When we bought a house, but were still living in our flat in Durban, Dave and Goldie Hill presented us with a magic little feisty puppy, half Staffie half Jack Russell, delivered in a shoebox. We called her TC.
She was joined soon after we moved in to our home in Westville by my big rival for Aitch’s affections: Matt the man, named Matt cos he certainly wasn’t glossy.
Matt died on the M13 on the hunt for an intriguing smell which he knew was important and exciting, he just didn’t know why! He was only two-plus years old, so I’d guess he probably died a virgin. Our property was fenced but obviously not escape-proof.
After much mourning and a burial in the garden, Matt’s replacement was chosen, also in a backyard, also of interesting parentage. Trish Humphrey always thought she’d call a dog “Bogart” one day, and so Bogart got his name. To TC’s disgust a second small male dog was introduced and – again – he soon outgrew her. She always remained boss-dog though!
About two years later Bogart also went missing. I searched again and found him on a highway. This time the N3. Another burial in the garden followed.
Poor TC now had another black dog join her, a third!! Also small, also soon to grow big. This time a lady, Bella, who was destined to become a huge part of our, and especially Trish’s life for the next seventeen years. She, too, was of interesting parentage.
TC ran out of steam after thirteen years and is the third and last of our dogs we buried at 7 River Drive Westville, near the banks of the Mkombaan under a paper-bark commiphora tree. Bella was then joined by Honey, ‘rescued from euthenasia’ at the vet. He’d apparently been sentenced to death for excessive wandering! Aitch said ‘can’t be!’ and took him home. Well, little did she know just how determined a wanderer was old Honey. Jess christened him Honey, and he was mostly called that, but once his habits became evident I called him Houdini.
Houdini disappeared, maybe ‘rescued’ again by someone who finally managed to coop him up permanently? I hope not. I hope he wanders still. Now Bella was alone and Aitch decided she was lonely. No, no, I said, she’s enjoying the peace and quiet! So I put my foot down and issued a decree as titular Man of the House: We Cannot Get Another Puppy.
So Aitch got two: Shadow and Sambucca.
Shadow was a lovely dog but became our first dog to be euthanased. She bit a neighbour kid and then did it again. Sam is still around, twelve-plus years old and when cleaning out the garage recently I found a very novel item: A pedigree certificate! Aitch had hidden from me that Sam was our first dog without character and lacking in hybrid vigour!
(Read about Sambucca’s parents here).
Jessie named the black lab ‘Sweetie’ – horrors! So we scrambled to find a better name: Terry Brauer suggested Black Sambucca and that stuck, thank goodness. She and Bella became good friends – Aitch was right again! Bella finally breathed her last in Aitch’s arms at seventeen – she had been a champ!
Poor ole Sambucca is ageing rapidly now. Eighty five in human years, she has a tumour growing apace on the side of her face. So far she’s still comfortable, eating – though losing weight – and tail-waggingly keen for a tummy rub. Her vet says keep her comfy and keep watch, but an op would likely be too drastic and risky for her.