Beauregard of Ballarat – By Shapoor Batliwalla, illustrated by Liz Batliwalla
At the end of 2020 Melbourne emerged from a COVID lockdown – the rest of Australia has to thank and salute Melbournians for enduring one of the strictest lockdowns on earth. The result is a triumph for science, though an enormous amount of mental, financial and cultural repair is needed.
But out of lockdown comes surprises – my old Melbourne friend Shapoor (I am declaring an interest here) has emerged with a book (well, not quite a book, not quite a novella, but still a healthy handful) entitled Beauregard of Ballarat – a view of the world from the mind of a dog. It’s a feel good story – I actually felt happier at the end of the book and the world becames a slightly better place. And it’s even in reasonably large font for us oldies (and youngies). The author and illustrator are first generation Australians, perfectly capturing the odd Aussie linguistics and little social twists and encouraging a reflection on who we all are.
Beauregard made me pause and reflect quite a few times, there are deeper elements in this story. Beauregard is clearly a philosophic canine. For example, he reminds us about how precious diversity is (dogs know that – they sniff everyone), and how we humans have forgotten the moment and how to reflect on the moment. There are delightful passages as Beauregard contrasts dog and human loyalty and commitment.
We know that good quality pet relationships are beneficial for our health – pets encourage us to exercise, they assist socialisation, one pat and a bit of love provides reciprocal oxytocin distribution, they keep the kids entertained and dog ownership makes them more responsible etc etc. But maybe there is another benefit we have ignored – pause a moment and ponder – what could be swirling around in your pet’s mind? Maybe there are mental frameworks that could enhance our lives?
Rejoice in the power of words and context to make you smile and reflect on the views from Beauregard and his mates. Dog lovers will rejoice here too. You’ll need one if you live in Ballarat, have been to Ballarat, have thought of going to Ballarat or are not sure where and what Ballarat is. Even cat lovers will handle this despite the warning on the back.