TOPICS: Bear beats belly bulge in time for summer fun

BACK IN FORM: Bear, the three-legged dog from Carrington, makes the most of the attention from his personal trainer, Shoko Kasanami, and owner, Miwa Haas, at Cafe Inu. Picture: Darren PatemanWALK through Carrington and you’ll know you’re in Bear country. Over there, Bear the three-legged dog is a big deal – too big, lately, for his owners’ liking.

Peter and Miwa Haas – who also own the popular Cafe Inu – soon realised doting customers were behind their American staffy’s burgeoning belly.

‘‘He was just getting bigger and bigger,’’ staff member and Bear’s personal trainer, Shoko Kasanami, told Topics.

‘‘He was getting burgers and chips from people, and next thing we knew, he was like a big barrel.’’

Not only do patrons spoil him (Topics once witnessed a man who resembled a Hell’s Angel cooing ‘‘who’s a good boy, yes you are’’), but Bear was also showing up at the neighbours’ for snacks.

Already a leg down and predisposed to arthritis, Bear had to get serious. So Shoko made him a handy red neckerchief – ‘‘Don’t feed me,’’ it reads – and put him through his paces.

‘‘I’ve been taking him for walks, taking him up the Carrington hill,’’ she said.

‘‘He’s a workaholic. He wakes me up at 6.30am.’’

For a dog who’s just turned four, Bear’s been through a lot. A collision with a shard of metal protruding from a yard last Australia Day cost him a limb, but he was out of bed and running up stairs within weeks.

And with summer almost here, he’s looking svelte and there are even reports of him frolicking with a fetching young staffy. You old dog.

You can follow his adventures on the Facebook page ‘‘Bear the 3-legged Wonder Dog’’.

EVEN IN TURKEY: There was a guy in a Knights jumper at the Lone Pine Cemetery for Anzac Day 2001.

NOVOCASTRIANS Abroad Syndrome is real and it’s been happening for years, confirms Fran Faulkner. She can think of three instances off the top of her head.

‘‘First one, we were at Heathrow when I noticed a lady who looked like my husband’s ex-workmate. Turned out it was her,’’ Fran says.

‘‘Second trip, lady on our tour of Venice set me straight that we had worked together 20 years ago.’’

Again in London, Fran heard a familiar voice – and turned to see a lady from the chemist in Charlestown.

While not abroad, Paul Weaver found that two of three caravans queued at Roxby Downs, WA, belonged to people from the Hunter. He later met travellers from Maitland, Blackalls and Cameron Park. At Marble Bar, he had a beer with Dungog’s favourite son – Doug Walters.

Elaine Street, of Merewether, didn’t expect to find a Hunter connection in Cinque Terre, Italy.

‘‘But I started a conversation with an Australian couple,’’ she says.

‘‘The wife told me she had a sister in Newcastle. The sister was the wife of a retired minister of my church at Scots Kirk Hamilton.’’

Browsing a shop in Calgary, Canada, Nancy Wright, of Tarro, met a woman she recognised from Georgetown. Turned out, she now lived in nearby Red Deer and was keen for word from home.

Finally, Novocastrians Barry and Glenys Martin travelled to Turkey for Anzac Day 2001.

EVEN IN TURKEY: There was a guy in a Knights jumper at the Lone Pine Cemetery for Anzac Day 2001.

‘‘At the Australian Service at Lone Pine Cemetery, we spotted this guy in a Knights jumper,’’ they report.