On A Mission (aka “Penelope”) and her Point Cook owner, Kasey Millsom, 16, share a special bond.
It’s a case of “you know we belong together, you and I forever and ever”.
And if you’re thinking I’m referencing long-running Australian soap opera Home and Away, you’d be right!
When Penelope was an 11-month-old pup, she broke her right foreleg in a freak accident while playing with her brother in a yard.
Subsequently she underwent surgery involving the insertion of plates and screws. And due to development of her own ‘growth plates’, they required removal once the bone healed.
Penelope spent eight weeks convalescing, call it housebound rehab, following the incident. Her temporary abode was the Millsoms theatre room where she became a Home and Away devotee – amazingly watching it with Kasey and her mum, Paula Gray (a GRV earbrander).
Even more incredulous was Penelope becoming disgruntled if mother and daughter dare hold a conversation while the popular soapie was on television!
“Penelope’s my best friend. She’s the most amazing thing that has happened to me,” said Kasey – a Year 10 student at Emmanuel College in Point Cook.
“Her recovery was definitely a struggle at times. Every morning she’d wake me up at 5am, she just wanted to play.
“Penelope’s my best friend. She’s the most amazing thing that has happened to me.”
“She’d just come off the farm and was a natural in the house. She’s very intelligent.”
On A Mission (May ’21 Hooksy x Leave Me Out – 2016 G2 Laurels finalist) is trained by Kasey’s dad, Shane, who combines his greyhound racing passion with a job as a sprinkler fitter (fire protection) on the West Gate Tunnel Project.
And Shane was content to take a back seat and let his ‘girls’ offer superlatives on Penelope’s bubbly personality.
Proud mum Paula advised Kasey had saved all her catching money from Saturday night meetings at The Meadows to purchase Penelope.
“Kasey bought her as a pup for $1500 from breeder Don Jarvis, who is a close friend of the family. He really looked after Kasey.
“She loves the dogs, it’s all about the dogs.”
Paula added Kasey spent the first week of Penelope’s post-surgery recovery sleeping in the theatre room.
“Penelope was automatically house trained, she’s just one of those dogs. And she was the perfect patient. In fact, she’s perfect in every way – her whole demeanour.
“As for Home and Away, Kasey and I always watch it. So, Penelope had no choice.
“Initially, we kept her walking so the leg wouldn’t wither. And then we put her in the ‘square yard’ at The Meadows where she could do some twisting and turning, and she was just itching to go.
“I also used to drive her around everywhere, so she wasn’t confined to the house.
“We broke her in ourselves, as we wanted to keep her in kid gloves. She didn’t show much ability early at break-in stage but suddenly the penny dropped. We took her along slowly and patience is a virtue.”
That was evident when On A Mission won her first ever half-field trial, clocking 16.71sec (6.51sec first split) and saluting by eight lengths at Healesville (300m).
A fortnight later (last Tuesday last week), On A Mission made an auspicious race debut at Healesville. She won a Maiden heat (300m) by almost eight lengths in 16.76sec.
And last Sunday, she went one better with a gallant half-length 16.65sec victory in the $3000 to-the-winner final.
“I couldn’t believe it. I had to watch the replay when she won her heat,” Kasey said.
“I was crying; I was just so happy she’d made it to the track after everything she’s been through. And then winning the final was so surreal.”
Paula also outlined her feelings after On The Mission’s ‘clean sweep’ at Healesville.
“I was very emotional after her heat, as I didn’t know if she’d ever race. Her courage and spirit have taught us more than we’ve taught her.
“We’ve also had good people supporting us – fantastic help from Angela Langton, Jeff Britton and Jim Psaila.
“The days leading up to the final were exciting for the whole family… And now Kasey has picked out the car she’s buying. The money is a bonus, but it’s more about how proud we are of Penelope.
“Kasey is just over the moon, and it’s good to see young kids getting into the sport.”
So, who does Kasey think is Penelope’s favourite fictional character in ‘Summer Bay’?
“I’d say it’s Marilyn,” she quipped. “Penelope also has quite a wardrobe herself, including Diamonte pink collars and a pink bow-tie collar.”
And if Penelope could talk (well, she practically does), I’m sure she’d have a message for Kasey: “Hold me in your arms, don’t let me go, I want to stay forever. Closer each day…”
Pawnote: On A Mission returns to Healesville on Monday. Her litter sister, Scarlett’s Wish, won at Ballarat (390m) last Monday. Trained by Don Jarvis, Scarlett’s Wish scored by 7L in 22.14sec (Best).
WATCH: ON A MISSION (B3) holds off OCCIPITAL (B4) in an emotional Maiden final win at Healesville on Sunday.
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