Bizzy 2021 Cover Model Winner

Our pets like our children, grow to understand our personalities, and tend to match them in some instances. We allow and encourage them to develop, all the while directing and nurturing them to the best of our parental ability. But, because our pets are not part of our direct gene pool, fate or karma tends to assist us in finding the pet that needs us most.

Whether you’re an introvert that likes to read all day long, or a sports fanatic who spends most of your time on the trails in the mountain, chances are that you are going to feel connected with a specific pet and this bond is such a privilege.

Meeting up with Bizzy and his mum Lindsay and Cedric, long time best friend, it was quite clear that he was the centre of attention for both individuals who were the perfect fit for a special needs kitty. The amount of research done to understand his condition and the compassion with which they treat him is remarkable. Even though Bizzy’s mum didn’t necessarily sign up for a special needs cat it was a twist of fate that matched Bizzy with the perfect home. Bizzy isn’t just an ordinary house cat. He is the mascot of their new business Bizzibabs Scratch Patch and he is an ambassador for welfare. It is more than admirable when people find the silver lining in a situation where they could have just seen the darkest clouds.

So here is what we found out about our very first feline Cover Model Winner.

Tell us a bit about your family. The humans and animals.
Bizzy has a Mommy and a bestie Daddy Cedric and two canine siblings, AloeVeraPuppy (rescued by and adopted from ROAR for PAWS – 16 months ago) and TheodorePuppy (adopted from Plumpets Animal Shelter – 13 years ago).
Bizzy was not always an only cat. When Bizzy joined our family in 2013, our cat, Beans – a very handsome ginger rescue, welcomed Bizzy into his home. Together they would playfully wrestle and chase each other and cuddle up together, but, sadly, that was only for 18 months. Beans, already a senior cat when Bizzy arrived here, suddenly got ill and was diagnosed with cancer, and shortly after that we had to say our goodbyes to Beans, at the vet. Bizzy had also bonded with his two canine siblings, so we decided to wait a while to see how it went with just the dogs as Bizzy’s friends. All continued to be fine – we decided not to get another cat and, looking back, it was the right thing to do because everything changed the day a neighbour said “You do know he, Bizzy, is blind? … “

Tell us a bit more about Bizzy.
Born: August 2013
Joined our family when he was 16 weeks old. He is a registered Sealpoint Siamese.

For a Siamese, Bizzy is quiet, very quiet. The only time he “says” much is when we talk to him, and we don’t have to shout. We just say it nicely “Off the kitchen counter Bizzy”. He knows he mustn’t be there – but shouts back at us – just one big MEOW – as if he is scolding us, as he reluctantly moves off the counter and onto a kitchen stool.

Perhaps, because he is blind, he is an easy cat and doesn’t get into much mischief, but there was a time when he went through a phase of “bathing his catnip toy mice” wherever he found water. Yes, including the toilet.

Our best story of a naughty Bizzy: The outside kitchen drain was blocked so badly that we had to take off the cover, and we found … 4 very grubby catnip mice. Yes, I screamed when I saw the mice in there. I thought they were real! And then I laughed. Bizzy, blind Bizzy, had found a small opening leading into the drain and over time (how did he know that there was water in there) – he pushed his mice into the drain to bath!

Bizzy has gradually taught us what is best for him in his world and some of it (for Bizzy) is different from what I have read on Google.

  1. I move furniture around from time to time. Internet articles suggest not to move furniture. For Bizzy – if I move something eg. a chair, I put Bizzy next to it and tap the chair … tap, tap, tap. Bizzy “gets-it” and within a very short time (about an hour) he has it that there is now a chair there.
  2. Bizzy has a scratch post with a middle bar and two platforms – one at each end. The scratch post is designed to stand vertically. I have the scratch post lying horizontal. Bizzy prefers it that way. He can wrap all four legs around it and swing around it with confidence because he is only just a little off the floor. It is Bizzy’s best thing in the house.
  3. We gave Bizzy his own room to sleep in at night, until we were certain that Bizzy was sure that he could move around the house at night, with confidence. That way we got sleep and Bizzy settled down. He actually enjoyed his “bedroom” at the time, but if you had to ask him today where the best place to sleep is – I am sure he would say – human bed is now tops!

Bizzy is a blind Siamese, was he born this way? How does he cope with his everyday kitty life?
The thought of Bizzy as blind during his first year never crossed my mind. He climbed curtains, chased after toy rubber balls. He caught bugs and stalked birds, but around his first birthday we noticed that there could be something going on – perhaps something more to his odd way of playing that was not all about “just a clumsy cat.” I suppose we didn’t want to admit it or the time wasn’t right to admit it. At 18 months he was still a busy, happy, young cat, but we noticed that he was more careful. He was not as confident about jumping onto or off of things.

We were also, when Bizzy was not yet 2, staying every second weekend in a small security complex, where front doors still stood open, children still played in the very quiet road outside the houses and it was the norm for a handful of very loved cats to laze around outside. Bizzy loved the set-up. He never roamed far from home exploring and enjoying only the neighbours’ gardens and homes close to us. The neighbours got to know him by name. It was one of those neighbours who knocked us into facing the truth when he said “Your cat is, perhaps, blind?”. A casual comment ticked all the boxes we didn’t want to face – that Bizzy wasn’t clumsy – he was blind or going blind, but why? He wasn’t sick, he had had no trauma, his eyes were crystal clear.

It didn’t add up. For our peace of mind, we booked an appointment at the Eye Care Clinic for cats. It didn’t take long for the Vet to say – “Bizzy is blind, totally blind. Suspected inherited PRA.”

The life Bizzy knew, for his own safety, changed overnight. No more unsupervised outdoor adventures! Bizzy hated been locked inside. He paced up and down, he started biting me and became a curtain climbing champion, ripping curtains and curtain lining on his way up, and once on the top of the curtain rail, he couldn’t climb down so he would howl! What if, I thought, I taught him to accept wearing a harness and took him outside for leash walks. Surely that would calm him. It worked. Slowly he accepted the harness and then gradually understood that a harness with a leash meant a walk outside and his purring would start … and off we would go. Never far from the house and always for only a few minutes, but it was, and still is, enough to keep Bizzy sane. Since the start of his leash and harness walks, he has stopped climbing curtains and biting me. Here I’d like you to remember that Bizzy is blind and just imagine going for a leash walk – blind. This is where he is remarkable. He knows his way to the front gate and out of the front gate. He knows his way up the road and down the road. He knows the boundary walls of the neighbours’ houses that he passes. He knows all of this, because he discovered for himself that if he walks between myself and a wall, his whiskers touching the wall from time to time guides him every step of the way.

We also had to make sure that the back garden is 101% escape-proof – during the day he has sunny spots to sleep. In a little garden, he still catches bugs (and, if opportunity allows, he will catch a bird). He has a “summer house”, a dog kennel – he stole from his dog siblings. He uses the roof to manicure his nails and the inside of his summer house must feel cool and safe for Bizzy because it is his place to go for afternoon naps. Bizzy has adapted very well – so well if you came to visit you would say “Bizzy blind? – no way!”

What is Bizzy’s favourite time of day and why?
Bizzy doesn’t have a favourite time of the day, perhaps because his world is dark, but he does enjoy it if he finds us having TV-time. For Bizzy that is his lap time!

What are Bizzy’s favourite treats?
Anything that smells or tastes like chicken. He also loves hanging around the braai for meat!

What does Bizzy hate?
Birds in his tree! Bizzy has mastered the art of climbing the lower branches of a Ficus in the garden. This is where I keep a small bird feeder for visiting garden birds and his nose knows when the seed container has been filled. He marches up to the tree and launches himself onto the tree and up he goes to hook the feeder with his claws. He throws the feeder and seeds out of his tree but if he goes up “his tree” and the bird feeder is empty – he ignores the feeder completely.

Do you have a favourite charity?
Difficult question, because I have a few favourite animal rescue organisations. We adopted a puppy from ROAR for PAWS 16 months ago, so every time we look at our, now adult, rescue dog, AloeVeraPuppy, we are reminded of the fantastic work ROAR for PAWS have done and are doing to help rural animals in need. Plumpets is also a favourite. I have adopted 2 dogs from Plumpets. My first dog, who is still with me today, was adopted 13 years ago from Plumpets and my second Plumpets dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge 18 months ago. He was with us for 7 years.

You are a PRA Awareness activisit. What message would you like to give our readers who don’t know what this is or what the cause is?
PRA or Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a degenerative disorder of the retina. (The retina, for those rusty with eye anatomy, is the light-gathering part, inside the eye.) PRA leads to the degeneration of the retinal photoreceptors. These photoreceptors are there to absorb the light and to send signals through the optic nerve to the brain. The brain “sees” these signals – vision. The sight of a PRA cat gets worse over time, around 5 years, leading to total blindness. With Bizzy – it was around his 2nd birthday.

I am not a vet, but this is how I understand it: In order for a cat to be affected, the cat needs to have inherited two mutated genes. One from each parent cat. Cats with only one mutated gene will be unaffected, but are carriers, and can transmit the disease. Only cats with known rdAc status should be used for breeding. Carriers should be mated to negative cats; positive cats should only be used with cats who are negative status.

DNA testing for PRA is available for the rdAc mutation. If you suspect your cat is going blind or might be blind – please visit your vet.

There is no treatment for it and it isn’t painful.

About starting PRA AWARENESS
I started an Instagram Account @bizzibabs_pra_awareness, because, in 2013, there wasn’t much on Google about PRA and when I mentioned PRA to family and friends the common response would be “What is PRA?” I decided to share pictures of Bizzy on Instagram to bring about an awareness of PRA in cats. I thought, if I get 10 or 20 people knowing just the words “Progressive Retinal Atrophy” it will be something. From Day 1 on social media – and I was surprised – Bizzy was noticed and loved, and here we are today with close to 10 000 people (worldwide), that we know of, that now know about PRA. Something else that is interesting; Google is now full of PRA information. I wonder if Bizzy has had anything to do with that!!

Tell us a bit about Bizzibabs
Bizzibabs: For Fun – how Bizzibabs come about.
Bizzi –
B – for Boy
A – “A”
B – Blind
S – Siamese
And, Bizzy got us through lockdown 2020 at a super speed. One evening, right at the start of lockdown, we decided to do something we had been speaking about doing for a long time, opening a Bizzibabs Online Pet Store. The idea started a few years back. From time to time “furriends” of Bizzy’s would send him gifts to promote their items on his Instagram account. What if, we thought, we contacted some of those Bizzy friends and we told them we were planning an online store; would they trust us with their items in a Bizzibabs Online Store? Well, were we surprised – items for Bizzibabs online store started to come in more and more and the lockdown months have just whizzed by and here we are today with an online store filled with many of Bizzibabs favourite things and as soon as we get to the place where we can give back – we sure will!

There you have it, Bizzy. We are honoured to have you adorn our coveted New Year’s cover.

You are purrrfect in every way and we hope to see much more of you in the months and years to come!

Trail Blazing with Ryan and Thandi

How amazing would it be to wake up on another continent, looking up at a sky speckled with stars that are unfamiliar to you? Stretching and yawning, while drinking your coffee, and amazed at the opportunity to be where you are. It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?

Well, this is the upside of being an ultra-trail runner, there’s always a new adventure waiting. Then the hard work starts!  From here, you pack your kit, put on your running shoes and run for a full day if you’re lucky (and only entered for one day). If you opted for the multi- stage race, you do this for five to six days. You stretch your motivation muscle to the most extreme extent of your capacity, and keep putting one foot in front of the other while facing the unyielding terrain, the blistering sun, and possibly, the howling wind and blinding rain.

The amount of willpower it requires to build a career in ultra-running is astonishing, to me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a good bit of trail running myself, and this is exactly why I am able to say: “Ryan Sandes is a legend.” Tim Noakes has referred to him as an enigma, because even he can’t really explain how Ryan does what he does.

Starting his running career in his mid-twenties, Ryan did the unthinkable and dived into his first 250km race having only about a year or two of running experience under his belt. Guess what! He won the race!

We are talking about the Gobi March. A race hosted in Mongolia, consisting of six days of running through desert places, with harsh weather conditions. One of the biggest obstacles faced is carrying your kit with you for the entire race. There are constant debates on the running forums about how heavy a couple of litres of water can be, and how that can slow you down, but the people endeavoring to run the Gobi March have to carry food, water, clothes, shoes and sleeping gear. How hardcore is that? These days Ryan competes in challenges such as the 13 Peaks and 100 miler expeditions. (That’s miles, people. Roughly 161km for a one day challenge. To put it in perspective, we are talking about almost two comrades marathons, back to back over mountain terrain.)

The 13 Peaks Challenge was born when Ryan decided to link up some of his favourite peaks on Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula area.

Starting with Signal Hill the route makes its way to Lions Head, followed by MacLears Beacon, Grootkop, Judas Peak, Klein Leeukop, Suther Peak, Chapman’s Peak, Noordhoek Peak, Muizenberg Peak, Constantiaberg, Klassenkop, Devils Peak and back to Signal Hill.

The idea behind the initiative is to get people moving and exploring the scenic routes and wilderness area. This route can be done by runners and hikers alike, and will guarantee a fun challenge.

For more information, check out

Ryan has always been very competitive, even as a  child, and tells of numerous occasions during which he was upset if he did not win a prize at a birthday party, or a similar occurence, in his book, “Trail Blazer”. The book is a testament to Ryan’s career until now, and tells of his life in general. The book started out as a passion project, with Steve Smith behind the pen, and has been wildly popular with fans around the world. It’s funny and real, and everyone will find something to relate to while reading about Ryan’s upbringing, party days and finding his passions in the most unexpected places.

Growing up in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, and Houtbay, especially, Ryan paints vivid pictures of helping his grandfather in the garden as well as times playing with friends. One of the resounding messages that also comes across in his talks and videos is his connection to nature and his love for trees. Choosing a career in Trail Running, specifically, was destiny.

It also should come as no surprise that Ryan loves animals. Ryan shared his childhood with a Jack Russell called Raptor, and later on a rescue called Buzzbee. And, why not, running through the forest or farm lands won’t be the same without a K-9 at your heels, right?!

These days the Sandes family share their home with an adopted dog, called Thandi. Thandi was adopted by Ryan’s wife, Vanessa, from Randburg SPCA, when she was looking for a companion. There were a lot of dogs looking for homes that day, but the two just connected, and Thandi, also fondly referred to as T-dog, found her forever home.

You can find Thandi anywhere the Sandes family is. She is so involved in their everyday life that when you watch a promotional video for Red Bull or Salomons, you’ll see her in almost every second shot. I think this is thanks to Ryan, who has admittedly been the instigator of allowing Thandi on all the furniture when Vanessa wasn’t looking.

This thirteen- year-old rescue also still takes on trails and beach outings with her family. Carefully selected routes will feature Ryan, Vanessa, their son Max, in a stroller, and T-dog, all taking on adventures.

The silver-faced K-9 has also learned that having a three-year-old accomplice in  the house isn’t too bad. It makes begging for snacks that much easier. Her human brother loves her so much, he would never deny her a piece of whatever is on his plate.

Now, if you were as stunned as I was about Thandi’s great form, you would be wondering what she eats. The answer is a simple diet of rice, veggies and some chicken or mince. Regular vet visits make sure that she isn’t uncomfortable, and a bit of flaxseed oil helps with her joint health.

Even though the life of an ultra-athlete  is busy and sees Ryan away from home a lot, he still makes time for doing good.

Ryan is also the CEO of the Southern Lodestar Foundation, an organisation that focusses on the nutritional needs of children. Through education and the supplementation of a breakfast program to students, they are hoping to improve the cognitive and physical health of learners to help them reach their full potential.

It isn’t hard to see why this is such a passion for Ryan. One of the key components of being a professional athlete is knowing what your body needs to perform at its peak. Using this knowledge to the advantage of an NPO shows the selfless nature of a guy who just wants to help everyone he meets.

If you see Ryan on one of the trails in Cape Town, please stop and say “hello”. He is the friendliest guy ever. One of his promo videos also captured a wish that he had to one day be the “old ballie” on the mountain that everyone knows.

Ryan is a true South African legend and we are very proud of all that he has accomplished. We can’t wait to see what he gets up to next!

Fascinating Meerkat Facts

  • The meerkat, also called a suricate, is a mammal in the mongoose family and is the only member of the mongoose family that doesn’t have a bushy tail.
  • Meerkats live in areas of clumpy grassland and deserts in the southern area of the African continent – including the Namib Desert in Namibia, the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.
  • A family group of meerkats can be called a’mob’, ‘gang’ or ‘clan’.
  • A group usually contains around 20 meerkats, but some super-families have 50 or more members.
  • They are known to work and hunt together in a collaborative effort that involves designated lookouts who rotate regularly and rely on a series of distinct calls to communicate with other members when there is a danger.
  • Meerkat gangs are structured around an alpha couple to whom most of the other members are somehow related.
  • The life span of a meerkat is roughly up to 10 years in the wild and up to 14 years in captivity.
  • Meerkats are small animals, measuring 25 to 30cm from head to rump. Their tails add another 19 to 24cm to their length.
  • Their weight varies from 620 to 1,000 grams.
  • For meerkats, there isn’t just safety in numbers, but there’s also companionship.
  • Meerkat groups spend a lot of their time grooming and playing together to keep the family unit tight.
  • While most of the gang is out foraging and hunting for food, or standing guard, one male or female, adolescent or young adult stays behind in the burrow to “babysit” any pups.
  • Back at the burrow, several babysitters stay behind to watch over new-born pups.
  • The meerkat uses its tail to balance when standing upright. They often stand up in the morning to absorb heat on their bellies after a long, cold, desert night.
  • Dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on the sun’s glare and long, horizontal pupils give meerkats a wide range of vision.
  • They can spot predators in the air from more than 300m away.
  • Meerkats can close their ears and membrane covers protect their eyes while they dig.
  • Eating both plants and animals, meerkats are omnivores.
  • Meerkats mainly eat insects but also like eating lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, plants, eggs, small mammals, centipedes, and fungi.
  • Females can give birth to 8 babies at a time, but it is more common for meerkat mothers to have 2 to 4 offspring at a time.
  • The babies, called pups, are born underground, where they are safe from predators.
  • Pups are hairless, blind and their ears are closed.
  • Meerkats are diurnal, meaning that once the sun is up, they carefully emerge from their burrow and spend some time sunbathing and grooming.
  • There are few animals on Earth who work as well together as meerkats.
  • Meerkats are very good at digging. They have long, strong, curved claws that they use for digging burrows.
  • Meerkats dig safe places called bolt holes throughout their foraging area where they can hide in an emergency.
  • Within their territory, the clan usually has up to 5 different burrows that they sleep in at night. The burrows have multiple entrances and can be between 2 – 5m deep.
  • A clan of meerkats will always have one “sentry” on guard to watch out for predators while the others forage for food.
  • If the meerkat on guard spots danger, it barks loudly or whistles in one of six different ways.
  • For example, if the threat is of low, medium, or high urgency and if the predator is in the air or on the ground.
  • If caught in the open by a predator, a meerkat will try to look fierce, lying on its back and showing its teeth and claws.
  • Although they are social and even affectionate within their clan, meerkats are highly territorial and will engage in violent, all-out turf wars with neighboring gangs.
  • Meerkat’s natural predators include eagles, hawks, jackals, and snakes.
  • Able to survive without drinking water, meerkats get the moisture they need from eating roots and tubers, as well as fruit.
  • When two groups of meerkats go to war over territory, they will line up and charge each other, much like human warriors did before modern technology.
  • Meerkats, being wild animals, make poor pets. They can be aggressive, especially toward guests, and may bite. They will scent- mark their owner and the house as a territory sign.
  • Meerkat wars can result in many deaths, so the animals try to avoid such conflicts by employing intimidation tactics, according to some studies done by scientists.
  • They play an important part in maintaining ecological harmony in the desert as they curb pest infestation by eating insects.
  • Meerkats know to keep watch for birds of prey, with a meerkat spotting a bird from more than 300 meters away.

Marnus: Marmite & Mowgli on taking over the world

I’ve been reading quite a few biographies lately, and a few things have become quite
evident. Namely: No great person has ever had it easy. If you want to reach greatness, never measure your success with that of other people. We are all unique in our own right and don’t need to explain our paths, personalities or goals to anyone, not even those who want to criticize them. And probably the most important of all: never forget where you came from – This last lesson is so important. To be able to empower someone and pay it forward, you need to stay humble. This, to me, is one of the most beautiful and inspiring treats of a man I’ve been following for a few years, Marnus Broodryk.

From the television series Shark Tank, one could ascertain that Marnus was not to be messed with. He wasn’t going to let himself be pushed around and wouldn’t invest in any business that compromised his values. From reading his book, you would have thought that he was about eighty years old. His advice is wrapped in a neat little bow and if you had to guess how long it took him to learn those 90 rules you wouldn’t think that it only took him thirty-two years. The catch is that he started “the hustle” at a very young age. From mowing lawns and dabbling in all kinds of small business initiatives, Marnus has never settled for the easy path. It takes an inspired person to get up day after day, always keeping his eye on the prize, and not give in to immediate gratification.

As a strict vegetarian and self-confessed animal lover, it should come as no surprise that Marnus has two feline companions sharing his home. The fortunate felines are called Marmite and Mowgli. As with most cats, the two didn’t appreciate our visit too much and were quite coy about having their pictures taken. Our interactions were short, and the fluff balls were aloof, only appearing when bribed.

Not surprisingly, Marnus kept his cool and just went with the flow. Acknowledging the keen sense cats have for energy levels, it’s obvious that he understands the species and how they operate. “On the days I’m stressed, Marmite and Mowgli will keep their distance. As soon as I sit down to read or meditate, Marmite will come to sit on my lap. They just love that energy.”

While giving the felines some room to breathe, we had a few minutes to discuss the origins of the family.

As a person who always loved cats, Marnus decided that the name Marmite would be a great name for his first feline companion. In pursuit of a candidate that matched this name, he found a fluffy, black counterpart on Gumtree. He fell in love with the photos and was asked by the family to come for an interview, as they wanted to ensure that their kittens were going to good homes. Marnus was able to take Marmite home and the Maine Coon-mix is now the oldest furchild in the Broodryk home.

A few years later, feeling that Marmite needed a sibling, Marnus again took to Gumtree and found an ash-grey kitten, being advertised as a Ragdoll-mix. It’s easy to see that pets really do take on their names. Mowgli is a little shy and doesn’t really like hanging around people. He much rather spends his days lounging around the house with his brother.

Curious to know if there would be more felines to make a clowder, we raised the question, but Marnus insisted that the timing wasn’t right: “No, not at the moment. I would love to get another cat or a dog, but with my current lifestyle, it just wouldn’t be fair. I travel a lot and Marmite gets really upset every time I’m gone for a long period of time. At the moment it’s still manageable and I can have someone come in to feed, play and brush these guys, but it wouldn’t be fair to take on another pet right now.”

It’s been well documented and philosophized that only those who are at peace with themselves and the world around them will attract the company of cats. Charles Dickens, one of the most influential writers in history, shared the same love, writing: “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” Dickens was just one of the many thinkers of his time, taking the favour of his cats seriously.

Marnus is no exception to this rule. This is a man that is so at peace with himself and the journey he has travelled to get where he is, being one of South Africa’s most prominent self-made millionaires. Marnus is not only the
youngest investor in the Shark Tank, or the owner of one of the largest accounting
firms in the country, but he is also the founder of SME Africa. A platform started to help small businesses
to connect with each other. The advice they share and the connections forged through
this platform is a labour of love. The intention of assisting small business is so transparent and generates hope for a country where we need education and job creation above all else.

This is a man, not only set on making money, he wants to create change. To better a world for future generations to come.

Seeing as we were in the company of a mogul, I would be silly if I didn’t ask the question that was weighing on everyone’s mind: Is there a future for the pet industry in South Africa? The response was a resounding: Yes! “Whenever we go to markets and I see something for the cats, I buy it, because I’m never sure if I’ll find it again. Pets have become like children and I like spoiling them. If you look at international markets, there are a few businesses that are popping up and doing well. I’m sure we can do that here. If you have a look at the adverts for pet products that are featured on prime-time television, it’s a clear indication that there is money in the industry and that people are investing in their pet’s health.” Now, isn’t that wonderful news for all our entrepreneurs!!!

As we concluded our interview, one of my favourite parting questions is always: If you could give
one piece of advice to a prospective pet-parent, what would it be? “It would definitely be to adopt an animal. Knowing what I know now, that’s the only route I would go. And, that a pet is a lifetime commitment. You need to understand that.”

As we finished up our conversation, I felt optimistic. There was hope. There is always hope.
This feeling is one of the side-effects you get when you work with inspiringly authentic individuals who are dead-set in making a change to the world.

We look forward to seeing Marnus, Marmite and Mowgli taking over the world with positivity, hope and just a touch of catnip!

Fascinating Shark Facts

  • They form part of the basic fish category group, even if they don’t have a bony skeleton, like many other fish.
  • They are still categorized with other vertebrates in the Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, and Class Elasmobranchii.
  • Based on fossil scales found, scientists believe that sharks have been living in Earth’s oceans for more than 450 million years.
  • Some shark species inhabit shallow, coastal regions, while other shark species live in deep waters, on the ocean floor or in the open ocean.
  • There are approximately 350 different species of known sharks.
  • The smallest shark is the dwarf lantern shark (Etmopterus perryi) that only grows to 20 centimeters long, and the largest is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) that grows to a whopping 12 meters in length.
  • The largest shark to ever have lived, was the massive Megalodon, that averaged between 10 to 18 meters in length. They have been extinct for 16 million years.
  • The oldest known species of living shark is the goblin shark, that has been around for 120 million years, while the second oldest is the frilled shark, that has been around for 80 million years.
  • The backs of sharks’ eyeballs have a reflective layer of tissue called a tapetum, which helps sharks see extremely well with little light.
  • Sharks use their gills to filter oxygen from the water.
  • Sharks can detect whether a scent is coming from their right or left nostril, to better help them track down their prey.
  • Sharks are cartilaginous – their skeletons are made of cartilage, instead of bone.
  • Sharks have dermal denticles, also called placoid scales, which are smooth and help them move quickly through the water.
  • By counting the rings on the shark’s vertebrae (meaning they have a backbone), one is able to gauge the age of the animal.
  • An average shark has between 5 and 15 rows of teeth in each jaw (the teeth don’t have roots), with most having only 5 rows.
  • Sharks help to maintain the coral reef habitats by influencing both the feeding patterns and ranges of other creatures.
  • Oil in the liver is what keeps the shark from sinking (and also staying balanced), as its density is lower than that of the surrounding water.
  • Sharks have an amazing sense of hearing (studies show that they can hear prey up to 200 meters away), considering that their ears are actually located inside of their heads.
  • Sharks have a wide view of their surroundings, because their eyes are located on the sides of their heads. They do have blind spots.
  • Sharks can move both their lower and upper jaws, unlike humans and most other animals.
  • They have the thickest skin of any animal species, and have the largest brains of any fish.
  • Sharks communicate through body language. Research suggests that some common communications involve zigzag swimming, head shaking, hunched backs and head butts.
  • Females are usually larger than males, and have thicker skins, to withstand the bites of the males wanting to mate with them.
  • A shark’s skin feels exactly like sandpaper, because it is made up of tiny tooth-like structures called placoid scales, also known as dermal denticles.
  • Sharks can only swim forward, as a result of their fins that are stiff, and cannot be controlled by muscles, unlike fish.
  • Sharks need to keep water moving over their gills to receive necessary oxygen.
  • It has been estimated that the whale shark, the largest shark species, can live up to 150 years (while nobody seems to know for certain), while many of the smaller sharks can live between 20 and 30 years.
  • Sharks are carnivores, and they primarily hunt and eat fish, sea mammals, like dolphins and seals, turtles, seagulls and other sharks.
  • A large meal may sustain the shark for up to three months, before it needs to eat again.
  • Great white sharks eat an average of 11 tons of food a year.
  • Sharks do not have vocal cords, so they make no sounds. That is why they are known as the “silent killers”.
  • The biggest threats to sharks are humans.
  • Shark attacks are extremely rare and account for approximately 10 fatalities every year, worldwide.
  • Humans kill 100 million sharks a year, which means for every single person killed by a shark, humans kill 10 million sharks
  • Many shark species are threatened by fishing or bycatch, which lead to the deaths of millions of sharks each year.

Pet-Friendly Accommodation Yzerfontein

31 on Seaview is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of City life, to revive mind, body and soul for a quick weekend break away (or longer stay)

Fully equipped, 31 on Seaview, is a very cosy, self-catering and pet-friendly apartment nestled in the heart of Pearl Bay, Yzerfontein. Conveniently situated a mere 99 km from Cape Town International Airport, the V & A Waterfront and Winelands.

31 on Seaview is only 150 m from the beach, offering exquisite ocean views, breath-taking sun and moon sets, clear star bonanzas and the continuous sound of the waves breaking – absolute music to your ears. Our unique “town” also boasts free roaming ostriches, and observing their rather peculiar way of walking on the tar road, will put an instant smile on your face.

The living area opens onto a deck through 2 sliding doors to enjoy a braai with astonishing sea view. The elevated deck makes it a possibility to do some whale watching, see dolphins riding the waves, enjoy sea lions leisurely playing around behind the waves or observing the odd flock of seabirds either going South or North. The deck is fully enclosed with stacker doors to protect the guest from the nasty South Easter. A portion of the deck is also under a glass cover.

The main bedroom opens onto the deck with a breath-taking sea view. The room comprises a king-size bed, built-in cupboards and a dressing table with mirror. The second bedroom has a garden view and comprise twin beds, built-in cupboards and a dressing table with large mirrors. The unit has a full bathroom with bath, shower, toilet, and basin. For the not so faint hearted, we even offer an outside warm water shower with a sea or star view.

The fully equipped open-plan kitchenette offers everything you need for preparing a home-cooked meal. Alternatively, Yzerfontein offers 6 restaurants where you can enjoy scrumptious meals, if preferred.

To make your stay even more memorable and comfortable, the unit is equipped with a FULL DSTV bouquet, DVD Player, Sound Bar as well as Wi-Fi.

Max, our three-year-old Border Collie, ensures our pet-friendly environment. He is a very sociable, furry friend and his warm and friendly personality will make your stay even more pleasant.

We offer a unique surprise welcoming package. The unit is stocked with ample coffee (filter and instant), tea (normal or rooibos) and sugar.

We definitely ²aim to please” and will do everything in our ability to ensure one of your most memorable holidays ever!!!

Book now by quoting PetPrints and you will receive a 10% discount on our normal rates.

31onseaview 076 868 5258

Fascinating Hedgehog Facts

  • Hedgehogs are small, cute and quite harmless animals.
  • Their order is Erinaceomorpha, this means they are not related to porcupines at all.
  • The name hedgehog came into use around the year 1450, through their preferred foraging habits, derived from the Middle English heyghoge, from heyg, hegge (“hedge”).
  • As they move through the hedges, looking for worms and insects, they make a piggy grunting noise. Hence, hedge-hog.
  • They are also known by other names, such as urchin and hedgepig.
  • The female hedgehog is called a sow, and the male hedgehog is called a boar.
  • They can be found through parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, and in England and New Zealand through introduction.
  • The hedgehog can live in many different habitats, from woodland areas, farmlands, gardens, to even in parks or deserts.
  • They like moist places, which are either overground or underground – they find holes or abandoned tunnels in deep forests, under branches, leaves, roots of plants and stems, where they could spend their time.
  • There are 17 different species of hedgehog in the world.
  • These interesting critters have small, but powerful legs and big feet, with five toes each. The exception is the four-toed hedgehog, that has four toes.
  • Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, but excellent senses of smell and hearing, which they primarily rely on.
  • They are from 10 to 30 centimeters (4 to 12 inches) long, depending on species.
  • A hedgeho’s colour ranges from white or light brown, to black, with several shades found in bands along with their quills. Some hedgehogs have a dark brown or black mask across their eyes.
  • The “hair” on the back of a hedgehog is a thick layer of spikes (or modified hairs) known as quills.
  • The quills are hollow and are stiff (about 25 mm long), and are made of keratin – the same substance that our hair and fingernails are made of.
  • A Hedgehog has between 5000 and 7000 quills, and muscles along the animal’s back can raise and lower the quills to respond to threatening situations.
  • When they feel alarmed or intimidated (in danger or vulnerable), they curl up into a spiny ball to protect their stomachs, faces, legs, and bellies, which have no quills.
  • Unlike porcupine quills, the spikes of the hedgehog’s quills are not barbed, and they’re not poisonous.
  • They are immune to poisons in some plants, and will sometimes eat these and then make frothy saliva in their mouth, with which they lick their spines, spreading the spit with the plant’s poison all over the spikes, as a safety magnetism.
  • The hedgehog is nocturnal, only coming out at night and spending the day sleeping in a nest under bushes or thick shrubs.
  • Some hedgehogs, in cold climates, hibernate through the winter.
  • To keep themselves warm, they roll themselves up into a little ball and use their nest to keep warm.
  • In warmer climates such as deserts, they sleep through heat and drought in a similar process, called aestivation.
  • Some hedgehogs dig burrows in the soil that are up to 50 centimetres deep.
  • Hedgehogs that don’t dig burrows, preferring to make nests with dead leaves, grasses and branches.
  • In some case studies, there are recordings of hedgehogs who can travel up to 3 kilometres a day.
  • Health problems in sows include ovarian, uterine and mammary tumours, while the boars may contract jaw and testicular cancer.
  • Hedgehogs are classified as insectivorous (insect eaters), and their taste for destructive insects makes them a historically welcome presence in English gardens.
  • They eat small creatures such as insects, worms, centipedes, slugs, beetles, caterpillars, snails, mice, frogs and, even, snakes.
  • They are known to consume some vegetation, fruits (berries, watermelons, bananas) and greens.
  • The young are born in litters and remain with their mothers for only four to seven weeks, before heading out on their own (females must guard against predators in this period).
  • Hedgehog mothers have also been known to move hoglets to a new nest if the nest is disturbed.
  • The hoglets are born blind and without any quills. The quills are present under the skin and emerge in a few hours.
  • Within a day, the hoglet’s skin shrinks, and about 150 white quills appear. These quills are soft and flexible.
  • During birth, the quills are covered by puffy, fluid-filled skin to avoid hurting the mother.
  • Newborns look like chubby white caterpillars.
  • The young are suckled by their mother until they can hunt for themselves.
  • Adult hedgehogs squeal and grunt when they are excited or afraid.
  • Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.

Jade Daniel – Happily Ever After

It’s been four years since we first learned the name, Jade Hubner. Jade made her debut on television during the SABC’s presenter search. The down-to-earth blond, from Cape Town, revealed to us just how multitalented she is, and she continues to blow us away with every passing day!

Jade has a résumé that will leave most people wondering what they’ve been doing with their lives. The Top Billing TV host is a skilled actress, singer, MC and voice-over artist. Not to even mention the number of
sports disciplines she’s competed in, with Water Polo and Surfing being just two of the activities she enjoys. Jade labels herself a tomboy of sorts, never standing back for any challenge that comes her way.

In the last year Jade made headlines of a different kind. Jade traded her surname for something a little easier to pronounce. In April, Jade said, “I do” to her husband, Matthew, and officially became Mrs Daniel. Their fairy tale wedding was publicized and filmed by all the major networks, and the vows they shared had everyone in tears.
Their perfect day had dawned, and played out perfectly, for the perfect couple. Being the all-round go-getter she is, it should come as no surprise that Jade is also an ambassador for great causes, like Tekkie Tax, various wildlife organisations and the SPCA. Being a voice for welfare and animals, in particular, it was a great opportunity for us to get in touch with the lady of the moment, to find out about her furry family, and what the future holds for
the newly married couple.

Please tell us about Charlie. Where was Charlie adopted from, and why were you drawn to him specifically?
After losing my beloved Yorkie, Harley, in January 2018, Matthew and I decided to adopt a dog together. We needed a little bit of light in our lives, and decided to head to Woodrock Animal Welfare to see if we could find a dog that would match our personalities. We saw Charlie (a Chihuahua-Pekingese cross), who was named Rickie at that stage, and decided to meet with him in an open area. He was only about a year
old at the time, and it was clear that he had had a hard life as a puppy. He was hostile, and we were warned that he might try to bite us.

What followed was something truly remarkable. Charlie walked up to Matthew in a sceptical manner, with his eyes fixed firmly on him. Matthew extended his hand for Charlie to smell, and suddenly Charlie shoved his head right under his hand and hopped up onto his lap, without hesitation. It was love at first sight. Everyone was greatly surprised, including the people from Woodrock!

It hasn’t been an easy road from that day, but it’s been completely worth it. We’ve worked with Charlie and a behaviourist, to help him regain his trust in humans, and we are happy to report that Charlie is much
better now. His brother, Baloo, has also played a major part in getting him to trust us.

He is a changed dog now, one year later, and I think after another year, there will be an even greater improvement. There was a moment, when we just wanted to give up, which shocked me, because that is not
how I was raised, but my mom gave me a “talking to” and, my word, did it pay off!

This has been such a learning curve and it has certainly been rewarding. Charlie is a most loving and affectionate dog to all our friends now!

Baloo is such a cutie and looks after his brother so well. What breed is he, and why did you choose to take him into your family?
Baloo is a Biewer Yorkie. I had never heard of the breed, until I saw one at the Vet’s surgery, when I was taking Charlie for a checkup (an opportunity to get to know your local vet, which is advised when getting a dog). I didn’t have any intention of getting another dog at the time, but I couldn’t forget this blue eye’d breed.

The next few months with Charlie were very difficult, because I was still mourning the loss of my 9-year-old Yorkie, who, literally, had been my life and my shadow. For the first time in 26 years, I was coming home to no dog, then got a dog who I couldn’t touch, and who wanted to bite me most of the time. It was torturous. I felt incomplete. Besides my feelings, Charlie was battling on his own, and would scream blue murder on his own and go to great lengths to escape. He was extremely anxious.

Growing up, my dogs always had friends, and I told Matt that Charlie and I needed another dog.

Although my previous rescue dogs were fantastic, Charlie was a lot of work and I was so broken that I didn’t want to risk getting a dog who wouldn’t trust me, and would teach Charlie more bad habits. We decided to get a dog that I could train. I also missed my Yorkie terribly, and knew from experience, that they have great natures. I remembered the breed I had discovered at the vet and, quickly, did some research. I went to see a litter, and watched them for an hour. I chose Baloo, because he didn’t react at all when all the other dogs and puppies barked and became aggressive. He literally didn’t care. He was the perfect brother for Charlie.

I immediately took Baloo to doggy school, and began with my plan. Baloo got 100% at puppy and obedience school. He is the most obedient Yorkie I have ever met. My plan worked! He and Charlie are best friends, they play 24/7. Charlie doesn’t mind when we leave the house anymore, as he is not alone, and he trusts everyone that Baloo trusts. Charlie copies his good habits more and more every day. And Charlie LOVES me now! Walks are the way to a dog’s heart, it certainly helped me to win him over. You have to walk your dogs every day, or at least every second day, even if it’s a short one. I can’t express enough what it does for their mental state! They really need it! Just because your dog is small, or not a border collie, doesn’t mean they don’t need proper

Did you have pets as a child?
Dogs were like water in our lives! We couldn’t survive without them. The dogs were there before I was born. My family and I love dogs, they truly make a house a home. You come home from school or work, and you are greeted with such excitement and love. You relax at home and they snuggle up to your side, keeping you warm. No matter the troubles and stress in your life, your dogs are always there to comfort you and
make everything feel much better. They love unconditionally and sense when you need even more love. Every Sunday we would take them to Sunrise beach and go for an extra long walk as a family, no matter what the weather.
As an infant, I learnt to walk beside them on that very beach, as a child I learnt to swim with them, and I learnt to play, with them. Each one of my dogs has taught me something and each one was so different.

What has been your favourite part of becoming a dog mom?
I would say the companionship, the unconditional love and joy. I also enjoy looking after them and the purpose it gives you.

Leaving home and having my very own dogs have been such a new experience. The more time you invest with your dogs, the more rewarding it is. Taking your dogs to training yourself, really deepens your connection. It is truly special to be so connected with your dog, and it is really great to have a well-behaved dog. The more you put in, the more you get out!

You seem to have got it all together when it comes to family and career. What is your secret?
I think I used to have, but last year I hit a rough patch. I learnt a lot from it, and it certainly helped me grow. If you look at the overall to-do-list, it can be overwhelming, and debilitating at times. One can be stuck not knowing where or how to start. What I learnt is to take one task at a time, and to take it day by day. Ask yourself, “What if..”. What if I just pack away this right now, what if I just do this one email, what if I just read 10 pages of this textbook. One ‘what if’ leads to another, and the next thing you know, you have done a lot, you feel great and far less overwhelmed. This  is the secret, along with prioritizing (you have to write them down in order), and surrounding yourself with kind, positive people.

Now that you’re married, can we expect any additions to your family in the near future?
Lots more doggies for sure!
Babies too 🙂
Hopefully both in a years’ time 🙂

What would your advise be to anyone wanting to adopt a Pekingese?
Socialize your dog immediately with other dogs and people of all ages, and do so frequently. Make sure he/she has a doggie friend. Be patient and never give up. Hire a dog walker to socialize your dog with their pack if you are still struggling or don’t have friends with dogs that you can walk with. Don’t let people tease and poke your dog, because they think it’s funny when a small dog gets aggressive.

Lastly, enjoy the love and snuggles.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and Jade and Matthew prove just how true this is. We look forward to seeing the new additions to the Daniel family, and wish them all the best for the future.


Retreat 2 Eden

With the aim of not only taking in the usual waifs, strays and cruelty cases, but also to honour dogs who dedicated the majority of their lives to the service of mankind, an unusual rescue centre, Retreat  2 Eden, was founded on a sprawling 43ha farm in the Southwell area of Port Alfred six years ago.

The brainchild of Johann and Lynne Wilhelm, the resultant haven is brim full of dogs, chickens, sheep, horses, pigs and even a goat, all of which are allowed pretty much free range of the property.

Outlining why the couple decided to dedicate their lives to saving animals, Johann said: “Service dogs are life’s unsung heroes, but not at Retreat 2 Eden. These dogs are the very essence of our K9 Heroes Programme.

Many of them battle to find homes. With very few exceptions, the handlers cannot take them in when the dogs have outlived their usefulness as a working dog.

But for us, these dogs were heroes during their working lives, and we feel they deserve to be honoured for that when they retire. That is the very essence of Retreat 2 Eden.”

For the main, the inmates all get along, with the exception of the odd scrap, which is hardly surprising in view of the fact that around 80 animals live at the sanctuary at any given time.

And yes, there are cages, but they are always left open, a safe retreat for the dogs, most of which have never known any other kind of life.

Some, however, are too aggressive to be integrated immediately, and this is where community support comes in.

“With the aid of Rotary, The Lions and Interact in Port Alfred, we were able to build three large enclosures, set up for high-risk rescues. They are currently home to Ceazer and Phantom, two beautiful German Shepherds, who are slowly learning to lose their aggressive streaks and also learning to play like puppies again,” Johann says.

“But this particular case was not easy – and I bear the scars to prove it.

“Early into his stay, Ceazer wanted to go into the house, so I blocked him with my leg. He turned on me, biting my wrist down to the bone. There are other scars from where I had to protect myself from him going for the jugular. My hand was out of action for a month.”

Despite this, and where others might give up in the face of defeat, Johann stands firm.

“These dogs’ lives have been saved by community involvement. They are an integral part of life at Retreat 2 Eden. I will continue with their rehabilitation until they can be released to mingle with the other dogs.”

While the K9 Hero programme’s aim is to socialise dogs and then match them with potential fur parents, it is not always possible, and some of the dogs will see out their days at the rescue centre.

“When dealing with ex-service dogs, there are many aspects which have to be considered. They have lived in cages and know nothing other than the aggression that is often demanded of them. We accept that they needed to be aggressive to do their jobs and have to patiently re-train them,” Johann says.

The love that Johann and Lynn have for animals, large and small, stretches beyond dogs into abused and neglected horses which, where possible, are healed physically, mentally and emotionally before being rehomed.

Of course, running such a venture comes at a huge expense to Johann and Lynne, who have sunk their life savings into the farm which, until recently, was a 100% funded by the selfless couple, who do not even draw a salary.

At this stage, through community involvement, the centre is now only 87% funded by the couple, with donations from the Port Alfred community, including cricket balls for  Ceazer and Phantom, and offcuts of food from local restaurants, helping to ease the burden.

“A lot would not be possible without the help of the Port Alfred community. We also have a family of pigs, which had gone feral, who have almost too much food,” Johann said.

However, much more help is needed for the Wilhems to achieve their overall ambitions for the farm, with plans including:

  • Building a basic medical centre, with quarantine facilities
  • Portioning of large sections of the farm with cabins so that adoptive parents can interact with their new furkids, before moving to their forever Renting out the cabins would bring in much-needed income
  • Building a volunteer centre
  • Employing a Rescue Centre manager.

“At this stage, one of us always has to be on the property, which means that Lynne and I have never been to the beach together. If we had a manager that could change. Now that would be something really special,” Johann said.

  • Individuals, as well as organisations who make use of service dogs, are welcome to contact Retreat 2 Eden for assistance with working dogs when they are no longer needed in the industry. For more information contact Lynne on 072 388 9054, Johann on 072 966 7692 or visit the Retreat 2 Eden page on Facebook

At the end of last year, we were so impressed with the support Purple Kennel Ambassador, Bruno received during our annual Cover Model Search Competition, that we decided to give him and the organisation a special celebratory cover. Run by Samantha Chatham, the Purple Kennel Project has become one of the biggest kennel drives in the Western Cape. With an ever-increasing support system, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to spend some time with Samantha and Bruno on an extremely windy Blouberg Beach.

With very little coaxing or instruction required, Bruno handled himself like a professional model, lifting his head where needed and strutting his stuff across sharp-edged rocks and crispy shells alike. I honestly think that if it wasn’t for the wind howling and almost blowing us away, this would have been the easiest shoot to date.

Here’s what you need to know about Bruno and the Purple Kennel Project. I hope that this initiative will inspire each person reading it to contribute to welfare in one way or another this winter.


Bruno is an absolute gentleman and a brilliant model. Please tell us his story and how he joined your family.

Ask anyone who has met him, and they will tell you that Bruno is a truly special dog – So intelligent, people swear he is half human!

Eight and a half years ago, I had just turned onto the N1 towards Cape Town off the R44 from Wellington. I saw a man on the hard shoulder holding a very sick looking puppy into the road. I stopped, thinking he was injured, only to find out the man was trying to sell him! I told him to put him on my back seat and whilst I pretended to look for money, I kept my eye on my rear-view mirror waiting for the opportunity to pull away. That was the start of Bruno’s new life.

I called African Tails who I had been working closely with to ask if they could help. They, unfortunately, had no spare foster homes and asked if I could keep him for a night or two.  The rest, as they say, is history!

The vet took over 100 ticks out of this skinny, very sick looking 3-month-old puppy. Whoever could have imagined he would turn into the regal, camera-loving cover model he is today?  One thing I do know, like most rescue dogs, he knows he has been rescued … as he just never stops being grateful and eager to please. As a rescue dog-mom, there really is no greater feeling to see this.


What about the rest of the family?

I have four fur kids and I am what you might call a ‘rescue convert’. As a child, and to this day, I had always had a fetish for Scottish Terriers, but like many ignorant people out there, I thought the only place you could get them from were breeders.

I have, of course, since learned that as well as the many shelters out there all bulging at the seams, there are many dedicated breed rescue organisations too, including Scottish Terrier Rescue – South Africa who do amazing work.

So, although I still have my old lady pedigree Scottie – Holly, almost twelve-years-old now, she was the last dog that I paid for, so to speak. Then as well as cover model Bruno, who is almost nine, there is Harry a seven-year-old rescue and Lola, who at two-years-old is the youngest, the naughtiest and cutest Scottie rescue girl ever! Since her arrival in October, she has added another level of chaos to the house!


Is Bruno a clown or a cuddle monster?

Most definitely a cuddle monster!  I have many visitors and they all know that part of the deal is that Bruno will more often than not be their sleeping partner for the duration of their stay, lying next to them with his head on his own pillow and all!  His favourite visitor has to be his Granny who visits at least once a year from Scotland and always comes bearing gifts!


Who takes care of the furkids when you travel? Do they ever get to travel with you?

I am lucky enough to have a couple of fabulous house sitters who are more like family and have been in my life for 15 years or so and who are not only familiar with the dogs and their routines but have a mutual love for each other too.  Luckmore was employed on the condition he loved dogs and so is also with them all day during the week. They do not travel, unfortunately, as they do turn into absolute monsters in the car. So, anything further than the local beach is non-negotiable!


The Purple Kennel Project is about to commence its 4th season as an aid to support animal welfare organisations. Please tell us how the project started and what inspired you.

Since becoming aware of the epidemic situation, we face in this country regarding animal welfare around 15 years ago, like many people out there I had always tried to ‘do my bit’ as it were.  Whether that be fundraising, collecting food, selling raffle tickets and generally drumming up support where I could. I was never emotionally strong enough though to get physically involved out there in the field, the people that do that and experience cruelty and trauma every day are my true heroes.  We all have different strengths though and whilst I could not be THAT person, I still wanted to help!

With the arrival of social media, although it was a positive thing in terms of communication, it became harder to ignore the daily plights of all the animal welfare organisations and I would find myself donating R100 here and R50 there and it would easily mount up. Although I liked to think I was making a difference I wasn’t really sure HOW in the grand scheme of things and whilst my donations were not conditional, I wanted to see where they were going.

At this point, when chatting to friends, I realised there are two kinds of donors. Those like me, who have a small amount to give, but would just like to know HOW or WHERE we are making a difference to the animals. Then there are those who do not need that info and are happy to set up direct debits to contribute to the general running of welfare organisations. Make no mistake, the funds needed are not all directly related to animals – there are salaries, rent and electricity to pay too!  I understood completely that welfare organisations could not report back on where every cent was spent and so I came up with the idea to focus on a specific need within animal welfare and create something where people could see exactly what a difference their hard-earned cash made, which would hopefully, in turn, encourage others to do the same.

I chose to focus on providing kennels. During winter time the Cape storms can be quite brutal and whilst my own rescues snored loudly beside me, I would literally lie awake at night thinking of all the dogs in townships and elsewhere who did not have warm shelter. I imagined a world where I could not only support the many welfare organisations and the amazing work they do but one where donors would know exactly what a difference they had made! In April 2016 Purple Kennel project was born, we started with sending out just 5 a month, thanks to grateful donations from friends mainly, but word spread and by the last year 2018, we were sending out around 100 a month! I still find that hard to believe myself … but it is true!

We often read about the famous Deck Parties that help support your project. Are the occasions dog-friendly?

I am very social and love entertaining, especially outside on my deck and with many of my friends also being animal lovers, it has just become the norm now, instead of chocs or flowers they bring dog food that we can donate!  Call it an admission fee if you like … or perhaps just a good excuse for a party!  Although my own four dogs are very much part of the social gatherings, they are quite particular about any other four-legged visitors entering their patch.

What are the plans for the future of the Purple Kennel Project?

The project has grown more than we could have ever imagined possible! This is thanks to our many generous donors who love the fact that they get to see a photo of the happy furry-face, that is the lucky recipient of their sponsored kennel and who’s life has quite literally been changed forever!

For the first two seasons, we used wooden Kennels that not only took longer to make but were also heavy and cumbersome to move from A to B. We also had the job of painting them.

Last year though, we were lucky enough to be introduced to a company called Poly box, who make the moulded electrical boxes we see everywhere and who agreed to make eco-friendly kennels at an affordable price, on condition they are used for animal welfare. These kennels made from recycled materials are light and easy to carry, do not get chopped up for firewood and keep dogs warm in winter and cool in summer!

Last year we almost doubled the number of kennels we sent out the previous year and have now worked with 37 different welfare partners!  Going forward, we would, of course, like to build our now firm foundation and our grand total of 1117 kennels so far distributed. We cannot deny we are eyeing that 2000 mile-stone!

We do have to be realistic with our goals in that we do run this project in our spare time, whilst running a very busy Tourism Sales & Marketing Consultancy – thankfully though, whilst I am usually running around somewhere, Luckmore my dedicated assistant is office based and co-ordinates the donations, kennel branding, deliveries and collections like a well-oiled machine. He also ensuring every kennel leaves with a personalised label from the donor of course!

All I can say is watch this space! With peoples continued support, the sky really is the limit, there are literally thousands of animals out there without shelter and who need our help!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to make a difference in this world, what would it be?

“DO SOMETHING” is my one piece of advice… So many people scroll the pages of Facebook and other social media forums no doubt saying that favourite South African word “Shame” under their breaths as they see yet another starving dog or the hundreds of pleas for adoptions, but not that many stop to think about how THEY could make a difference.

In fact, it is sadly often the very opposite. There are many ‘armchair critics’ out there who tend to be very vocal and critical of those that are out there trying to make a difference and yet they sit there doing nothing themselves!

Not everyone is perhaps in a position to start an organisation like ours or to deal with sick and neglected animals on a daily basis, but there are other smaller things people can do that will make a difference.

If you cannot adopt, foster, if you cannot foster, sponsor, if you cannot sponsor, volunteer, if you cannot volunteer, educate or even just share and network, but DO SOMETHING!!!

My favourite quote is this: “Do a little bit of good where you are … it is those little bits of good when put together, that overwhelm the world” Desmond Tutu

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