Tag Archives: dogs

Estelle the Lady of the House!

Woodrock Animal Rescue

The Meldau’s home is situated on the same stand as Woodrock Animal Rescue’s shelter. The rules of the Meldau house may seem odd and foreign to most, but to Estelle it’s a way of life.  Wood Rock Animal Rescue is an animal sanctuary which upholds a pro-life policy. Their focus is to rehabilitate, re-home and rescue animals of all kinds, until there are none left.

Visiting the Meldau house is like no other experience. You must be prepared to be attack-greeted by 20 odd, very confident, affectionate and over-bearing dogs. If one met Estelle in a public forum, one would never guess this is the way she chooses to live.

Estelle and Nicholas have tailor made their lives to involve their animals. Both are qualified people: Estelle a teacher and Nicholas an accountant. Together they’ve achieved their dream of building and operating a safe haven for 150 homeless dogs, 12 honorary cats, 9 donkeys and 30 geese, ducks and chickens.


Woodrock Animal Rescue is a non-profit, pro-life, no-kill, rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing facility providing assistance to unfortunate, homeless, abused, neglected, stray, injured, ill, geriatric and unwanted animals that would otherwise have miserable lives and premature deaths.

Estelle and Nicholas have well on 20 additional ‘keepers’ (give or take) at their home. Most of these home dogs are damaged. Each dog knows his or her place in the hierarchy.

The matriarch of the home is Emma, a large slow geriatric boerboel who dominates the covered couches. She agrees to share her abode with Oumie a Never Ending Story look-alike. Estelle often gets calls from people surrendering a family pet as they ‘aren’t getting along or they are misbehaving’. Yet we don’t have any such issues. Estelle’s reaction is, how can that be possible? There is always a fundamental reason which, with a little effort on the owner’s part could be sorted, for example aggression at feeding time; simply feed the dogs in separate areas.

Abby, a black Labrador cross, chooses the front area of the house as it is close enough to observe a new comer and easily accessible to the snack box – known as the kitchen.

If you stop Estelle to ask about one of her dogs, she simply rambles on and, with great glee, she’ll indulge you by giving you detailed explanations of each dog. How they arrived. Why they arrived and what absolute joy each pet gives to the family, insisting that she is the lucky one. She also will always remember your dog’s name but forget yours.

Chummy is her funny man – a pug cross jack russel. He’s referred to as the dishwasher and is very clever at accessing plates of our food, when our backs are turned. This adorable boy took months to warm up to touch. Today he is a cuddle bug; the power of love!

Walk up to the main room and at the top if the banister and you are welcomed by a very robust large happy loud dachshund called Eddy Bear. This big boy is the only dog that is not a rescue. He is treated with dignity and has an aloofness about him. Eddy is 16 years old but looks 6.

Jenny, a brown dachshund in a Labrador’s body, has the chosen place of her head on the pillow on the main bed. She comes bounding up the stairs with such joy. Jenny is the naughtiest dog of all and the most protected by Estelle. Don’t try to say she is spoilt or given too much rein; you will be shut down. As soon as you open the security gate to the bedroom, Jenny will sprint into the room, grab a massive mouth full of cubes and jump onto the bed to snack, her cheeks bulging like a chipmunk.

Opening the gate is a process on its own as one must manoeuvre going up a flight of stairs with some 10 dogs challenging you. On approaching the landing there is a race to see who can get in first and of course push the gate as hard as possible creating a spring back reaction which needs to be controlled. Twelve dogs, who have chosen the upstairs room as their very own, each have their own bed carefully made with clean blankets. This arrangement may change depending on snack and activities downstairs.

Lucy, an old senile ridgeback cross staffy, who walks with a wobble, has 2 main aims in life: One is to keep a watchful eye on her master and lord, Nicholas, and the other is to keep the other eye on Jenny, her nemesis. The 2 of them will raise the level of barking to fever pitch and ‘who’s your daddy?’ play fighting is par for the course. Estelle is most tolerant of this activity as she finds it cute and humorous. The pair doesn’t get into any real scuffle. Thali often finds herself involved in this activity as once the ‘fight’ commences she takes it upon herself to bark incessantly. She is a small Alsatian that belongs to Estelle’s son. Thali is getting on in years and has a disorder that has caused her to go blind. She has adapted well and finds the activities at home keep her involved. At first she was disillusioned and showed signs of depression. Sadly she sometimes misses a stair.

Buksie is a beagle cross. This adorable small man is around 15 years old. As hard as Estelle tried, he found adjusting to human attention hard. He wanted to be transparent and just ‘be’. Today he is the first in queue to take part in every activity.

Thumper hobbles along upstairs and downstairs as the poem goes. This little mongrel is a victim of a hit and run. He is simply delightful and makes for a very easy boy with no hang ups. He bears the scars of the accident but has no scars emotionally.

Chucky, a Pygmalion happy boy, lives up to his name. He is such a magnificent dog, yet has a demon nature – do not try touching him (except Nicholas). He regards himself as the aloof big deal of the dogs. We just love his ‘holier than thou’ attitude. He has a space in the home and in Estelle’s heart. Smiles all round.

The last recruit is darling Wesley. Taking care of this little paralysed dachshund is truly like having a baby in the house. Once Estelle has put down her bag and run a bath, laid out Wesley’s nappy change, Wesley is bathed (she expresses him as he is incontinent). He gets his cream and Nappy on. Then he gets rigged up into his wheels and takes part in the normal running of the Meldau home. He really is an expert in his wheels and speeds around like Charlton Heston in Ben Hur.

Can we take the opportunity of introducing our special dog last? Cadbury is a chocolate brown dashchund. He is such a trojan. Cadbury is blind and has never seen. He is very affectionate and simply adorable. Estelle has such a weakness for this dog. She watches out for him and he watches out for her. May this dear boy ever understand and know how much joy he brings to the Meldau home. In Estelle’s words ‘he is our inspiration!’


To contact Estelle go to http://www.woodrockanimalrescue.org.za/ or call 076 155 4439.



The dog days are over

Jimmy used to sleep in the shower and give our guests a fright when they went to the toilet. He also used to get up and pointedly leave the room if you coughed. For some reason he couldn’t stand coughing. And he’d often use the couch as a facecloth. He’d walk along the couch and rub his hairy face on it. He was a real character and he’s left a huge hole where he used to be.

Jimmy James Bartholomew Douglas Monster was our little cross bearded-collie. We’re not sure what he was crossed with but it was something very intelligent and beautiful. And quirky. Like a unicorn. He was a unique dog with so many fabulous idiosyncrasies, and more than one of our friends have referred to him as a ‘legend’. He was a legend.

We met Jimmy 13 years ago at the Animal Anti-cruelty League. We’d decided we needed to adopt a puppy but, what we weren’t prepared for was the way he’d become so entrenched in our lives and play such a central role in shaping our lifestyle.

We’d spend many hours just watching Jimmy playing when he was a puppy. He’d find the most banal objects ridiculously entertaining and, even right into old age, he’d spend many happy hours playing with an old plastic ice-cream container. In fact that became his pre-dinner ritual. He’d push it around in front of him along the ground, grab it in his teeth and toss it high into the air before catching it in his mouth again. Like a very talented seal. Only less smelly.

And feeding time came to play a central role in all our lives for a long time. When Jimmy was seven, he was diagnosed, after a being very very sick, with diabetes. This diagnosis rocked our worlds and completely changed our lives. It meant that Jimmy had to be fed at regular intervals in order to keep his blood sugar levels stable as we couldn’t test them regularly like a person with diabetes would. And he had to get insulin injections twice a day.

This meant that if we wanted to go away over night we’d have to find a babysitter who’d be willing to take on the responsibility of administering twice-daily injections. Fortunately we have family who loved him as much as we did and were willing to help out.

When we moved into the first house we owned, we bought off plan. This meant that, when we first moved in, we didn’t have a front gate at the bottom of our driveway in the complex and there was nothing to stop Jimmy from running out. We erected a little makeshift fence using wooden flower bed edging. Which was hilarious because it was only about 30cm high. But it was enough to keep Jimmy in. He stood smartly behind it, peering out through the crosses, but never trying to get out.

Jimmy got sick suddenly with an aggressive growth in his abdomen and his health deteriorated so quickly. Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. It was the only fair thing to do. It wasn’t an easy decision, it never is, but we knew that he was counting on us protect him, as we had throughout his life, and make sure he didn’t suffer at all.

We loved Jimmy like he was a child, and for a very long time he was our child. And it broke up hearts to let him go. But I know that wherever he is, he isn’t alone. The other day, while talking to my editor about him, the word ‘Jimbo’ popped into my head, completely out of the blue. The only person who used to call Jimmy, Jimbo was my father in law, who passed away two years ago. So I know that wherever our boy is now, he’s in good, caring hands. If you’ve let a furry friend go, and your heart is still tender, please share your experiences with me.


Splish splash I was taking a bath

showerRob a bakery? Follow your teenage children? Sneak into a pricey restaurant and scoff all the food for free? No. If I had an invisibility cloak I’d have a nice long shower or bath by myself. Yes. You read correctly and no, I’m not drunk. I would just like a little time to myself to wash my hair with adult shampoo and not Johnson & Johnson’s Top to Toe No More Tears soap. Maybe I could even put on a hair treatment (gasp) and use a peppermint body scrub. Ahh. Bliss.

Holly_NovI love Holly dearly. My life only really took on  real meaning when she was born and I can’t imagine not having her with me as much as possible. Except that I would love to shower without feeling like a, what shall I call them, like a window display model in the red light district in Amsterdam.

Lately, my gorgeous baby has taken to observing me showering while she ‘brushes her teeth’ (chews her toothbrush). Our shower door is not frosted so I feel a little vulnerable and exposed. Especially when my Mister, bless his heart and little cotton socks, follows Holly in to make sure she’s safe, not eating toilet paper and giving me a little space. Ironically, I end up with my whole family watching me shave my legs.

So, as I rinse the foam from my eyes, invariably I’ll look up to find Mister, Holly and, Idumbe the dog (who wandered in to see if we were eating yoghurt without her) packed into our tiny en-suite watching me shower.

Apart from a solo shower, if I had an invisibility cloak, I’d cover myself from top to toe (like the baby wash) and follow Holly around the garden as she chats so beautifully to herself, Jimmy the dog, her plastic truck, the flowers and the water in the swimming pool.

And, if I could have another magical apparatus, I’d like a device to translate what Holly is saying so that I could be part of her never-ending excitement and wonder at the world.

chucklesBut mostly I’d like an invisibility cloak. For showering and bathing. And then maybe I’ll slip it on and watch some really trashy TV on the Style Network while I smash a big bag of Chuckles into my mouth.

We don’t need no education



I was watching a programme on the cooking channel the other day and it was about a woman who’d become a chef quite late in life. But she’d worked hard and pursued her dream job and finally she’d reached her goal. And so it got me thinking about the people I know and the jobs they do, and the jobs I’ve done, and the job I now do.



When I was small I used to spend a great deal of my time lining my dolls up and teaching them the rudiments of the English language and the multiplication table. You see, I dreamed of becoming a teacher. And, fortunately after having travelled down a number of different educational and career paths, I finally found myself where I’d always dreamed of being: in front of a classroom full of students. But, that turned out not do be the dream I thought it was… And soon, I ventured down a different track.

Everybody has a dream job, something they believe will make them truly happy, something that they believe they’re meant to be doing with their lives. Even though I knew what the answer would be, I asked my Mister what his dream job is. He wants to be a dog walker and a television tester. My Mister loves dogs. All dogs, even the ugly ones. When he was little he used to walk around his neighbourhood giving the dogs names and talking to them. And I believe the TV tester thing is self-explanatory.



I asked my brother and sister-in-law the same question. My brother wants to be a farmer. And for some reason that makes me think of a story he once told us. His wife’s family is friends with a man who owns a game farm. This man, whose game farm is in a very isolated area, sometimes doesn’t get dressed. And I don’t mean he stays in his pyjamas. On some days he pulls on his socks and shoes, smears on the sunscreen and out he goes. Naked. I can imagine my brother doing this.



My sister-in-law Bianca wants to open a deli or a bistro. She’d like to grow her own food that she’ll serve at her deli. They’ve just moved to a small town on the coast and the only deli-type restaurant that was there burned down a couple of months ago. I’m sure she had nothing to do with it, but it does put her in an excellent position to open her own bistro.

We spoke to four readers who’ve also managed to turn their dreams into their dream jobs. And now, as the saying goes, because they love what they do they never have to work a day in their lives. To read about how they started living their dreams, get a copy of the October issue of Essentials and read all about it. And, if you’re doing your dream job, send a mail to essentials@caxton.co.za and tell us about us – we’d love to hear.

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog

This was the closest I could get to a pic of Fernando

This was the closest I could get to a pic of Fernando

Our one dog, Jimmy used to have a bed called Fernando. I’m not entirely sure where the name originated or even why we decided to name his bed in the first place. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that we moved it around the house, upstairs, downstairs and outside for Jimmy to lie on. So, instead of longwindedly asking each other, ‘Where’s Jimmy’s bed?’ We’d just say, ‘Where’s Fernando?’ It was a time saving strategy, see? Yes… our dogs are very spoilt. We have two spoilt mongrels (they really are mongrels from the Animal Anti Cruelty League): Jimmy and Idumbe.


Jimmy is part bearded collie and part pavement special. He was our first dog and was also an only dog for a good couple of years before Idumbe came along. Jimmy is a dog with… quirks. For instance he likes to sleep in the shower.

So, very often when friends come around, they’ll get the fright of their lives in the guest bathroom when they look up and see Jimmy snoring away in the shower. It also gets us some strange looks when one of us asks: ‘Where’s Jimmy?’ And the other replies, ‘In the shower’. He also gets upset with you if you cough. He’ll physicslly remove himself from a room – glaring at you over his shoulder as he storms out – if he’s in there and you dare to have a bronchial spasm.


Idumbe gets her name from the African potato, the amadumbe. When we adopted her she was skinny with a big round belly and scraggly hair. Her name couldn’t have been anything but little brown African potato. Idumbe is part German Shepherd and part Brown Dog. A very small part, like maybe her back paws and her left ear are Shepherd. And a large portion is everything else. She’s the canine equivalent of mixing all the crayons in your pencil case together.

Having said that, she’s also one of the smartest dogs I’ve evet met. And I’ve met a few! It’s actually reached the point where my Mister and I have to spell certain words out so Idumbe won’t know what we’re saying. We taught her what ‘downstairs’ means to send her outside if we were upstairs. Now, whenever we’re upstairs and someone accidentally says the word ‘down’, she’ll get super excited and charge downstairs as fast as her potato chip legs will carry her.

Jimmy and Idumbe are a part of our family. And now we have Holly too. And I’m so excited for her to get to know her dog friends better. I see them playing together in the garden when she’s a little bit older. I see her sharing her marmite sarmies with Idumbe and combing Jimmy’s hair with her little pink doll’s brush.

Happy Pappy Day

I believe, probably like many other women do, that my Mister is the best baby daddy there is. And I have irrefutable evidence to prove this claim.

Evidence that Mister is the best Daddy:

  • Holly smiles and runs (i.e. crawls very fast) towards Mister/Pappie when he gets home from work. And, you know what they say, a baby (and animals) knows if a person is good or bad (don’t they?).Dog
  • He has no problem singing the Smurfs theme tune to Holly to elicit a laugh and encourage her to ‘sing’. Let me just say that hearing a 30late-year-old gentleman singing ‘La la, lalala, la’ in a high-pitched voice is truly something to behold.Smurfs
  • Mister baths Holly every night because that’s their thing – it’s their own special time together in which Mommy should preferably not interfere. Unless it’s to bring a towel, pyjamas, toys, soap, something else forgotten in the bedroom…
  • When Mister leans forward and says to Holly, ‘Give me kisses’, she responds by giggling, smiling a toothy and gummy smile, leaning in and slobbering a ‘kiss’ all over her daddy.
  • Mister lets Holly slobber all over his face as she attempts a kiss.
  • Mister comes home from work – this is a lot more than many other men who have fathered children accomplish, so already he’s beating a large proportion of so-called father’s by just coming home.
  • Melting when his baby girl gives him a big, open mouthed sloppy kiss, or rests her head on his shoulder like the whole world is ok if he’s there. And it is!
  • Please excuse me speaking plainly here: Praising her for getting rid of her giant, man-sized farts and being genuinely proud at what she can accomplish.
  •  Telling her she’s amazing as she stands up, unassisted while eating supper, and smears squashed butternut or spinach all over his work shirt, in his eyebrows and generally in his face area.Spinach quiche
  • Mister often walks kilometres around the house at night trying to put a niggly, tired baby who has severe FOMO (fear of missing out) to sleep. She genuinely believes that as soon as her little eyelids close we haul out the ice cream (which she’s never tasted), call the clowns (whom she’s never seen) into the house, open the windows for the Hadedas (she’s obsessed with them) and stand around shouting, ‘Oof, oof, oof!’ (her universal expression of pleasure).Hadeda
  • He wakes up in the middle of the night, regularly and very often more than once, to bring her to me for a little snack. And then, when she falls asleep in the bed with us, he never complains about the three-in-the-bed. Or the fact that he has feet up his nose and fingers in his eyes.

    Found on Pininterest

    Found on Pinterest

And I know when she’s a little bit older, he will happily sit in front of the telly watching football and rugby playing Barbie with her. And this image makes me love them both even more (not least because it means I’ll have some free time…). I can see him gladly complying when she asks him to brush her hair into a pony because ‘Mommy doesn’t do it right!’ and dressing her in the mornings for nursery school as he dresses her now.

And all these things, these little reasons that are such big reasons, are what makes my Mister the best baby daddy. They’re also the very things that make him a ‘real man’. It’s not grunting guy at the gym or the booitjie chugging beers at the bar that makes a real man. It’s the one who does what he promised to do when he married his wife or had a baby.

Is your man a ‘real man’? Let me know and if you believe he is then go to www.essentials.co.za and enter our Real Man competition. You and you partner can win some amazing prizes and feature in the magazine.