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 hound 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 being 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















I’m a lizard

Here in Cairns we have a bit of a cold snap at the moment or at least what we in this part of the world think of as a cold snap.  Anywhere else in the world it’s called warm, pleasant summer weather,  perfect for a day at the beach.  But us North Queenslanders think it’s a bit chilly.  We reach for our winter wollies and turn our reverse-cycle air conditioners to heating as night falls.

This got me thinking about how easily we get acclimatised and how in one part of the world 24°C means we go to the beach while in other parts, we put on winter clothes.

I hate the cold!  Anyone who knows me will  wholeheartedly agree; I’m always the one carrying a jumper or cardigan “just in case”.  And unless the pool is as warm as a steam bath, I’m really not that keen to get my feet, let alone my body, wet.

I left my country of birth (beautiful Sweden), looking forward to living in what I thought was a forever warm and sunny Australia.  When I stepped off the plane in Melbourne on one of their stinking hot February days, I was in heaven.  I thought 38°C was the norm.  Little did I know that Melbourne is known to have four seasons in one day, it might be 35°C in the morning but come early afternoon the temperature has dropped to 18°C and it’s pouring rain. Very similar to the place I had just left behind and, weather-wise, definitely not my dream climate.  I wanted those tropical balmy nights all year round.

Here I must mention that Melbourne is a fantastic city, one of the most livable cities in the world and if I could change the weather to tropical warmth, I would definitely live there.

Australia is a very large country and lucky for me, the weather gets warmer the further north you go.  So when my husband and I decided we wanted a change of scenery, I got my chance.  I looked at the map and basically picked a place as far north in Australia as you could go by car.  The first place I picked was vetoed by my husband because it apparently was just a tiny fishing village with absolutely no hope of employment (fishing for a living did obviously not appeal to my soul-mate).  Next choice – Cairns.  After a seven day scouting trip, checking out schools, housing and employment opportunities, we went back to Melbourne, sold our house and, with our two young children and large family dog, set off in our trusted Nissan Patrol.

We drove nearly 3000 kilometers north, a feat I’m very proud of having done without murdering the kids.  There were a couple of times my husband threatened to leave them behind on the roadside, but really in hindsight, they were incredibly patient and well behaved. This was 1992, long before tablets and smartphones.  We had to rely on “I spy with my little eye…” and coloring-in books.  Wish I had kept count on how many times we heard “are we there yet?”, “how much longer?”, we could probably have entered the Guinness Book Of Records and won.

But oh, it was soooo worth it!  Arriving at our house, we literally walked from the front door out to the pool and jumped in.  The pool was like a hot bath, I was in heaven (this is not to everyone’s liking mind you, most people actually want the pool to cool them down).  And for the next 10 years we lived on our out-door patio, swam everyday and apart from sleeping and cooking, hardly ever spent any time inside the house.

I took to the tropical climate like a duck to water, when everybody else were dripping with sweat in the high, wet-season humidity, I was at my best, nice and dry and just soaking up the heat.  It was never too hot or too humid for this wayward viking.  I am convinced, if there is such a thing as more than one life, I was definitely a lizard in my last one.

And then we moved up to the Tablelands, 300 meters above sea level and a mere 20 minutes away from our home on the coast.  But what a difference 300 meters can make!  It is consistently 3-5°C cooler up here (husband loves it) and for the first time in 10 years I was really feeling cold.  Not just a bit cool,  but cold.  14°C over night means a thick doona on the bed and sheep skin slippers, I might as well be in the Arctic.  Of course unless you have lived in a tropical climate for any length of time, this would simply be a nice summers evening.

My husband and I have spent nearly three years in Papua New Guinea and the temperature on the coast rarely goes below 23°C during the “winter” nights.  Average year-round temperature in Port Moresby where we work, is 26 -28°C.  Needless to say, this suits me fine.

At the moment we are back in Australia waiting for new work permits before heading back for another three years.  Port Moresby might only be a short one-and-a-half hour flight from Cairns, but we have once again acclimatised to the even warmer weather further up north.  As I write this the sun has set, it is just past 7.00pm and we are scrambling for our woolen jumpers.

Where to next?