What happened to the dog?

Patrick Ferry
Monday, 24 April 2023

Migration to Australia offered new opportunities for many Maltese. It inevitably also involved leaving loved ones behind. For Jessie Grima and her children, this meant saying goodbye to their beloved pet dog Flossy.

Virtually inseparable

Flossy was 11-year-old Alfred's dog. Flossy was a very loved member of the family and virtually inseparable from the children. Wherever they went, Flossy went too. Flossy even appeared in the photograph attached to the family’s migration application!

Jessie made that application so her family could be reunited. As with many Maltese families, her husband Joseph Grima had migrated to Australia first. This enabled him to get established in work and arrange accommodation before the rest of the family migrated.

Leaving Flossy behind

When Jessie and her children boarded the SS Jenny for Australia in early 1951, Flossy was not with them. Strict quarantine rules prohibited bringing Flossy with them.

What then happened to Flossy? Fortunately, Flossy found a good home with the children's grandparents. Nonetheless, it was 'bil disppontament kellna inhallu il kelb warajna' (with great disappointment) that they left the dog behind.

A lifelong love of dogs

Reunited with Joseph in Australia, Jessie and her children settled in Moe in Victoria's Latrobe Valley. The children soon had other pets.

When he grew up, Alfred followed his step-father Joseph into employment with the State Electricity Commission (SEC). Alfred has remained a dog lover all his life. Over the years, some of his dogs even won prizes at the Royal Melbourne Show.

The assistance of Alfred Demajo and Joseph Matina of the Maltese Community Council of Victoria Inc. is gratefully acknowledged.

Family photograph with their pet dog.

Photograph of Jessie Grima and her children. Their dog Flossy is at the feet of 11-year-old Alfred Demajo. NAA: MP80/2, 7 MAR 1951/GRIMA J.