Illustration by Jenny Lamont
In which DD counts her blessings and is so grateful to share her and her fur kids’ life with The Dad
As a Happy Tail-er (a super supporter of our website and Facebook page Link: https://www.facebook.com/happytailsmagazine.co.za/), you will already know all about “The Dad”, aka James; truly my better half, Aaron’s amazing dad, and the fur kids’ bestie!
Yes, he might not be quite as meshuga about animals as I am (that would take some doing!) but we have to hand it to him: he is always there for us. ALL of us!
He should have realised on the first night he ever slept over at my place and awoke in the wee hours to find an old sandy, half-gnawed marrowbone firmly wedged under his butt that life with me was going to be a definite case of “love me, love my animals!” Strangely, that was also the last time he slept over until we moved in together, bravely merging our fur kid families…
A marvellous menagerie
The soon-to-be-dad brought with him Brutus and Cleo, two gentle and well-behaved Rottweiler-Labradors. I brought five crazy cats – Bronte, Fredrick, Rodney, Reginald and Emlyn; three devoted dogs – Cocker Spaniels Ali Bear and Gemma – and a mad Morkie named Charlie; and one under-construction human baby who’d snuck on board (Aaron).
We moved to a plot in Chartwell, Johannesburg, where we were joined by an array of awesome animals, much to my delight. From the mud-coloured frog that slept in our pantry (he seemed happy there), the mouse I left food for in the kitchen (everyone’s gotta eat!), the flocks of noisy guinea fowl, the neighbours’ docile cows that watched us curiously while we bustled about in the kitchen, the wild hare that bounded across the plot under the moonlight, and a wild terrapin (no, really – he was simply passing through!), to the much less delightful venomous Rhinkals snakes that finally made us move when Aaron was just over two and loved to explore the plot dressed mostly in his diaper and his little blue wellies.
So, to say our first year together was a challenge of note is rather an understatement, but we made it through and, 16 years on, we’re still muddling along together. We have a few less animals now (sadly, all our oldies have passed on) but our little cottage is a still a happy home where animals are tops.
The Girls – dogs Sheba and Sammy, The Twins – haughty felines Arty Cat and brother Lewie, and two chirpy budgies, Boris and Georgie, make our lives richer every day.
Dad to the rescue
Life with me and the many fur kids has meant that The Dad has done things he would never, ever have dreamt of doing – or even wanted to!
He’s dashed to the vet, pyjama-clad, in the middle of the night; assisted in medicating fur kids with sharp claws and pointy teeth that they weren’t afraid of using; and wiped furry bums after bad poop episodes and cleaned up sick. He’s rescued baby squirrels and driven at break-neck speed all the way to Pinelands to get them into emergency care. He’s generously removed his socks to placate our resident sock thief Sammy and surrendered to having no duvet in the middle of winter so as not to wake her up. (Mind you, her Devil Dog impression is pretty scary, so it’s no surprise he’s given up fighting.)
The Dad has saved more rats and mice than you can shake a stick at (usually in the darkest hours) and carried them up the road to release them safely in the forest (how he hasn’t been picked up by the police yet for looking suspicious I don’t know!). He’s even carefully removed more than one snake from the clutches of The Twins using nothing but his wits and a set of braai tongs (of course it was at night).
He’s uncomplainingly consoled me way too many times, sometimes for several months, and forked out more money than he had in the bank to save a fur kid or two. And, mostly, he’s been my total fur kid support!
Sadly, even though I’m the crazy animal lover in the family and the fur kids do spend a lot of time by my side, as soon as The Dad arrives home, I’m yesterday’s news.
He walks them (I go too, but I’m just the back seat, um, walker), he plays ball with them regardless of the how grim the weather might be (while I watch from the couch beside the fire), and he feeds them morning and night. When he thinks I’m not watching, he gives cuddles, which are enough to make me feel a little jealous of their attention.
They simply adore him. In fact, given the choice, I think they might rather live with him than me.
BUT… heck, yeah, I am still needed! Let’s be honest, he doesn’t really know when Sammy is looking pale or her old bones are aching, when Sheba is feeling sad or needs an extra morsel of food, when The Budgies are bored or over-tired and need to go to bed, or when The Twins are about to have fisticuffs or have evil intentions towards the birds I feed outside.
Fact is: The Dad and I are the yin and yang of couples; complete opposites of note but, together, we make a great team and are (we think) the best of pet parents.
Thank you, honey – we love you!
PS: If you haven’t read them yet, you’ll find most of these “Dad experiences” here http://www.happytailsmagazine.co.za/dds-blog/