Friday, July 15, 2011

Mad Dog for an Englishman

Having bemoaned the fact that Mad Dog cannot type, my first blog, ironically, is about her and our other pets. I guess it equates to people writing about their children but I do not have any, unless you count the husband, Roy (otherwise known as Royneck-Englishman).

Over the years we have had many pets.  I look at my tally and find that there  have been more cats than dogs. 12 in all, so far.  I suppose it is because, as they are so much easier to have in your home, you do not mind having a few at a time (no, I don't mind cat hair on the furniture). You do not have to walk a cat every day. You do not have to share everything that goes into your mouth with a cat.  Going away from home for a few days  and leaving behind a cat, is less worrisome than leaving a dog. Cats like to maintain a charade of independence and self-sufficiency. This means that you can call their bluff from time to time. Instead of hiring a house-sitter, we merely ensure that the cats are fed and watered each day by a cat-friendly neighbour. When we arrive home, all three cats are waiting at the entrance, delirously joyful and not even pretending otherwise. It adds something extra to the happiness of being home again when we watch them dancing away in front of us, chirruping gentle admonishments. I do know of some cats who sulk for days in order to punish their parents at such times, but ours have no such pride or deviousness.

Stasha's joy!
Jessup says: I am  NOT a basket case!

My tally of the dogs that we have owned over the 33 years of marriage amounts to only 6, which includes the latest one. At the beginning we lived with two Labradors, which Roy owned when we got married. While I loved them, I find that big dogs are a lot more work. For a start, everything about them is bigger. They need so much more exercise too. I found it distressing that they slept outside at night on the verandah but, with wall-to-wall carpets in that house, they were not encouraged to enter inside too often - doggy smell and fleas just luxuriate in carpets. Bathing them was a mission  because I insist on a dog having a warmish bath and do not just use freezing water from a hosepipe in the garden (although Mad Dog will tell you that she has had a few hosings when no warm water has been at hand, after rolling in some unspeakables ).

After those dogs died, we had just moved into our new home with tiled floors, when I brought home a puppy of mixed ancestry, donated to me by one of my pupils. I felt that it was the perfect time to have a dog living inside our home. Muffin was a darling and we had the pleasure and delight of being loved and loving her for almost 15 years before she passed over to the Happy Hunting Grounds. After a pause, so that we could travel overseas to walk all along Hadrian's Wall without the worry of a dog left at home, we fostered two dogs who needed a home in the last few years of their lives.

Last year in February, after living without a dog for a year, we heard about a part-time resident in our village who was asking everyone whether they would consider taking on a two year old "collie-type" dog.  

Mad Dog started out life as a puppy thrown into a dustbin. A brother and sister, who were living temporarily in Cape Town for work and post-graduate studies, found and adopted her. At the end of  two years, the sister had to go home and, in that time, Mad Dog found it very lonely. Brother worked long hours and although he gave some attention in the few minutes before sleep, it became obvious that the sister had been the main attention-giver. Mad Dog then became a persistent Houdini, breaking out and running down a rather busy motorway, seeking out something that was missing from her life. Time and again, people found her, posted up Found notices and restored her to her owner. Finally, her path ran across our village resident who took her in and who eventually persuaded the owner that the kindest thing was for Mad Dog to have tons of human company in a new home. However, she herself was not allowed to keep Mad Dog in the townhouse complex where she lives during the week and that is when she started her quest for the ideal match. Enter Roy, who was in desperate need of a canine companion again. Despite my resolve not to own another dog so that we could be freer, I weakened, and so, Mad Dog came to live with us.

I do find that owning a dog ties us down. There are not many holiday venues which accommodate dogs!  For future overseas travel, if we can ever afford it again, I think that separate travel at this stage of our lives could have many pros, especially as our interests are so far apart. This would mean that for a longer absence, one of us would be around to hold paws with the pets!

Luckily, we have a  piece of ground about 260 km away from our home where we spend quite a bit of time. Mad Dog loves traveling with us, insisting on lots of fresh air (head out of the window for the entire trip). Once there, its a host of new walk routes and adventures for her, at the heels of her dear Englishman, in the midday sun, naturally.

A Star traveler


  1. MD&E - Congrats on your first blog post - you took the plunge :)

    How wonderful to read the story of your extended family and of your latest member, Mad Dog. LOL

    Can't wait to

  2. Wow, this is lovely and the photo's are beautiful. Keep writing - I'll be reading!