Run away. Run away. Come back. Come back Annabelle.

I like my daily dose of normal.  My daily dose may appear chaotic and crazy to others, but is my normal, and the result is that my mind can tick off the “normal” every day.

If there is a shift or you take away a key element, or add something extra, I am likely to have a little spin out.  And this is the reason I make lists.  I always have a list, and I like to tick my things off my list, as then it makes me feel “in control” and that I have got it all buttoned down.

This morning I am driving to work.  Traffic is shocking.  My phone goes off, I hear it ring, but cannot attend to it and navigate an interchange.

I hear my phone beep a phone message.

I smile.  I love people who sms me a message, rather than leave a long fangled phone message.  I do like sms people.

I am in traffic, and in neutral. ,I dig my phone out.  It is an sms from a vet in Bergvliet saying “Hi we have your dog.  Thanks Carol St Francis Vet Clinic 021 712 0357.”

Hmm, I am thinking Carol is tucking into the tipple a bit early this morning.

I just left home.  My dog was there, and Bergvliet is several miles from Parow, even for a fast dog that might be bending the time/space thing a bit.

I call Carol – Carol tells me she has my staffie.  My brain is trying to compute.  I try to explain to her I do not have a Staffie.  She re-explaining to me that actually I do have a Staffie and she is at their vet.

I am starting to speak to Carol like she is a special needs person, and I am really to busy for these rather bizarre phone calls.

So she goes “I am sure microchips don’t lie.  We have your dog Annabelle, it is a red and white Staffie….”

Annabelle went missing about a year and a half ago.  I ran ads, I contacted vets, I put notes on Facebook, I cried, I worried, I felt terrible.  I healed.

I am floored. Once my brain started working, I decided to re-aim my vehicle towards Bergliet, and sure as sh*t there was Annabelle.

Older, fatter, but still Annabelle.

She looked at me like I had just come back from the shops, after buying some wine.  She was not going to tell me where she had been for the last year and a half, and instead decided to pant and leave saliva all over my car’s front seat.

Anything can be forgiven the day you get back from the dead.

I brought Annabelle home and explain that I had moved on.  I had mourned her death, I had got a new puppy.   Dexter looked at her and his hackles have risen, there appears to be an usurper in his midsts.

As my friend Joyce says, it is the dog version of the Bold and the Beautiful, where the dead husband returns to find his wife has now remarried … and has a new family … because in the Bold and the Beautiful, dead husbands and dead dogs always come back.

Moral of the story: Microchip your dog/cat.  That shit works.

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Introducing Dexter ……

I have been on a “get a dog mission” for several months.  I uh’med, I aa’hed, I rethought it.  I drew up a list.

I have been chatting to a breeder in Pretoria for a little bit about a litter she has, and about getting a male from her.  I like dog shows and my thinking was to look at a dog that I could start showing again.

We have had Staffordshire Bull Terriers for years, and I truly adore the breed.  Since we lost Annabelle, I really have not quite felt like getting another Staffordshire Bull Terrier.  I kept waiting and thinking “okay I will feel like a SBT soon…”

Part of it was, I think, that Annabelle was a real handful, and I think helped to jade me somewhat to the breed.  We have had several SBT and some were gentle giants, but then we had Annabelle.  Annabelle was like Robbie Williams on TIK in a small room, with no access to money and a dealer waiting to be paid …..all of the time.

I do feel a bit “embarrassed” about changing my breed, as I have been a staunch SBT supporter for years.

On Friday Kennith and I went along to SAA Cargo and collected Dexter.

Dexter is a Boston Terrier, and his eyes are so big I think he has 300 degree vision without having to move his head. He is only 8 weeks old, so he has not quite mastered the many facets of life and his funny legs at the moment – his ears sort of shoot off in different directions and pick up the landing signals from Cape Town International Airport.

Poor guy had a runny tummy in his crate, and what met us was not the that milky sweet smell of a puppy, but rather a rather forlorn looking puppy covered in his own faeces.

Since then, there has been a fair supply of faeces and urine.  Not always deposited in the garden.  Saturday afternoon I seemed to get some in my hair, which was somewhat disturbing, but the thing with faeces (and baby puke) in your hair, is a good shampoo and a really strong body scrub and you feel much better.

Dexter has managed to poo spray the entire house and Pepe is about at the end of her tether with him.

Thank goodness he arrived with a bit of a gutsy temperament.  I was concerned he would be sitting in the corner and shaking when he was faced with our family – but he seemed to take it in his stride.

This morning I went to say hello to him, and I was really chuffed he had poo’d on the paper.  Dexter was also really excited, and wagged his bum so much he fell over into the runny poo, and the more I tried to move him away from it the more he stepped into the runny poo.  The final moment was when I pushed him out of the runny poo, and he jumped up against my white towels.

Meet Dexter.  Affectionately referred to as Mr Stinky Pants.

We have very strict rules about dogs NOT sleeping on beds ….

Rubbing biltong between your breasts …..

I have been coveting a dog for our home for some time.

I am seldom a “quick decision maker” when it comes to acquiring a new member of the household.  It took me about 3 – 4 years to decide to get Jackson.

I took less time to decide on a second or third child (we can unpack that idea on another post)

I look at it that a “new dog or cat” is a 12 – 14 year commitment on average, and it’s a lot of responsibility.  You do not always know what you are getting, and you can’t always predict how it is going to change the dynamics in your household, and the going rate for kids to pick up doggie poo! (I use R20.00 a weekend for full weekend doggy poo clean up as a guide)

As much as my kids may scream “we really want a do/cat/hamster/snake/vermin, at the end of the day the responsibility for on going care will be mind, so I decide when I am ready to take on the responsibility.

I have long said to them that we are “not ready for a pet” so it has taken me years to get to a point where I am no longer have to to say “no” to mice/rats/hamsters/snakes/dogs/cats and so on that my kids want to bring home.  My kids know the blanket answer is always going to be NO, so they have stopped asking.

I consider the demand for food, water, care, attention,  vets bills and potentially new shoes to replace the pairs that are lost along the way.

Decision making involves a spreadsheet, numerous hours using google search, chatting to breeders, reading breed standards and much staring into the distance and sighing.

I have decided some time this year that I was “less opposed” to looking at maybe getting a dog.  I thought about it.  Made a list.  Then put it aside.  I repeated this every month or so.

A few weeks back I decided “actually I am quite interested in getting a dog for our home.” And then it turned into a rabid project.  Like Bridezilla.  But not.  However has a similiar frantic decision making where you start seeing the white of my eyes and spittle forms on my chin.

<Just to cut this conversation before it gets started.  I am not interested in rehoming a dog from a shelter.  I am not going to argue the merits of either, really I am not.  Suffice to say I choose to approach a legitimate breeder and purchase a dog that is bred to a particular breed standard.  Case closed.>

I have two breeds in mind at the moment.  Both I like equally.  They have difference and similarities.

To assist my decision-making I went along to a local breed show to meet the breeders and also have the chance to snuggle a dog.  I snuggled, I hugged, I ogled, I appeared to appear controlled, I sat on the grass and gave myself over to slobber.

I thought it would help me “choose” between the two breeds, if anything it made me want them BOTH.  More.

One of the breeds have a litter here in Cape Town.  It’s a specialist breed, and I am very fortunate to have the breeder nearby, and even more lucky that one was born soon after my “real commitment to getting on a puppy list” started.

I have made it on to the shortlist for this litter.  To explain there are about 16 of us, there are 9 puppies in the litter.  Clearly there is going to be name calling, bitch slapping, a bit of name calling and maybe even some slandering of competition.

I feel an overriding urge to puff out my chest, lift my chin and say “Bring it Bitch!”

I can attribute this to the fact that I have been listening to “Die Antwoord” this week, and not to a strategy that will work for me today (or ever).

Today the breeder has invited us to an open day to meet the puppies.  It is also an opportunity for them to meet the “prospective owners” and evaluate them in person.

They can then get a better feel as to whether they really want you to have a puppy, or whether they are going to bounce your application to the kerb.

So it’s like speed dating.  But different.

I gave it some thought and decided to only take Connor.

I cannot imagine me (excitable me, who jabbers when they are nervous and over excited), Kennith (who is slightly disinterested in this), Connor (who does not know we are thinking about a dog/puppy, so he will be in shock), Georgia (who wants to hug everything, so I can only imagine her reaction when presented with 9 adorable puppies), Isabelle (who just appears to not listen when she is on a mission).

All of us facing 9 puppies and me attempting to make a good impression, and keep control.

Total Puppy Open Day Fail.

Solution: Leave the two girls at home, explain they are at cello and violin lessons, and just take Connor along.

I know the girls will be fine if we got a new dog at home.  There will be the first day where they are going mental screaming PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY, and then I will medicate them and send them out of the room.  Threatening to “punish” them if they go within 2 metres of the puppy.

By day two everyone will be fine, and have lost interest.  It will be fine then.  Calm will be back.

Taking three kids to a puppy viewing, would be like “puppy waiting list suicide” and I have opted to at least give myself an outlying chance.

I am so excited about later this morning.

I am going to go and shower, do my hair, and rub some biltong behind my ears and between my breasts to make the puppies like me more ….. strategy people, strategy!!

I’m for dogs … (as the saying goes)

I have always been dog people. I have always had a dog or dogs.

I used to show dogs, judge dogs and play around dog show rings –with a special interest in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. But then kids came along and spending time at a dog show became more challening than fun … I still nurse illusions that in a year or two I will be able to make my way back to dog shows and it will be a hobby that I keep up, with the family or without the family. 

I really do like dogs.

We had a dog Annabelle (yes I do realize my daughter is called Isabelle, it did lend itself to lots of confusion and often having to re-scream the name as we would get them mixed up) and she was born on the 1 January 2001. 

Annabelle was always a bit on the wild side and as much as she would drive me to distraction – because she really was like Robby Williams on TIK – just way too much energy, I was still fond of her.  She was however really difficult to train, and was really the dog that taught me humility.

I was always quick to judge someone if they did not have a well-trained well-mannered dog, because clearly they had no control over their dog (tsk tsk).

Then the universe conspired and gave me Annabelle – and I learnt humility, because she was virtually untrainable …. virtually.

Last year October, we were coming to the tail end of renovations on our home.  In the second last week one of the building guys left the gate open, and our dog bolted.  Annabelle had a bit of Forrest Gump in her and could run and run and …. you get the picture.

Annabelle did a runner.  But I was not too worried as she was micro-chipped and I figured sooner or later someone would take her to a vet/SPCA/animal welfare, bar code scan her and I would get a call and it would be that easy.

I drove around and looked for her.

I ran some ads, posted things on social media sites, sent emails around, phoned vets/organisations and got hold of a few people who know people who are involved with lost dogs – and I waited, as I figured sooner or later she would appear.

I got a call from a vet, to say they had a dog that matched my description. 

I was very excited, threw Connor in the car and headed to the vet.

Annabelle is a 10-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, spayed bitch with red and white markings, with a distinctive white blaze on her chest, across her snout and she has white feet.

I arrive and the vet shows me to a fawn Great Dane cross Labrador – the only thing they had in common is that they were of the species Canine and both were bitches (not the vet, who might have been, but I really did not hang around with her to find out).

I generally have a lot of respect for vets, I do.  But this one sort of made me go “Seriously, seriously?  I spoke to you on the phone and explained my dog in detail – great detail.  Did you think this was mine and then washed her and she stretched and grew a uterus since my call? I mean seriously!”

I might not be welcome at that vet again.

Clearly it was not Annabelle.  I took my lead and collar and went back to the car with Connor and felt very dejected.  Then I felt very worried, as this was the only response I had regarding all my advertising.

I started to get a sneaky suspicion that maybe Annabelle might not be coming home.

That was 6 months ago.

Connor still tells me every 2 – 3 weeks that he really misses Annabelle and he wonders where she is.  I say that I hope where ever she is she is warm, safe and has someone who cares for her, and has decided that they love her so much they are going to keep her …..well that is what I wish and like to tell myself repeatedly.

I still get very sad when I think of her, and I feel guilty that I had not done more to find her and more to protect her from getting out.

So we are dog-less in our house.

I have never been dog-less in my entire life.

I know I am not ready for a new dog. I am just not ready. I just do not feel ready.

My friend Ilze sent me an email from a breeder who has a young Staffordshire Bull Terrier bitch and I started looking at the pictures and then I felt a small twinge – that maybe I am ready for a dog. 

I am not sure yet if I am ready for this particular dog, and need to give that all some thought.

I am also not a fan of “getting a dog for a child” (hear me scrunch up my nose in disgust and really go tsk tsk) – a dog has to be for you, as kids will lose interest generaly after about 3 – 5 weeks if you are lucky.

However – no but, just a however – I like children to grow up with dogs and be respectful of them, and also not be afraid of them.  I think a dog in our house with our kids will lose it’s mind because there will always be someone to snuggle with and play with.  I also like children around dogs, and like children who are not afraid of dogs.

But I am not sure yet if I am ready for a dog.

<I am not an impulsuve decision maker when it comes to pets, it took me about 3 – 5 years to get my cat, so spontaneous decisions in this area are hardly my forte….>