Category Archives: Dogs

Stuck in traffic – roar!

Traffic slows to a crawl on the Monash Freeway...

Look a little closer 🙂 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Excuse me Mr Nissan-Pintara-Driver. Are you aware there’s a zoo in the back window of your car? And it seems to be slowing you down.

In the last eight minutes stuck behind you in traffic, I’ve counted no less than 14 animals calling your car home.

Not live animals, mind you. This menagerie consists of a stuffed penguin, several rubber snakes, a crocodile, a fluffy bear and one rather irate-looking tiger, among others.

But wait! What’s this? I’ve spoken too soon. There IS one live animal in the mix – a pigeon perched on the passenger’s headrest. And by the look of it, he doesn’t appreciate all your stopping and starting either.

Ahh. We’re making progress now. I think you’ve found the accelerator, Mr Nissan-Pintara-Driver. And you’re turning off. Sadly, I need the same exit.

Whoa! What’s this? It looks like you’ve got a dog in there too. He just poked his nose out the open window as you took that rather wild corner. And it’s a Jack Russell, no less. My respect for you, Mr Nissan-Pintara-Driver, has been restored.

Oh, looks like you’re home. And now it all makes sense.

You live in that crazy old, tumble down shack with a giant spider welded to the front wall, CDs strung from every tree and more cats than I can count as I drive by.

Thank you for that entertaining drive, Mr Nissan-Pintara-Driver, albeit rather slow.

Now I really must get home and raid the cupboards. I always thought window decoration could be my forte, and now I know just the place to try it.


The case for cats . . .

English: Young male tabby cat

English: Young male tabby cat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Owing to the backlash from last week’s blog, I have decided to dig deep and balance the scales on the whole ‘dog versus cat’ debate. I can’t make any promises, but here goes . . .

In my lifetime I’ve known several cats. There was Gustav, a white cat with shoe-polish ears; Symphony, a long-haired tortoise-shell with questionable night-time habits; Adolphus, a tabby with attitude to spare and his adopted brother Patches, a black and white feline – deaf as a doornail – who spent his days either sleeping on top of the fridge or taking pot shots at passers-by. As cats go, they were . . . cats.

My sister (the main source of last week’s backlash) was the owner of two more felines – Tinkerbell and Jakey. If there was a cat that was going to swing my opinion it would be one of those two. Before there were kids in my sister’s household, there were cats and as they grew so did the family. They were a yardstick – and occasional gearstick* – in her happy home.

This, I understand. Cats and dogs are there through all the good, bad and middling bits. Their presence is attached to memories of all sorts of events that span the years. Whether they’re watching from a perch on top of the fridge, curled up at the foot of the bed or laying claim to the best seat on the couch, they are still a member of the household.

In my sister’s words:

“It’s not that cats are better than dogs, they’re just different.”

Besides, no-one said you couldn’t love a furry tyrant bent on world domination.

Meow. 🙂


*I searched high and low for a picture of a cat in the gearstick pose. Sadly, no luck. You’ll just have to imagine it for yourself.

Dogs vs cats – it’s simple really

101 Uses for a Dead Cat

101 Uses for a Dead Cat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s those quiet moments – when the head-rest doesn’t quite do the job, when the pencils need sharpening or the cleavage needs a boost – that I often lament not owning a cat. A dead one.

One of the greatest books ever published takes pride of place on my bookshelf. Created by Simon Bond, ‘101 Uses for a Dead Cat’ was the starting point for my lifelong aversion to felines.

And if you need convincing, you have only to consult my extensive collection of anti-cat/pro-dog literature to confirm the extent of this loathing.

Cats are evil and I have the research to back me up.

Everyone knows that a cat only loves you when it’s hungry while a dog will give you endless devotion no matter what’s on the menu.

The relationship between a cat and a cat owner is largely one-sided, fuelled mainly by insecurity, loneliness and sheer volume of numbers.

A dog is your equal – it will give you more than you ever give to him or her while a cat is just a sponge – it takes and takes and then it dies.

A cat will slink away (as only a cat can do) when the going gets tough. But a dog? Well, a dog will be your fiercest protector in the face of pure evil (which is often a cat).

The only bad dogs I’ve ever known had bad owners while the only cats I’ve ever known were . . . cats (and you know what I think about them).

And yes, I know there have been instances where cats walked miles to find their owners but the cold reality of this scenario comes back to those fickle feline stomachs. I’m sorry to say, but your cat – it never liked you. He thought the tuna would be pinker on the other side of the settee and only came back because he realised he already had you trained.

Dogs by contrast, are loving, loyal and delightful. They make you a better person and they know that any person who’s a dog person is a person worth knowing.

Join me in a toast to the dog!

Goodbye Tess . . .


Three days ago I said goodbye to my little dog Tess.

She was 15 years old and in pain. It was the hardest decision and the worst day I have ever been through.

Tess had been fading for some time. She was deaf and blind, arthritic in her hips and, from time to time, showing signs of disorientation. Her world was small and getting smaller.

But while she was still active with a good appetite and a strong sense of smell, I was happy to let her keep on keeping on.

She loved her morning Schmacko, her afternoon chewy treat and a back rub whenever I could spare the time.

But the tipping point came with an eye condition that would inevitably spread to her other eye and give her constant pain.

The end was quick and horribly, heart-breakingly final. But she was peaceful. No more pain. No more fear and a lifetime of love behind her.

Grief is a strange thing. I still find myself in tears every now and then, but in the past three days it’s the memories of her more active years that have come to be a great consolation. Long walks by the river, chasing sticks, leaping through long grass like a Springbok. Her chestnut face, gorgeous dark eyes, expressive ears and that waggy tail.

We gave her a home but she gave us so much more.

She is missed, everyday, and will be for a very long time. Such a little dog who made such a big impression.

Goodbye Tess.

How do I love thee?


Let me add up the vet bills.

My dogs pre-ceded my husband, my children and my house. They were my first introduction to responsibility and an eye-opening door into the world of pets, pet accessories, pet diets and pet obsession.

But puppies inevitably become teenagers before cruising into adulthood and hobbling into old age. And that’s where we are now.

Both the girls are a little greyer than they used to be and not so nimble on the stairs.

Perhaps it was naive, but I had always imagined them running and jumping to the last before slipping away peacefully, with a smile on their furry faces.

But it’s not to be.

While Tess, my mini Fox Terrier/Jack Russell, has been suffering from arthritis for some time and is regularly dosed with pain relief, my Maltese, Maggie, had until recently been ridiculously puppy-like despite her 15 years.

That all came to an end while we were away on holidays. Suddenly she was in pain with a suspected back injury. Or was it pancreatitis? Or maybe even an enlarged liver? Some $750 later we settled for an enlarged liver and a course of antibiotics with daily pain relief. Two weeks later and another $200 she’s been given the all-clear and is back to her effervescent self.

Meanwhile, Tess sleeps her days away. She still has her appetite and a keen sense of smell but she can no longer hear and her vision is minimal.

Some days I feel like a pharmacist, a physiotherapist and a dog psychologist all wrapped into one.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way . . .

Things I’ve learned on holidays . . .

  1. A five hour car trip never takes five hours.
  2. When a five-year-old says he’s busting to death, it’s serious.
  3. When he says it’s serious, it really is.
  4. Telling him to hang on until we reach the zoo will only work for so long.
  5. However, the sight of an elephant pooping will have him laughing for hours.
  6. On the flip side, seeing gorillas in captivity is depressing.
  7. Meanwhile, a dog left at home – alone – can be expensive.
  8. Back to the zoo and . . . entering a butterfly enclosure behind a man with body odour issues tends to distract from the beauty of the butterflies.
  9. Awful odours won’t stop an eight year old from noticing two butterflies getting ‘friendly’.
  10. And asking questions loudly.
  11. Meanwhile, a dog left at home – digging up pot plants – is expensive.
  12. A side trip to the old sewerage treatment plant is very interesting to grandparents. Grandkids? Not so much.
  13. Meanwhile, a dog left at home – falling out of pot plants and injuring its back – is expensive.
  14. That same dog, now found to have an enlarged liver – now costs more than the holiday.
  15. It’s nice to get home.
  16. It hurts to pay the vet bill.

The bite to end all wars


The look of guilt was written all over her hairy face. As she stood quaking at my feet, I knew something was up.

A moment later, the howling began.

Red-faced, blotchy and in a state of shock, my youngest daughter arrived on the scene, offering up her shaking hand amidst a sea of tears. She had just had a close encounter of the snapping, toothy kind. And she couldn’t believe it.

Someone she had trusted all of her life, someone with whom she had shared so many good times and someone who now stood between her and me had just bared her teeth in anger.

In a fit of pique, during a stoush over bedding, our 15-year-old Maltese had nipped her two-legged sister by mistake. And she knew she’d done wrong. Her tail was tucked between her legs and she couldn’t look me in the eye.

In the doggy’s defence, I must tell you she was defending her territory from the older dog who, from all accounts, was throwing her weight around. Add to that the unrelenting argument between our son and daughter which, no doubt, had her worried. After all, how was an innocent pup meant to know that the angry words were not directed at her?

Once the tears had subsided and all parties had acknowledged their role in the caper, we headed inside. On closer inspection, any hint of the bite had disappeared.

But the effect was evident for the remainder of the night – no more fighting.

It wasn’t enough that I kept telling them to stop. When the dog got sick of it – that’s when they finally listened.