vale doug


* photo by Scott McNaughton

It was a more than a year ago I met Douglas Jarvie-Bryson in the executive lounge where he was awaiting a flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Some readers may recall him.

He was having to travel the long way via Taipei on account of a genetic condition that made him an unacceptable flight risk for most airlines.

But even though individuals suffering from brachycephalic airway syndrome accounted for 70 per cent of deaths on American airlines in 2010, Doug was remarkably sanguine.

He understood his support role to an engineer involved in the Ichthys oil and gas project was small, but important.

If all went well after 18 months in KL, he might even venture to Korea for the next stage of the massive construction project.

The nuggety little VIP made the long trip without once requiring medical attention.

With his good nature and genuine interest in mankind he charmed every one he met, even the normally blase baggage handlers.

He was met at the airport by members of his family who had flown ahead on more direct flights.

Their reunion was a scene of such unbridled joy, you would think they had been separated for decades not days.

Not one to give in jet lag, Doug immediately insisted they should all set out to explore their new community.

Like many expats he was drawn to beautiful Desa Park City and after a long walk around the the man-made lake he would often stop for a refreshment at La Casa or one of the other waterfront restaurants.

Doug threw himself headlong into the culture, seldom standing on ceremony and demonstrating such good humour that even the shy Malay young girls were smitten.

That he seemed so at home may have had a lot to do with his Chinese heritage.

Though he was born in Western Australia, he’d spent the best part of his life in Melbourne becoming a regular on the Richmond cafe scene.

He couldn’t walk down Bridge Road without being bailed up by a mate and, having adapted so effortlessly, it was little different in KL.

For a year every one was a happy – Doug, most of all.

The change occurred almost overnight.

He no longer seemed so eager to embark on every new day, he lost his appetite, grew lethargic.

Tests revealed he had a very aggressive adenocarcimona. It spread so rapidly there was no chance.

Last month just before chemotherapy was to commence, Doug’s family – after painful consideration – recognised death would be kinder.

He died at home surrounded by his loved ones, an injection, administered by a caring professional, gently sending him into that good night.

His family knew that the decent thing, the loving thing to do was to let him go.

He touched so many people’s lives.

I, for one, will never forget our brief meeting.

How he looked straight into the lens of Weekly Review photographer Scott McNaughton’s camera with the composure of one accustomed to celebrity and thoroughly at home in his own skin.

Now, writing the final chapter of his story, I wonder if Doug’s death can’t teach us something.

Why is it we afford our pets a dignity in death that we cannot allow ourselves?

Vale Doug – A Very Inspirational Pug.



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