I came to this country in 1983 and one of the things that struck me most about it, apart from the inevitable weather conversation with everyone from family through to total stranger, and the vast variety of potatoes, was how much the British love their dogs. The good folk on this Island love their canine friends with an intensity and devotion that I did not see growing up in South Africa. Being an animal lover myself, this was a great plus for me and made assimilating into communities here in the UK a lot easier.

I am currently the besotted owner of three dogs of the large canine variety and have realised that I can describe their breeds through the word WHAT.

Oscar, the black Labrador asks what’s for dinner, what’s for lunch, what’s in the fridge, what’s in that supermarket bag, what’s the point of throwing that lovely piece of mouldy bread in the blue food bin when I would clearly benefit from snaffling it and what I am going to do if the food runs out?

Max the working Collie is very WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? Loudly and all the time. What is that sheep doing, what is living up that drain pipe, what is lurking under the sofa, what’s standing behind the front door? The only time he does not have a loud freak out is when he sees a teapot. Dead silence, won’t make eye contact with the teapot but slinks off quietly. This puzzled me until I realised that it is not the teapot that bothers him. It’s the magic genie that lives in the teapot and which might jump out and attack him, that renders Max radio silent.

In early March I acquired a 9 week old Maremma puppy and duly named him Cal. If you have never met this breed, google them and feast your eyes on these snow white giants with their huge heads and black eyes, seductively highlighted with eyeliner noir. They are indeed majestic. Existing owners of the breed noted that while amazing and conscientious guards, the Maremmas are laid back. And Cal is true to breed. So for him and the four letter word that starts with W, it’s “Meh, whatever”………

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