Tag Archives: pets

‘Never have more children than you have car windows.’ Erma Bombeck.

I think Erma Bombeck is being rather optimistic here, implying at least some form of orderly conduct is possible as long as each child has a window of their own.  Then again, I imagine she was probably also talking about children of the two-legged variety, rather than those of the fourlegged persuasion.  Anyone who has ever had more than one dog in a car at any given time will know that, no matter how many available windows there might be, every dog will be absolutely desperate to look out of the exact same one . . .

Adding to the general car-chaos in my household is the fact that none of my girls actually like being in the car in the first place.  Even when I do get a day when it appears they have all decided to be good and are happy, smiling and sitting nicely, I can almost guarantee that before we are even out of the driveway they will have somehow managed to transform themselves into a confused and tangled little mass of collars, leads, legs and grumbly, snappy little faces.

(And if (God help me) one of them also gleans that we might actually be on the way to the v.e.t. instead of the beach, any hope of establishing the slightest modicum of doggy-decorum immediately flies out of the very same window they are all still arguing about . . . )

And the fun doesn’t stop there.  By the time we eventually arrive at our destination all three of them will have wound themselves up into such a frenzied state that I will need all my wits about me to get them out of the car again.

I know that as soon as I open the car door Maudie will make her break for freedomand she is fast!!  I have to make myself as large as possible in the doorway and make sure I have her leash well in hand before I allow her any space to move at all.  (Still being clipped in to her seatbelt has never been an issue when trying to escape the car . . . )

While attempting to wrangle Maudie I will also be watching Molly as she is always an accident waiting to happen.  Molly is somewhat clumsy on her feet these days (and a tad portly to boot) and if she were to jump from the car without my help she would be more than likely break whatever leg she landed on first or even completely forget to put her legs under her at all and bellyflop hard on to the ground.  (She’s knocked all the wind out of herself one more than one occasion!)  She is also a slippery little sucker when she doesn’t want to be caught . . .

And, of course, by the time I have cornered Molly and placed her gently on the ground next to Maudie, I am likely to find that Maudie is, actually, no longer where I thought she was.  Somehow she has managed to get herself back inside the car again (why?  why?) and is now hiding beside her sister Mabel, who has positioned herself (immovable as a rock) as far away from me as she possibly can, having obviously decided that no matter how much she hates the car whatever is outside is much, much worse.  Sigh.

I’ve been considering for a while now what best to do about the situation.  Apart from never (ever ever)  taking the girls in the car again which, unfortunately, isn’t really feasible, I’ve decided that something similar to the option below might be the way to go.

I’m not quite sure about the legal ramifications though . . .


Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Uncategorized


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‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’ Winnie the Pooh.

living-aloneA couple of acquaintances and I were chatting recently over coffee.  I admit, I’d lost track of the conversation a bit (I was looking for something in my handbag) until there came the question ‘Don’t you ever get lonely living on your own?’ followed by a pointed silence.  I looked up. They were looking at me.  Me? Live on my own? Whatever gave them that idea?  And then I realised they was actually talking about living with other people . . . 

In spite of the fact that living alone still gets a bad rap in our society, it is a trend on the rise.  In Australia, 1 in 4 people now live in ‘lone-person households’ and that number would probably be even higher if more people could afford to do it. (For once in my life I have actually been ahead of a trend! Woo Hoo!)  And I get it—there are many advantages to living alone (and before you say ‘Yes but . . . ‘ I do realise there are disadvantages too—but not enough of them yet for me to want to start sharing my space again.)

I love living by myself.  The whole house is my space (well—except for Molly’s spot on the end of the couch (she could give Sheldon Cooper a run for his money . . . )  

mineI can be as clean or as messy as I want. (I am not a messy person, but if I was, it would be my mess.)  I can channel-surf the TV as often as I like (so *&^%ing annoying when someone else does it)  and I never, ever, ever, have to watch any sport.  I can eat (or not eat) whatever I like, whenever I like (no judgement)—and the only one giving me a hard time about not doing any exercise is me.  I can rock around the house to my favourite music (without headphones) and sing very loudly and—well, I could go on and on . . .

harlequinDo you think that sounds incredibly selfish?  You are probably right (although you’re possibly also just the teeny-tiniest bit jealous?) but you know, in my defence (not that I really feel I need a defence)  I am well aware that I can be rather ‘challenging’ to live with, so I like to consider living on my own as a kind of  . . . public service.  Seriously.

So, having now convinced you of how content I am, I must also concede that I honestly am not sure if I would be as content if  didn’t have a dog . . . or a cat . . . or a bird . . . or a hamster . . . or some other kind of ‘critter’ sharing my home with me.  For, in truth, in my years of living ‘by myself’ I have never ever had to come home to a completely empty house.

Most people who share their homes with pets will attest to the love and companionship their pets provide, but they also give us a sense of purposegive me a sense of purpose.

hermitWhen living alone it becomes very easy to think only of yourself.  To think only of your own welfare and your own needs.  My girls give me something else to think except myself. They rely on me for their food, exercise, health and wellbeing.  I am insular by nature (‘Please kindly go away . . . I’m introverting) and sometimes I think that if it weren’t for my girls (and the fact that I have to go out to work for a living of course) I would never want to step outside of my comfy little house at all.

But my girls are are everything I am not.  They are social creatures.  They are loving, and cheerful, and playful, and hilarious, and they like to get out into the big wide world and meet other people (although they still love me best) and I like to think (to hope) that some of their happy nature rubs off on me.  I am definitely a nicer person when I am around them.

So, living alone.  Yes or No?  Yes.  Absolutely yes.

Living alone with a pet . . . or three . . . even better . . .


‘My girls’ — Molly, Mabel and Maude


Posted by on January 20, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘We’ve had cloning in the South for years. It’s called cousins.’ Robin Williams.

clonesdogLast weekend I watched an older sci-fi movie called ‘The 6th Day‘. The movie was set in the ‘very near future’ where DNA cloning had been perfected and become an ordinary accepted part of everyday life. Early on in the story the family dog, Oliver, died and the family discussed going to ‘RePet’ to have him cloned.

Fifteen years ago when this movie was released, pet cloning was still science fiction—but only just. The first real pet-clone was a cat, CC (‘Copycat’ or ‘Carbon Copy’ depending on which article you read) born in 2001. Today there are commercial companies around the world like ‘PerPETuate‘ and ‘myfriendagain‘ offering pet cloning services to ‘reunite you with your best friend’ (all at considerable cost of course—anywhere between $50,000 and $150,000).  As I watched the film, I also watched my three lovely girls as they pottered happily around me and wondered whether I (always supposing I ever had a spare $100,000 anyway) would ever consider cloning any of my pets after they had passed on.

It actually didn’t take all that much thinking about.  I have adored every one of my pets and grieved hard for them when they passed away, but cloning?  Nope, not for me.

clonesI do admit that the science of cloning fascinates me—I am a rabid sci-fi fan after all—but the ‘sci-fi’ science and the ‘actual’ science of today are two very different things.  In sci-fi movies the clones (people or animals) always seem to be exact copies, down to the tiniest detail. Their mannerisms, individual quirks and memories are the same as the original.  We don’t have human clones yet (and let’s not even go there, please) but today’s pet clones are advertised as being genetically-identical-but-not-exact replicas.  So it’s still a bit of a lottery.  You might indeed get a dog or cat that looks and acts almost exactly like the one you lost—but you also might not.

Apart from the fact that I believe that just because we can do something, it doesn’t mean we should (animal medical experimentation—a whole other conversation) I can see why creating a dog clone might be considered an option if you are trying to replicate genetically gifted animalssay search and rescue dogs or cancer smelling dogs.  But if, and it seems this is mostly the case, people are cloning their pets ‘to get their best friend back’ I can only feel that they are setting themselves up for major disappointment.  We are all, every one of us, the sum of our life experiences, the people we have met, the things we have done, the places we have been.  Surely our pets are the same?  And if this is true, how could a dog-clone, no matter how closely related to the original, possibly be the same as the dear friend you lost?

dog laughingA long time ago—in a galaxy far far away—I took Harry, my first dog, out to a friend’s farm where a crowd of us were meeting up for a barbecue.  After lunch we all decided to go for a ramble around the property.  Harry, who was only about 3 months old at the time, was having a ball. There were lots of friendly people around to give him pats.  He had been eating sausages all afternoon.  And, best of all, he was running with the big boys—the farm dogs, 3 large rough and tumble kelpies—who chased him, nipped him, rolled him over and over and played with him for hours.  He was in dog heaven.

And then we got to the dam. The dam was a vast crater dug into the paddock.  It had high, rough, earthen sides which were flattened along the top, and the water was dark, deep and muddy.  The farm dogs dived in right away and a few of us sat along the top of the dam to watch them swimming and splashing about. Harry desperately wanted to join them but he was nervous. He’d never seen that much water in one place before.  My friend asked me if Harry could swim and I said he hadn’t tried—there weren’t a lot of swimming spots where we lived.  Without missing a beat my ‘friend’ picked Harry up by the scruff of the neck and tossed him, unceremoniously, into the dam. I remember being horrified, appalled and so shocked I couldn’t speak.  All I saw was Harry sailing through the air and disappearing into the dark, murky water.

BloodhoundShakingOffWaterLeft_MedSeconds later he was up, and swimming for his life.  He made it to the edge of the dam, staggered out, shook himself vigorously and, without so much as backwards glance, took off after the other dogs who were now running up the steep banks to the top of the dam.  Once he reached the top he did one excited madcap circuit of the crater at full speed and then, with no hesitation at all, launched himself into space and into the water again. (I swear I aged 10 years that afternoon.)

Before long everyone watching was cheering him on and giving his soaring bellyflops ratings out of ten.  (It took him a while to work out that he could get into the water from the bottom of the dam as well, and he didn’t actually have to fly in from a great height).  Harry continued to toss himself haphazardly and delightedly into that dam for the rest of the afternoon and it was only exhaustion (mostly mine) that eventually stopped him.  On the drive home my lovely, muddy, filthy, smelly little boy slept like a stone, with his tongue hanging out and a huge smile on his face.

dogswimmingAlthough I don’t condone the action of hurling my puppy into a dam (the memory of it still makes me shudder) that was the day Harry began his life-long love affair with water.  From that day forth Harry would, at the slightest opportunity, fling himself exuberantly into any puddle, pond, fountain or river he came across.  He would even just stick his whole head in a bucket of water if that was all that was available.  Of course, not everyone we met over the next 19 years thought this as amusing or adorable as I did and I often had a lot of ‘splaining to do, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

'My Harry'

‘My Harry’

Would a Harry-clone have the same love for water that my original-Harry had?  Very possibly.  But the experiences Harry and I shared over the years can’t be so easily duplicated, and that’s what makes our dogs, and cats and other pets so dear to us. I have absolutely no doubt I would love a Harry-clone just as much as the original—I am a sucker for loving any and all dogs—but it wouldn’t be because he was a replica of ‘my’ Harry.  He couldn’t be, and I shouldn’t expect it of him.

So cloning?  Not for me.  I honestly don’t think you need a clone to mend a broken heart.  Grieve for the friend you have lost.  Remember all the funny, sad, exciting, ‘oh-my-god’ moments you had together, and, when you are ready, open up your heart and home to another (perhaps one of the many, many sad, lonely, neglected or abused dogs and cats already in the world) and, over time, they will mend your heart for you . . .


Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘ “Meow” means “woof” in cat.’ George Carlin.

Silver is sleeping in the sun on his driveway. He’s a big beautiful old grey cat, and dozing on the warm asphalt in the late afternoon sun is one of his favourite things to do. We see him there most days as we go past on our walk. Mabel will ignore him, Maudie will rumble menacingly at him (only under her breath thoughI think she is a bit scared of him), and dog-barking-at-cat-336498Mollywell Molly will puff herself up to twice her usual size (which is still only about half the size of this cat) and frantically hurl doggie-insults about cats and their mothers until she is well out of earshot. Silver will occasionally open an eye to see what all the noise is about, but usually he will just yawn, flex his paws, stretch out full length, smile and go back to sleep. So not bothered. Silver is one cool dude.

I miss my cats. I think people often assume that if you only have dogs that you probably just don’t like cats. That may well be true for some people, but not for me. I love cats. Cats owned me long before I owned dogs.

black kittenA couple of weeks after I first came back to Australia after an extended period living overseas I found myself living in a city where I didn’t know a soul. One day I went into town to buy groceriesand came home with two tiny six-week old kittens and a bag full of cat food, cat litter and cat paraphernalia (I can’t remember whether I actually bought any groceries). It was impulsive, yes, but I never once regretted it. And I never felt lonely again. I loved those two little cats. I loved their big yellow eyes, their soft shiny fur, their insatiable curiosity, deep rumbling purrs and their tiny kitty-cat feet. I would sit and watch them for hoursplaying or sleeping, or eating, or chasing dust motes or just sitting blissed-out in the sun.

black cat stalkingThe girl, Cleo, grew up to be a lovely, gentle, even-tempered little girl who loved to be stroked and fussed and cuddled. Her brother, Jess, on the other hand, turned into a huge beast of a cat who liked to spend his time stalking the neighbours through their gardens, creeping quietly up on them and then suddenly exploding out of the bushes and frightening the crap out of them. I always pretended to be cross with him (for the neighbour’s sake) but, just quietly, it was pretty hilarious.

(Less hilarious was his penchant for knocking things off my dressing-room table when he wanted his breakfast and I wanted a bit of a lie-in. In my sleepy stupor I would hear him gently tap, tap, slide, slide, tap and slide the bottles and jars around, and when I continued to ignore him it would get all too much and—wham—off the table one of the bottles would go. I would be out of bed in a flash and he would be off and running (and laughing) all the way into the kitchen—where I would find him ready and waiting for breakfast with a big smug smile on his face. Used to make me crazy.)

When the cats were about 10 years old I decided it was time to add a dog to our little family. The cats would be fine, I thought. They were fat and happy and well-adjusted, I thought. It wouldn’t be a drama, I thought. Who was I trying to kid? I can still see the look of abject disgust on Jessie’s face the day I bought that six week old pup (Harry) into the house. Jess was 19 years old when he died and I don’t think he ever really changed that initial opinion of Harry one iota over the next 9 years of his life.

stuffed dog&catAnd it wasn’t one sided either. Harry didn’t like Jess, right back at him. Harry, my lovely, adorable, feisty little Harry came out of the womb hating cats. Sigh. There was constant hissing and spitting and growling and snapping, and I would cajole and plea and bribe and even get cranky with them, all to no avail. I would see pictures of other people’s cats and dogs, all cuddled happily up together on the sofa, or piled up in a doggie bed together, and conclude that either one or the other of the animals in these pictures just had to be stuffed. It was never going to happen in my house.

But, over time (and when it eventually became obvious to them that I wasn’t going to give anyone away) they did manage to work out their own set of rules. As long as nobody sat too close to anybody elseor went near anybody else’s food dishor pushed in for a cuddle while someone else was already having oneor inadvertently came around a corner unexpectedly and gave someone a frightthings eventually settled into a nice routine, and we all bimbled along fairly harmoniously.

So I got another dog.

Frankie and Harry were polar opposites. In his whole life Harry only ever really loved me and Frankie (and thank God he loved Frankie too, it would have been awful if he hadn’t). He couldn’t really have cared less about anyone else.



Frankie loved me and Harryand everybody else he ever met. And that included the cats. From the very first day he was enamoured of them. He would sidle up to them, wriggling from his nose to his tail, desperate to get close to them. They, naturally, were mortally offended (how dare he?) and poor Frankie got his ears boxed more than once for his trouble. He would then spend the next couple of hours doing his utmost to apologise to them for his crass behaviour, which only exasperated them even more. Bless. But he never gave up, and in the end I think he just wore them down. He had so much love to give and those cats were going to get some of itwhether they liked it or not.

Cleo and Frank became snugglebuddies and would often cuddle together in the doggie bed in front of the heater (miracles can happen—if you wait long enough). Jess, although less inclined to snuggle, stopped hissing and spitting and ear boxing and even occasionally let Frankie lick his ears (while also trying really really hard not to purr).



Even Harry’s hatred of cats eventually mellowed under the onslaught of Frankie’s love. Well, ‘mellowed’ is perhaps too strong a word. Harry became more ‘tolerant’ of the cats. He would even allow them to sit next to Frank as long as they didn’t also touch him in the process. And he would also protect ‘his’ cats from other visiting dogs—he was allowed to be mean to them, but no-one else was.  Earlier grievances between Harry and Jess were mostly forgotten on those freezing cold Armidale winter nights when they would all pile into bed with me, with only the smallest amount of grumbling if someone had to get up during the night and came back to bed with cold feet.

It is many years now since I have had cats in the house.  Jess and Cleo both lived to ripe old age, as did Harry and Frank, but somehow it was dogs that started to take over my life and now when I need a cat ‘fix’ I have to make do with the occasional smooch from a neighbouring feline. And, although I am perfectly happy with my three doggie-girls, occasionally I will see a sign at the local pet shop  ‘Kittens Available’, and I will remember my lovely cats and have to put my head down and walk away really, really fast so as not to be temptedbecause it would be so easy to be tempted.



Instead I will keep telling myself that when Molly has had her summer clip it almost feels like I am stroking a cat. And, if you pat her in just the right way, she stretches out full length and flexs her little feet like a cat too.

Sadly, she doesn’t purr. She does, however, snore—and loudly.

It’s not quite the same  . . .


Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


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