On the Importance of the Fur-Child

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Our family pooch Cookie is a nuggetty little Jack Russell Terrier crossed with God-knows-what.  He is undeniably socially inept when it comes to others of his kind.  His stumpy front legs turn outwards and he is afflicted by skin allergies to silly things like grass, that see him determinedly licking his paws at any given opportunity.

Cookie Fishing

He is deeply offended by the advances of other four-legged beings and has been known to hold a grudge beyond what is decent and reasonable.  He is intensely dedicated to playing fetch but is appalled at the fact that when on a beach, he is expected to swim (swim!) into the water in order to retrieve the ball.  Yes, if Cookie were a person, he’d be a Forrest Gump of sorts; a creature that is utterly endearing in his inability to ever reach the top of the food chain.

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But just like many a fur-child around the world, ours brightens our household like no human could.   The flavour that pets add to our lives can only truly be understood by those that have shared their lives with one that is furred, feathered or scaled.

I’m not talking about the obvious heroes- the guide dogs, the search and rescue dogs or those incredible pooches who detect seizures in their epileptic owners before they even occur.  I’m referring to those everyday creatures, without special training or powers.  The ones who make a terrible racket every time the doorbell rings and ‘help’ you with your gardening on weekends.  Those that wake you up by stationing themselves purring on your chest every morning.  That one that is right this moment snoring on your ottoman, chasing butterflies in his sleep.

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A woman once shared with me that it was her four little fluff-balls who saved her from depression when she was battling breast cancer. That while it was her oncologist, her surgeon and her nurses who saved her body, it was her canine family that saved her sanity.

Another tale that I will never forget was a man’s very personal story, in which his Springer Spaniel was single-handedly (pawedly?) responsible for reuniting him with his estranged wife.  And let us not forget those creatures who keep our senior citizens company when no-one else will.

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Our pets add sparkle to our lives that we would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.  For many, they are all that wait for them when they come home each evening.  They make us laugh and remind us to look outside ourselves, even at times when that seems impossible.  For those of us without kids, they give us something to be responsible for other than ourselves.

At the very least, if they are anything like Cookie, our fur-children provide intensive cuddles, free entertainment and a reason to get outside and throw a ball again…..and again…..and again.

Happy Vet Nurses day Friday the 11th of October!
Cookie Chinaman

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Summer

Australia is truly a sun-burnt country.  Our summer is one of the things that defines us.      It is what brings the Europeans to us with their enormous backpacks and sun-starved skin, to mingle with us on our beaches and in our hostels.  It is holidays, picnics, swims and post-swim ice-creams.

It is gloriously long days filled with sunshine that fade gently into lingering dusks and balmy evenings, just in case the day’s feeling are hurt by a sudden transition.

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Summer comes hot on the heels of Diwali and Halloween and brings with it Christmas and the ultimate night to let one’s hair down after all that holiness……New Years Eve.  Even our Christmas cards are adorned with Santa in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops, as if even paper Santa can’t stand to wear his usual outfit in this scorching heat.  And after all that is over, there is still the rest of summer to look forward to.

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Summer is lovely Saturdays spent doing Saturday things and then realising with stomachs grumbling and light still pouring in the window that inexplicably, dinnertime has arrived.

It is weekends away and weekends in watching the cricket.  It is barbecues, ice-blocks and hopefully, slip slop slap.  It is too many mosquitoes, too much champagne and too dark tan lines.

I love the sun, sand and waves as much as the next girl, but I have to admit I’m not really a beach person.  Not in the typical sun-baking, volleyball playing, bikini clad way anyway.  Evening walks on the beach? Sure! Being toasted to a crisp? No thanks!  Besides, like many Indian girls, I am far too interested in preserving my complexion to spend hours in the sun.

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For me, one of the highlights of the summer is all the incredible fruit that seems to appear in the hotter Australian months.  I will never forget that childhood summer when we returned to Sydney after a family holiday to find that my uncle had filled the fridge with gorgeous fruit.  Now that was a sight for sore (jet-lagged) eyes.

Cherries that obligingly dissolve in your mouth, sold by the boxful from the back of utes by the side of highways.  Watermelon that is instantly revitalising and refreshing.  Rockmelons with their fragrant, meaty flesh.

And the Mangoes…..ohhhhh the Mangoes!  The cool weight of them when they are taken out of the fridge.  The impossible sweetness of that first good mango of the season.  Eaten with their cheeks sliced off, cut into small symmetrical pieces by my dad or devoured uninhibitedly with teeth tearing golden skin, Australian mangoes have to be one of the best parts of summer.

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So expect some summery fruitiness to come.  And to those of you who are fortunate enough to live in this sun-blessed patch of the globe, happy summer!