They really are man’s best friend

When NICK KRAUSE, editor of Times community newspaper, is not volunteering at the SPCA, he has three dogs with personalities and a cat that keep him entertained with their antics. Some musings on the animal farm, all part of one big, happy family.
Nick Krause with Xena, Biggy and Max

It’s puzzled me for some time now that the lifespan of our pets is relatively short.

For creatures that bring us [mostly] so much joy, it just doesn’t seem fair.

Cats typically live for between 12-17 years and dogs 10-13 years. When we brought a gorgeous German Shepherd pup home, the eldest child was still at primary school. My kids – like others around the globe – would have grown up with a canine or puss.

The day he was euthanised I could not make it to the vets. Age and genetics had robbed him of mobility. Terribly sad for the world’s fastest dog. All three children attended with their mother. The eldest still recalls getting mum to stop at a butcher’s shop for a big steak then they helped him around a park for a last walk. They spread his ashes in the water at Eastern Beach where we used to live.

Fast forward to the adult kids. The eldest and his partner have three very large dogs. The two older dogs are brother and sister and the youngest is a half-brother. He is now larger than the other two and he’s only 14- months-old. Oh, and he’s pretty scatty, struggles to listen to commands and loves vomiting just inside the front door. Max is the funniest of the three of them.

Everything is an adventure for Max. Every single thing. It’s a reminder, if we needed one, that these animals are more than just pets. They’re family members, companions.

We’ve caught him numerous times sitting on the Alpha dog’s head. For a 50kg dog, that’s a sight to see.

I don’t know why. Nor does the Alpha dog that used to very quietly growl when puppy Max came over to play. Alpha dog just accepts it now.

Max’s tail has knocked over so many cups of tea and just as many glasses of wine. He has also paid many visits to the vet. There was the mysterious swelling of one of his legs [put down to coming in contact with a noxious plant]. He demolished that first cone of shame within minutes, smashing through furniture and doorways. He obliterated four I think. The last one was reinforced with heavy tape and did the trick somehow.

Max loves hanging with the cattle

He’s injured a paw badly. Max tears around at breakneck speed. There’s some bush land up on the hill behind our house and he will rocket between trees, over bushes and leap from great heights at a gallop.

But his unique quality is an affinity for other animals, including our cat. They don’t play because she is alarmed by his size. I was holding her one day and he wanted to sniff her tail which was waving about like a worm on a hook. She shredded my arms to get some distance from the beast. When calves were placed in one of the paddocks adjoining the property, each day we would find them gathered round the fence near him sniffing each other’s noses. He did this daily until they moved.

He adores other dogs and got a fright when one attacked him. Max will play with visiting pups for hours. And then there are the horses. Max will happily walk amongst them while the others take a slightly wider berth. He’s one of a kind.
Enjoy your pets as they enjoy you.