Why I believe dogs are man’s best friend

Man and dog on still water

Dogs are man’s best friend.  We hear this saying time and time again and very few people would disagree.  Dogs of all shapes and sizes share our homes  and are much loved family members.  They are our best friends.  Once we’ve had a dog in our life, it is very hard to imagine life without them.

There are of course just as many people in the world who think that cats should stand on the podium as the number one pet.  My own family is divided on this point and we have had both cats and dogs.  However, in this post I really want to talk about dogs.  They are my personal favourite.

Dogs come in all sizes
Mutts of all sizes

We miss our furry friends

At the moment Greg and I are dog-less.  Our last two dogs passed away three years ago.  They are both buried under the Jacaranda tree outside our bedroom on our Australian property.  Every morning as we look out the floor-to-ceiling windows we are reminded of them.  And of how much we miss them.

We miss being woken up in the mornings by wet noses pushing in under the doona, telling us it is time to get up, time for breakfast.  We miss wagging tails meeting us at the gate when we come home from work.  We even miss the muddy paw prints on recently cleaned floors.  Or being soaked to the skin as they happily shook the water off their long coats after a bath.

Dog - Man's best friend
Dogs – Come play with me

Dogs were my favourite animals from a very early age

As a child, I always wanted a dog.  I think I asked my parents for a dog as soon as I could say the word.  Unfortunately my parents, and especially my mother, did not share my passion for animals.  So there was zero possibility of a furry friend ever crossing our threshold and sharing our lives.

Instead, I had to be satisfied with walking other peoples dogs.  I planned on how I would have my very own dog one day when I was old enough to leave home.   That promise to myself was fulfilled very early on.

Girl with man's best friend - dog
Best friends

I was given my first dog as a birthday present, a beautiful three months old Afghan pup.  Until that day (when I found my surprise present whimpering in the bathroom) I had always planned on owning a German Shepherd.  Whatever possessed my husband to buy an Afghan dog I will never know, but I have now owned five of them.

It really doesn’t matter what kind of dog you own – pure bread or mongrel, big or small, long or short haired – they are all characters in their own right with the ability to enrich our lives.  They stay by our sides no matter what and all they ask in return is to be part of the pack.  It doesn’t matter that they are last in line, they are happy to follow the leader.

Dog playing with family on beach
Family and their best friend on the beach

If it wasn’t for the fact that Greg and I will be returning to Papua New Guinea very soon, we would already have a couple of furry friends around.  Due to security issues, walking a dog in Port Moresby is out of the question.  So having the company of a four-legged friend (or two) will have to wait until we are back in Australia on a permanent basis.

There are too many dogs in animal shelters

The reason I’m talking about dogs are the numerous posts on Facebook from various animal shelters trying to find forever homes for their dogs.  It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who mistreat or abandon their pets.  What’s wrong with people?

A dog (or any pet for that matter) is not a disposable item.  To be purchased as this years fashion must-have only to be discarded when the fad passes.  Or when they are getting older and maybe need visits to the vet more often.  Even moving home is sometimes given as a poor excuse for leaving a dog behind.  I know circumstances can change but, as far as I’m concerned, very few genuine reasons exists for leaving a member of your family behind. Very few!

Small dog in shelter
Dog in shelter

I didn’t start to write this post to vent my anger with people who mistreat or abandon their pets.  But I do want to highlight the wonderful work animal shelters do and the endless task they have trying to find homes for all the dogs they take in.  Most shelters are staffed by volunteers and often they get no or very little help from governments or local authorities.

Pure bred dogs Vs the “bitser”

I have always owned Afghan dogs, pure bread and purchased from reputable kennels.  Both Greg and I love their temperament and the sheer beauty of this ancient  breed .  We would happily have another two.  But when next we buy our dogs, we will have a look at the local shelters.  We might not find Afghans but we are sure to find the perfect companions to suit us and our life style.

Beautiful Afghan hounds
Afghan hounds

I know we will definitely buy two dogs when the time comes.  This way they will have a friend to keep them company when we are out of the house.  But they don’t have to be of the same breed or even pure bred, “bitsers” are just as good.  Mixed-breed dogs wag their tails equally as good as pure bred dogs and they give the same love and companion ship.

I have always felt a bit sorry for people who don’t like animals, be it dogs or any other kind.  They miss out on so much.  Animals have the wonderful ability to be funny without knowing it, they can have us doubling over with laughter just by being themselves.  By doing what comes natural to them.

Dogs playing on beach
Dogs having fun

If we are sad or upset, a friendly lick seems to say “Cheer up, you’re not alone”. Happiness is greeted by a dog dancing round our feet, wanting to be part of the merriment.  And it is almost impossible to be upset when your dog looks at you with that “Who, me???” look.  All the while you survey they carnage done to your newly purchased shoes.

Dogs also have an uncanny ability to hone in on our emotions.  Sometimes they even feel things before we ourselves do.  They detect seizures, they are our eyes and ears, our protectors and on farms they are our work mates.  But most of all, they are our loyal friends and companions.  Come what may.

Soldier with dog
Man’s best friend

Dogs give us so much more than they take.  All they ask in return is to be included in the pack, your pack.  Treat them well and they will be beside you for as long as they live.

So if you are looking for a dog, please have a look at your local shelter.  There are so many dogs looking for their forever homes.  No matter what breed, age or size you are looking for, there is bound to be one that steals your heart.

Different size dogs
Dogs large and small

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Meat sauce disaster

There are all kinds of disasters.  Some are big, some are small.  Cooking disaters fall into the latter category and today I want to share my latest one – the meat sauce disaster.  Meat sauce disaster???  Yep, meat sauce disaster.

Some days the powers above conspires to challenge us and make us doubt our own abilities.  Even the smallest of abilities.  Like cooking meat sauce. Things we can do in our sleep all of a sudden becomes something resembling rocket science and we just can’t understand where we’ve gone wrong.

It's not rocket science
Where did I go wrong?

Well, a few weeks ago I had one of those days (one of many I might add).

Considering my age (don’t ask!), I must have made spaghetti meat sauce hundreds of times.  And like most people over the age of 15, I can make it in my sleep.  Come to think of it, this time it would have been better if I had been asleep.

Because it’s such an easy and quick dish to cook, pasta with meat sauce is something I tend to cook when I can’t think of anything else.  Personally I prefer the sauce without the meat, but more often than not, Greg’s carnivorous tendencies come to the surface.  And for the sake of marital bliss, his wish is (occasionally!) my command.

What’s for dinner?

This question from Greg was met with a blank stare from me.  On this particular evening, I was not in the mood for cooking anything memorable or worthy of a picture on Instagram.  Some days are like that, both inspiration and motivation are totally missing.  Send out the search party!

I couldn’t even make a cheeky suggestion that maybe he would like to “create” something.  Greg is quite a good cook but he had already done his fair share of cooking for the week. So definitely my turn then, but what to cook?

Light bulb moment    

Pasta, of course! The trusted go-to when all imagination, like Elvis, has left the building.  Did I have all ingredients?  A quick reconnaissance mission to the pantry and freezer confirmed all stations go.  Dinner sorted!  Easy-peasy.

Onions, capsicum garlic

Mince defrosted, onion and other necessary ingredients chopped, paste ready, red wine – darn, drank that last night.  Never mind, it will still be delicious, always is.

Short time later – Everything was cooking away nicely and the house was filled with delicious aromas of onion and garlic.  Greg called out “Just got a text from the travellers, they are on the way back and will stay the night” (friends that were returning to Brisbane after a trip to top of Australia).  My first thought was, “lucky I decided to make pasta, there is always plenty to go around”.

Have I forgotten something?

By now, the visitors had arrived and the wonderful aromas were making us all hungry.  Just a small taste test to fine tune the flavours before we tuck in. Shouldn’t need much.

You know that satisfying feeling you get when testing a dish and establishing it is perfectly balanced?  I’m sure you do.  No salt, no pepper needed, it’s just right. Yum!

Cooking with spice

Well, I tasted my sauce and I did not get that feeling.  As a matter of fact, the small sample I tried gave no clues of taste what-so-ever.  There was no taste.   Zilch, nada, nothing!   How was that even possible?  I can make this in my sleep with one hand tied behind my back (slight exaggeration maybe).

Like a witch before her cauldron, I furiously added more garlic, more chilli, more onion, more paste, more everything.  I think I threw everything but the kitchen sink into that meat sauce.  The wicked witch of the west would have been immensely proud of me.

The witch

Three hungry souls were sitting at the table, patiently waiting and commenting on “how yummy” it smelt.  Wow!  Should I tell?  Nah!  I took the stance they would find out soon enough.

Giving nothing away

I put on my best poker face and gracefully placed the plates of “spaghetti a la card board” in front of them.  To be fair to all parties involved, I advised that salt and pepper might be needed.  And extra cheese. This ensured everyone was forewarned. And, as we all know, forewarned is forearmed.

Dinner is served

To the credit of our guests, they hardly raised an eyebrow. They politely abstained from trying to conjure up flavour by adding spices I had placed on the table.  And they finished their plates.  God, they must have been hungry!

Message to said guests: “Sharon and Greg (friend Greg, not hubby) if you ever read this, I am sooo sorry, please come back next time you’re passing, I promise to feed you something that is actually edible”.

In stark contrast, both my better half and I sat there playing with our food.  I couldn’t finish mine and I’m not lying when I say, it really was like eating card board (I am still pondering how this was possible).  And of course, since none of us had seconds, there was plenty left. Where were the dogs when you needed them?

Was it really that bad?

The following morning, instead of greeting me with the usual “morning darling, did you sleep well?“, Greg’s first words to me were “morning, what the hell did you do with that pasta yesterday?“.  This was obviously his gentle way of letting me know, yesterday’s meal wasn’t my finest culinary moment. As if I needed reminding!

So there you are, meat sauce disaster according to Harriet.  A culinary disaster that indeed does exist. At least in our house hold. This kind of disaster doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it always strikes at a time when there are people other than family present to witness it. This ensures the incident is never forgotten and can be brought up time and time again when a dinner party is in need of a good laugh.

Up side to all this?  Next time I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll tell Greg I’m cooking pasta and will defrost the left over meat sauce (white lie, I threw it out).  Then I’ll sit back and watch him cook up something utterly delicious.

Chef

Have you ever cooked something that turned out to be a disaster?  If you have I’d love to hear your story.

 

 

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