Footrot Flats is a cartoon strip by Murray Ball, set in the eponymous farm in New Zealand. The dog is just called Dog*, and he's the hero of it all: he's very cute, curious, a bit cowardly, sneaky, chivalrous, and sensitive. He's in love with the bitch called Jess when she's in heat and absolutely dripping with soppy pheromones; but the Dog has to compete with the macho pig-dog Major and even Aunt Dolly's poncy little corgi, Prince Charles, a pampered indoors dog.

There's a huge, tough old cat called Horse. There's a little magpie called Pew brought up tame, and which now has to be taught the rudiments of birdie homemaking. Cedric is an old ram who's kept on for sentimental reasons despite being far too old to do to the ewes what rams are there for.

There are human beings too: the Dog's owner Wal, a big scruffy farmer, a bit of a softie, always in his gumboots and black singlet, being pulled down muddy hills or driven into the ground in amateur rugby matches or being attacked by crazed geese. There's Wal's mate Cooch, far too soft on animals (he's the one who raised Pew).

Cheeky Hobson is the love of Wal's life and one of the banes of the Dog's: he is always trying to come between Wal and her, not liking her femininizing and perhaps even civilizing influence. Wal's Aunt Dolly scolds him. He has a niece Pongo, who has a crush on the Maori lad Rangi.

It is actually tremendous realistic, with farm dogs scoffing entrails from collapsed cows, possums being shot, ewes giving birth in very messy ways. And it's also funny, heart-warming, and you love the characters of the animals and people.

* Actually the Dog does have another name, given to him when young by Aunt Dolly, and he would kill to prevent its being revealed.

1986 motion picture soundtrack by Dave Dobbyn for the Footrot Flats animated movie.

Slice of Heaven was the big single from the album.

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