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Lee Thompson Loving Life With Grace

When The Bachelor landed on South African shores, the whole country was on the edge of its seats to see who the lucky man was who would be spending time with 24 beautiful ladies, hand-picked to fit his personality and lifestyle. Viewers were glued to their screens, episode after episode, completely entrenched in the drama that is one of reality television’s most popular franchises.

Unfortunately, television isn’t always the accurate storyteller we would believe it to be. It is an edited version of what sells screentime and a lot of the drama seen on screen, is made up and planned to feed the viewer’s thirst for entertainment.

This is also the story of Lee Thompson, who recently released a book calling out the industry for these tricks which influence what is believed to be an organic process. The title is “The Truth Behind the Rose.” While most people don’t see themselves finding love in front of a camera crew, some die-hard romantics really do. Lee, being one of these romantics, wanted nothing more than to settle down with the person he can share the rest of his life with. After being matched on the show, the reality of everyday life unfortunately set in, which proved too challenging for the couple.

Fast Forward 3 Years

Fast forward 3 years and Lee is still pursuing love. This time around, however, it is a love for life and his passion for fitness and animals. We were fortunate to catch up with Lee, who has been busy furthering business interests in the fitness industry. As active as always, he shared his smile with us, brightening our day.

While exploring life and everything that comes along with it, by Lee’s side is Grace, his trusty and beloved canine. Together the two make quite a pair. Here’s a bit more about our chat:

Q: Being an instant celebrity, you were most likely the subject of some cheeky rumours. Which rumour struck you as the most surprising or entertaining?

A: Well, it surprised me when I kept on hearing how lucky I must be to be spending time with 24 women and going on all these amazing dates when little do they know, how difficult it was having to spend time with 24 women, all the drama that comes with it and having to send a few ladies home each week.

Favorite memory you have from the Bachelor?

I really enjoyed the skydiving. It was my first time doing it and there was just something about being up there that is total bliss.

Q: As a former rugby player and fitness conscious individual, modelling and showing off your hard work seemed a natural next step in your career. Which brands do you enjoy working with most and why?

A: I enjoy working with “Fitness Health Active” (FHA) and their TV show “5 Colour Fitness” because I get to share my health and fitness knowledge with millions of people around South Africa and continue to do what I am passionate about.

Q: What is the most ridiculous thing that’s been requested of you on a shoot?

A: This one shoot, I had to kiss a lady for a TV commercial. There were so many retakes of our scene, it began to get a bit awkward after a while. I was surprised to get this job because I had a big cut above my right eye, with stitches, from a rugby game earlier that week. They said they only needed the one side of my face. Plus, I had a girlfriend at the time, and she only found out about the filming of the commercial and me kissing the lady when she saw it on TV. It was an all-round unusual situation lol.

Q: You’re obviously a hard worker. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

A: I enjoy visiting the beach, gardening, reading, watching random videos on YouTube and watching sport.

Q: Writing a book is an ambitious venture. How long did it take you to write “The Truth Behind the Rose”?

A: I’d say it took about a year or so. It always takes longer than what you think. I also found myself adding to the book as time went on.

Q: You’ve chosen to work with Live Hope Love SA where you donate 10% of all book sales. Tell us a bit about this organisation and are there any events you are planning right now?

A: Five percent of all book sales (as well as all donations) go towards the “Live Hope Love South Africa Children’s Fund”, which is an initiative that I started this year to help underprivileged children finance their schooling and give them an equal opportunity at a quality education.

Q: Looking to the future, we are happy to hear that you’ve found love again. We are, of course, talking about Grace! Tell us a bit more about Grace and how your paths crossed.

A: Yes, my lovely Grace. She is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and is two years old. Grace was staying on this farm I recently visited for a Christian Lifestyle Retreat. Grace was rescued from an abusive home, so she has always had this shy, withdrawn nature about her. We grew extremely close during my time there. I think she began having a thing for me, because after each meal I’d give her my leftovers. I’d also take her along with me on hikes, which she loved. We would often both stop by the dam on our way back and take a refreshing dip. She loves the water!

Q: Which of her personality traits do you enjoy the most?

A: She has an extremely affectionate personality (just like me), so I enjoy showing her as much love as possible. Whenever she wants you to show her love, she does this thing where she sits on your legs and feet until you rub her back or talk to her. It’s really cute!

Q: Is she a fitness fanatic like you?

A: She loves her naps, but she will never turn down the offer for a run or hike with me. She also enjoys doing her doggy paddle in the dam on hot days.

Most common misconception people have of you?

That I’m a “player”

Q: Would you consider getting another pet? If so, tell us what you have in mind.

A: I would love to get a kitten. I’ve always had a cat growing up and found them very playful, beautiful and cute. I think a cat would be the perfect addition to my family!

Q: What piece of advice would you give someone who is keen to adopt a Ridgeback?

A: Make sure that you take your Ridgeback on a lot of walks and give them space to run. If you are an active, outdoorsy type of person, then a Ridgeback is a great dog for you. Spend quality time with your dog each day because they absolutely love affection from their owner.

I don’t know about you, but how a man treats animals surely says a lot about him. I hope that Lee will find his forever match soon and that the lucky lady falls head over heels for Grace too!

Facebook: Lee Thompson | FHA

Instagram: leethompson52 | fha_fitnesshealthactive

Top Tips For Raising Well-Mannered Fur Kids

BY: BRYONY VAN NIEKERK

You know that moment when there is a knock on your door, you calmly go and open it, your guest comes inside freely, you greet each other and have a conversation all while your dog sits patiently, wagging their tail? Or how about when you sit down to eat your dinner and you don’t have this creepy feeling of being watched? Oh, you don’t? Well neither do I. In fact, I have the exact opposite.

There is earth-shattering barking, followed by jumping, licking and a wet nose in places you probably want to keep private. And that’s just the first 30 seconds. It takes Oliver a good 30 minutes to get to a stage where visitors can actually relax on the couch without getting their ears nibbled off and aggressively kissed to death. And don’t get me started on the begging!

This is not to say that Oliver doesn’t have any manners. He just gets so excited that he completely loses his hearing and the ability to control himself. You may think I’m being dramatic, but Beagles (of which I’m very certain Oliver has in him) can ‘turn off’ their hearing. This helps them to home in on a scent, and in Oliver’s case, his excitement.

But being well-mannered doesn’t only pertain to not jumping on you/guests, but also includes not begging at the table, walking well on a leash, playing nicely with other animals and all round just having good listening skills.

After reading all my confessions, you are probably asking yourself what qualifies me to give advice about raising well-mannered fur kids. Well, those who can’t do, teach, right? So hopefully the tips below help to make a small change in your pets’ behaviour. I’ll just be sitting here in my corner with Oliver, praying for adolescence to be over.

Define your boundaries

We all have different ideas on what we deem acceptable behaviour, so it is important to determine these limits and clearly convey them to your pets. Your pets need to know what they are allowed to do and where they can do it. For instance, I don’t mind my dogs and cats gathering around me while I eat, as long as they keep a respectful distance. They know that once I am done, they each get a bite.

Training using positive reinforcement

Obviously one of the best ways to get your pet to be well-behaved is to train them using force-free methods such as positive reinforcement. This is a great training method as it works by rewarding (be it treats or a happy verbal cue) the behaviour that you want and ignoring or redirecting the unwanted behaviour. If you have decided that you do not want your dog jumping up on you, you would ignore this behaviour and reward them when all four paws are on the ground. Or if your dog gets a bit mouthy during playtime, redirect their attention to a toy that they are allowed to chew on. Over time your dog will learn to associate positive connotations (i.e., the treats) to the behaviour that you are enforcing.

Consistency

If I have said this once, I have said this a thousand times. You have got to be consistent! Reprimanding your dog for begging at the table one day and then giving them half of your wors roll the next day, is very confusing. Your pet is not a mind reader. They can’t tell which time you will allow them to push the boundaries and which time they will get told off for it. So, if you don’t want them to exhibit a certain behavior, be consistent in your expectations and maintaining your boundaries. Giving in just one time, can undo all the work you have put in.

Socialization

Socializing your dog has a dual purpose. It not only exposes them to other animals and people, but it also teaches them how to behave and interact with other dogs. Being able to read social cues and body language displayed by other canines is a very important skill for your dog to learn. The last thing you want is for your pet to be a bully and not respect boundaries that their companions are putting up. The best way to socialize your dog is to join a play group hosted by a dog training school who will be able to guide you and correct any undesirable behavior.

Love

While training, socialization and consistency are all very important to raising a well-behaved pet, the secret ingredient to bring it all together is love. A loved pet will grow up to be confident and happy which in turn will help them to deal with new situations and react in a more positive manner. However, even the most loved dogs can still be insecure. Oliver is the most confident and happy boy when he is just with us, but he can be very nervous and fearful of new situations and people. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get enough love, it just means he needs a little bit extra.

Also, don’t buy into the old mind-set that dogs are pack animals and should be treated as such. Showering your dog with love and attention won’t spoil them and result in them not listening to you. It will only strengthen your bond and make them want to please you even more.

Pets Need a Break too

Luxury travel writer, brian berkman, searches out the fabulous and often affordable options available to you and your pets. Julie, his rescued mixed-breed doggie-daughter insists on joining them.

I take it all back. Julie’s favourite place in the universe is not Pringle Bay, not the Sea Point beachfront nor even the Hermanus cliff path. Her favourite place in the universe, so far anyway, is a balcony overlooking the Poort, on Mossel Bay’s rocky peninsula, The Point.

From the second-floor balcony at The Point Hotel and Spa, Julie was transfixed. With the keen attention of an umpire at a Wimbledon Tennis Grand Slam, she watched the dassies (Rock Hyrax) that live on the rocks directly in front of the hotel’s balconies.

She was immovable. No longer interested in us or going for walks, unless the walk was for an even closer look at the dassies, she stood sentry on the balcony, moving her head from side to side to maintain solid surveillance. We even left her alone on the balcony in the room while we went for breakfast as she was not welcome in the buffet restaurant and when we returned, we weren’t even missed.

The primary attraction of staying at The Point Hotel and Spa is the location. There is another hotel just a block away with the same name, which is confusing. The appeal here is of near proximity, about 50 paces from the hotel’s front door to a natural tidal pool that has been enhanced by showers and changing cubicles and safety ropes across the rock channels in the event that the tide is too great. There are also areas from which it is considered safe to jump into the water and a few sets of stairs, albeit mostly mossy and slippery, to allow for easier access and egress.

At low tide, the Poort is calm, and the soft sandy floor is easy to walk on for many hundred meters towards the sea source. In high tide, the waves that crash over the rocky areas, create white water and excitingly strong currents. And, because this part of the Indian Ocean is nearer to the warmer sea currents, it is a pleasure to swim in.

There is a paved and popular walking route along the coast in Mossel Bay which is dog friendly, as are many of the beaches like Santos Beach, about five minutes car journey from The Point. At Santos there is a shark net to protect swimmers and the wide bay is very popular with swimmers and kayakers alike.

Adjacent to The Point Hotel and Spa is a Spur restaurant, which is not pet friendly, and the Mossel Bay Zipline, which runs from St Blaize Lighthouse on the hill above the hotel, down to the sea, which is. Equally pet-friendly and a wonderful experience is Le Perron, a restaurant on the old train platform.

Within the harbour area there are several restaurants and Julie enjoyed watching the seagulls from the outside area at Sea Gypsy, a relaxed and affordable option. But Julie’s best experience was sharing an Eisbein bone at Le Perron. Owners and staff love dogs so much they even brought her a zinc plate on which to eat her bone, although she grabbed and munched it while lying on the sandy floor beneath our table.

“Her favourite place in the universe, so far anyway, is a balcony overlooking the Poort, on Mossel Bay’s rocky peninsula, The Point.”

Notable things about The Point Hotel & Spa are that the best rates are via booking.com; bathrooms are equipped with loo and standing shower as well as a bidet shower adjacent to the loo. There is a handy pull-out tea and coffee drawer, and all rooms have balconies with chairs and air-conditioning inside the room. Importantly, there is a lap-top computer sized digital safe.

We can’t wait to return. https://pointhotel.co.za

If a cottage built from river stones and local timber overlooking the Breede River is your idea of paradise, then add rows of fruit orchards, olive groves and mountains wherever you look and you’re probably at Dixon’s View, a self-catering and pet-friendly cottage on the White Bridge Farm Accommodation in Wolseley. With Ceres and Tulbagh in nearby, this is the perfect location from which to explore the Witzenberg Valley.

This is a working farm and the wedding venue The Olive Rock is a short drive from the cottage.
There are neither fences around the farm itself nor around Dixon’s View and we did encounter other large dogs on the farm as well as a troop of baboons one morning, moving through the orchards in search of breakfast.

The Winterberg Inn and its Harvest Bistro restaurant is a short walk away and you are welcome to bring your dogs if you dine in the pretty garden or on the terrace. They are famous for their pork ribs which gets a coffee-based rub before being slow cooked. Equally pet-friendly is The Creative Hub. A farm stall, yes, but much more than that. You might, for example, find winter-warm zip -up vests made from Masai blankets and exquisitely fine ceramics too. A large selection of local wines and spirits is also available as well as local cheeses, charcuterie and the now famous Pappaslick pies. Peppi Stanford, the owner, is also the owner of White Bridge Farm Accommodation and a passionate agent for positive change.

Take time to seek her out, if you can, and learn more about the Marimba group she arranges as well as the sculptural artist who creates monolithic birds and dragons from steel drums and other recyclables.

The accommodation at Dixon’s View is ideal for a couple. While there is an open mezzanine above the main bed with two single beds, there is a steep bamboo ladder to reach it and both areas are open to the rest of the room. There is a large shower and a loo on the ground floor. The open-plan space includes a comfortable sitting area in front of a fireplace and a small kitchen that has a fridge, microwave, an oven and an induction plate. There is a kitchen/dining table made from an old tree. Outside, there is a large timber deck with a teak table, canvas umbrella and a fire pit in which to braai. From this vantage point you look into the river and the lush trees that climb up its banks. There are rough stone steps to help you down to the riverbed.

There are other accommodations also available to rent on the farm. Otter’s Landing is the closest to Dixon’s View and a good option if you are travelling together with family or friends that you like but don’t love. This means that they are easy to get to at just 30-odd meters away but far enough so you have your privacy. Whiskey Yankee is another, larger house to rent and nearer to the wedding venue.

There are guest rooms near the main homestead available too, also some distance away, and while one is ideal for self-catering, the other is not.

Dixon’s View is affordably priced from R1300 for two people or R1400 for three or four people. This is the kind of place that invites you to kick off your shoes and relax into the rhythm of the farm. And, if you are lucky, the beat of the Marimba drum.

https://www.whitebridge.co.za/accommodation

Fascinating Weasel Facts

The The African striped weasel is a type of weasel that belongs to class Mammalia, family Mustelidae, and genus Poecilogale.

There are approximately seventeen extant species of the weasel family, which include species of ferrets and polecats, as well as the mink and the ermine.

The African striped weasel is also known as “Muishond”. African striped weasels inhabit much of Africa south of the equator, and can be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and in southern South Africa.

They are most common in savanna habitats, but can also be found in forests and grasslands.

They are one of the smallest mammalian carnivores in Africa, and have a long slender body and short legs.

Adults have a body length of anything between 27 to 33 cm, with the tail adding a further 15 to 20 cm. Males are larger than females, weighing an average of about 250 to 350 grams. Females weigh in at anything from 230 to 290 grams.

The African striped weasel’s fur is mostly black, with four white-to-pale-yellow bands running down the back, a white patch on the top of the head, and a white bushy tail.

Weasels have small flattened heads, long flexible necks, and short limbs with short dense fur. They have small eyes, a short broad snout, short ears, and long canine teeth. The African striped weasel has well-developed scent glands that can spray a noxious fluid when the animal feels threatened by something like a predator. They have five toes on each foot end, and sharp curved claws.

The African weasels lead mainly solitary lives. They are effective diggers, and individuals sometimes pair up to dig burrows. They may sometimes rest in natural cavities such as rock crevices or hollow logs.

A male can become aggressive when they encounter another male – making short cries and fake charges, which can escalate to fighting if neither male retreats. They are well known to leave dung in well-defined locations, possibly as scent marking.

According to a couple of studies, African striped weasels have been identified as making six different calls. They include: aggressive, distress, warning, surrendering during a fight, greeting, and lastly a call that signals submission of a retreating male.

The average African striped weasel’s life expectancy is five years, but that all depends on their diet and habitat. An African striped weasel is predominantly a carnivore.

They are nocturnal hunters, and they generally hunt alone. They mainly hunt small mammals, reptiles, and insects, but feed almost entirely on rodents of their own size or smaller. They like feeding principally on mice, voles, rats, and rabbits, but they also eat frogs. They also occasionally feed on birds and eggs.

Weasels are famous for raiding chicken coops. Because of their small and narrow bodies, weasels can capture and pursue rodents in their burrows, chasing them through holes, under dense herbage, up trees, or into water. Weasels hunt primarily by scent, attacking the prey with a sudden lunge and striking at the back of the neck.

They sometimes store prey in their burrow instead of eating it immediately. Although they generally have a solitary lifestyle, they do live in small family groups of two to four during mating season. Mating or reproduction normally occurs between the spring and summer seasons in South Africa.

Females give birth to a single litter of two or three young per season. The young are born in a burrow and are initially blind and hairless. They weigh around 4 grams each. The young develop canine teeth at five to six weeks, and their eyes open after six to seven weeks.

They reach the full adult size at twenty weeks, and are sexually mature at eight months. Although the offspring are grown at twenty weeks, they start killing their own prey at thirteen weeks. African striped weasel has a few threats, including foxes, owls, eagles, snakes, and hawks.

The exact population of the African striped weasel in the world is not known. Currently, they are classified as a Least Concern species by the IUCN Red List. African striped weasels are also known to help keep the rodent population under control. There’s an expression, “A weasel’s nose is not to be trifled with.” According to African folklore, if one cuts off the nose of a weasel, it will grow back two shades lighter in colour, but it will bring misfortune to the family, and lead to a poor harvest.

Fascinating Koi Facts

The koi fish’s popularity is increasing daily due to its gorgeous colour patterns, and that they are easy to care for. A koi is a freshwater fish of the cyprinidae family and belongs to the actinopterygii class of animals. Koi fish are descendants of the hardy carp and can be found all around the world. Goldfish and koi fish are distant cousins, as they are both descended from the carp. The word koi comes from Japanese, meaning “carp“.

Koi fish were developed by farmers who noticed the bright colour patches on carp, and bred them to get the beautiful appearance of the species we have today, via selective breeding. Koi fish were originally brought to Japan as a food source.

Koi fish were originally brought to Japan as a food source. Koi fish domestication began around the 19th century in Japan, and they were then kept as pets, instead of food.

There are more than 100 varieties of koi created through breeding, and each variety is classified into 16 groups, according to Zen Nippon Airinkai (a group that leads the breeding and dissemination of koi in Japan).

The most popular koi fish colours include white, cream, blue, black, yellow and red. The koi is a pretty large fish, the size of the fish depending on the environment the koi is raised in; diet, genetics and appropriate water temperatures.

An average koi can grow from between 60-91 cm in length. Koi fish can weigh an average of anything between 13-15 kg. The largest koi fish ever recorded weighed in at a whopping 40.8 kg and was 1.2 meters long.

Koi fish are gentle and will typically not act aggressively towards humans. A koi fish may nibble your finger, which will feel more like pressure than a painful bite. Female koi are more playful and have great personalities and lots of body movement compared to males, according to some studies.

Male and female species of koi are simply called male koi fish and female koi fish. Koi fish enjoy having other koi fish around and are very social.

Koi fish use sounds, vibrations, impulses, motion and various smells to communicate with each other. Koi have been known to bully other types of fish, or non-koi fish, in a pond. Koi fish don’t tolerate drastic or rapid changes in temperature and prefer water temperature that range from 15°C to 25°C. Koi fish are sensitive to the sun and may even get sunburnt if there’s not enough shadow in the pond. In winter times, koi go into a sort of dormancy, using less oxygen and settling to the bottom of the pond where the water is warmer.

Koi are unbelievably powerful swimmers and can swim at a speed of anywhere from 1.6 to 4.8 km per hour.

Koi fish are known as intelligent animals and can recognize the person who regularly feeds them. Koi fish have a row of teeth at the back of their throat known as “Pharyngeal teeth”, which is actually common to other freshwater fish.

These Pharyngeal teeth are used to grind food like shells and insects they find at the bottom of the pond. Koi fish have a typical life span ranging anything from 25 to 60 years. Koi can survive for more than 100 years if they receive proper nutrition, their water is kept clean and filtered, and if kept under good conditions.

The oldest koi fish was a koi named Hanako, who according to history, hailed from Japan and lived to be 226 years old. Koi are omnivorous (consume both plants and animals) and will eat a wide variety of foods including fish food, insects, small bugs, snails, worms, algae, shrimp, rice, peas, apples, bananas, berries, lettuce, and even watermelon.

In the wild, if they’re hungry enough, they will sometimes consume different kinds of fish and their eggs, that are smaller than they are.

Koi fish reproduce through spawning, like most fish, in which the female lays a number of eggs and one or more males fertilize them. Female koi fish can lay anything between 1,000 to 50,000 eggs during one breeding season. Only half of the fertilized eggs typically survive.

A baby koi is known as a fry or fingerling. Koi continue to grow until they reach maturity at around 3 years of age. Koi fish attracts several predators, such as otters, raccoons, snakes, birds of prey, badgers, cats and even dogs.

Koi increase in value on several factors, including the size and the specific breed, by age, length and weight, patterns and colours. The Japanese believe that the koi fish symbolizes strength, courage, wealth, success, good fortune, fertility, determination, perseverance and persistence. Koi fish were brought to the attention of the world after one was given to the Japanese emperor as a gift, in 1914, to grace the imperial palaces’ moat.

The koi fish is a popular tattoo design. Once released into the wild, the koi revert to their natural colouration (that of the common carp) within a few generations. The conservation status of koi fish is currently of Least Concern, although the exact figure of their population is not known.

All about Rolo Rescue + the Road so far

So you’re probably wondering how we ended up here. Let me tell you.

We often get asked about the origin of the magazine and when I’ll be on the cover. While it’s been quite the adventure and we’ve achieved so much, it took me forever to decide if I should write this article. You see, while many people would love to be a cover feature on a magazine, I usually veer away from this kind of attention. I’m an introvert at heart and enjoy standing behind the scenes, cheering, as a masterpiece comes together. I revel in the excitement of creation and being a sound board as well as mentoring, but being a cover model makes me anxious. The reason for this is that I feel like I’m failing most of the time. Something I’ve found to be a common connection with most people I meet in animal welfare. We love, we work, we encourage and we teach as much as humanly possible but somehow, we still don’t feel qualified to call ourselves activists. This cover is me, telling you, that you are more than qualified. I did, however, choose to give you a more handsome cover model. 🙂

So you’re probably wondering how we ended up here. Let me tell you.

It’s no secret that resources toward the animal welfare sector have been, and still are, very scarce. I still remember the morning I heard that the Lotto decided to cancel their contributions and donations toward animal welfare. I was driving to work and listening to the radio. A lady from the SPCA was pleading to the public for donations, because the sudden shortfall in funding would lead to devastating results. Her voice was quivering and you could hear the exhaustion.

I’ve always loved animals. They have been my companions through life’s darkest days and have brought me more joy than I can describe. Seeing posts of animals in distress brings me grief and heartache, as I’m sure it does most people. While I never shy away from donations when I have the means, I felt like there was potentially more I could do to help with raising funds for welfare. I am quite stubborn when it comes to business matters and thought that maybe this skill set could be put to good use. I started researching options for a part-time business that could generate cashflow for organisations in need.

One idea stuck out from the rest, and that was to create a free distribution flyer containing advertisements. The concept would be the same as the ones for home renovation, but this would be directly targeted at pet owners. The risk was small, and the opportunity great.

The days leading up to the first issue of Pet Prints created a bit of a challenge to myself. If I could generate enough interest and sell a certain amount of advertising space, I would go ahead with the project. The universe ruled in my favour and made sure that the numbers came in at exactly my target to get the publication off the ground. I wasn’t planning on having big fancy articles filling up the magazine. I was already trying my hand at doing the graphic designing for this project. I was nowhere near qualified to write anything.

But as luck would have it, we were short a few pages and I needed to fill them. This is where the Fascinating Facts column was born. I figured some random facts wouldn’t be too difficult to put together and one could not stuff that up too badly. I also asked a local animal behaviouralist to write a short piece for us and off we went. A publication was born.

For the first year or so, it was just me, myself and I, working to put the pages together for Pet Prints. I worked on it during evenings and weekends and basically said farewell to any kind of social life. It was a little magazine, a mere 18 pages, that we distributed to homes in Cape Town. The only goal was to raise funds for food and animal welfare items. The contents weren’t up to par with other magazines, and the design wasn’t great either. But then the letters started coming in. The most heartwarming letters from readers telling us about their own pets. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I recall a couple of occasions where we received handwritten letters from retired individuals who asked their local POSTNET to scan and email their stories to us. I think this was the tipping point which encouraged us to start adding more pages and stories to the publication. The project was no longer only about raising funds, we were reaching people who needed advice and there was a whole community of animal lovers to connect with. The only hurdle was that this was no longer a one person venture. I needed help.

BUILDING A TEAM

While I’m sure it doesn’t look that hard to put together some words and images on a few scraps of paper, the project does take its toll on me every now and again. Lucky for me, I’ve always had a brilliant support system. Between Gerhard and Nelda, I’ve always had a shoulder to cry on and a friend to confide in. Nelda, being the discerning person she is, has a wonderful way of talking sense into me when I need it the most.

About a year after starting our little adventure, we decided to adopt a dog. Enter Mia, the most amazing Labrador-mix from LEAPS.

Being the proud cat mom I am, I adore having felines in the house, but the time was right to add a bit of chaos to the clan and we decided a large dog would be just the key. I wanted a running partner, and a Labrador would be the right fit. Again, fate had a plan and the adoption process required a home-check which introduced us to Sharnelle. Sharnelle’s passion for animal welfare is inspiring. She lives for welfare and we connected almost immediately. We needed that passion in our team and Sharnelle was looking for a project that would allow her to be home a bit more.

With Sharnelle on board, we mustered the courage to take our project to a national level and also transition to a bi-monthly magazine. It was as scary as it was exciting. The work would be almost double from what it was previously, but the goal was to build our community.

Our excitement grew as we started making more connections and attracted the attention of one of my favourite pet photographers, Emma O’Brien. We had the opportunity to do a photo shoot with a rescued baby rhino who was being cared for at a game farm close to Cape Town. I gathered enough courage to email Emma and she’s been part of the team ever since!

It’s not to say that there haven’t been days where I’ve felt utterly defeated and exhausted. It’s happened more than a couple of times actually. Where advertisement reduces to almost nothing or printers leave us disappointed and I tell everyone that I’ve done what I can, but this will be our last issue.

Sure enough, something always seems to happen just as I’m about to throw in the towel. I remember this one incident in particular, where I delivered some magazines to one of our bigger distribution points. I walked out of the shop, took a deep breath and thought what a good run we had. Then, I heard a little girl shriek and tell her father in a very excited voice “It’s here! It’s here!” I turned around, watched the cashier unpack the books I just delivered and heard her say how relieved she was the magazines came in when they did, because Saturdays were always the busiest days. The father breathed a sigh of relief and explained how he wouldn’t have heard the end of it had they not gotten their Pet Prints magazine that day.

No one knew who I was or that I was there, but moments like this always revive hope when I feel defeated.

At the beginning of last year, we were fortunate to welcome Gaironesa, affectionately known as Gee, to the team. She’s now the person in charge of most of the magazine design. She also contributes a great deal to magazine administration and sales.

As you all know, we also have some very talented people writing for us. Each one of these individuals have brought so much joy to our lives. I cannot express how grateful I am to every one of them for volunteering to help educate readers. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.

THE PEOPLE WE’VE MET

With Pet Prints growing into a proper publication, we started collaborating with individuals that shared our values and wanted to be part of the project. This included writers, product suppliers and, of course, celebrities who own pets and work with welfare.

It’s been wonderful getting to know these people. The insights they have and all the amazing stories have truly been inspiring. We all share a goal of wanting to make the world a better place and we actively work towards achieving this, whether by being a role model or working in the field, supplying medical care or gathering supplies from your own network. I’ve been mesmerised by the wonderful people out there.

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

As I’ve mentioned in the beginning, the main objective for this project, when it started, was to raise funds. The thing is, as the years went by, the goal has changed somewhat. We’ve made money, friends and connections that have contributed so much to animal welfare.

I think sometimes we get lost in the material objectives we set out for ourselves. While it’s great giving an organisation a cheque for a large sum of money, it’s also important to remember the ripple effect we as a community can have on each other. By hosting fundraisers and giving the wonderful fundraising projects and animal welfare organisations in our country a platform, we’ve been able to do so much more than just give money. We give hope. We gather support. We educate children through our example. We encourage welfare organisations to not lose hope, because they are not alone.

It takes a village, right? As Jane Goodall likes to say: “You cannot not be depressed if you look at what’s going on in the world. That’s why the message is: Don’t think globally, act locally. Act locally first, see the difference you make. Taking that first step gives you hope that your actions do make a difference and then you want to do more and as you do more, you inspire others.”

Well, this is our village and I’m proud to be part of a community that help each other. No effort is ever too small.

ROLO THE COVER STAR

Rolo came into our lives as a foster. We met Rolo while on an outreach to Fisantekraal where we delivered kennels and food to the FAW team. Rolo was a regular at the container and didn’t mind helping himself to the donations.

Everybody loved Rolo. I mean, how could you not? He is fluffy with blue eyes and is as friendly as they come. Unfortunately, Rolo managed to also scare a lot of people with those blue eyes. One weekend he got into an altercation with someone in the Fisantekraal informal settlement who attacked him with a panga. The FAW team reacted swiftly and got Rolo the medical help he needed, but there was a lot of concern about sending him home. We volunteered to foster Rolo until he could get back on his feet.

As the days went by, Rolo recovered. He lost a toe and had some bad lacerations, but he never once got aggressive when his wounds were cleaned. We were at the vet a lot!! Sharnelle looked after Rolo when we had to go to our office jobs, because he did not enjoy the cone of shame. To this day, he still knows how to put those puppy eyes to good use.

When Rolo was well enough to go back home, we got the message from FAW that his owner thought it might be in his best interests to not do so. She feared for his safety and would prefer Rolo had a safe, loving home. The rest, as they say, is history. The big goofball has been a great conversation starter to show people just how amazing rescues are and that they can be adopted as grown-ups without any issues. We couldn’t imagine our lives without him

DONATIONS

Food donations: 3.9 tons

Animals Sterilised: 237

Kennels placed: 24

Pets Need a Break too

Luxury travel writer, brian berkman, searches out the fabulous and often affordable options available to you and your pets. Julie, his rescued mixed-breed doggie-daughter insists on joining them.

The three Home Suites Hotels, The Bristol in Rosebank, Johannesburg, The Quarter in De Waterkant and, the most recently opened one in Sea Point, provide a top-notch luxury guest experience and they are all pet friendly.

Since Julie has joined our family, we don’t like being apart from her, and seek out places where she is as welcome as we are.
Despite her lack of training (and our lack of training in being doggie-parents), the journey together has been a loved-up fest with overwhelming highs.

One of the highs was seeing her joy at encountering other dogs, also off the leash, on the large grassy patch near the Mouille Point lighthouse.

While there are some beaches along the Atlantic Seaboard where dogs are not permitted, there are many areas and beaches where they are free to roam untethered.

As a rescued dog, I am never certain how Julie will react to other dogs she meets. When she is on the leash she barks at other dogs and sometimes tries to aggressively lurch towards them. Off the leash, Dr Jekyll becomes Mr Hyde, most times, and she is mild and even-tempered. A recent low in the Julie chronicles was during a Sea Point stay and family lunch with cousins, who have two dogs. Julie was welcomed into their home with open arms by the humans, but she never settled sufficiently to play with the other dogs, who were keen on her companionship. Her incessant barking and snarling must have been stressful for her as it certainly was for us.

So, imagine the delicious relief at being on the roof-top pool at Home Suites Sea Point with Julie laying in the shade close by wagging her tail without a care in the world. Even when we walked past another guest room that was occupied by a dog, she didn’t give them a second thought.

What I love about Home Suites Sea Point is that its location on Main Drive, not to be confused with Main Road, which is some distance away, gives you an eagle’s view over the sea and the majestic Lion’s Head mountains behind you. Our room, a 36m2 Superior-category room, had vast windows with opening sliding doors and a glass balustrade to prevent one falling out. Lying in the King-sized bed while looking out over the other roof tops to the expansive sea is such a treat, and, if the view from the second floor seems spectacular, and it is, from the roof-top it is heavenly.

Currently, there is a fabulous restaurant-quality kitchen, lounging and dining area on the fourth floor. This communal space is available for guests to self-cater.

Although the location is a steep walk from Beach and Main Roads, and having a car will make all the difference, getting an Uber or similar couldn’t be easier. We used an app to open the gates to the hotel parking which worked really well.
Brilliant internet and really upscale furniture and design by Tonic, make what is offered easy to recommend and very good value for money. Brilliant internet and really upscale furniture and design by Tonic, make what is offered easy to recommend and very good value for money. https://www.homesuitehotels.com/sea-point

If dogs communicate by pee-mail, then a visit to The Atlantic Seaboard beachfront promenade, 50 meters from The President Hotel, must be the human equivalent of being in a busy internet cafe, in Silicon Valley.

And, for Julie, who survived on her wild wits and love-me eyes before she found a forever home with us in Pringle Bay, being on the Promenade and the many dog-friendly beaches delivers an overload of stimulation.

A Pringle Bay local, who previously had a Manchester Terrier, told us Julie must have that breed in her lineage. And, after reading about their skill at hunting, I think he must be right. Julie will smell a week-old KFC bone in the long grass and relish it as if a chef had prepared it just for her. I know this to be true as Julie was the first four-legged visitor to The President Hotel in Bantry Bay since it became Pet-Friendly.

While she normally follows a dry food diet (when she can’t forage for KFC and other bones) she so enjoyed the Cheeky Chicken All-Day Doggie Hot-Pot off the Pupper’s Menu at The President that she couldn’t have been less interested in the dry food we brought for her. Made without salt or additives, doggie delights can take up to 45-minutes for the kitchen to prepare and cool sufficiently to eat. I watched her wolf-down the chicken, rice and corn, but leave the peas. A moment later, even the peas had vanished, and the bowl licked so clean it looked new.

Besides the big open-hearted welcome of all the hotel staff, and from the many children she encountered, the hotel also had a food and water bowl in the room for her, poo bags, a poop-scoop and a bunch of treats. The President Hotel, like many that welcome pets, prefer pets at 12kg or lighter. Although Julie’s big personality must count for some of the kilos, she is nearer to 20kgs than 12, and the hotel made a kind exception to welcome us three, nonetheless.

We spent one of the most perfect weather weekends at The President Hotel and most of the time was at the large infinity pool. There is astro-turf style “grassed” areas with pool loungers and umbrellas, but she found the most comfortable spot sitting among the lush greenery and fern fronds near the pool-bar area.

A visual feature at The President Hotel as you enter is a triple volume of space with huge windows and views towards the sea. There are glass balustrades and Julie felt quite stressed walking in that area. Perhaps she feared she might fall as she was able to see through the glass.

We also appreciated how a table in a quieter part of the fabulous, buffet breakfast restaurant was made available for us, where she could sit and wait tethered to the table leg while we enjoyed the fare.

The area where The President Hotel is located has welcomed guests for more than 250 years. Since 1766, when the Society House was built, which later made way for The Wentworth Hotel and The Queens Hotel before becoming The President Hotel in 1967. In June 1998, President Nelson Mandela re-opened the 350 bedroom hotel as we know it today. It has long been a beacon of hospitality and The President continues to welcome and accommodate all peoples making allowances for various faiths and dietary restrictions. It is wonderful to know they now welcome our beloved pets too.

reservations@presidenthotel.co.za, +27 (0)21 434 111, www.presidenthotel.co.za

Top Tips For Introducing A New Pet To The Pack

Some of you might be surprised to know that I, in fact, have a multi-pet household made up of 5 cats and 2 dogs. One could even say I am more Cat than Dog Mom (blame the last 2 years of lockdown, which resulted in 2 kitten foster fails). We also regularly foster kittens that we take from feral colonies that form part of our TNR (trap, neuter, release) programme. So, I am no stranger to introducing new additions, even temporary ones, to my household.

I am proud to say that, overall, everyone gets along – cats with cats, dogs with dogs and dogs with cats, but it certainly didn’t start out this way. There was a lot of hissing, yowling, swatting, and chasing that went on before we got to this stage. Even now, it is by no means perfect. Within the pack we have different dynamics – some get along very well, others hiss and bite an ear if they get too close, a dog will snap at a cat if they dare wander into their space (it’s all bark and no bite, thankfully).

But this is all to be expected as not every animal is going to become BFFs. I mean, you don’t like every person you encounter, so why should your pets be expected to? Being prepared, however, and implementing the tips below can help to make the transition as smooth as possible and get your pets off on the right foot.

MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Before bringing a new pet into the household, it is important to manage your expectations. If your dog has never encountered a cat before, their first instinct might be to chase them or, like in our case, a 13-year-old dog might not take too kindly to a rambunctious puppy who doesn’t understand boundaries. Building trust and creating a bond takes time, so never force your pets to interact with each other as you could end up achieving the exact opposite of what you wanted. Your pets may never become the best of friends that you hope for, but if they can tolerate each other and coexist without any altercation, take that as a win.

CREATE A SAFE SPACE

When you first bring a new addition home, be it a dog, cat, puppy or kitten, it can be a very overwhelming experience for them. They have been taken from a place where they felt comfortable, from their mom/siblings, and placed in a new foreign environment. To help them better adjust to their new home, place them in a separate room where the other pets are not allowed. This will create a safe space for your new pet to decompress and get used to their surroundings. This also helps the new and resident pets to get used to each other’s presence – while they may not be able to see each other, they can hear and smell each other. This space will also provide a haven where your pet can retreat should they start feeling overwhelmed, when the physical introductions start.

SLOW AND STEADY

Do Not Rush. As in the fable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Introductions can take place over a few days, or even weeks. There is no magic amount of time where your animals will suddenly get along, as every situation will be unique and will depend on your pets’ personalities. It is best to begin with short face-to-face introductions, while for the rest of the time the new pet is confined to their safe space. This reduces the pressure on all involved and allows them to adjust at a gradual pace.

REMAIN CALM AND POSITIVE

When first starting with face-to-face introductions, it is essential to remain calm. Often excitement in dogs can lead to overstimulation, which can then manifest itself as aggression. Use gentle voices and slow movements to foster a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere, all while reassuring your resident and new pets that everything is okay.

Another key element is to constantly reward calm and good behaviour, in both the new and the resident pet. By rewarding your pet in the presence of the new addition, they will begin to create a positive association with the new animal. However, the moment either animal starts to show signs of aggression, overexcitement or high levels of fear, stop the rewards and introductions, and try again another time.

INTRODUCING A NEW CAT

When introducing a new cat to the resident dog/s, secure the dog on a short leash while allowing the cat to move around freely and approach the dog on their own terms. Continue doing this multiple times a day over a period of time, until you feel you can start to relax the leash and give your dog more freedom. Once the animals appear to be getting along, you can drop your dog’s leash and monitor their interactions. Always make sure that your cat has an escape route, a high area to jump on and access to their safe place.

INTRODUCING A NEW DOG

With dogs it can be beneficial to introduce them on neutral territory like in a park. However, once you enter the home, the resident dog may become stressed and act territorial. To help prevent any issues relating to resource guarding, pick up any toys, bowls and beds. Once the dogs are more comfortable with each other, you can reintroduce items like toys and beds, but make sure that each dog has their own.

KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP

f you notice that the introductions seem to be heading in a negative manner, unwanted behaviour is escalating, or if you have any concerns at all, seek professional help from a qualified animal behaviourist. Do not wait until the animals have had a physical altercation, or have a complete dislike for each other, as you may find that the situation cannot be easily reversed.

Top Tips For A Stress-Free Vet Visit

Going to the vet is no fun for anyone. It is as if your pets can sense what is about to happen, and chaos ensues – wrestling your dog into the car, trying to coax your cat from under the bed and then the real interesting part; trying to get them into the carrier. All these raises both your and your pet’s stress levels, and you haven’t even made it to the vet yet.

Recently I had to take Oliver to the vet to get the stitches removed after his sterilization. What should have been a quick and easy visit, turned into an hour long wait, that resulted in a very anxious puppy. Oliver already doesn’t like going in the car, so before we even got to the vet he was not in a good frame of mind. Pair that with the long waiting time, it wasn’t surprising that Oliver, who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, acted aggressively towards the vet. Thankfully, I have the best vet and he recognized and respected that Oliver needed a moment. He sang to him, gave him some tasty biltong treats and let him walk around the examination room. After a few minutes, Oliver was calm enough to allow the vet to handle him without any incidents.

All vet visits don’t have to go down this way, though. There has been a major shift towards low-stress veterinary care. So, if you, like me, are struggling, read on to see what small changes you can make to have a massive difference on your pets next visit to the vet.
As for your own stress levels, I don’t really have any good advice. If it wasn’t completely reckless and illegal, I would down a large glass of wine before each visit. On a serious note, the calmer you are, the more at ease your pet will become. So, if you haven’t mastered the art of Zen yet, fake it till you make it!

Cooperative Care

I learnt about cooperative care in puppy class. It is where you train your animal using positive reinforcement, to tolerate being handled as well as giving their consent to being handled. Practising cooperative care such as chin rests, lying on their side, wearing a muzzle, foot and mouth handling, and ear and eye exams will make vet visits a breeze. It is important, during the training process, to take note of what your pet is telling you. If you are practising foot handling and your pet pulls their paw away, they are telling you ‘no’ and they are not cooperative. Start small and move your way up. It is definitely worth it in the long run.

Get your pet used to their carrier

I’ll hazard a guess that the only time your cat sees the carrier is when they are off to the vet. By doing this, you are unintentionally creating a negative association between the cat and the carrier, leading your cat to head for the hills when they see it. To break this association, leave the carrier out. Allow them to sniff it, play in it, even give them food and treats inside it, all the while leaving the door open.

Visit before hand

This is something my vet suggested for Oliver. He is naturally a bit of a nervous boy, so new places and people can make him anxious. To combat this, taking trips to the vet when they don’t actually need to be seen can help. It can make a scary place less daunting. Let them sniff around the grounds, hang out in the waiting room and meet the staff. The next time you go there for actual treatment, your dog should be more familiar with the sounds and smells of the practice and be a lot less stressed.

Choose a quiet time of day

Sometimes this isn’t possible, especially if it is an emergency, but if you are able to, call ahead and see when your vet isn’t particularly busy. Normally these are the first appointments of the day, where back logs haven’t had time to build up yet. Avoiding long waiting times and encountering of other animals means you can get in and out quickly.

Pick your spot

Vet waiting rooms can be a nightmare and it can be difficult to find a nice quiet spot away from other animals. If you find this is the case, inform the staff that you are there and go wait outside or in your car. This also works well for cats, if your vet doesn’t have a designated cat waiting area.

Keep them busy

Let’s be honest. Like most doctors, vets often run late, and you find yourself in the waiting room long after your appointment time. Hanging around in a strange environment can definitely make your pet antsy, so having a couple of things to keep them busy and distracted can be a game changer. Chewing and sniffing has a calming effect on dogs, so pack their favourite chew toy, or a snuffle mat, and allow them to decompress while waiting to be seen.

Positive mind-set

If you see, once you are in the examining room, that your dog is highly anxious or scared, don’t let the vet examine them immediately. Ask for a moment and allow your dog to explore the room and sniff the vet. You can also give them some treats and some cuddles for reassurance. If your dog does tricks, do a few simple ones. This can all boost their confidence, make them feel more at ease and put them in a better mind space to be handled and examined.

Stay calm

Now we have already established that I am rubbish at this. However, animals pick up on your emotions and feelings, so if you are feeling anxious, your pet may also become anxious. Try to remain as calm as possible, and talk to them throughout the whole process in soothing tones.

Pets Need a Break too

Luxury travel writer, brian berkman, searches out the fabulous and often affordable options available to you and your pets. Julie, his rescued mixed-breed doggie-daughter insists on joining them.

Although many hotels are now realizing that people want to travel with their pets whenever possible, the Radisson RED at the V&A Waterfront in South Africa’s Mother City, Cape Town, decided this would be a singular part of their identity from the get-go.

While Baxter, the Boston Terrier who “signs” welcome letters and features in their corporate design is no longer on the team (he and his owner moved to another property), the spirit of Baxter is very much alive and well at this high-energy property in the Silo area of the V&A Waterfront.

The lobby area of the Radisson RED instantly spells out how this may be different from other hotels. There is no traditional reception desk, but rather a free-flowing area on the left, where staffers are ready to check you in. There are giant red beanbags instead of couches and a natty red-coloured fridge, too. On the opposite side of the lobby is a long table at which people work or just hang. When we visited there previously there was a ping-pong table there, which, I was told, will return soon.

If ever a hotel was built with millennials in mind, this is it. The important stuff: lightening-speed internet and fully interactive big-screens in the rooms, as well as fashion-forward design, makes this property pop with colour and energy. The roof top features the Red Roof Bar in a converted truck, a long lap pool, and a kitchen serving pizzas and grills. There is also undercover seating on the roof and, with views over the Waterfront and 360 degrees around it, this is a prime party space. There are yellow hexagonal shaped plastic chairs and tables that are as comfortable to sit on as they are great to look at, while a perimeter border planted in red plastic crates adds greenery.

A table and chairs works as a dining and working area. The wall-side consul contains a coffee plunger, freshly ground coffee, a kettle and takeaway coffee cups. The bathroom, which features a walk-in rain shower with an additional high-power hand shower, has quality bathroom amenities at the ready for your use.

The ground floor eatery, OUIBar & KTCHN, serves an all-you-can eat breakfast and has a Selfie wall where you can screen-grab yourself and friends.

Travelling with Julie was also a pleasure. A dog bed, water and food bowls were provided. Do let them know in advance how large a pet you are travelling with, as the standard dog bed was too snug for Julie. We always travel with her bed in the car, so it wasn’t an issue at all for us.

Of course, there is a bar fridge and a laptop sized safe provided for your use, and we were happy to find fluffy disposable slippers and robes in the wardrobe. There is a 24-hour gym in the hotel too. Frankly, we loved being in the Red.

Radisson RED, V&A Waterfront
baxter@radissonred.com

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