Banjo Baby Baboon

Getting aquainted

Way back in March 2012 I met @Kolo_Martin (for Kolo’s webpage – see the link on my BlogRoll) and learned of his bid to re-house as many Baboons as he can via special competitions.

Being a curious cat I Googled “Baboon” and found that they are primate with many of the characteristics of a cat e.g. curious, cheeky, climb trees, enjoy naps etc. So huMum contacted Kolo by DM and asked if we could provide a forever home for a Baboon. Much to our delight Kolo advised that a wee baby Baboon had been dispatched to Australia.

Everyday, excitedly, I checked our mailbox and last week he finally arrived!

Banjo Arrives at Number 31

Those pesky parcels that people from UK use are so difficult for a cat to open so I had to asked huMum for her assistance. “OMC he is so cute” I cried when I first spied Baby Banjo Baboon. Yes we have named him Banjo after the Australian poet Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson who is famous for such delights as Waltzing Matilda, The Man from Snowy River and Clancy of the Overflow.

I was a little over-friendly with Banjo on his first night in our home so he has taken up residence on our fridge but every day I greet him with “Morning Banjo” and in return he says “Ah! Ah! Ah!” and asks for another banana.

Thank you Kolo for giving us the chance to adopt Banjo – today we sent my weekly pocket-money to the CARE Baboon Sanctuary in South Africa.

Nap time, bye-bye for now!

Banjo’s home (until I stop the rough play)

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Transfer of my Blog to WordPress

#ourWinnie taking Nanny Jessie for a ride on her horsey

Over the past week I’ve been gradually transferring my personal blog to WordPress. Unfortunately, the two Australian #NipClub tours to help save the endangered Bilby held earlier in 2012 could not be included (graphic overload!) but they still can be viewed (see the link in the BlogRoll on the right of this page).

Please let me know if you wish me to add your link to my BlogRoll and, in turn, I’d be delighted if you added my link to your Blog.

Also if you are looking for links important to twitter anipals just click here HERE.

I don’t promise to update this blog on a regular basis but I may be more inclined to share the daily joys of living with huMum in my forever home. It also will encourage her to get the dreaded camera out and snap pictures of me compromising poses.

Nap time, bye-bye for now!

The Gianormous Tom!

Big, scruffy and a WIMP!

One night last week, just as I’d settled for a wee nap with huMum, I heard a noise.  Head up, ears pricked, the hackles on the back of my neck already raised and my tail all floofed to triple its normal skinny size.  Somebody was in my courtyard garden!  In a tummy crouch I crawled into the living room so that my profile wouldn’t be seen through the big glass doors.  OMC he was huge; at least 21lbs of him! Ginger too and, I guess, a feral as his coat was all matted.  I zoomed at a million miles an hour back up the passage into the laundry and out my door.  I must have scared the sh*t out him as he took off into garage with me in hot pursuit.  We sped through the gap in the big door to the driveway. Then came the stand-off and the circling to see who had the biggest yowl.

Lights went on in huMum’s room and I imagined her running through the house as, in quick succession, the passage light then the living room light flashed on.  This made me brave so I pounced.  Yowls, howls and screams ensued!  “The tom” just shook me off like he would a pesky gnat; did I tell you he was gianormous?  All four legs akimbo I managed a strike to his nose as I sailed through the air.  Score ONE for Jessie! Dazed from my flight, I looked around.  He’d vanished! The front door opened and huMum arrived in her daggy fluoro-green flannelette pj’s and bed head (a sight that only should be viewed through sunglasses) and, to my chagrin, scooped me up into her protective arms.  I gave her the stiff paw treatment as I wanted to find “the tom” but she scurried back inside making unnecessary soothing noises.

Three hours later as dawn made its sleepy arrival I cautiously, tail down and pawtoeing, crept out to check the venue of the “great fight”.   Proudly I spotted speckles of blood on the path.  Eureka!!  I didn’t dream that my mighty claws had struck gold the previous night.  So I happily trotted back inside with tail held high like a flagpole to wake huMum with my good news.  Miaow, miaow MIAOOOOOOW hmm no reaction from the lump under the duvet.  I hopped up on our bed and tapped the nose sticking out and received a mumbled snort.  Tapped again and jumped quickly to other side of her head to evade tha hand which shot out to hit the place I’d previously been sitting.  Phase three of the daily “wake the huMum routine” was for me to take up the ‘staring position’ on her chest (which is perfectly flat as her boobs fall under her armpits when she’s on her back) and then purr directly in her face.  Result! I knew she’d only resist that for 5 minutes!

On our walk to the kitchen I told her all about the blood spots on the path and as she groggily slurped her first cup of coffee and I munched my Hills Prescription TD biscuits we pondered what to do if “the tom” returned.  I scratched my head in disappointment when huMum rejected my idea of burying a few land mines.  She reminded me that the neighbour’s brats often invade our space and she didn’t want to end up in jail for juvenile murder even though she agreed with me that their high-pitched screeches when riding their scooters up and down the driveway were worse than nails on a blackboard.

With no resolution to the problem we took up residence on the sofa and turned the TV on to watch the morning news.  Bored, I snuggle into huMum’s side and fell asleep dreaming of the featherweight championship belt being proudly draped over my back as I pranced around a boxing ring.

Day Two

At around 10:00pm the following night, I’d just hopped over the neighbour’s fence on my return journey to our garden when I sniffed the air?  He was back!  From deep within my chest I emitted a rumbling noise which, even to me, was frightening.  I had no idea I could make such a sound and created a diary note to myself to ponder it later.  I saw golden eyes flashing 5 yards away.  My rumble became a hiss and then a high-pitched yowl as fearlessly I moved towards “the tom”.  Huh?  Where did he go?  I was sure he’d been right in front of me just a second previously.  Shocked realisation dawned on me, “the tom” was a wimp and I’d scared him off. Strutting proudly inside I let huMum know just how lucky she was to have me to protect her and claimed my reward in scritches and supper.

Nap time, bye-bye for now!

Painting The House

Cream walls with a scattering of black fur is very “IN” at our house

I wasn’t aware my huMum had a mild disability when we met as she was able to do all the basic stuff like feed and brush me. It doesn’t worry me that when she is tired, she uses a walker or a stick because I get to ride on the walker’s seat and the stick provides me with hours of pleasure trying to move it from one room to another. Laborious chores like cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming and mopping floors are just beyond huMum and she has a lovely lady called Vidanka visit once a week to help.

Vidanka was my friend from our first meeting, it was a mutual admiration society – she loved rubbing my tummy and I loved the treats she, unbeknownst to huMum, hid in her pocket for me! Over the years Vidanka and her family, huMum and I all became really close friends. Our house was only 7 years old but it really needed painting so Sam, Vidanka’s husband and a professional painter, agreed on a price with huMum and the work started the following week.

I wasn’t too sure that all these ladders, drapes over the furniture and floor were really such a good idea. OMC the smell of the paint was hideous, it permeated every hiding place I had in the house so I spent a lot of time on my fence steps. Each afternoon, as soon as Sam left, I’d be coaxed back into the house to play with huMum, have our dinner and watch TV or spend time on the computer. Nobody told me that the lovely cream paint on the wall was still wet. Oh dear I was in deep doo doo! My beautiful black coat was covered in cream paint and the walls were covered in my fur. You guessed it! At the time, I was in the middle of my shedding season!

Every day Sam arrived at 7:30am to fix another catastrophe! Sometimes it was blue paint, sometimes it was sage and always the walls were covered in my black fur. Sam and huMum took turns in fixing the walls and washing the paint off my coat. At no time did Sam ask huMum to banish me from the house. You see I had this gentle Yugoslavian wrapped around my wee paw! He was always anxious that I did not try to wash the paint off myself. I did enjoy the attention but I did not enjoy being washed!

Finally the house was completely painted with clean curtains and carpet! It looked so fresh and sparkling. The only real complaint I had was that huMum sent my mohair blankie to the dry cleaners. A pongy, smelly but very fluffy blankie was returned to me! It took me four weeks of hard work kneading and covering it with my scent to get it back to purrfection!

Nap time, bye-bye for now!

Five Horses

Jane, aged approx. 6 with Puddin the Poddy Lamb

On an Australian farm, because our paddocks are so big, horses are vital to the farm’s smooth running. Yes, I did have five horses but not all at once. I was a pesky little toddler and I constantly was asking my Dad if I could ride his stockhorse, Marianne. She was so big that I could walk under her tummy without having to bend over. I loved it when Dad and I rode her together; me wrapped snug in his strong arms.

Finally, just to shut me up, they bought me Bimbo, a tiny black Shetland pony with a vicious temper. He hated me especially when I made him go too fast. He would turn his head around and nip at my legs – boy it hurt. Whenever I walked behind him he would kick his back little legs at me. That Bimbo was a horrible nasty little pony didn’t put me off at all. I would dream that I was a famous rider winning prizes at the Melbourne Royal Agricultural Show.

Mum and Dad finally realised that I was serious about riding and they drove up to Melbourne, which is about 220 kilometres from where we lived, and found Tango. I was so excited when the truck finally arrived and he was led down the ramp. It was love at first sight. He was pure white with a long flowing tail and mane. His eyes were so big and so very brown. From then on it was just like that nursery rhyme about Mary and her little lamb but it was “everywhere that Jane went Tango would to follow”. We sold Bimbo soon after that.

I rode Tango to school each day and he would wait patiently for me to ride him home again. School was a little country cottage, which looked more like a shed. It was about 5 kilometres from our farm. There was only one teacher and 12 students ranging in age from 5 to 12 years. Mr. Binks, our teacher, was a tall skinny man with a lovely warm smile. He made sure that Tango had enough grass to eat and water to drink and that I put him in a shady spot in the summer when it was very hot.

Tango and I had to work hard too. We helped Dad round-up the sheep and bring them to the shed at shearing time at the beginning of summer. In the spring we would spend hours in the paddocks making sure that all the lambs were OK. If they were sick or their mums, the ewes, did not want to let them suckle for milk I would hop off Tango, pick up the lamb and put it over the front of my saddle and take it home for Mum to look after. Every lamb was precious to us because when they grew into sheep their wool was sold at market and that was how Mum and Dad had money to buy Jane more horses! I found out at a very early age that if I was good, worked hard and did all my chores I would be rewarded, not only, with lots of hugs and kisses from my Mum and Dad, but every so often they would buy me a special present.

Tango taught me to ride. He was a born Show pony even though he did not have a very good pedigree. The first Show (only a little local Show) we went to I was riding in jeans, we could not afford jodhpurs, but Tango could not have cared less what I wore. We rode into the Show ring and he curved his head down, picked up his little dainty hooves and fluffed out his tail. Yes we won the blue ribbon for best pony! Can you imagine how proud I was?

Mum and Dad got caught up in the excitement of riding. They knew nothing about horses or the finer points of equestrianism, but they went to the library and read heaps of books. They made friends with the “horsy” crowd and very quickly learned. It was now very serious. Every night when Tango and I got home from school we had to train. In the winter Dad would turn the lights of the tractor on so that I could see what I was doing. They made me ride without stirrups for what seemed like hours going around and around in a circle so that I would learn how to sit in the saddle properly. Then they would take the reins away from me so that I learnt how to use my knees to guide Tango in the right direction and make him walk or trot or canter with just the slightest pressure. Lochie, my Silky Terrier, was Tango’s best friend and he would keep us company. Either sitting patiently in the middle of the circle or, when Dad wasn’t watching, up on the saddle with me.

After just one year, Tango and I were winning all the prizes. I had ribbons on all the walls of my bedroom and Mum proudly displayed the Silver Cups we won in our front lounge room where the visitors always sat.

When I was eleven, we bought Goblin Gold. I called him Gobby and he was about 30 centimetres taller than Tango, who was now too small for me, but I still kept riding him for another year. Gobby was a beautiful chestnut colour and he just glowed in the sun. Now it was Tango, Gobby, Lochie and I and, when Buck, my pet kangaroo, was big enough, he too joined our merry crew. Can you imagine the spectacle as we all trooped off to visit the creek or the dam? Me riding one of the horses bareback with no reins, Lochie in my arms, the other horse following behind and Buck always hopping ahead – he loved to be in front and always won our pretend races. I was so happy that I would sing but very off-key.

Our entire family were now a very professional team at all the Shows. We had a proper horse float that we towed behind our old Holden. I had all the right clothes and my saddles (a small one for Tango and bigger one for Gobby) and bridles would glisten with oil. The other competitors dreaded our arrival, as they knew we would leave with all the blue ribbons.

At last, when I turned twelve, Mum and Dad, thought that I was ready for the big time and they entered me in the various competitions for both rider and horse at the Royal Melbourne. That was May and I had to wait until September! I would only be riding Gobby as Tango was now way too small for me. We trained every morning and every night. Gobby was put on a special diet of barley, oats and wheat so that his coat would be at its shiniest best.

Two weeks before the Show Mum, Dad and I went to Melbourne to visit my brother Hugh who was at boarding school and to pick up my new riding outfit. I was so chuffed with my new jodhpurs, long sleek riding jacket and knee-high black shiny boots, that I didn’t mind having to watch Hugh play cricket. We did not get home from Melbourne until just before midnight. I was asleep on the back seat of the car so they didn’t wake me; Dad just lifted me up and carried me to bed and Lochie and Butterball soon joined me.

The next morning instead of Dad waking me up at the usual time of 5:00am it was Mum. She sat me on her knee and told me that she had some very sad news for me. When we were in Melbourne, Gobby had escaped from his paddock and could not get back in. He was very hungry because he could not get to his special mixture. Not knowing that the tree near his paddock was poisonous he ate its leaves. By the time Dad found him at midnight there was nothing they could do for my darling horse. Dad phoned the Vet who drove out and gave Gobby an injection that put him to sleep and took the pain away. Yes, Gobby died and little part of me died with him. I cried and cried for days and days. That is life when you live on a farm, the animals you love so very much are, eventually, either sold or go to heaven.

We buried Gobby on top of the only hill on our farm so that he would always be able to look down at us. Dad helped me make a cross for his grave and Mum, Dad, Tango, Lochie, Buck, Butterball and I prayed for him.

I can hear you saying that is only three horses Jane, you told me that you had five! Well within a few months Golden Glory arrived. She too was a chestnut – tall beautiful and proud but she could not replace Gobby in my heart. I no longer wanted to ride the Show circuit but eventually I did and gradually Goldie and I became friends.

At one of the Shows at the back of the area where all the cars and horse floats were parked, I met an old racing horse. He was a horse, not a pony; I couldn’t even reach his saddle! His name was Sputnik and I called him Spooty. His owners could no longer afford to feed him so I pleaded with Mum and Dad to take him home with us. So now there was Bimbo, Tango, Gobby, Goldie and Spooty.

Just a few short months after that Dad and Mum sold the farm. Goldie and Spooty were taken to Melbourne and sold. Dad promised me that they had both gone to families with lots of children who would love them both to bits. I never did get to ride at the Royal Melbourne.

Tango died when I was twenty-one. He too was twenty-one, which is so very old for a horse but he was still the prettiest white pony in the district. Until then, every time I visited my old home I went to see him. After a few years he no longer recognised me but by that time I was old enough to understand and not to be sad.

Butterball

Awe! She is just like Butterball

I first met Butterball at about 11:00pm on a winter’s night – I had just turned nine – but before I tell you about that wonderful night I have to set the scene.

Butterball’s mum was a tabby cat we called “Ugly” she was the offspring of one of the many feral cat families on the farm. We never saw these cats in daylight, but knew they were around because we could hear their noisy, furious fights at night. Ugly was also born in the winter. Her mother was not silly because she nested under the house just near the base of the kitchen stove, which, because it was alight 24 hours of the day, was lovely and warm.

I found the kittens when I was hiding from Mum under the house. You guessed it – once again I was in her bad books. I think it was the time that I decided that the wood I had chopped for the stove was dirty so I had hosed it down. Wrong move! Now it was too wet to be used! I heard the miaowing of the kittens and went to investigate. There were five little bundles of fluff; so tiny that their eyes were not even open. I spent a good part of the next week under the house with the kittens, plotting on how I could convince Mum and Dad that I had to have a kitten. I was so good all that week. Did all my chores without being asked and was ever so polite. They knew I was up to something because this “angel” in the house was not their daughter. Eventually one night, when Mum was reading to me, I got up enough nerve to tell her about the kittens and ask if I could have one. She did not give me an answer right away, just said “maybe”. That was enough for me because I knew her maybe meant yes!

Dad was a pushover; I had him wrapped around my little finger and he could never say no to me. However, he did insist that, if I was to have a kitten, it must be a boy because he did not want to have to deal with a litter of new kittens every 6 months. I said OK and we both crawled under the house to get the kittens so that we could choose a Tom. There was not all that much space under our house so can you imagine my Dad, who was 182cm crawling behind me. There was a whole lot of cursing as he kept on hitting his head on the floorboards above. I learnt some new words that day! When we got the kittens outside Dad chose Ugly for me and gave him to me to take inside.

You may be asking why I chose the name “Ugly”. It’s pretty simple he was Ugly! He had a very dark grey coat covered in orange splodges and his face was bright orange. He was so Ugly he was beautiful.

Ugly never really belonged to me though. He was too wild but he did come at meal times when I called him and occasionally he would sleep on my bed and allow me to pet him, but cuddle him – never! I had so many scratches on me at one stage I looked like I had been picking blackberries for a week.

As you will have already surmised about six months after he was born we realised that Dad was not very good at picking the sex of cats. Yes he was a she and a very pregnant she! I was wrapped! More kittens!

Ugly became gentler as motherhood got closer. I could now pick her up and my bed became her bed. She was still only a kitten herself and here she was about to give birth to more kittens.

At last the big night arrived. I thought it was strange that all afternoon and evening Ugly had been following me around. If I went to the wood heap to chop more wood then she was there, sitting on a log and occasionally miaowing at me. I went to bed at my normal time in winter (about 8.00 pm) and Ugly soon joined me. She went around and around in circles but just didn’t seem to be able to get comfortable. She had a really fat tummy by this time and I thought that was the reason. Eventually when I let her get under the blankets with me she settled and we both went to sleep.

Much, much later I was awoken by the sound of tiny little mews. The first kitten had arrived. We didn’t have electricity in those days but I had a torch, which I quickly turned on, and there lying beside me was a baby kitten. Ugly was licking it clean and purring like a steam engine.

I screamed out in delight, “Mummy I’ve got a kitten.” There was a lot of muttering from the room next door where Mum and Dad slept and then the reply, “That’s nice darling, now go back to sleep.” “But Mummy it’s got white paws.” Silence. “Mummy, Ugly is having another kitten!” At last I got a reaction. I could hear Mum go to the linen press and to the storage cupboard. She opened my door and bought in an old suitcase and some tatty towels that we were going to make into rags. I helped Mum line the suitcase and we lifted Ugly and her kitten into it. I begged Mum to leave the suitcase in my room and she agreed as long as I promised to go straight back to sleep!

Sleep, there is no way I could go back to sleep! As soon as Mum was out of the room, Ugly grabbed the kitten in her mouth and jumped back on the bed and straight under the blankets. Who was I to argue with a cat that had made up her mind that her kittens were going to be born in my bed!

The kittens arrived at regular intervals of about half an hour apart. I kept Mum and Dad fully abreast of what was happening much to their annoyance. “This one’s a tabby!” “We have another black and white kitten!” “Oh a pretty little ginger one with a white face!”

The fifth and last kitten to arrive was Butterball. I fell in love. She was the colour of butter and her fur was so much longer than that of her brothers and sisters. We were all so tired by this time that Ugly, her five kittens and I fell into exhausted sleep.

Naturally, I awoke with the birds the next morning and threw back my blankets. It was just so beautiful. There were Ugly and her five little babies. They were only the size of matchboxes, did not have real ears and their eyes were closed tight. I was so frightened that they might have suffocated having been under the blankets with me all night but they were all wiggling and madly suckling on Ugly’s breasts.

That morning at breakfast Dad sat me down with a very serious look on his face and said, “Jane you know we can’t keep all the kittens don’t you? I want you to choose just one and I will take the others away before you and Ugly get too attached to them.” My heart was breaking but I knew he was right. I held his hand and we both went back to my room. Ugly looked up and miaowed loudly. It was as though she knew what was about to happen. I petted her and told her to be brave but I had tears trickling down my face. Naturally, I chose Butterball and Dad took the other kittens away. To this day I have never asked where he took them. Mum insisted that Ugly and Butterball move to the suitcase straight away so that she could take my sheets away to be washed. I hadn’t even noticed that they were dirty! Ugly accepted this arrangement but wasn’t too keen when I locked them both in the case and tried to take them to school with me. I finally agreed not to take them when Mum promised me that she would watch over them for me. Every afternoon when I got home I eagerly ran to my bedroom and the suitcase to make sure that all was OK.

Over the next weeks I watched with delight as Butterball progressed from a skinny little sausage into a cute kitten. Pointy ears and the biggest yellow/brown eyes. Mum was also in love and she gave me treats for Ugly (like the cream and titbits of fresh meat) so that she would be able to give all the right nutrients to Butterball in her milk.

As soon as Butterball was weaned Mum and I drove, in the old Holden, to town and visited the Vet. Neither of us trusted Dad’s judgement with regard to if Butterball was a boy or a girl. Mum gave a huge sigh when the Vet told us that she was a girl because she knew that she would have to explain to me that Butterball had to stay overnight with the Vet and have a small operation so that she would not have kittens. Funnily enough this was OK by me just as long as Butterball wasn’t going to be too sore. The Vet, a kindly roly-poly man called Dr. Jones, assured me that she would be asleep when he operated and that within a few days would be back to her playful self.

The next day we picked up this very sleepy and sore little ball of yellow fluff. Dr. Jones was correct in his prediction as within two days she was again chasing her tail and playing hide and seek with me and then jumping out and pouncing on my foot as I walked past her hiding spot. She was very much a house cat and only went outside to go to the toilet and then rushed back to miaow at the door until we let her in.

Soon after this Ugly left and I never saw her again. She returned to the feral cat families but, occasionally, I was sure I heard her caterwauling at night. Because Butterball and I had each other for company we didn’t miss her all that much.

Besides that we were soon to be joined by another bundle of joy – Lochie, but that is another story for another day.

Lochiel

Awe! He is just like Lochie

You will remember that at the conclusion of my story about Butterball I teased you by saying, “we were soon to be joined by another bundle of joy – Lochie” – well this is Lochie’s story!

From the time I could walk the first thing I did every morning was ask my Mum if I could “go say morning to the dogs”. She would help me out of my high chair and off I would toddle across the farm paddock to the shearing shed where our sheep dogs had their home. We had three Kelpie / Border Collie crosses they were called Brandy, Soda and Whisky. You might gather that my Mum and Dad liked a drink! Sheep dogs are a farmer’s left arm – without them it would be impossible to move the sheep from paddock to paddock; paddock to yards; or yards to shed and our three dogs were champions, that is, until Jane came along!

The dogs did not work for love; they loved to work, but during such times as hay baling they were left tied up and all alone. This was when I could do the most damage and damage I did do! You’re not supposed to pet sheep dogs or give them hugs or extra tucker but I managed to do all three on a very regular basis. It got to the stage that whenever Dad let the dogs off their chains to do some work for him they would run to the house paddock in search of me. Through giving them heaps of love and attention I had taken over Dad’s role as their master. It was pretty hard to send me to bed for this dilemma because it had taken place very gradually over nearly 12 months.

One day Dad and Whisky were herding a mob of sheep down the South Gippsland Highway from one of our farms to another. It had taken him nearly half a day so Mum and I decided to take him lunch in the old Holden. Ahead of us we saw this lovely controlled circle of sheep with Whisky moving from side to side behind them making sure that they were moving forward, not stopping to eat grass and never letting one stray. Dad was off to the left chugging along on the tractor. At the sound of the car, Whisky’s ears pricked. When he saw me hop out the sheep were forgotten and he came pelting back up the road to jump all over me and give me lots of kisses with his wet tongue. Now some people say that sheep are silly and yes I tend to agree but when freedom can be found they know how to escape. We had sheep going in every direction. Mum pushed me back into the car and made me hide from Whisky on the floor. She and Dad and, eventually, Whisky took over an hour to round-up all the sheep again.

That night I thought I was definitely going to be sent to bed without my dinner but instead Mum and Dad carried on like nothing had happened. I don’t know which is worse, waiting for the punishment or the punishment itself! From my room, where I was reading, I could hear them whispering but I could not quite catch what they were saying and Butterball was no help because she could not speak “people talk”.

About a week later Dad went on his own to Melbourne saying he would be home before I went to bed. This was very mysterious to me because Dad never went to Melbourne alone. Mum and I had a great day. It was raining so I stayed indoors beside the kitchen fire and filled a whole colouring book. We also baked a cake and made some scones. These were all very girlie type activities but what else could I do when I didn’t have Dad to pester and Mum wouldn’t let me play outside in the rain.

After tea (my favourite – macaroni on toast) we played “Snakes and Ladders” with Mum, naturally, letting me win and feigning surprise when I did! It got to be past my bedtime and still no sign of Dad. Then we heard the Holden – you could hear it from about 2 kilometres away on a still night. I ran to the door but Mum was too quick for me and grabbed me by the collar of my pyjama top so I had to wait anxiously for Dad on the veranda.

It seemed to take him forever to walk up the pathway and in his arms he was carrying a basket. Don’t tell me how but I knew it was a dog! I wriggled hard and broke free of Mum’s tight grip – she was left with my pyjama top in her hand – and went hurtling down the path screaming, “A doggy, Daddy’s bought me a doggy.” I was jumping up and down in excitement, soaking wet and half-naked, grabbing at Dad’s leg and trying to climb up to see inside the basket.

Eventually sanity was restored. Mum and Dad got me into the house, wrapped me in a towel and let me open the lid of the basket. There in the corner was this tiny little ball of silver, brown and ginger fluff. He was no bigger than a cricket ball but he had a big black wet nose and these gorgeous brown eyes peering through his fringe. I was so scared that I might hurt him that I was too frightened to pick him up but when I saw him stagger to his feet and try to climb out of the basket I had to help and we had our first cuddle. Lochie had arrived and my heart was full. He was an Australian Silky Terrier and I named him Lochiel, Lochie for short, after our farm that was called Lochiel.

When I went to bed that night, Butterball and I were allowed to take Lochie with us but Mum’s words, “He must stay in his basket Jane” fell on deaf ears. Under the blankets, using the torch for illumination, Butterball, Lochie and I became best friends. Butterball, although she was still a kitten, was bigger than Lochie but he defended himself with sharp little teeth whenever her playing got too rough. Next morning Dad came into my room to find me fast asleep on my back and lying with his little head resting on my left shoulder was Lochie and on my right shoulder was Butterball. And that’s the way we slept every night from there on.

Both Lochie and Butterball grew very quickly but she always was a little bigger. Oh the games they would play. They would run from one end of the house to the other slipping and sliding on the polished wood floors. Many a time I would hear a yelp or miaow of pain as one of them ran too fast and couldn’t stop before sliding and crashing into a wall. Butterball would deliberately sit under the bookshelves with just her tail peeking out. Lochie would strut past pretending not to notice this cream snake swishing back and forward. Just when you thought he had ignored it he would pounce, grab the tail in his mouth and drag Butterball out and up the passage. Their friendship and delight in each other’s company was truly beautiful. During the day when they were exhausted from their games they would curl up into one big cream and silver ball. It was hard to figure where the cat finished and the dog began.

Being a terrier, I was warned that I had to be very careful when taking Lochie outside the house paddock as it would be so easy for him to run down a rabbit hole. But outside the farm paddock I had no control over him. He would run ahead (no it was more like a hop because he was so tiny, only 20 centimetres tall, he couldn’t see over the top of the grass) and the number of times Mum and I had to ring the bell to tell Dad to come home to help us dig up a rabbit warren and get Lochie out were innumerable. Dumb dog – he still persisted in trying to catch rabbits. I think he would have died of shock if he had succeeded.

He was my constant companion. If Mum could see Lochie she knew that I would not be too far away. He loved going for rides on Tango and became very adept at sitting on his rump behind the saddle. Tango also loved Lochie. One day I came out of the tackle shed where we kept all the bridles, halters and saddles to find Tango standing waiting for me at the gate and, to my amazement, there was Lochie sitting up on his back. I told Mum and Dad but they thought I was telling “pork pies” until I made them watch how Lochie and Tango accomplished such a feat of cooperation.

It was easy really – Tango would back himself up against the wood pile and Lochie would jump from log to log getting higher and higher until he managed to clamber onto Tango’s back. He would then sit down as Tango took him for a ride.

Lochie also got on well with Brandy, Soda and Whisky – or thought he did. They found him to be a real pest especially when they were in the middle of bringing a flock of sheep up to the shed because Lochie would try to help them. Sheep would scatter for kilometres when they saw this little yapping rabbit like animal coming at them. I can still hear Dad screaming at me, “Jane, control that dog of yours or I will throw him in the dam!”

Both Lochie and Butterball moved to Melbourne with me but you could tell that they too missed the freedom of the farm. We all adapted and the people in the neighbourhood soon accepted seeing me walk down the street followed by this beautiful cream cat and gorgeous shiny silver tiny dog. Soon we became friends with the boys and girls who lived in the streets around us but none of them had ever experienced the close relationship we three shared and they were all so very jealous!