A hounding identity crisis

2012-09-28 00:00

WE have recently had a new addition to our small family. This all began one morning when my mother was reading The Witness and her eyes hovered on the SPCA section where all those sad little faces stare out at you looking for a home.

I usually turn the page very quickly when it comes to this section, as in my perfect world, it would all be put right if I had endless land, dog food and money to adopt every one of them. That particular morning, I got a call telling me, “look at the dogs, there’s a puppy there for you”.

My man and I had been looking for a working dog as he has ventured into sheep farming, and herding and moving over 1 000 sheep around would prove a whole lot less tiresome with a dog to help out. The dog in question staring out of the page was a four-and half-month old Australian cattle dog cross collie called Bandit.

Three days later he was settling into his new home on the farm. We had been warned by the SPCA that he was very active and in need of plenty of exercise and attention.

We have an old wooden table on our back veranda and in the early hours of the morning when boredom takes control of Bandit’s world he is up on the table pulling things off to chew. The list includes gumboots, hose pipes, an axe handle, a tape measure, paint brushes and so it continues.

When he first arrived at the farm we let him sleep in the kitchen with our 10- year-old sausage dog Nunu, hoping he would settle in better. Each morning we would open the kitchen door praying that the damage was not too bad.

Recently, I decided to paint our bathroom with a lovely white eggshell oil paint. After most of the afternoon spent on DIY, I packed up and left the paint tin, roller and brushes on the veranda table. We went out for dinner that night and when we got home we saw the customary bed, pillow or some chewed object in the middle of the lawn. When I got closer to the veranda, I noticed more mess. Quite a lot more mess. To my horror, I realised that Bandit had jumped up onto the table and knocked the paint tin off. There was white oil paint in every direction.

Bandit stared up at me, innocence oozing from his puppy eyes with not a spot of paint on him. I went inside to put things down and then recalled I had not seen Nunu. We started to look for her at opposite ends of the house and garden.

I then heard laughter and my name being called from the front veranda and dreading it, headed in that direction to survey the damage. My partner was laughing so much he had tears streaming down his face and was pointing at the old outside sofa. There, peeking out from behind a cushion, was a little white face — belonging to our “not so black” sausage dog.

After about 15 minutes of hysterical laughter and trying to get our breaths back, we stopped to assess one very put-out little dog. When Bandit had jumped up and knocked the paint tin off the table, the bulk of it had hit Nunu on her bed. She had obviously shot out of the firing line in fright and confusion, rolled a number of times on the lawn to get rid of whatever had fallen on her and headed to the comfort and safety of the sofa.

Nunu has since become a celebrity in our small farming village. After much concern and googling exercises, we set out to try to remove the paint. Some of the suggestions were to use vegetable oil, salad dressing and even peanut butter. We bathed her and washed her with olive oil and French salad dressing, but nothing seems to have done the trick. Peanut butter was simply not an option with a food-obsessed sausage dog.

As for the troublemaker in the story, we think we have him figured out. He was clearly tired of being the only black- and-white dog in the yard. Needless to say, he is now sharing his nights on an old towel with a very put-out and grumpy sausage dog that smells like a Mediterranean salad and looks like a piece of modern art.

The SPCA was right — Bandit certainly lives up to his name.

• Any useful ideas for removing the paint from Nunu are welcome. Please e-mail kerrie@coretalk.co.za

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