Aitch’s Dogs

Aitch TC (2)

TC was her first dog, and she was Aitch’s favourite. She arrived while we were still living in our flat in Marriott road. She was a flat dog for a month or two and couldn’t believe the wide open spaces of our first suburban home.

Then Matt (because he wasn’t glossy when he arrived) came along and HE was definitely her favourite. Big time. She wept when he died, killed on the M13 highway one night. Bogart tried his best and she loved him too, but Matt was a hard act to follow, he was soppy and used to bring her dried leaves in his mouth as a gift! We buried Matt near the river at 7 River Drive.

Bogart River Dr (3)

Bogart (Trish’s maiden name was Humphrey) was third. He had a tail. Docking tails had been stopped – at last! What’s a dog without a tail? Shame, man!! She loved old Bogie. He was killed on the N3. Buried at River Drive.

And then came Bella! Bellisimo!

All the while, TC was still there, still the boss; wondering why we kept getting new tiny black nuisances which grew up to be bigger than her.

Now, make no mistake, Bella became Aitch’s all-time favourite. She loved Matt next best and Bogart too. Also Shadow and Sambucca in later years. And TC all along. But Bella!? She and Bella the Brak won the top prize at dog training. Her friend who won second prize with her pedigree German Shepherd turned to Trish when Bella won the last round and said “You know, Bella would fly if you asked her to!”

– Canine Academy Winners!! –
Family 2004 Frame 2
– Houdini the blonde pushy – Bella polite –

TC died of old age at River Drive, where we buried her on the banks of the Mkombaan river near the paperbark Commiphora, near Matt and Bogie. (Note to new owners: Don’t go digging too much in 7 River Drive!).

Yes, Bella you WERE her favourite, but then kids arrived and took over. And then Aitch rescued Houdini from euthenasia and look how he is pushing in while you wait politely as ever for your turn!

– Houdini the blonde –

Houdini escaped once too often, never to be seen again. Which is how we got him to start with: A friendly dog that no-one knew who he belonged to was given to Aitch by a vet.

So when we moved to Elston Place, Bella AT LAST had the family to herself. Didn’t last long: Aitch decided Bella ‘needed company’ and told me “Bella is lonely, I want to get her a puppy.” “Absolutely not!” I decreed, laying down the law as the boss of the house. “No more puppies!”

So she got two. Enter Shadow and Sambucca:

Sambucca was in danger of becoming “Sweetie” (Jessie’s choice of name!) so we sent out an SOS for a name for a pitch black dog. Terry Brauer came up with Black Sambucca – just right!

Bella died at 17yrs old, about a year before Aitch died. Aitch was right there with her when she died. We buried her in the garden at 10 Elston Place. Only Sambucca outlived Aitch.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Recycling Toilet Water

Durban is finally waking up and planning to start recycling waste water. When? Who knows.

Most people will be pleased and see the common sense; A few will be saying Ew! We’re gonna be drinking toilet water?!

On the facebook group Durban’s Dogs the repeated question has been So What’s The Big Deal, Man? Arf! We’ve Been Doing It For Years . .

Lab Report

Approaching her 84th dog-year birthday Sambucca started with a red eye which started to bulge. This followed a long slow period in which she went grey, then white, then hard-of-hearing, then hard-of-seeing. She’s still full of beans and has a robust appetite, but the intermittent bulging red eye was not normal. A trip to the vet was called for. Between making the appointment and going the old duck clocked 84. Twelve calendar years. Born 23 August 2006. It says so on her papers from The Kennel Club. ‘Jena’ born out of ‘Yellow Daisy’ by ‘ZinZan Kilgobbin’.

‘Strue. She’s our first non-brak. Amazing. I always thought she was 12% greyhound judging from her sprint round the trailer when I get home evenings.

Tobias rounded her up, so she thought AHA! I know him, he wants to shampoo me! To avoid him she leapt into the back seat of the Ranger like a teenager. Tobias just grinned, mission accomplished! Jess accompanied me and even though old Sam very seldom gets a ride she was a star on her dog mat in the back seat; calm, unfussed.

We also had best behaviour at the vet except when an intruder – an inferior golden retriever! – dared to leave the consulting room and cross the waiting room floor. How dare it come to the vet on a black labrador day?

Sam advanced on it menacingly. “Hey, act your age!” got her to subside. “You’re not on guard duty now”, I told her. I kindly didn’t mention that she’s never on guard duty.

The verdict was a retrobulbar mass which will probably grow.  And ears that need a good cleanout.

Otherwise she’s  in really good nick; happy, healthy appetite, shiny soft coat and good joints for an old duck.

“What a lovely dog”, said the vet Laura and her assistant Nikki, giving her another treat. Sambucca bristled when Laura mentioned she could have a cat scan, A WHAT!? but then her thick tail signaled enthusiastically that the lab report agreed with the vet report when we all agreed not to do any major surgical heroics.

So she’s had her first home ear washout, four to go.

Sambucca 12yrs (3)

Update: She can hear again! Sometimes.

——-ooo000ooo——-

Update: she’s gone . . 6 January 2019: Aitch’s birthday.

Houdini the Hound

When Aitch rescued her from the vet – who gave her a sob story that the poor dog faced imminent execution due to persistent wandering which had driven more than owner to despair. Jessica called her Honey, for her lovely blonde-y coat. But when I inspected his undercarriage I explained Honey was a him, but Jess always called him Honey. I changed my name for him to Houdini for his escape artist feats. 

He’d been found and unclaimed and we were to find out why. Houdini was the gentlest, friendliest mutt you could imagine. A consummate diplomat with humans and canines. He just did not like being constrained to one small half acre of land. He had places to go, things to do and new friends to meet, so he would bolt down his meal and – as soon as Aitch and I had left to work – look around, decide things were boring and off he’d go, escaping under or over any fence in his way.

If left to his own devices he’d always be home for supper, so no problem. But often he’d be found and ‘rescued’! He would hop into any car with alacrity, so we would then get a call from someone – citizen, vets rooms or the SPCA saying – sometimes in accusatory and disapproving tones – “you negligent, uncaring owner, we have your dawg”, as he now had a collar with our home number on it they could phone us and berate us. So off we would go, time and time again, to fetch Houdini. And we’d explain, and sometimes we’d get the “Yeah! Right!” look.

We went around the perimeter closing any possible gaps and holes but Houdini simply relished the challenge. His greatest escape was when in desperation – and chastened – we locked him in the garage at 10 Windsor. We put his basket, bowl and water in there, much against our better judgement, as we were actually relaxed about his wandering, as we knew he was traffic-savvy and just had strong wanderlust. If only people would just let this mutt roam free!

10 Windsor Ave (1) (deleted 56ba8e0bfe593e06bf798fc6a3b29c89).JPG

Quite unbelievably, he climbed up various paint tins, structures and shelves, got onto a high window ledge and forced his way between the burglar guards and escaped again! He was a legend, every bit worthy of his stage name! And so unassuming. Butter wouldn’t melt in his beak. After that escapade we had special tag made that said “I’m Houdini. I wander. I’m fine. Please phone Pete or Trish and tell them where I am”. That helped a bit when people phoned us: We got less “tut tut”-ing. The wandering, however, continued.

One day he didn’t come back. We searched high and low and phoned the SPCA and the vets rooms. No sign of Houdini, who they all knew so well by now. I hoped he wasn’t imprisoned by a new ‘caring’ owner. I like to think his new ‘owner’ is tearing his hair out about how to keep his new delightful vagabond in, and – I hope – failing.

I hope Houdini is still wandering off freely, visiting new places and new people, blissfully unaware of what the fuss is all about.

Houdini at home with me and TomTom

Famous Jock and My Jock

I read Jock of the Bushveld again. No, I don’t know for the how-manieth time. I enjoy it every time. Percy Fitzpatrick wrote this classic about the lowveld on the highveld: On his farm Buckland Downs in the Harrismith district.

– famous Jock – almost as handsome as my Jock –

Always gets me thinking of my Jock in high school:

– 95 Stuart Street back yard with my room left and Jock’s luxury carpeted kennel right –
Jock with the Swanie/Bellato Vulgar River Expedition Voortrekkers' canoe
– Jock with the Voortrekkers’ canoe wreck after the ill-fated Swanie/Bellato Vulgar River Expedition –
– my favourite of all – Mom Mary knew –

. . and then in Westville many years laterTC was a mini-Jock:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Helping the Needy

Its really dry here in Westville. Our resident troop of vervet monkeys are feeling it badly as they glean the area for food. I decided to put food out on the boundary away from the house for them to ‘fortuitously find’, but since the jungle gym has gone off to the grand-niece I had to find somewhere to place the food.

I put it out in a long trail from the garden bench to the corner of the yard, spread out so the big powder-blues don’t grab it all. Try and give the females and teenagers a chance at it too.

As I turned round I realised I had been followed by the plump black labrador. She’d hoovered up all the choice bits! She’d left the fruit, but even the bread had been labradored. Ah well, I’ll have to think of another way.

I gave her the bowls to lick.

20150706_073238 Sambucca the Needy

Here’s the dismantled gym on the farm with its new owner:

IMG-20141023-WA0000

Matt, the other man

When the new boy moved in I experienced times of being firmly relegated to 2-IC, second-best, sidekick, supporting cast – in Aitch’s life. Me and TC had to step back as she fell deep and hard in love with Matt. Here’s when she found and chose him:

matt-arrives-2

He was not glossy, so we called him Matt.

TC and Matt at their bowls - Touched up using FxFoto

Then he grew. And his coat became glossy on the expensive vet’s food Aitch fed him. He was at the tail-end of the docked-tail era.

TC thinks WHAT the hell is this!!!? matt-tc-river-dr-4

matt-tc-river-dr-2 dogs-river-dr-matt-tc

This was back when these dogs were our children (prior to adopting two of the longer-lasting, more expensive, less appreciative, two-legged kind!).

I found Matt on the freeway late one rainy night. He was probably after an intriguing new smell which enticed him out (he hadn’t wandered before). He was a growing boy, after all! Hit by a car on the M13 when he went loping off thinking “Love Is In The Air”, he was dead. His collar with our details on it was still attached.

We shed tears. I dug his grave. We buried him in the garden.

Then we got a lawyer’s letter and the guy who hit him sued us for the damage to his car. He was entitled to do that, and we paid. Felt crappy, though.

True love – Aitch & Matt; Matt about 1989 to 1991.

True love - Aitch & Matt; Matt about 1989 to 1991 - buried at 7 River Drive