Monday, October 31, 2011


MAXMOM here...

Hello there to all my friends around the world!

...before the publication of my book,

I can hardly believe that two years of hard work is finally coming to fruition.
If I think back, I would never have believed that this point was possible. In my mind, there were simply too many obstacles.  But it's here...finally...and I'm struggling to believe it.
In 21 days I will have the book in my hands: - my gesture of goodwill to my blogging friends and a tribute to my first heartdog,
I know it's going to be a tearful moment.

But life carries on, irrespective of achievements, downfalls, health, wealth or moods.  The sun rises and the sun sets.  This is the way of the world.

Our world saw some rather large thunderstorms over the weekend. My heart goes out to those without shelter during these times. Particularly my new feathered friends -  the Spotted Eagle Owls and especially the POT PLANT OWL.  Let me tell you a bit about them...

On Friday I went to meet Allan & Tracy Eccles.  They are the couple who have produced a very beautiful, 'must read' and 'must-have' book:

One of my very dear blogging friends, Val, from "MY BOO BEAR" (in the USA)  is one of the moderators in the Pot Plant owl "chat room".  She recently pointed me to their very friendly "chat room", and also suggested that I try and make contact with Allan & Tracy. Ironically this fabulous couple live only 6 kms from me. Yes, can you believe it:- a cyber-friend in America, suggesting that I visit her cyber-friend who happens to live just up the road from me, here in South Africa?  Lol!
The world sure is shrinking!

Anyway, this is an incredible project and I'd like to tell you a bit about it:

Four years ago, a Spotted Eagle Owl decided to make her nest in one of the potplants on Tracy & Allan's balcony, in a townhouse complex in Radiokop, Johannesburg. The owl seemingly chose carefully: Ironically Tracy & Alan just happen to be bird lovers. Another reason for their choice was because the owl's natural habitat is being encroached upon by property developers.  Their 'wetland', adjacent to Tracy & Allan's home, is shrinking and the potplant on the balcony appeared to be a safer alternative for her to prepare her nest.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and the pair of Spotted Eagle Owls are currently rearing two chicks from their 4th clutch.  This entire story is somewhat of a miracle and I encourage you can read more about it on the

I do, however, have some fabulous pictures to show you - from my visit on Friday.
Here they are:
 The current chicks...22days old!

 "Mamma" sits in the twin pot - opposite the chicks - keeping constant watch for predators.  Should any approach (like the pesky crows), she hoots for her mate, who is quick to spring into action. 

There are also a few more pictures on my other blog, if you are interested.
Click HERE

The Pot Plant Owl and her chicks can also be viewed live on Tracy & Allan's webcam.  The webcam has been set up from their 'hide' in their bedroom on the first floor.
We are privilege to be able to witness some incredible footage. 
You just HAVE TO click here!!!

I strongly encourage you to go and visit them.  The chicks are already 25 days old and will be leaving the nest soon.  Sadly, 2011 viewing will then be over. Only next year, this time, will the owls possibly mate and produce another clutch of eggs.  So, please take advantage of this unique opportunity and privilege.

I would like to say a special thank you to Tracy and Allan for their amazing hospitality. What a pleasure it was to meet them and get to see the owls and their chicks.  I would like to thank them too, for all they are doing to protect our feathered friends. What amazing people they are, and what beautiful, extraordinary and awesome birds they have chosen to protect!  I commend them for their dedicated work and passionate approach.

Please click here if you would like to visit

My best wishes go to the PPO, "Pappa" and their two chicks.

Sending lotsaluv to all my friends and wishing you all a very happy week.

Friday, October 28, 2011

FIREWORKS - Some remedies.

MAXMOM here..

Hello there to all my friends across the world.

Firstly, let me say a big 'Thank you' for all your comments and suggestions regarding yesterday's post about Tammy's response to fireworks.  Your feedback is valuable and I really appreciate it.

There were some extremely valuable suggestions which I received from readers and followers of this blog, so I thought that I would post them up today.  We can all benefit from this knowedge. 

Obviously, one has to try and find the correct solution for each of our particular pets.  Some things work, other things don't.  It's a matter of trial and error. The age, experiences and traits/personality of our particular animals are also contributing factors, as well as our own particular reaction to the dog's response.  It we are uptight, they become uptight too.  It's important to stay calm.  Our relationships with our companion animals are complicated and I can also buy the theory that how we respond to a dog's behavioural isses plays a vital role in dealing with their presenting problems. 

Nevertheless, it is up to each of us to find our individual solutions for our dog's issues. 
 In Tammy's case, I continue my search...

Having said that, Tammy is much better today. 
The setting off of firecrackers in our particular neighbourhood has eased, but it takes only 'one' 'Bang' to change Tammy's paradigm.  Last night, we gave her a double-dose of meds just before sunset, and it seemed to do the trick.  I just wish that the setting off of fireworks could be restricted to specific times - this would be so helpful for us all, and will enable us to make contingency plans for our animals.

Here are some suggestions (that my readers have sent me) to deal with pets who are traumatised by fireworks. Thank you again for all your suggestions.   Please take a look at some of the links.  You never know, you may just find something that helps your animal.



Some of my readers have had great success with the use of this jacket.  Some have also indicated that it had no effect whatsoever.  The jury is out on this one, although those who have had success, swear by it. Some of my followers have suggested that a TIGHT T-SHIRT can also have a good response.


This is (apparently) a room spray, which emulates the pheromones of a whelping bitch.  Although I've not tried it (yet), I have heard that it can help.
Available from Veterinarians.


This particular website offers valuable information about how we can make our environments more comfortable for our pets. It also gives a few other pointers

(Thank you, RILEY, for this particular suggestion!)


This remedy doesn't work for my own particular pets, but some of you have had success.
Available from many outlets.  In South Africa: Dischem stores.

(Consult your Veterinarian!)

I always believe in consulting a Veterinary practitioner when it comes to problems with my pets. They are the people with knowledge better than our own.  
 In Tammy's case, we've tried many things.  Our vet finally prescribed medication a few years ago.  The thing to remember here (I find) is to try and administer the meds an hour or two prior to the event.  This is often not possible, but would be hugely effective for our animals if fireworks could be restricted to certain times and that we were given notice of these times. Unfortuntely here in SA people are generally lawless and inconsiderate about these matters.



*Some of my readers have suggested the particular 'SOUNDS SCARY' CD's:(

* Kathleen Coy has had great success with her dog, Cloud, by using a particular classical CD
'Through a Dog's ear'
This CD can be purchased via
or in South Africa, via:

* An excellent article on desensitisation :

Again, THANK YOU to all my readers for your valuable input.
If there are any readers out there who are still setting off fireworks,
PLEASE, I am pleading with you...
 Please keep in mind the devastating consequences of your actions.
Our animals are suffering!

Sending lotsaluv to all my friends around the world

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fight? Flight? Euthanasia? Celebration?

MAXMOM here...


After the first one, Tammy comes charging at me. Her expression tells me everything I need to know. These sounds are familiar and I feel a prevailing helplessness overshadow. This time, it’s “Diwali” and I believe this celebration can be five days long. It started yesterday.

Tammy’s eyes are saucers of blind terror. Her ears are firmly plastered back against her skull. And she is panting heavily. Those first bangs have shifted her brain into another, impossible gear – one of total, utter panic. Her face has instantly narrowed in response and she looks gaunt and old. In a few minutes her tongue will be blue too. She darts down the passage, crying, whining, only to sprint back again – to me, her only source of futile comfort.


In the past we’ve tried everything. We stay home on these occasions. We close the doors and the windows too. We try and block off the invasive sound. We turn on the TV and the radio and turn up the music. We move all glassware off the low coffee table in our lounge. And we also reach for her prescribed tranquilizers and give her a double dose.

The effects of more explosions in our neighbourhood are shocking - to say the least! But I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do for poor Tammy – except to forge through this storm. There’s no telling how long these devastating celebrations will last. It’s at times like these that the idea of euthanasia is very much in the foreground of my mind.


Tammy is one of the lucky ones however. Others, who don’t have their owners at home during these festivities, will try and seek refuge wherever they can. Some dogs impale themselves on palisade fences in a desperate attempt to escape their properties. Others run wildly – either to get horribly lost, or to meet their death in oncoming traffic. I know that tonight, the SPCA’s will have a massive intake. The emergency Vets will too.

I look on helplessly at poor Aunt Tam. She’s 11 years old now and doesn’t deserve this. I know my attempts to console her will all be futile. I look at the trail of white hair littering my carpet – there are tufts everywhere – all a sign that she is severely traumatised, already.


For over two hours we sit and battle her terror as the explosions around our neighbourhood continue in earnest. Tammy’s response is to try and reach the highest elevation that she can. This means climbing on top of everything in an attempt to escape the assault on her senses. She scales the furniture, she claws at us, she cries, pants, turns in circles. Nothing works.

Her arthritis is the least of her worries. She climbs on top of us and reaches to the top of the backrest of the couch. Despite our ‘No!’s, she is determined to continue climbing upwards, as high as she can, even if she topples over the edge. Her plight is desperate. We pull her back safey, only to have her clawing again at our legs. She’s very strong and my attempts to help her are exhausting.


“What shall we do?”

We decide to call an emergency vet – to get advice. This is the worst she’s been and the medication isn’t helping one bit. I explain our problem whilst Tammy whines and claws at my legs. She eventually bumps over the computer. Her panting makes it hard for me to hear the person on the other end of the line. She’s desperate and considers me to be her only escape route.

“There’s nothing more we can do,” the Vet explains. “You’ve given her the maximum dose. You’ll just have to wait it out.”


I know it would be pointless taking her to the Vet’s rooms, because if they kept her overnight, she’ll gnaw at the cage and eventually be returned to me with bleeding gums and toenails. It’s happened before. I call another vet.

This time, they are more helpful. He’s in theatre, but the receptionist says she’ll ask him. Will I call back in 5 minutes time? Of course I will. I stand up and walk up and down the passage. Tammy follows me. Toby, too. He’s equally confused – his faithful ‘Aunt Tam’ is giving off mixed signals. I can’t sit down either, because she’ll shred my legs if I do. I already have telltale red stripes down my arms. I can’t put her in the kitchen either because she’ll claw the door down and shred her paw-pads. There are no answers – except to walk with her. Sitting on the floor is impossible because she climbs all over me, hugging my shoulders. Rubbing her ears is a futile exercise too – she won’t sit still. Wrapping her up in crepe bandages, shutting off her ears…all are pointless exercises.


I’m back on the phone to the receptionist. “Give her another double dose,” she tells me. “It should knock her out.” I’m desperate now. I’ll do anything.

The bangs outside continue with escalating fervour. Tammy is hyperventilating by this stage. If she continues like this perhaps she’ll pass out herself and it will save me the trouble. Her tongue is blue from her efforts and I’ve never realised exactly how long it is, until this moment. She refuses all water – knocking over the water bowl in her confusion. She’s running rings around everything and taking on the fight of her life. She’s also fighting the effects of the medication now, together with the fireworks - as if her life depends on it. Hopefully she’ll eventually succumb to the medication.


The good news is that we made it through the night. But there’ll be another like this…and another. I don’t have the answers for my dear ‘Aunt Tam’. There’s only one –


But that isn’t going to happen. Humanity is far too selfish.

… Some of us humans call this a celebration! Really?
And there’s more to come: Halloween, Christmas, New Year and any other opportunity our species can get to 'have a blast'!

 I simply cannot understand it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ASTA's long journey begins...

MAXMOM here...
(Above: Toby, Tammy, Asta and King Toffee)

Hello there to all our friends around the world.

Weddings, rugby, MAXDOG rollout, the hottest day in October....
 there's never a dull moment  in our household!

On Sunday afternoon it was time for a walk - a special walk:

ASTA's FAREWELL romp in the doggie park.

So we bundled all the dogs into the car - TOBY, TAMMY as well as THE KING - and headed up the road to join ASTA and her family.
(Above: LtoR: Asta, Tammy, Toby and Tosca -another guide-dog-in-training)
(Above: Lorraine's ASTA)

We have shared ASTA's journey for 16 months now.  We've watched her grow from that small puppy, when Lorraine first brought her home to the beautiful young dog she is today. During this time TOBY and her have become best friends.

We've seen ASTA learn the foundational ropes of being a Guide-dog Puppy in training.  And we also watched her enjoy herself freely when she's had the opportunity to romp and frolick.  Lorraine has done a truly awesome job with ASTA and I think should be commended for her dedication and hard work.

Unfortunately, yesterday was the day to say goodbye and for ASTA to return to the
SOUTH AFRICAN GUIDE DOG ASSOCIATION here in Johannesburg, South Africa.

(Above: Lorraine and Asta arrive at the Guide-Dogs Training Centre)

(Above: "Look who's there...its AERO, your sister!")

(Above: Asta gets settled into her kennel)
(Above: Lorraine says 'Good-bye')

In the next 6 months ASTA will be undergoing the serious training towards her specialised vocation.

If all goes well, by June next year, she will be opening the doors to someone's life.

What an amazing gift she will become...
But admittedly, it's also sad for us because now we have to bid farewell.

We will never forget that beautiful puppy who arrived on Lorraine's doorstep.
Nor will we forget Lorraine's selfless committment to helping make the world a better place.
What a privilege it has been to follow your journey.

Good luck ASTA.  We are going to miss you...lots!
And good luck to Lorraine too - who will be getting a new guide-dog puppy in the next few weeks.  We look forward to following his/her journey too.

Sending lotsaluv


Friday, October 21, 2011

Deja vu

MAXMOM here...

Hello there to all my friends and readers around the world.
I have a perplexing question for you today:

Is it possible that the Spirit of a Heart-Dog is so strong, that it may never leave you?

Now before you think I'm totally crazy, let me explain:

For some months now, I have been puzzled by the uncanny resemblance between
Angel MAXDOG and my young, Sweet Hooligan - TOBY.

 Although they are different animals with different mannerisms, I cannot ignore the distinct similarities in some of their traits.  As Toby gets older, it almost feels that our relationship is starting off from where MAXDOG left...

Am I crazy, or what?

Let me explain detail:

Above Left: MAXDOG                          Above Right:TOBY

* Max looked at me with such devotion; and now Toby gives me that same look.

* Max tracked my every move, 24/7, often following me into the bathroom, the shower, the toilet, everywhere! Toby does the same.

* Max hung his head over the rim of the bath, whilst I was in it and stared at me.  So does Toby!

*Both Max and Toby ran/run trenches in my passage, with equal vigor and the same way - especially prior to a walk.

* Both dogs had/have a special relationship with Tammy - they mouth each other for hours, mock-biting and playing like they're each others' comfort blankets.
                                   Tammy and Max                                          Tammy and Toby

                                     Tammy and Max                             Tammy and Toby

*Both Max and Toby slept/sleep with their heads on their front paws.  At night, both tucked/tuck themselves into the wedge between the base of our bed and the floor. In the morning, guess whose face I see as I wake up?

                                  Left :MAXDOG                         Right: TOBY

* Both Max and Toby slept/sleep in Toffee's bed at any available opportunity.
Above: MAXDOG Right TOBY

* Both Max and Toby relished/relish their food, and both waited/wait to lick out any remnants from my dinner bowls... the same way.

*Both Max and Toby loved/love to swim.  Both dogs would/will swim when I am away from home and converted/convert themselves into muddy-apparitions by the time I got/get home.
 Above: MAXDOG

Above: TOBY

*Both Max and Toby allowed/allow their ears to be rubbed a certain way - even if I put my knuckle deep into their ear - both relished/relish it.

Above Left: MAXDOG                Above Right: TOBY

*Both dogs loved/love to learn new things.


Call me crazy, but the traits are far too similar to ignore.
Max and Toby even look the same!

And the amazing thing is that I have an equally powerful connection with my dear, beautiful


Now here's a secret that I've not shared with many people:

Exactly 62 days after Maxdog crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Toby was born.
Do you know that the gestation period for a Golden Retriever is 60-62 days? This means that Toby was conceived within 24 hours of the passing of MAXDOG. If that doesn't give you the shivers, nothing will.

So tell me...
what do you make of this?

Can it be that the Spirit of my Heart-Dog has never left me?


"As I look to the sunrise,
I now know...
that you are there,
in its glorious glow..."

Sending lotsaluv to you all,