Tuesday, December 31, 2013


To my family and all my blogging friends and their loved ones.....HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  A new year is about to begin and my wishes are that it will be a happy, healthy, peaceful and safe one.

Can we also perhaps hope for more understanding between nations so there will be less misfortune, particularly for the innocent who suffer because of the many dreadful conflicts that are taking place. Will mankind ever realise that if he treats others as he'd like to be treated, the world would be a wonderful place.  It would seem that concept just won't be accepted by many but we must never give up hope.  As John Lennon wrote "Imagine".  I know I often do.


Monday, December 30, 2013


This is a magnificent animal.  It is a breed of dog that has been used to guard herds and homesteads in the Estrela Mountains of Portugal for centuries.

The earliest of the Estrela ancestors were herd-guarding dogs in the Serra da Estrela, in what is now Portugal.  Since there are no written records, it is not known for sure whether the ancestors which contributed to this breed were brought by the Romans when they colonised the Iberian Peninsula, or later by the invading Visigoths.  Regards, there is no disagreement that the Estrela is one of the oldest breeds in Portugal.

Those early guard dogs were not the distinct breed known today.  Rather, the Estrela developed over a period of hundreds of years.  Shepherds would have chosen to breed the dogs that had the characteristics necessary to survive in their mountain environment and to do their job:  large size, strength, endurance, agility, a deep chest, ability to tolerate a marginal diet, the set of the legs, a powerful mouth, a tuft of hair around the neck, an easy, jog-like gait, a warm coat and a watchful, mistrustful, yet loyal temperament.  Since the region was isolated, there was little breeding with non-native dogs, leading to the purity of the breed.

Life changed little for the people and dogs of the region, even into the 20th century.  The isolation of the region meant the breed was relatively unknown outside it until the early 1900s and, even then, they were mostly ignored in early dog shows.  The Portuguese admired foreign breeds much more than their own.  Shepherds frequently sterilised their dogs to prevent them from leaving their flocks to mate.  These factors had a negative effect on the Estrela so from 1908 to 1919 special shows called 'concursos' were held to promote and preserve the Estrela breed in the region.  Special guardian working trials were included in these shows, the trials consisting of an owner bringing his dog into a large field with many flocks of sheep.  The dog was observed by judges for its reactions coming into the field and, as the shepherd was ordered to move the flock, which inevitably produced stragglers, the dog was expected to move from his spot of guarding to bring the stragglers back, and then assume a leadership position at the head of the flock.

There is no record of the Estrela outside Portugal prior to 1972 and, while some undoubtedly did leave the country, they were probably interbred with no effort to maintain the breed.  In 1972 and 1973, pairs were imported to the US.  Others have probably been imported into the US since then, but it was not until 1998 that the first papered dog was imported into the United states.  The United Kingdom was the first country to establish the breed outside Portugal in 1972 and today the Estrela can be found in many countries.

Today the Estrela Mountain Dog remains true to its guardian heritage.  It is still a working dog, guarding flocks in its native Portugal and elsewhere (the Portuguese Marines have even used them as patrol dogs).  It is also an ideal family pet because of its alertness, loyalty, intelligence and its instinct to nurture young - all features it needed in its earlier days.  Isn't this picture beautiful?

It has two coat types (a long coat or a short coat) and both resemble the texture of goat hair.  The main colours are fawn, wolf grey and yellow, with or without brindling, white markings or shading of black throughout the coat.  All colours have a dark facial mask, preferably black.  Blue colouration is very undesirable.  The desirable height for mature males if 25.5 - 28.5 inches and for mature females 24.5 - 27 inches.  Mature males in good working condition weight between 88 - 100 pounds and females (also in good working condition( between 66 - 88 pounds.

(I used Wikepedia as a source and they state at the beginning of their article that they do not cite any references and sources with regard to this animal but I feel most of the information is pretty accurate.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013


I chose this cat as Phil is, and always has been, extremely interested in Egyptology and this cat appears to date way back to ancient times so I thought I may perhaps learn something as I research this particular cat.  (I didn't learn as much as I had hoped).

The Egyptian Mau is a small to medium short-haired cat breed.  Along with the Bahraini Dilmun Cat, they are one of the few naturally spotted breeds of domesticated cat.  The spots of the Mau occur on only the tips of the hairs of their coat.  The spotted Mau is an ancient breed from natural stock; its look has not changed significantly as is evidenced by artwork more than 3,000 years old.

Unlike other spotted cats such as the Ocicat or Bengal cat, the Egyptian Mau is a natural breed.  Other breeds are created from domestic breed outcross or, in the case of the Bengal cat, hybridising domestic cats with another species, the Asian leopard car.  The Mau is significantly smaller than these other breeds.  The breed conformation is described by The Cornell Book of cats as:

   "a balance between the compactness of a Burmese and the slim elegance of a Siamese.  Its medium-
     length body is muscular, with the hind legs longer than the front, giving the Mau the
     appearance of standing on tiptoes when upright."

The Mau is the fastest of the domestic cats, with its longer hind legs, and unique flap of skin extending from the flank to the back knee (similar to that of the cheetah), providing for greater agility and length of stride.  Maus have been clocked running at more than 30 mph (48 km/hr).  As the hind legs are longer than the front legs, they frequently land on their back when taking a leap. making them appear rather haughty and kangaroo-like. Facial expressions may change according to mood, and eye colour may change from green to turquoise.  Maus often possess quite musical voices.  They are known to chirp, chortle and emit other distinctly unusual vocalisations when stimulated.

Another behaviour, quite common to Maus, has been described as 'wiggle-tail'.  The cat, whether female or male, wiggles and twitches its tail, and appears to be marking territory, also known as spraying but during this behaviour the Mau is not releasing urine.  Even veteran Mau owners have been known to check after a joyous Mau does this little dance. (STRANGELY ENOUGH OUR PRECIOUS DOES THIS QUITE A LOT WHICH INTRIGUES US NO END.  Phil always tells her she is bring rude!!!!).

Maus either have a 'scarab beetle' or 'm' marking on their forehead (those with the latter tend to be from the United States (personally I think the markings are very similar) :

The exact origin of the Egyptian Mau is not recorded and, therefore, cannot be known for certain.  It is often said to be descended from African wild cats and its ancestor is depicted essentially unchanged in murals and wall paintings of Ancient Egypt.  The breed name itself references the Middle Egyptian word mw (literally=cat).

In Ancient Egypt, Maus were used for hunting due to their bird-like voices.  Their use in hunting is depicted in murals that have survived the ages.  They were small enough not to carry away the prey for themselves and were able to alert hunters to the location of prey without scaring of other animals of prey.  The modern Camille Mau is said to have originated in 1962, when exiled Russian Princes Natalie Troubetskaya met the cat of the Egyptian Ambassador in Italy.  She convinced him to obtain several cats from Egypt for her, and she began to breed them.  She described her Maus as having a "troubled look', with their round eyes and open expression.

The Mau achieved championship status in some organisations in 1968.  There were attempts by British breeders to create Maus from crossbreeds of Abyssinians, Siamese and tabbies but these, however, did not resemble the true Maus.  This mix became the basis for he Ocicat.

The Maus are a relatively rare breed to encounter.  As of 2007, fewer than 200 kittens are registered with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy each year,  As of 2006, a total of 6,741 mMaus were registered with the Cat Fancier's Association.  Maus come in five colours.  From most to least common these colours are silver, bronze. smoke, black and blue/pewter.  This is a silver coloured Mau:

There seems to be some controversy about where this cat originated.  I've checked out various websites belonging to cat fanciers etc. and there was so much information I will leave it to you to do the same if you want to know more about this very lovely animal.  I always find it interesting when doing research the number of different explanations you find for various things, such as origin etc.

I found a few more quite lovely pictures of Mau cats to share with you (all of them beautiful but then to me, all cats are truly beautiful):

Saturday, December 28, 2013


I have included this insect as it is the time of year when mosquitoes are once again very active and Australians are beginning to spend more time out of doors having BBQs or just enjoying the sunshine and warm summer days and evenings.  Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on earth causing more deaths than any other animal on our planet.  People have to be very careful not to get bitten as the diseases some of these mosquitoes carry can be very debilitating, even to the point of being life threatening.

The dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) belongs to the Order Diptera and Family Culcidae.  It is an introduced species found in Queensland, and has also been known in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and southern New South Wales.  I feel it is also now found in other parts of Australia as well.

It is a pest mosquito and can be a carrier of Dengue Fever, Murray Valley encephalitis. Ross River virus and of course malaria.  The female mosquito is dark coloured with white markings on the back and white bands on the legs.  The thorax is dark with a lighter curved marking on each side and two light stripes running down the centre.  The size is 3-4mm in length.

Adult mosquitoes may be found near houses and will bite during the day or evening.  It is the female that feeds on blood; the males feeds on the nectar of flowers.  (I certainly prefer the male of the species in this instance).

The female lays her eggs in water.  When first laid the egg are white but soon turn black.  The larvae feed on bacteria in the water.

I am very fortunate that mosquitoes don't seem to like me very much and yet my daughter and, in particular, one of her daughters are always prone to being attacked and bitten by the little beasties.  The three of us can sit together and they will be bitten and I won't.  I sometimes feel as if something is hovering around my legs but no bites result.  I have researched why this may be the case and I find that people with type O blood are more susceptible than those with type A while those with type B sort of fall in between A and B.  I am sure my daughter and granddaughter are all type A the same as me so there must be more to it than that.  I also found that the amount of carbon dioxide we breath out may also be an attractant to mosquitoes and also if one drinks beer.  Neither of of we three drink beer so that rules out beer.  Overweight people also tend to get bitten more (so 'they' say) and yet I know quite skinny people that also are bitten regularly.  I feel there is a lot more work to be done by scientists before they find out the true reasons why some people's blood tastes delicious to mosquitoes while that of other people apparently does not.  I just hope anyone who reads this manages to avoid mosquito bites this summer or, for that matter, at any time during the year.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Another animal of which I had no knowledge but find its story very interesting.  Quite fascinating when you consider the trouble Dr Martinez went to in order to breed the type of dog he wanted.

The DOGO ARGENTINO is a large, white, muscular dog.  In 1928 Antonio Nores Martinez, a medical doctor, professor and surgeon set out to breed a big game hunting dog that was also capable of being a loyal pet and guard dog  He picked the Cordoba Fighting Dog to be the base for the breed.  That breed is extinct today but was said to be a large and ferocious dog that was a great hunter.  He crossed it with the Great Dane, Boxer, Spanish Mastiff, Old English Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Great Pyrenees, Pointer, Irish Wolfhound and Dogue de Bordeaux.  Nores Martinez continued to develop the breed via selective breeding to introduce the desired traits.

Its main purpose was big-game hunting, including wild boar and puma and one that would exhibit steadfast bravery and willingly protect its human companion to the death.  It rarely has any markings and any type of marking or spot on the coat is considered a flaw.

Breed standard height: from 23.6 to 25.6 ins (60-65 cm); weight: 40-54 kg.  The length of the body is slightly longer than the height and female dogs may be somewhat longer in the body than male dogs.  The tail is set low, thick at the base and tapers to a point.  This dog has unlopped ears (I hate it when they lop ears and tails and always ask "Why?")

Dogos are big-game hunters and are sometimes trained for search and rescue, police assistance, service dogs, and military work.  As with all breeds, the Dogo Argentino can be good with children, if properly socialised at an early age.

Dodo Argentinos have been bred specifically to allow better socialisation with other dogs and are well suited for group environments.  They get along with other pets in most rural and urban settings ranging from a complete outdoor farm dog to urban housing with a small yard, to crowded apartment buildings.  Because aggressive traits are purposely bred out, attacks on humans or other pets are extremely rare.  This animal has a life expectancy of nine to twenty years.

The Dogo Argentino is banned in certain countries, such as the Ukraine, Iceland, Australia (no wonder I'd not heard of it) and Singapore.  In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to own a Dogo Argentino without lawful authority and the maximum penalty for illegal possession is £5,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment.  Laws vary in the United States, with bans on the breed enacted in Aurora, Colorado (Aurora Colorado removed 7 of 10 breeds from the ban list including the Dogo in 2011), as well as the New York City public housing.

This is a gentle looking female of the species.  (I can't understand if the ferociousness was bred out why these dogs are banned but I guess we have to accept the law in all its forms.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

D is for DRAGON LI

I had never heard of this cat and found it to be a very interesting, and handsome, animal indeed.

The Dragon Li is also called Chinese Li Hua, China Li Hua, Li Hua, and Li Hua Mao, or simply Li Mao.  It is a Chinese breed of domestic cat originating from nascent Chinese folklore and dynastic culture.  The natural breed, based on a native landrace, is presently recognised as a formal breed by the US-based Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) and China's own Cat Aficionado Association (CAA).

The Dragon Li displays a unique golden brown, broken mackerel (also known as broken striped) tabby pattern, distinctive ear tipping, large round almond shaped luminescent yellow-green eyes, and a strong full-bodied stature reminiscent of its wild nature..  The Dragon Li is valued for its unmistakable intelligence, an uncanny cognizance in relation to its surroundings, and its ability to interact perspicuously with humans.  The Dragon Li typically weighs between 9 and 12 pounds; is smart, loyal and lively and gentle with people.  It has a reputation as a talented hunter of rats and other vermin.  His retrieval skills apparently extend beyond rodents as one of these cats is said to have learned to fetch the morning paper!

The eponymous Dragon Li is thought to be a natural self-domesticating breed by way of the wild cat subspecies, Chinese mountain cat (Felis silvestris bieti).  While this theory is still somewhat controversial, it has also not been scientifically disproven, and is therefore widely accepted as the origin of this breed within established breeding sources in China.  The Chinese character interpretation is based on a legendary description rather than a fully accurate contemporary portrayal of the Dragon Li, and as a result, the breed has been confused with that of the wild fox by the Chinese.  For this reason the literal translated characters for Li Hua Mao read as ".." as in fox ".." for flower pattern, and ".. " for cat.  This Chinese character description was, and is based on what was believed to be the best interpretation before modern western feline terminology became the standard, ie. 'flower pattern' versus a 'tabby pattern'.  (".." = I of course can't show the Chinese characters).

 In 2003 the Dragon Li debuted as an experimental class in Beijing China (30 December, 2003 - 6 January, 2004).  Allbreed judges of the American Cat Fancier's Association were guests of the Cat Aficionado Association and judged the event.

In 2005 an ideal male example ('Needy'), presented by its owner Da Han, was shown and won its class as 1st place champion per an official 'breed standard'.  The event was judged by John Blackmore of the ACFA.  In February, 2010 the Li Hua was accepted for showing in the miscellaneous class with Cat Fancier's Association and is now acknowledged as an officially recognised breed by CFA.  Since gaining international recognition, and due in part to its limited availability, the Dragon Li/Chinese Li Hua has now become a focus of attention the world over.  In popular culture, the Chinese literary legend "Li Mao Huan Tai Zi" (The Cat for Crown Prince Conspiracy) utilises a Li Hua Mao as its central theme, and has more recently served as the basis for a China-based television series.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


It is many years since I decorated a Christmas tree at our place.  When Precious was a kitten we tried unsuccessfully to have a tree but she delighted in climbing right to the top and over it would go.  After a couple of years we decided it just wasn't worth the effort and, besides, it is very seldom, these days, that anyone comes to our home during the Christmas period.  We now do have a decorated tree and from my armchair I can see it sparkle in the sunlight and the front verandah light keeps it bright until we go to bed each night. This photo was taken last night:

About 3 years ago I bought a tiny Norfolk Island Pine, and eventually Phil potted it on for me and it has now grown to about 6ft+ tall (over 2 metres).  With the family coming here for afternoon tea on 1st December (for his birthday) I decided I would decorate the tree but.......it was now far too large for our small living room so on our front verandah it had to stay (actually it's under the pergola extension to the verandah so out in the open, just under shadecloth).  We've had no rain here since 1st December (or before that) so the tree hasn't had a drop of water on it to spoil it.  It's nice to have a real 'live' tree for a change and I feel quite satisfied with it (some of the decorations are quite old) and Precious now walks past it as though it's not even there.  At age 12 she probably thinks she is too mature to bother with climbing Christmas trees.  She just climbs the much larger ones in our garden.

P.S.  We had some little girls from down the street pop in while I was decorating the tree and they were quite fascinated and one wee lass from across the street must have come in on at least 3 or 4 consecutive days "Just to look at your tree".  That really did make the effort quite worthwhile as doing things like decorating this tree takes me quite a while with lots of sit downs in between adding decorations.


To all the wonderful people I've met in blogging land over the past few years I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas from Phil and myself.

I do so enjoy reading so many interesting blogs and you will never know how much I appreciate it when folk take the time to read mine and on many occasions leave such wonderful comments.  Thank you.

Phil and I hope you and your loved ones will have a happy, safe and peaceful time during the festive season.

Monday, December 23, 2013


I've done the ABC of cats and dogs so now it's back to the insects, some of which are nasty but others of which are nice.  After all, you do have to take the bad with the good in this life.

This wasp, Polistes humilis, belongs to the Order Hymenoptera and Family Vespidae.  They have a small head, with medium sized eyes and medium length antennae.  The body is slender with a very narrow waist.  There are two pairs of brown-tinted wings with the first pair larger.  The abdomen has some yellow/orange bands but is mainly black.  They grow to 2.2 cm in length.

They are found across southern mainland Australia including southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and southern Western Australia.

Paper wasps are social, forming small colonies of 12 to 20 individuals.  They build a nest out of grey papery material made from chewed up wood fibre and saliva.  Nests are often located under eaves, pergolas or in shrubs.

The nest is cone-shaped becoming rounder as more cells are added.  It has a maximum diameter of 10-12 cms with numerous hexagonal cells visible underneath, some of the cells having white caps. An egg laid in each cell hatches into a grub-like larvae.  The adults feed the larvae on chewed-up caterpillars. The cells are then capped and the larvae pupate inside.

Most of the adult paper wasps die in winter, with a few hibernating to start new colonies.

These wasps will readily attack and sting anyone approaching or disturbing their nests and their sting is very painful.  Generally applying a cold pack to the sting is sufficient treatment although medical treatment should be sought if symptoms become severe or the victim is known to have an allergy to stings.  Nests that are out of reach are not a problem and can be left alone but nests in high traffic areas should be sprayed at night, when the wasps are at rest on the nest, using appropriate insecticides.  We have a wasp nest high up under our back pergola/patio which the wasps used to return to each year but the other day I noticed spiders (I think they may be diplurids or tunnel web spiders) have built a huge nest right around the wasp nest so those wasps will have to build themselves a new home.

Phil and I have both twice been stung by paper wasps.  Once I was pruning an Albany bottlebrush and the wasps had built a nest in the bush.  The nest looked very much like the seed pod of the bottlebrush so I'd not noticed it being there.  Out flew an irate wasp and stung me on my arm resulting in a very painful lump with a large red patch around it.

The second time I was closing our side gate and hadn't realised wasps had built a nest under the capping on the gate.  I was stung on the ends of two fingers. The sting on the end of my middle finger came up in a large red lump and was very painful and rather looked like ET when he held up his finger with that glow on the end.  I had the feeling I should perhaps 'phone home'.

Phil was stung when working in the front garden and it didn't cause a real problem but the second time he was on a ladder pruning some ivy on our pergola/patio unaware there was a nest up there.
 This time he was stung twice on the face resulting in a very swollen, painful area which troubled him for a couple of days.  It was very fortunate he didn't fall off the ladder as this could have had an even worse result.

Fortunately neither of us are allergic to wasp stings but each bee sting I've had over the years has been worse the the previous one so I am very wary when there are bees in our garden.

When he was in England as a young man Phil was riding his motorbike and a European wasp flew in under his helmet and stung him several times on the face.  That gave him a very swollen face and it took several days for the pain and effect to wear off.  Although we do have some European wasps in Western Australia they are no where near the problem they are in New Zealand or in our eastern states. I have never actually seen one in Perth thank goodness but I do remember them being a nuisance when we stopped for a picnic while in New Zealand years ago.  They really are nasty beasties!!  You can tell a paper wasp as when it flies it's legs hang down.  The European wasp tucks its legs up when in flight.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

9-Year-Old Girl Sings Opera on Holland’s Got Talent

9-Year-Old Girl Sings Opera on Holland’s Got Talent


I received this video via email.  I don't know if any of you have seen it but (if it works and you can view it...this is an experiment by me) it is well worth listening to.  She has the purest most delightful voice and happens to be singing one of my favourite (and Phil's too) songs.

I have hopefully managed to transfer it to my blog but on a second post.  If it doesn't work then I apologise but everyone I know who has heard this lass sing is overwhelmed by the beauty of her voice.

P.S. I've just checked it out and the video came through OK (on the second post) but for some reason it cut out half way through.  I hope it works better for you.  If not then perhaps you could get on the website and hear it; at least I hope you can.

Friday, December 20, 2013


This cat looks as though butter wouldn't melt in its mouth!!

This one really made me chuckle:

Poor little fellow needs his self-confidence restored:

Now I find this difficult to believe, but he does have that innocent look:

Hope these brought a few smiles to help your day along.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


"When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I'm old, I admire kind people".  Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Today is the day of the week when I endeavour to find something that has been 'right' in my day.  It was a bit difficult to do so as the internet kept dropping in and out (OK right now thank goodness) and then mid-afternoon when performing a simple task like putting Phil's washed shirts on coat hangers I had this most frightful pain in the middle of my upper back from shoulder blade to shoulder blade.  It even hurt to breathe and still does (4 hours later).  Dencorub and a good massage relieved it somewhat so I could at least breathe normally (but not too deeply).

I then had a shower and set off with Phil to visit our daughter (I think most of you know who she is) in St John's Murdoch where she recovering from a knee replacement op 2 days ago.  It was then that I realised there was something so 'right' in my day today.  K is tired but is doing so well and managing the exercises set for her and is up and walking and showering and everything she is supposed to do.

 So for me a big smile after all.  Why should I worry about an aching back when there was my girl looking so cheerful after such a big operation.  She means so much to me and she is off home on Saturday and has a wonderful husband who will be home with her and that also makes me feel so happy.   They are so good together.

 After a not a good start to my day something so very right came along to cheer me up after all.  No matter how bad things seem you can always find a silver lining somewhere if you look for it.

P.S.  My usual physiotherapist doesn't work on Fridays but Norma (who was the other physio I occasionally used to see) is now working part-time where Jenny is and when I rang this afternoon she has a vacancy at 11 a.m. in the morning so I am hoping she may be able to find what is causing this ridiculous pain that I've not had before.

Hope there was something 'right' in your day as well.  We all need that to happen on a daily basis if at all possible.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Where I can I am trying to give descriptions of animals that we have actually owned.  Winston was a golden (I think the true colour is called red) cocker spaniel that had a lousy beginning to his life.  We found him languishing at a animal welfare place.  As he was different to the other dogs he was in his own little enclosure which was where we met him.  He ran up to the gate wagging his tail and looking so happy that someone wanted to talk to him.  We fell in love with him immediately and said we would like to buy him. He cost us $130 (the receipt is dated 7/8/1993) as he had been neutered and immunised before he could be sold. Once we got him home we realised he had a nasty cough and when brushing him we found he had a lump under one of his 'armpits'.  He was also very much underweight.  Off to the vet we went who told us Winston had kennel cough for which he gave us some medicine, and booked him in to have the lump removed.  Fortunately the tumour was benign so once that healed and he stopped coughing we had a very beautiful and friendly dog.  This is not a photograph of Winston but it could almost be his double although his tail was not docked (not sure about this chap though).

Winston was about 2 years old when he came to us and we never discovered why his first owners had not wanted to keep him but we did learn that a lady had taken him home from the animal shelter only to return him because "he chased my cat".  He was a dog that was looking for love and I am sure we delivered all the love he ever needed.  Like most cocker spaniels he was greedy but we managed to control his greed and once he had regained some weight we managed to keep him at a good weight.  We would have him partly shorn each year ready for the heat of summer and he would look more like this:

One of the most recognisable breeds, cocker spaniels have long held a top 20 place in the list of Australia's popular dogs  Their major beauty is their soft wavy coat.  Combined with the domed head, big brown eyes and soft floppy ears it is a breed of enormous visual appeal.  A small dog, they reach about 40cm (16") at the shoulder and weigh about 13kg (29lb) when fully grown.  Colours include solid red, gold, liver black and parti-colours.  This spaniel has had it's tail docked and I really feel that, apart from being cruel, it rather detracts from the overall appearance of an otherwise beautiful animal:

These dogs crave attention and love nothing better then to be with their family.  They need a consistent routine and good behaviour training.  They are very adaptable and can be kept inside or outside.  They are excellent companions inside the house but do drop hair (I don't really remember this happening but perhaps it didn't as we had Winnie's coat shorn each year).  They are excellent with families and older people.  They make good watch dogs and will bark if someone nears their home; otherwise they are rather quiet.  They need regular exercise - a daily walk or an energetic game - although a large backyard is unnecessary.  They are excellent swimmers.

Winston was always great fun and one of the games we played was when I would toss him the little treats he loved and he would catch them or otherwise scurry around finding those he had missed catching. All of a sudden, towards the end of February in 1999, he stopped wanting to play and had also gone off his food, which for a cocker spaniel is unusual. He became quite listless as though all the fun had gone out of him.  Danger signals, so straight off to our vet who after blood tests declared that Winnie had liver cancer which was inoperable.  It had developed so quickly as there had been no previous signs of anything being amiss.  We were advised that the kindest thing would be to put Winnie to sleep as he would get much sicker rather quickly.  We have never believed in prolonging an animals life just for our sake so the awful decision was made.  It was such a shock to us to realise our little friend would be no more and we bid him a sad farewell.  We decided to have him cremated and now his little urn sits besides Princess' ceramic likeness and a picture of Emma (that is another story soon to be told).

We received a beautiful hand written note from our vet which we really appreciated:

"Just a little message to let you know how sorry we are for the loss of your beloved friend "Winston". We hope that time will heal all and you will be left with some very special memories.
                   Warm wishes from all the staff at The Spearwood Vet."

Winston was our last dog as I felt we were becoming too old to deal with a puppy and I felt that with increasing age, Phil would probably not want the burden of having to go for a walk each day.  We still go "ooh" and "ah" when we see dogs on TV and say "wouldn't it be lovely" but we just know it would be wrong for us and for the dog.  Our little Precious who is now 12 has filled the gap quite well (Henry too while he was with us for 8 years) and I am content but I know how Phil loves dogs and I feel for him at times.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


We had a lovely black cat for a number of years and there wasn't an evil bone in his body but I still think this is hilarious:

and I definitely think you will find no argument here:

You may have seen them before but anything that brings a smile to our faces is always worth sharing over and over.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Phew!!!!  A former workmate of Phil's popped in this morning (his usual mid-December visit) which was most enjoyable as he is a great chap to talk to.  Our ducted R/C air conditioner is not working all that well so we had the old 'hole in the wall' aircon on (I bought it secondhand in 1986 and it's still going strong).  "They don't make them like that these days" and that was said by our air conditioning expert Derek and he should know.  It is a tad noisy but at least it keeps us cool in that one room with the overhead fan on as well.

Gerard left us about 12.30pm so we turned on the TV to watch the Test Match (gee the Aussies are doing well with 2-0 so far and possibly will take the Ashes if they win this match tomorrow).  Had only been sitting there in the cool for about 5 minutes when off went the power.  Phil and I just sort of looked at each other and proceeded to turn off all the switches.  It's funny you always forget one or two don't you?

I left it a short while before telephoning faults only to be told (by a voice) that there was a power outage in ours and the next adjacent suburb and it should be restored by 4pm.  I just needed to hear that as truly I do not stand up to the heat very well.   I then remembered I have a small fan that you can clip on to desk top or similar so off to find it and popped in a couple of batteries.  It was a life saver as I then sat at my desk and wrote out Christmas cards (boy, am I running late this year).

My daughter telephoned while the power was still out and it's amazing how, when you have something nice to do, you really don't notice the heat quite so much.  We had a lovely long chat and while we were talking the power came back on much to my relief.  At least it didn't happen on one of the two recent days when the mercury reached 41º Celsius (106F); one must be thankful for small mercies.

Our heatwave is over for now and the days will be cooler from now on....28º-30ºC  (82-86ºF) which is at least bearable.  A couple of weeks back when I realised the third test match would be played here in Perth I said to Phil "You can expect some very hot weather over those 5 days" and I was right.  Nearly every time there is a test match played here the weather warms up.  I watch the TV and wonder to myself why are those men standing out in the hot sun all day with 20,000+ spectators sitting out in the sun watching them.  I guess it takes all sorts but me?  I'm an inside person during our hot summers.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


We actually owned one of these cats for a short while and therein hangs a tail.  A couple in Wembley were selling their house and also the contents of their home.  I was about 11 or 12 and had gone with mum and dad to the auction of the house contents.  While there I wandered into the back garden and came upon this beautiful cat.  It was a silver-grey colour with very long hair.  The lady of the house saw me with the cat and asked mum and dad if she could give it to me.  She explained that the cat had belonged to their son who, several weeks earlier, had been drowned in Lake Monger; I think he was perhaps about my age when that happened.  This was the reason they were selling up and moving to another neighbourhood.  Looking back I think perhaps the cat was too much of a reminder of the young son they had so tragically lost.

Silver was quite an old cat as I think he had arrived at about the same time as their baby boy but mum and dad said yes we could take him home and care for him.  Sadly I don't recall how long he was with us, perhaps only a year or two, but I do remember because of his long hair his teeth had detiororated to the extent that he couldn't chew meat.  I think mum and dad did all they could for him but may eventually have had to have him to put to sleep on the advice of the veterinary surgeon.  I remember him as being a lovely cuddly fellow and very affectionate.  I think he also perhaps pined for the little friend he had lost but we gave him all the love we could for the short time he was with us.  Another fond memory of a beautiful feline friend.

The Chinchilla is a longhaired breed of cat which is actually a type of Persian.  They have a thick, long and silky coat with a cobby body and round face with large eyes.  They are a very elegant cat.  The undercoat of the cat is normally white with black, silver or gold tips.  Chinchilla cats that have darker silver markings on their bodies are referred to as shaded silvers while those with gold tips are referred to as shaded goldens and are quite rare.  Chinchilla cats have emerald or blue-green eyes with a distinctive black eye-liner rim.  The nose is red while having black pencilling.  Their feet pads are coloured black.

These cats are named after a South American rodent which also has two-toned fur.  They are one of the most popular longhaired cat breeds (but are also very expensive).

Chinchillas are normally happy to lie around the home to display their decorative qualities and are very placid and quiet.  They do enjoy attention and are very affectionate, often becoming attached to their owners.  They are ideally suited to flats or houses as many prefer to spend much of their day inside.  The long coat does shed a lot of hair which will become worse when the winter coat is dropping.  While daily brushing will reduce the amount of hair shed, it will still cover furniture and floors.

(I have the shedding problem with Precious and have often wondered why she grows thick hair in winter and then sheds (rather like goats do) as summer approaches.  We find little chunks of hair on the carpet and when I brush her the brush is full of hair in only a few minutes.  We feel she has some unknown breed in her as she is not just an ordinary moggie so perhaps some Persian escaped one day and Precious is the result.   Who knows?  All I know is we do have this surplus hair problem and she is classed as a Domestic Longhair).


Some may wonder why I have chosen this breed as they are not always that popular with some folk.  My reason is that we had a wonderful pet, a family friend, for nearly 12 years and we couldn't have asked for a more faithful and loving creature than our Princess.  I have some fantastic photographs of her and if I had the knowledge of how to get them on here I would probably flood the page with them.
Princess died way back in the early 1980s but all the family still speak of her with affection.  Many years ago even the neighbourhood children would stop at the front gate to ask how Princess was.

The BRITISH BULL TERRIER is of course a breed of dog in the terrier family.  They have large, egg-shaped heads, and small triangular eyes.  There is also a miniature version of this breed which is officially known as the Miniature Bull Terrier.

Our Princess was just like the white one above although she didn't have any black on her at all, and the miniature brindle and white is almost the same as the little fellow our son owned some years ago.

The bull terrier's mot recognisable feature is the head, described as egg-shaped when viewed from the front, the top of the skull is almost flat from ear to ear.  Profile curves gently downwards from top of skull to tip of nose which should be black and bent downwards at the tip.  Nostrils are well developed and under-jaw deep with a strong snout.  The unique triangle-shaped eyes are small, dark and deep set. The body is full and round, while the shoulders are robust and very muscular and the tail is carried horizontally.  They are generally white in colour, walk with a jaunty gait and are popularly known as the "Gladiator of the canine race."  This is the 1915 version of the bull terrier:

These animals are known to be courageous and active.  They enjoy being around people but are strong willed and thus require an assertive owner.  They need the companionship of their owners and should not be kept outside in a kennel.  They can be both independent and stubborn so are not considered suitable for an inexperienced dog owner.  They are protective of their family, but comprehensive socialisation at an early age will prevent them from becoming over-protective or neurotic.   They have a strong prey instinct and, like any strong dog breed, when unduly challenged may cause injury or death to people or other animals, especially cats.  That said, puppies brought up with cats and other animals get on well with the animals they know.

Modern bull terriers now come in both black and white and red and white:

Having read all the above which I am sure is very true with the necessary warnings about owning a dog of this breed, we found Princess to be very well behaved.  We bought her when she was 5 months old from a breeder.  Her dogs were kept in a very nice fenced part of her back yard but she would allow them into her house occasionally in order for them to get used to being 'inside'.  At that time our two children would have been about 13 and 15 and they loved Princess and she them.  She was a character and just so loveable.  You certainly did have to let her know who was the boss but overall she was a well behaved girl.  I well remember when B was courting our daughter, Princess, who knew she was not allowed on the indoor furniture, would climb up and sit on B's lap.  We would tell her to get down but B would say "Oh, she's OK" which of course she was not.  She really took to him which meant we did too of course.  Her judgement was spot on and we now have had a wonderful son-in-law for many years.

We had a cat when we brought Princess home but she was fine with her and didn't chase her at all. Kandi was a red Burmese and she loved Princess and when she would go near her poor Prinny would start to shiver, obviously with nerves.  I guess she would have liked to chase Kandi but just knew it was not allowed.  Eventually Kandi wore Prinny down and you would find the two of them curled up asleep together.  We then had another cat and Gus too would curl up and sleep next to Princess.

For a while we had a neighbour whose back fence backed onto our side fence (he was renting the house) and for some reason Princess did not like him.  A couple of times she heard him in his back garden and she would fly at the picket fence and hit it with her head a couple of feet off the ground. She was not a dog that barked very much, but she obviously was a good judge of character as a young fellow that our son knew called a couple of times and Princess growled and barked at him both times. As this was unusual behaviour for her we asked Steve why he thought she had done that.  He said this fellow was one that none of their group liked or trusted and Princess obviously could tell he wasn't someone we needed coming onto our property.

As for cats....Phil was on his way down to the shed one day and there was Princess holding a cat by the scruff of its neck and shaking it side to side.  Phil had to actually hit her before she would let go. Fortunately the cat escaped and appeared none the worse for wear.  That was the only time we saw Princess actually attack any creature and she never attacked a person of any age.

She was indeed very strong and one of her games was to have a tug of war with an old radiator hose. She was by far stronger than any adult person and if you pulled upwards she would hold onto that hose and you could then lift her right off the ground.  They do have very strong jaws and are notorious that once they grab on to something you have a dickens of a job to make them let go.

When our granddaughters arrived they loved to play with Princess and she tolerated them so well and would romp with them.  She even allowed them to sit on her back.  We didn't encourage them to do that in case they hurt her, but she didn't seem to mind in the least.

We were away on holidays when she dropped of her perch.  She had had a heart attack a couple of years before and was on heart tablets.  As she was 12 by then our vet said we could board her with him while we were away.  When we returned home I telephoned about picking her up and the receptionist asked me to hold on so the vet could speak to me.  He told me that one day during that week one of his assistants had taken her out of her run to exercise her but Princess had collapsed.  The vet said they had done all they could but could not revive her.  That dear dog was so missed by all of us and we still enjoy looking at photos of her when we relive all the fun we all had when she lived as part of our family.  Our daughter was into ceramics then and I now have a lovely bull terrier still to keep me company.  I provided the piece of drift wood so she has something to play with (when I'm not looking).