Monday, August 9, 2010

Four Legged Friends

Pets have been a feature of this month - A new kitten in the family and the death of a much loved family dog in the same month has encouraged me think about our pets and why we love animals so much.

Although my mother loved nature, she wasn't a great lover of having animals inside and we were discouraged from having pets probably because she had her hands full with six children and,as we lived in the country - often a garden full of cows! She used to say that "I don't want any livestock in this house" - her definition of livestock included dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits - in fact anything with four legs! We smuggled pet guinea pigs into our garden shed but sadly they didn't survive the winter. I would bring the school hamster home for the long summer holidays without her permission, knowing that for six weeks it couldn't be returned.

I was afraid of dogs as a child so much so that if I saw one coming home from school I would stay rooted to the spot till it went away or until I was rescued. I was terrified of cows too and my journey home from school often coincided with milking time so they stopped my in my tracks! I learned to love dogs but am still not sure about cows!

I like cats but have never owned one (unless you count the one that moved in with us for a short time in the UK and had kittens in our lounge)because we have always had a canine friend or two.

Our current best friend is a staffie called Zimbeni - she came to us from a farm and was looking for a home about the time we lost our Rottweiler, Sally. Her name means second in Xhosa, as she was the second puppy born. We tried to rename her but her Xhosa name stuck and she became Beanie. She is a pretty girl - a brown eyed brindle with a wide grin -She is lovable, loyal and easy going but protective when it comes to uninvited guests.

We have owned many dogs and each one that has found a home with us has happened by chance. We had a Jack Russel called Paddy because he came from an Irish friend who was repatriating - true to his Irish nature, Paddy was fierce and incredibly naughty. We should have named him Houdini because he was an escape artist of note!

We came home with Shandy after an unplanned visit to the pet shop. We were told she was a male cross between a Ridgeback and Golden Labrador. She - yes she - grew to a height about 30cms. Ridgeback she was not - Labrador neither - she was a pedigree impostor who lived to the ripe old age of thirteen. Other dogs came to live in our home and left us - but she seemed to outlive them all!

Chess was our incredibly intelligent Border Collie whose speciality was shredding the newspaper. He also had a great talent for fetching the ball from the swimming pool and was probably a nicotine addict.His party piece was sitting intently besides unsuspecting visitors as they smoked, and catching their ash as they flicked it away. His energy was boundless and when we moved to a townhouse we had to make the decision to let him go, as walls were no deterrent and couldn't contain him. He lived until a ripe old age on a farm - loving his retirement and even fathering a little of pups - one of which was promptly taken in by our son and family.

Lucy and Sally were very special rottweilers who changed our perception of this wonderful breed. They played their role as watchdog perfectly. Looking fierce when on guard but their true nature was energetic yet gentle, loving and playful. We were so devastated when Sally died from biliary at the age of three that our son donated Lucy - his rottie - to us. She had nine wonderful years in our care.

That's the sad part - that we have to loose our pets. It's part of the deal as their lifespan is shorter than ours, so we have to accept when they come into our lives that they will leave before us. We pour so much love into the relationship we have with them, and they serve us so loyally, that parting is just too sad. However,the great thing about loss is that time heals and on reflection, the joy they bring us outweighs the sorrow when they leave us.

That's why there is an other bulldog puppy on order. Last month Cleo, the much loved pet of our eldest son and his wife died. There will be great excitement in the family when the new puppy arrives. Watch this space we are planning a puppy party of note!

We popped up to meet the latest pet addition to the family yesterday. A six week old kitten - as yet unnamed. So helpless, so fragile and so dependant on the care being given to her right now. She came from a lady in North End in Port Elizabeth, who has a hundred stray cats and kittens in her care, which she funds from her own pocket. There will be special place in heaven for this lady I am sure! It was just lovely to watch the love and attention being bestowed on this little ball of fur - perhaps her name should be 'Lucky' - all our family pets are...... and so are we to have them in our lives. We love our four legged friends because they are companions and confidantes - they instinctively know when we need cheering up and snuggle up close! They make us laugh -they entertain us. They keep our secrets and give us unconditional love - they protect us and are loyal. As any true friend should be.We can learn a lot from our four legged friends!


  1. Lovely to hear about all your pets and their personalities. We are now hamster owners. Floss is the most accessorised creature this side of Swindon. She nownhas a wheel, ball and tunnel. Very cute.

  2. Many years ago, I picked up a stray Rottie near Walmer location. He was so thin that he was a walking lesson in anatomy. I advertised in the classifieds, but no one came forward to claim him and so, having fallen somewhat in love with this bright-eyed youngster, I ended up keeping him. My vet said he was more or less 90% Rottie, and 10% Travelling Man. He guessed his age to be around 9 months. My son named him Wags, after the dog in his Gr 1 school book. I'd always been afraid of Rotties, but Wags was such an awesome dog, fiercely protective of us. With us though, he was as gentle as a lamb. If he could have, he would have settled all 72 kilos of himself on my lap! He brought us nothing but joy for the 11 years in which he was a much loved member of my family. Sadly, I lost Wags last December when he lost the use of his back legs.

  3. Ahh Jenni - he sounds so special! What a blessing that you found him and that he found you. They are such a misunderstood breed but once you have owned one you are smitten for life - I cant walk past a rottie now without having a conversation with the owner!

  4. Ha Ha Janice - sounds like Jessica's Zhou Zhou hamster - not a real one but very accessorised! You gotta love these girly girls!