Although Rodney Braithwaite and his dog, Kieko, are separated by 730 km and the Bass Strait, he can still find time to take her to the vet.
“She’s a 40 kg Rhodesian ridgeback cross German short-haired pointer,” he said.
“Earlier this year she got stitches behind her ear and I flew back to Tassie for 36 hours to get her to the vet.”
Kieko, who lives with Rodney’s mother in Launceston, was too heavy for Barbra to get into the car and take to the vet.
“The vet said they had never met such a stubborn, ignorant and arrogant dog,” he said with a laugh.
When deciding on Kieko’s name, Rodney wanted something short, catchy and unique.
“I’ve always had a deep interest in Japan so it (choosing Kieko’s name) was as simple as Googling ‘popular Japanese names’,” he said.
“When I went to Japan people were surprised I chose that name, as it’s typically an older woman’s name.”
He added with a laugh: “The equivalent here would be naming a dog Margaret.”
Rodney bought Kieko from a pet store in Launceston, she was six months old and had been moved from pet store to pet store around Tasmania.
The store was trying to get rid of her so they offered to sell her for only $100.
“She looked at me with big, vibrant puppy eyes, and she reminded me of a dog I had as a kid,” Rodney said.
He was after a big dog to take on hiking and camping trips in the lush Tasmanian wilderness, so he came back two hours later and took her home.
While Keiko was still a puppy, Rodney and Barbra recruited a trainer to help train her.
“She was a trainer that used to work with Dr Harry Cooper, the vet that had a TV show,” he said.
“She told us that after one of the early sessions she went into her car and put her head in her hands, having never worked with such a difficult dog.”
Kieko has a regular morning routine that she needs to stick to, otherwise she becomes sulky and crabby.
At 6 am she wakes up and barks to be let outside to look at the sky.
“No matter what time of year it is she’ll go outside for half an hour,” Rodney said.
“She then barks to get inside for breakfast.”
After that she will play with her toys and go back to sleep.
In the afternoon she goes for a walk, during which, Rodney said, “she leads the walk and takes a different route depending on who is walking her”.
“One of my favourite things was to come home on a Friday night and take Kieko for a walk in the cold and the damp and the fog around Launceston,” he said.
For now, Kieko and Rodney will stay apart.
“I can’t bring her to Shepparton, it’s too hot — above 24°C she starts panting like crazy,” he said.
“I’ve been back to Tasmania seven times in the last 18 months since I’ve been in Victoria and most of the time it's to see her.”