News

How Nimbin's Martin McKenna became The Dreadlocked Dog Man

DOCTOR DOG: Australia's top dog communicator Martin McKenna sits with Firefly and Eliza Jane who he feels he can aid their owner.
DOCTOR DOG: Australia's top dog communicator Martin McKenna sits with Firefly and Eliza Jane who he feels he can aid their owner. Marc Stapelberg

HAVING already penned three books about dog behaviour, Nimbin's Martin McKenna has now written the story of his life and how he came to be known as The Dreadlock Dog Man.

Born in Ireland, Mr McKenna escaped a life of family violence by running away and living in an abandoned barn for several years with a pack of stray dogs.

The experience gave him a unique opportunity to learn and understand the psychology of dogs. In later years he shared that insight as a guest on talkback radio in Australia and overseas.

"So many people have asked for it (the memoir), to tell my full life story," Mr McKenna said.

"When you go back to try and make sense of it, you have to honestly look at your life and ask 'do we go back to the past and make tears or go back and make laughter?' I chose laughter.

"(Given what happened) you would think I'd be terminally broken but children are adaptable, they're survivors. You may think something is big in your childhood but it might just be that you were small at the time."

The forward for Mr McKenna's memoir, The Boy Who Talked to Dogs, has been written by Malachy McCourt, the brother of Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt.

"He read the book and thought it was an astonishing story, so he has kind of endorsed it," Mr McKenna said.

While the book focuses on his life, Mr McKenna said it offers a look at Ireland in the 1960s.

"It was a time of big change. The reason I did the memoir was not so people go 'Oh, poor Marty, let's all sob along with him'. But there are characters worth remembering," he said.

"It's a patchwork quilt of a time that was and is gone and will never be again."

The memoir is Mr McKenna's fourth book but he revealed he still struggles to read and write.

"I definitely can't spell. I have to yell out to my family all the time for help, it's quite a madhouse," he said.

"It's amazing to me that you can take 26 letters and make 10,000 words. The act of writing is like magic to me."

Mr McKenna has also taught himself to play music and hopes to release his first album Acid Spangled Banner sometime soon.

"I'm addicted to writing poetry and music. It's opened me in ways in I can't explain," he said.

Mr McKenna still offers advice to dog owners via his blogspot page, The Dreadlock Dog Man.

"I get a nice feeling from that," he said.

"I don't take money and I still help condition dogs from rescue groups. I'll take them on for a while and teach them, give them back their confidence. About 10% don't make it but I like to give back to dogs because they have given so much to me."

Topics:  dogs nimbin



Club cyclists have a wheely good weekend

Byron Bay Cycling Club C-grade rider, Neil Scott won the sprint, Nick Ruane won the event and Nick Smith was second at the BBCC crits race on the weekend.

Overcoming pesky headwinds no matter the handicap

GALLERY: Sneak peek at hit children's show coming to Lismore

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is based on the children’s book of the same name, where Eric Carle’s stories that come to life on stage.

It includes 75 puppets and adapts four childrens books to the stage.

Nollsie's new album and latest shenanigans

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

The singer is coming to the Northern Rivers

Local Partners

The true cause of the Oscars bungle

THE Oscars have ended with a moment that left everyone speechless — but not in a way anyone expected.

HUGE OSCARS FAIL: Wrong film handed Best Picture award

Presenter Warren Beatty shows the envelope with the actual winner for best picture as host Jimmy Kimmel, left, looks on at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The winner was originally announced as La La Land, but was later corrected to Moonlight.

IN A monumental stuff-up, La La Land incorrectly named Best Picture.

Blue Heelers' Ditch Davey joins 800 Words cast

Ditch Davey joins the cast of 800 Words as Terry, the younger brother of George, played by Erik Thomson.

George Turner's brother, Terry, arrives to Weld with a 'few demons'

Oscars winners 2017: Full list of Academy Award winners

Viola Davis accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for Fences at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

WHO won Oscars this year? Here’s a full list of every winner.

Why can’t Nicole Kidman clap properly?

Nicole Kidman's style of clapping has puzzled Oscars viewers.

FOR some reason, it seems Nicole doesn’t really know how to clap.

Muslim actor makes Oscars history

Mahershala Ali accepts the award for best actor in a supporting role for Moonlight at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

MOONLIGHT star Mahershala Ali makes Academy Award history.

GALLERY: Sneak peek at hit children's show coming to Lismore

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is based on the children’s book of the same name, where Eric Carle’s stories that come to life on stage.

It includes 75 puppets and adapts four childrens books to the stage.

Mining homes dive: $600k homes sell for $120k-$300k

18 Yeates Street, Moranbah sold for $135,000 in December, after being repossessed by a bank. The owners bought for $545,000 in August, 2011.

The economy still has two speeds, but with a painful twist

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!