Category Archives: Behaviour

Pick On Someone Your Own Size!

Little Monkey

So Little Monkey got charged by a snarling, barking dog again.

Not as horrific as you might be thinking.

This particular monster was a very young Labrador puppy and barely came up to LM’s ankles!

It shot out of its house, ran right across the road and went straight for LM, snarling, yapping, barking and snapping.

LM was a bit surprised and was just about to react when I put her behind me and faced the little rat. I easily stopped it by bending down and grabbing it by the scruff of the neck and its harness.

A man working at the house (not the owner of the pup) came rushing over, picked up the puppy and took it back inside.

We were both laughing at the puppy’s antics.

It was hilarious!

But in a year or two, when it is fully grown and weighing 30 kg, it won’t be so funny!



Split Second Reaction

LM 1

I was walking my old girl Little Monkey after the rains, through the local patch of forest by the soccer field.

I noticed a large number of Guinea Fowl milling about under one of the trees, so was watching them in case they did anything daft, when a black and white Border Collie suddenly appeared running straight for the birds. The dog saw us and was about to change direction and run up to us instead.

I had to stop this, so quickly put LM behind me and faced the collie, emanating in dog language, “Back Off!”

Fortunately my ‘dog’ is good and the Border Collie got the message and just waited.

By this time I had LM in a full down (with a loose lead, for all those people I meet on my walks who tell me that dogs react because they’re on the lead!)

Finally a young guy appeared, jogging. He ran straight past us, ignoring me and making no attempt to call his dog. I just stood there, between the two dogs. After a while the Border Collie ran after his owner.

Phew! Encounter averted.

We carried on with our walk, towards the Guinea Fowl that LM would ignore.

We had only gone a few steps when suddenly, again with no warning, there was a massive beige dog galloping towards us. It was just there out of the trees. This dog was bigger than my friend’s Greyhound. I’m not sure what it was; Greyhound cross Great Dane cross Hound of the Baskervilles?

It would have to run right by us to carry on down the path.

This is when I had a split second to react in.

I knew with absolute certainty that LM was going to charge this dog. The suddenness of its appearance and the fact that it was running towards us, was more than enough to flick that reactive switch in her little brain. It wasn’t its size, but these other factors. She would react the same way to a Chihuahua; and has done so in the past!

Here was my dilemma.

LM was going to charge the dog.

If I kept hold of the lead she was going to wrench my right arm and shoulder – again.

This was going to hurt – a lot!

I wasn’t going to go through that amount of excruciating pain again if I could help it.

I had that millisecond to assess the giant running dog.

I read it as not overly dominant and non-aggressive.

I placed LM’s lead over her back, in a vain attempt to save it from dragging through the newly wet ground and getting dirty.

She shot off, as I never doubted she would do, charging the giant dog and barking. AwffAwffAwff.

She stopped just short of it, without making contact, as I knew she would.

The giant dog stopped dead in its tracks.

Then LM circled round behind it, feeling a bit overwhelmed now she was so close to it.

The giant dog just stood there, no doubt wondering what was wrong with LM! Luckily I had read it right. It was well-balanced and non-aggressive.

The two dogs sort of interacted a bit, then the big dog ran off after his absent master, leaving LM dragging her lead through the dirt.

I called her and made her come all the way back to me (only a few metres) because she had run off after all.

LM Always looking for trouble

Then we carried on our walk, with me shaking my head again, over the behaviour of my ancient unbalanced dog, that is forever going to be reactive!

And though this has taken a long time for you to read and even longer for me to write, the whole incident was over in seconds; the decision on what to do, in a split second!


So just how quickly do we react? Apparently it takes our brains about 152 milliseconds to act on a thought.


post script: I have written many times in the past as to why LM is like this. Short answer, she was not socialised for the first eighteen months of her life, before I adopted her. That part of her brain did not fully develop and then never would. Taking her to dog socialising classes every week for the whole eleven years that I have had her, has definitely helped. Our own Dog Whisperer says Little Monkey is the most difficult dog he has ever come across; and he has helped hundreds of dogs over the decades. LM mixes with all sorts of dogs of all ages, breeds, sizes and social abilities, but she is never going to replace that “missing link” in her brain.

That’s OK though, because she is my Little Monkey and is very much a part of the family. After all, she accepts me just the way I am.


Not Yet Departed


Haiku 53

Not yet departed

Borne aloft on southern winds

Spirited away



Once again I saw many European Swallows flying over my garden. They were milling round overhead, massing together rather than catching insects on the wing.

I dashed inside for my trusty Canon, but when I got back outside they were no longer flocking.

I caught one last glimpse of them over the rooftops, as they headed off – South?

Yep. They were definitely headed South, so I don’t think they’re ready to go back up North just yet!

Also, it was strange to see them flying in a skein formation like this. They’re not geese after all!


Taking a Shower

Skink 1

What’s the matter? Haven’t you seem someone take a shower before?

Skink 2

I was sitting under the trees trying to keep cool when I noticed something dark move at the far end of the pool.

At first I thought it was a leaf, but it seemed to move with more purpose than just drifting with the flow, so I went to investigate.

Skink 3

I found little Spunky the Skink, clinging onto the spare hose, with his body under the trickle of water entering the pool.
I could see he had his nose out of the water so could breathe, but it seemed very odd behaviour for a cold blooded reptile to want to be in the freezing cold pool water!

Skink 4

I got my husband to come and have a look and he ‘rescued’ the little skink with the pool net. I’m pretty sure he’s a Cape Skink, trachylepis capensis, endemic to Southern Africa.

Skink 5

We left him on the stoep to dry out in the sun

Skink 6

He stayed very still for a while then suddenly disappeared.

I’m still not entirely sure he wanted to be rescued. He looked very happy taking his shower!


post script: If you’re wondering what all that mess is with the pipes in the pool: the water level is so low (we are not allowed to fill up our pools with the ongoing drought) that the inlet pipe that the skink was ‘bathing’ under and the outlet pipe that takes water out of the pool to be filtered before returning to the pool, are both way above the level of the water. To prevent the pump sucking air and to keep the filtration system working, my husband rigged up a makeshift solution with an extra pipe and lagging, and a plank to help keep the pipe in place.

There’s a lovely Afrikaans expression: ‘N Boer maak ‘n plan; which literally means a farmer makes a plan. ie you have to be resourceful and fix things up yourself.


You Are Old

Little Monkey

A letter to Little Monkey

Well, I guess it was inevitable, even though I thought you’d never age.

I thought you’d make 15 easy. You aren’t even 13 yet!

But something’s not right.

After we’ve been out walking for a while, I give you the option as we pass the end of our road, to turn for home, but you choose to carry on and walk round the block.

Then with quarter of a kilometre still to go, you suddenly start walking as slowly as Mr Spaghetti Legs used to. And believe me, that was s-l-o-w!!

I’ve had you thoroughly checked out.

My amazing old Vet listened very carefully to your heart and said it was fine.

Your arthritis is minimal for a dog your age; just a slight stiffness in your right elbow and shoulder. (I got you young enough to take very good care of that, with good food, regular exercise and supplements for arthritis of omega 3 oils and chondroitin and glucosamine.)

But I have noticed with every other dog I’ve ever had, that you don’t age linearly; you age in leaps.

And there is a sudden leap around 10 years of age when you move into the Old category.

You didn’t do that leap when you were 10, or 11 or even 12; electing to carry on as Mad Cap as ever. You are my Domain Name after all!

Instead you waited till you were 12 and a half.

So there we are, my dear.

You are suddenly old.

And I must adjust my mindset accordingly.

But you’ll still chase a cat like there’s no tomorrow!

And no age limit!



Find effective pain management medication that works for your dog. Try a few meds and see which suits your dog best. PetCam is the most effective for LM, with the least side effects.

Take your dog on shorter walks more often throughout the day, instead of one long walk. It is important still to go on these outings, as dogs love to get out of the property. It is LM’s favourite thing to do, followed by food. 

Give your dog nice soft bedding. LM has always slept on comfy sponge mattresses.

Give your dog gentle massages round those aching joints. I’ve always done this rather than just stroking the dog. LM loves it.

Watch their weight. With painful arthritis dogs will tend to move less and the weight can start building up. You might have to adjust the amount you feed them, without letting them feel hungry. Just a few less kibbles in their bowl will make a difference. LM’s weight crept up from 23 kg to 24.7 kg.

Do carry on with most activities you used to do; but be aware that your dog may tire more quickly. LM still hares round the garden like a mad thing, of her own volition, but is not quite as fast as she used to be and doesn’t run for as long. The important thing is that she still does it.

So Little Monkey is old; Now what?

I expect she’ll carry on like this till near the end. She could still make 15!

After all, Mr Spaghetti Legs did.

Mr SL is all ears


post script: Many of you will be thinking of Lewis Carroll’s awesome poem, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865, so here’s the link – You are old, Father William.



Little Monkey

Little Monkey contemplates the small amount of rain water that collected in our homemade rain gauge last week.

“Seriously? Is that all the rain we got?”


I love how intent her gaze is. I was so interested in taking photos of the cut-off plastic bottle, I guess she thought it must be worth further investigation.

It didn’t look like food, but who knows?


If you can’t see the line in the gauge, it’s below the 20 mark. We got about 1.5 mm.


Robin Redbreast

Cape Robin – photo credit M

This little guy might not be quite what you were expecting from the title. Maybe you are more familiar with the tiny European Robin, frequently depicted on Christmas cards?

Well, this is a Robin, albeit a Cape Robin. He does all the usual Robin activities, such as flying straight down to investigate any patch of earth you have just dug over in your garden and singing a lovely tuneful song.

Here you see him sitting on a branch of my giant Eugenia tree above a hanging basket (the purple handle.) He’s a frequent visitor to my garden and I much prefer him to the pushy Olive Thrush. Somehow the Robin just seems more sophisticated and has more manners!