate.

Geoff Jennings worked at Fairfax Digital and Realestate.com.au before starting his own company Online Recruitment. He is a blogger in the online recruitment field, with a knowledge of media advertising.

Peter Fray

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