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Monday, 7 December 2015


This has recently been doing the rounds on Facebook again, attributed to a six year old:

“People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life. Like, loving everybody all the time, and being nice. Well dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

The sad fact is that we will all probably outlive our pets and throughout our lives will have to say goodbye to a number of loved animals.

The question of when to say goodbye and let them go is one I’ve had to make more times than I care to remember, and it doesn’t get any easier.

When I realise that it may be getting to decision time, I ask myself, “Why am I keeping the animal alive? Is it for my sake or the animal’s?”

If the answer is, “For my sake,” then it is time to let go, as difficult as it may be.

I far to often see loved pets suffering because the owner cannot bear to say goodbye – this is not fair to the animal. It is also not fair to others who loved the dog; they may wish to remember it as a healthy loving pet, not a disease-ridden or old dog bearing no resemblance to the beloved pet.

We decided to play god when we started domesticating animals and took dogs and cats into our homes as companions. We cannot now abdicate our responsibility because it doesn’t suit us or is too difficult. When you take on a responsibility, you have to carry it through.

Talk to your vet about it, ask his/her advice about the quality of life the dog or cat has, what does he recommend? Good vets will love your animals, but has an objective view, unclouded by years of love and companionship. Listen to their advice.

Please do not let any animal suffer - it is not necessary. Let them go with dignity and love when the time comes.

They never really leave us, they stay in our hearts forever and we will always remember their love, joy and devotion.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


The debate continues, which is best, harness or collar? This can be as touchy a subject as religion at a bar and right up there with the Apple versus Microsoft debate – everyone has an opinion and they are adamant that they are right.

If you are hoping for the final answer, skip to the bottom of the page and read the ads, I am only going to try and shed some light and personal insights on this murky subject.

I tried to research this question and found that pro-harness people say collars are a no-no, always. The pro-collar people, vice-versa. End of discussion.

Luckily there are some experts that agree that both have a place and use. Collars can be worn all the time and there is no better place to hang the dog’s ID tag. On a side note, dogs must have ID tags if they are going outside the property, even if they are micro-chipped (which they should be).

On the down side, collars are not really an effective way of keeping your dog under control. A few days ago I saw a dog get out of its collar at the vet and take to the street with owner and vet in pursuit. A couple of cars had to take serious evasive action. In defence of the vet, he was assisting the owner in loading three dogs into her car after their consultation.

A well fitting harness gives much more control over the dog and it is virtually impossible for the dog to get out of it on its own. Have you ever tried to stop a dogfight if the dog is only wearing a collar? I have had to do that with a dog wearing a collar and a dog with a harness – trust me, I’ll take the harness every time!

Personally, we prefer harnesses as our dogs are already wearing flea collars and they never go anywhere unless attached to us via harness and lead. (Yes, they are micro-chipped and the harnesses have ID tags.)

Next blog I tale a look at the safety of our pets when travelling - watch this space.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Animal Behaviourists – Worth it or Not?

Before you decide, the following really happened to us.

In December 2014 we did a show at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) and on the first day we spotted a cat walking around the venue, looking all at home. Unusual for a feral cat, it seemed to enjoy human company and it was not at all fazed by all the loud sounds and activity.

At that time we only had two dogs and one cat and had been thinking about another cat, but decided we will not go out and look for one, the right cat will find us.

Of course, the CTICC cat was immediately looked at as if it was the “right cat”. That it seemed comfortable on my lap being fed pieces of biltong, helped its case a lot.

On day two Gerda had a closer look and suggested that the cat may be pregnant, it also looked so comfortable in its surroundings that we sort of decided to leave it there. I mean children were carrying it around and it certainly was not thin.

The last day of the show (Thursday) we were asked if we wanted to take the cat as the SPCA had been called to fetch the cat – No brainer, as one we said, “We’ll take it!” It was promptly closed up in a room with water and some nibbles, hidden away from any potential “fetchers”.

Of course we had no idea how we were going to get her home, as we had not planned to take her, therefore no cat basket.

After the show we packed up, Gerda fetched kitty, and we got into the car with kitty on Gerda’s lap, where she sat contentedly till we got home.

That is where the chaos started.

Gerda stayed in the car with kitty while I fetched the cat box, not thinking, I let the dogs out. They immediately stormed the car the say hello and see what was on Gerda’s lap. We got kitty into the box and as we lifted it out the dogs came sniffing and kitty went ballistic – probably she had never seen a dog before. I took her up to my study, got water and food for her and let her out of the box (door closed, dogs sniffing on the other side).

After getting over her initial fright she seemed to calm down and even purred when I picked her up.

Friday morning first thing it was off the vet who confirmed that she was pregnant, early enough to have it “sorted out”.  This, and the sterilisation, was done later that day and she went home late Friday afternoon – this time we kept the dogs away until she was safe in “her room”.

Later that evening she was walking around, eating, drinking and, for all intents and purposes, being merry.

On Saturday we took turns in going to her and spending some time with her. She was also named – Isis, for the Egyptian goddess, not the other lot!

Things progressed smoothly, as it had in the past when we got new cats in the house. By Sunday morning I thought it was time to introduce the two cats to each other. Simple, have done it often before. Yeah, right.

As I walked into the room holding Cipia (older, female cat and long time resident), Isis came flying out of nowhere, in serious attack mode! No growling, no posturing, no warning, straight into the attack! I still don’t know who got the biggest shock, me or Cipia. After a hasty retreat, I treated my wounds, literal and figurative ones, and thought about what went wrong. It was so far from my previous experiences, that I was completely shocked.

Some time later I went back to Isis and she promptly attacked me (in hindsight, it was probably the loose pants I was wearing that scared her) – Now I was really in shock! What is going on?

Completely dumbfounded, we actually started contemplating finding an alternative home for Isis. Gerda eventually found an animal behaviourist to call first thing on Monday and we agreed to wait and see.

Monday was still thinking about starting when Gerda got hold of John Faul who agreed to come out on Wednesday and help us. He actually rescheduled other appointments to help us as soon as he could.

I am not going into detail about how John Faul worked, suffice it to say that it was the best thing we could’ve done! He was absolutely brilliant and within two hours had our house a place of peace and calm where everybody knew their place and had agreed to get along.

Now, almost a year later, the two cats play together and both tolerate the dogs (as cats do). The dogs love both cats and a lot of cross grooming happens. All four of them often share our bed on cold nights and never is there any sense of tension.

By now you know where I am heading: Animal Behaviourists – Worth it or Not? A resounding YES from us, it was worth it. Had it not been for John Faul, we would’ve missed out on a lot of love and cuddles from Isis.

By the way, Isis still pops into the study when I am working and often impedes my typing by insisting on being on my lap and getting her head scratched.

If you have a look at our Web site (, you will see Isis on Our Clients page - She is the one asking for a bed, Cipia, of course is Senior Cat.