Cover feature

Schalk & Otis Simply Outstanding

Being a funny guy and being a comedian are two very different things. Most people assume that someone in the profession of comedy is just a funny guy who hears jokes and tells them to their audience. The truth, however, is that nothing could be further from the truth. Comedians are some of our most intelligent counterparts. The slightly twisted truths they tell are funny because they hit home and are so well constructed that we don’t even realise that we are listening to a speech that is exactly that… constructed. We dismiss the jokes for wittiness and quite honestly, sometimes don’t really think about exactly how valuable the information is until we think about it the next day. Politics, the royals and the economy are, amongst others, topics that feature in all the sets of the mainliners we love. They don’t shy away from the things that make the average person uncomfortable. They talk about their, and everybody else’s, feelings, financial situations and even bodily functions; things you would rarely discuss to someone you know, let alone an auditorium of 2000 people, or the internet.

Schalk Bezuidenhout is and has been a household name for many in South Africa for several years now. He features on television series, commercials and loves working on stage. His lifelong passion has always been that of entertainment. From formulating elaborate stories about his mom being a spy while he was growing up in an Afrikaans neighbourhood in Kempton Park, to finding ways to watch his favourite comedian, Casper de Vries, at his friend’s house because he was too young for the show’s age restriction to watch it at his own house. There simply was never another choice when it came to what Schalk wanted to do with his life.

Schalk started out his career with smaller parts and learning from his peers and idol, Casper de Vries, while they collaborated in a show called “Schalk en Cassie hou konsert.” From there Schalk went on to study Drama at UCT and scored his first stand-up gig at a strip club.

Sometimes, you need to do what you have to, to make it in the business of comedy. Schalk joined us in Delta Park donning his best 80’s inspired ensemble, consisting of a button-down short-sheeve floral shirt with polyester-mix shorts, moon bag and characterful cat socks with sneakers. This style is what’s made Schalk one of the most noticeable characters in South African entertainment. This, along with his wild hair and moustache has become his signature look.

I asked Schalk what his most memorable show was. “That’s difficult. There have been so many. If I had to choose one, I would say opening for Trevor Noah was very memorable. We stayed at Monte Casino for a month and had a show every day. Walking out on that stage was amazing. People were shouting and screaming, and I felt so welcome. But, doing one-man shows are also amazing, because you know the audience is there to see you. I’ve been very fortunate to be so well received.” Schalk has also become a “dog dad” in the last year and has been showing off his pride and joy all over social media. Otis, the lucky pooch who gets to listen to Schalk’s jokes all day, is a rescue from Dogtown and was taken in by Schalk and Mica just as lockdown started in 2020. Being busy individuals who must travel a lot, Schalk and Mica decided to not adopt an animal until they felt the time was right and they had enough time to spend with them. Lockdown was exactly the opportunity, since both would need to be home for three weeks and they could help their new puppy settle in.


When adopting a puppy from a rescue, you’re never quite sure what you will be getting, and Otis is a prime example of just how many breeds can be mixed into one dog. His colouring suggests a bit of German Shepherd, his build points toward a Sighthound, but his Mutt Mix results have come back with a host of other names, including that of a Yorkie and Chow-chow. This, however, doesn’t mean a thing in the Bezuidenhout home, where Otis is loved for who he is and accepted for all the diversity he brings to the table.

Just like Schalk, Otis is an only child. He spends his days lapping up attention from his mom and follows her everywhere. He gets taken to school in the morning, where his dad picks him up after running his errands. His favourite thing to do though is to go for a walk or a run. The park is where you get to sniff flowers and play with sticks and bugs. What pup can resist?

Otis definitely has the best life a dog can ask for except when his mom needs to go away for a work trip. “His biggest nightmare is when Mica needs to go away for work. Otis will sulk as soon as he sees that suitcase come out of the closet. He will mope and look at you as if you’ve taken away the best present you’ve ever bought him. He will get under the covers and lie on our pillows and when that doesn’t work, he will start taking things out of the suitcase just to prove his point. He is a real mommy’s boy.”

As a first-time pet-owner I wanted to know what surprised Schalk the most about being a new “Dog Father”. The answer: “I didn’t know just how much I would love Otis. I remember driving around with my manager, Erns, and I would listen to him talking to his wife about going out or going to a braai and it would turn into these lengthy conversations about whether the dogs would be able to go along and if they did not take the dogs, they would only be able to go out for three hours or something like that. Then one would say; ‘Oh no, but they don’t get along with that couple’s dogs, so maybe we should only take one of the dogs, because those two get along’. I thought they were a little crazy! But now I get it. It’s a perfectly logical conversation to me now.”

I thought this was quite the fitting answer for Schalk and Otis since they were turning heads as far as we walked. From a personality point of view, Schalk is a pretty serious person and can be quite deep at times. So, I asked him if he had the chance to do it over, would he adopt Otis again? “Absolutely, we love Otis and I couldn’t imagine our lives without him. If anyone considers adopting an animal, they must always consider where they are in their lives. If you are adopting a dog to just have cute pictures on Instagram, you should leave it. They must be a part of your life and you should consider all the things that come with owning a pet. Leaving a pet alone at home all day, for instance, is not okay. I feel really strongly about the fact that people should evaluate their lifestyle before bringing a pet into it. That said, it is one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable, and I would definitely recommend adopting a dog or cat if you find yourself in a situation that allows for it.”

It’s quite obvious to me that we will be seeing a lot more of Schalk and Otis in the future and I really hope that Schalk works on some material to highlight what it’s like living with a rescue dog. At the moment you can catch Schalk on stage with his stand-up show called “Feeling Good’. This is something that Schalk’s been working on for a while and he is very proud of. He is performing around the country and it is definitely worth the trip. The groups are small and the venues well-spaced. Don’t miss out on catching this one!

Esmarie Yssel on bouncy bearded collies & broadcasting

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

This is the inspiring message that I took away from my interview with Esmarie Yssel, the well-known voice for Klankkoerant, the current affairs breakfast show of Pretoria FM. This is, of course, a quote from Lord of the Rings, one of Esmarie’s favourite movies.

Talking to Esmarie feels like you’re catching up with an old friend. There are no uneasy pauses or carefully constructed answers. It’s just a conversation between two people talking about life. We digress and talk about movies halfway through, what is supposed to be a professional interview, and laugh and joke at some of the comments when we get back on track. It’s easy to see why Esmarie chose a career in journalism and why she and radio are such a good fit. She is a conversationalist and puts people at ease, with ease.

Starting her day at 4am every morning, means that Esmarie grabs a cookie as she walks out the door, careful not to disturb her family who is still soundly asleep when birds have hardly woken up themselves. When the red “On Air” sign lights up, it’s game time. Armed with a cup of Rooibos in one hand and a microphone in the other, Esmarie and the team of Klankkoerant wakes up the citizens of Pretoria with news highlights and current affairs.

The discussions on this show are informative and intellectual and so are the specialist spokespersons who are invited to join in the discussions. From there it’s all about the news and putting together the sound clips that make up the bulletins we so easily dismiss for everyday radio reporting. This, however, does not mean that Esmarie is just a serious person. She is intelligent and has a keen eye for news, but she is also one of the bubbliest and light-hearted people you’ll meet.

Once the working day is over, Esmarie heads home to spend time with her family. Esmarie and her husband, Elrich, share their home with two very boisterous and bouncy Bearded Collies, Bentley and Belle. With personalities as big as their “fros”, these dogs are the life of the party. Counter surfing and gardening being their main talents.

It’s easy to dismiss Bearded Collies as placid or submissive dogs due to their fluffy appearance. The main thing to remember here is that they are still a Collie breed. Bred in Scotland as working dogs, Bearded Collies aren’t very common in South Africa. They are high maintenance with regards to training, exercise and grooming. As with all journalists, it was clear that Esmarie had done her research and knew of all this before she and her husband considered the new additions to become part of their family. “Bentley was 16 months old when we adopted him from Ashvale Bearded Collies. We were already on the waiting list for a puppy, but wanted to give him a forever home. His adoption came at the perfect time, as it had already been four years since Nina passed on, and my dog-mom heart was still longing for that kind of love. It was the best decision we’ve ever made. We got Belle as a puppy and named her after Beauty and the Beast’s Princess Belle, which means beautiful.”

As can be imagined, Bearded Collies need a lot of exercise. They need walks and runs, and since Esmarie and her husband are keen hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, it pays off to have an active canine companion or two. About three years ago, after one of these long walks, Bentley started limping.

What was thought to be inflammation turned out to be Osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that starts out in a bone tumour, but can quickly metastasize to the lungs. The prognosis was not good and the vets were not optimistic , but thanks to the holistic approach of Dr Gary Eckersley, Bentley was spared the amputation of his leg, and treated with specialist surgery to remove his ulna.

“ Today Bentley is healthy, but his leg is sometimes still sensitive, especially in overcast and cold weather. We feel a new growth on the exact same spot where the sarcoma was surgically removed. He is however still on seven naturopathic medicines, prescribed by his specialist, including CBD oil, and there’s no sign that the cancer is back or that he’s feeling any discomfort.

Words can’t describe how grateful we are that we could save his leg. In May of this year, it’ll be three years since diagnosis. His prognosis – with chemotherapy – was 3 to 6 months.”

As a journalist, Esmarie has made it her life’s mission to tell the stories of others. The rhythmic recollection of the conversations she recaps draws you in and makes her an exceptional storyteller. So, it should come as no surprise that Esmarie also writes poems and stories. Story-telling, in many forms, is in her blood.

She loves watching all kinds of different movies and series. Everything from documentaries to fiction.

When asked if she would ever consider another career, the answer was quite surprising. “I would love to make a career change and become a nature conservationist. I would focus on my passion for the natural environment. If I could be in forests or be hiking up mountains as part of my career as well as with my husband and beardies, I would have everything that I could possibly want.”

I think this is exactly why Esmarie writes the most amazing travel guides and reviews. Adventures in Thailand and New Zealand are summarised in her travel blogs, and tell the stories of adventures shared with her husband, Elrich. Elrich Yssel, by the way, is also a wonderful story teller and shares his talents on screen as a film maker. He recently won the award for best short story at the Forum Films Film Festival.

So, what does a day behind the scenes really look like in a household that homes two bearded collies and two full-time professionals? Do the kids ever get naughty? “Belle has destroyed more shoes than I could keep count of. They love playing tug of war with socks or slippers that they’ve stolen. And Bentley is the gardener. He has a special talent for digging holes. It sometimes looks like he’s planning a prison break. Our beardies are also talented counter surfers, so, one should never ever leave any pleasant-smelling food on the kitchen counter.”

This is not surprising, we’ve all been there and we still love our pets dearly. No, you won’t get that block of cheese back, and yes, the grass will grow back! Life with a dog will always be an adventure.

As always, we wanted to find out what advice a seasoned mother of beardies had to give to anyone wanting to bring a Bearded Collie into their home.

“Words can’t describe how grateful we are that we could save his leg. In May of this year, it’ll be three years since diagnosis. His prognosis – with chemotherapy – was 3 to 6 months.”

Brace yourself for the purest kind of love and affection. If you’ve never had a beardie, you won’t be able to grasp the emotional bond that you can have with a dog. A beardie WILL steal your heart. There’s also something about their eyes. You can see the light and life of the beardie’s spirit in them. And their noses… they give them a teddy bear-like appearance. They’re bouncy and very active. If you’re not an active, outdoorsy person who likes to throw a ball or play tug of war, a beardie is not the breed for you. You have to make time to play with them and to take them for walks. As they also have active minds, they need to explore for much-needed stimulation. Your backyard should also be big enough for a beardie to run at full speed.

They are double-coated dogs who need intense grooming to prevent the undercoat from matting, which takes effort and time, but once you’ve owned a beardie, you’ll never want another dog breed ever again.

Bentley is a cuddle bunny and Belle a busy bee. Bentley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma more than 2 years ago and our journey with him has been one of blessings and gratitude. Both of them sleep on our bed, so, they’ve stolen our bedroom and our hearts.”

It’s easy to see why Esmarie is so fond of her “beardie bears” as she calls them. She shares many of their traits. She is fun-loving and outdoorsy, intelligent and charming. We hope to see a lot more of Esmarie, Elrich, Bentley and Belle in the near future. Whether it be on television, on a hiking trail in Pretoria or in their Instagram Stories where they venture into the hills of Scotland. This is definitely a couple you want to keep eyes on.

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!

Tequila – 2020 Cover Model Winner

Every year we host our cover model competition, enabling a reader to be a celebrity for a couple of months. Each year we receive more and more entries and we are absolutely flattered about that!! This year we had so many entries to go through
that we were almost two weeks late with our top ten selection. It goes without saying that this is my least favourite part of the job. IT’S HARD!!! We love all our readers and there are so many fluffy faces and great stories
in this competition that we dread having to pick. This is also why we give our Facebook and Instagram readers the job of assisting with the final pick.

So, as our little Dachshund ambassador passes the torch, we welcome our 2020 Pet Prints Cover model winner, Tequila!
Personally, I love this name. It immediately tells you this pooch has spunk! The Mexican origin also fits well with this Chihuahua mix pup. So, if you’d kindly pass the salt, let’s get to know this little fire-cracker.

Tequila is the fur-child of Danielle Legrand. As a cat mom, Danielle admits that Tequila wasn’t really part of their “plan”, but he was definitely the best decision they made. This
feisty little munchkin keeps everyone on their toes and adores his granny! It would be hard to imagine life without him.

How old is Tequila and how did your paths cross?

Tequila was born on the 13th of February 2018, so that makes him almost 2. My boyfriend (Robert) and I had started discussing getting a pet. He wasn’t too keen in the beginning as we weren’t home a lot of the time. At this point, we had already agreed to meet my Mom’s kittens when we travel down to the coast for my birthday.

By the end of February, he was asking me what I wanted to name the puppy I liked and this was when I realised he was serious.

Shortly after this discussion, we were visiting one of our friends and her Chihuahua had gotten pregnant before they had the chance to sterilize her. She was adamant that she would send the pups to good homes and that we needed to take one. We argued with her, but you know how some friends can be, so we just brushed it off.

About a week later, she messaged Robert and nudged him again to ask that we please take one of the puppies. I was still totally oblivious at this point. 14 Feb, he sent me photos of the puppies, but we couldn’t settle on which one we both liked, so again I left it. By the
end of February, he was asking me what I wanted to name the puppy I liked and this was when I realised he was serious. Tequila was meant to be named Yondu, the blue character from Guardians of the Galaxy. But, once we met, we knew the name was wrong. He got his new name the day after we took him home.

Tell us a bit more about you and your family

Robert (Dad) is 31 and is a leap year baby. 2020 is his 8th birthday. Robert has a brother in KZN and a sister who lives 2 units away from us. Robert’s sister has a daughter
that Tequila is quite fond of and sees daily. Robert’s parents have been together for 35 years. We lost Robert’s father in 2018, Tequila was a bit lost for a few days after his passing. He now makes sure that Ouma gets extra love every day.

I am 31 and I’m just an average baby. I have 3 brothers, 2 in Pretoria and one in the East Rand. My parents got divorced when I was quite young. My father lives in Oranjeville and my Mom’s dogs live with him. Tequila really enjoys playing with their Collie-mix. Tequila has only met one of my brothers and is quite fond of him as well. I would say that the family in Johannesburg is quite closely knit.

Did you always have pets growing up?

As a kid, I had a cat. She was my companion for eleven years. We also had dogs. My Mom always talks about me sharing my biscuits with the dog she had when I was about two.

We love animals, so I also had Dwarf and Teddy hamsters, bearded dragons, Siamese Fighters, a rat, two mice and two gerbils.

Robert’s family always had dogs and cats. Robert also had fish as a kid.

Does Tequila have any siblings? If so, how many and tell us a bit more about them.

Tequila has two cat brothers. One is Pukk, he is my cat. The other is Meww; he is actually my brother’s cat. My brother had to move and his new place does not allow pets.

Pukk and Meww are also brothers and were born on the 2nd of January 2018. Meww is convinced that he lives with Robert’s sister. He only visits us for cat food pouches. Pukk adores Tequila, despite the fact that Tequila will snap at him when there’s food or a favourite toy on the bed.

Every day, Pukk greets us at the door, waits for Tequila to walk up to the door and headbutts Tequila. It is the cutest thing to watch. This is usually followed by me saying something like “You see, he loves you and you’re always mean to him. He must really love you if he forgives you every single day!” When no one is watching, these two are busy snuggling up and licking each other.

What is Tequila’s favourite pass time?

Tequila has 3 major things that he does every week.

Monday to Saturday, you can usually find him at Ouma’s house (Robert’s Mom), baking in the sun with Skeletor and Troy. Every morning is like a new adventure to go see Ouma. BUT!!!!! When Great-Granny comes to visit…. No one and I really do mean no one, exists, except Granny. This child will squeal as if he is being murdered. He loses his little mind. This will go on for at least 20 minutes. He only calms down once he is in her lap and she’s holding him. There is a video on IG that shows his excitement of her arrival.

Then on Sundays, we go visit Ganny (my Mom). He loves his Ganny. He perks up as soon as we enter the boom to the enclosure. It’s as if he knows exactly where we are going. He will talk to her through the back window of the car until she opens the boot and greets him.

Then there are his toys… He has a massive attachment to his plush Penguin toy. He can’t go to bed without it and Penguin must sleep on the bed with him. Do not dare try to take Penguin away from him.

Apart from all this, we have discovered a new toy from Petzone that he loves almost as much as Great-Granny and Penguin. We had to travel between 4 Petzones, to find some more. So, if Petzone is reading this, we’re looking for some more squeaky dumbbells (LOL). He will wait patiently at the gate for me to get home, greet me and then run and fetch the dumbbell. The aim of the game; try and take it away from him. This happens daily. We have gone through 3 dumbbells already.

Tequila looks really feisty, is he a difficult fur- child to take out or is he just showing off?

Tequila can actually be quite feisty. We regularly have to tell people, “Just stand still!” He tends to bark incessantly at new people. He storms at them, barking and obviously, people just try to get away. All he really wants is to tell you he’s the boss and sniff your shoes. He has never bitten anyone, but he has nipped at someone’s shoes because they kept walking. At the IG meets, we let him run off lead, or on a very long puppy lead. He’s very reactive on a lead. Something I desperately want
and need to fix, and am looking into. Once he is off the lead, he’s quite ok. He also gets tunnel vision, once he’s set his sights on someone or another dog, his recall
disappears, and I cringe. But once the other dog (in most cases) turns away, he goes straight back to me or Robert.

Overall, he’s actually a very sweet dog. He is very, very protective over Mom and Dad and if he is being held by one of us, you might lose a finger… Just joking. We hope to find a reputable trainer in the East Rand somewhere so that we can understand his behavior and correct anything that needs to be corrected, whether it is with us “parents” or with Tequila.

Does Tequila have any pet peeves?

Tequila HATES when you try to take his Penguin away. Wash-day is a nightmare. I must sneak Penguin into the washing machine. Once the cycle is done, I have to hide Penguin between the washing otherwise Tequila will bring a wet Penguin onto the bed.

He does not like it when you try and take burrs out of his coat, he will push your hand away with his nose. He also does not like it when you try to hold on to him when  we leave the house. I would have to guess that this is probably his biggest issue. He is soooo attached to us that we cannot leave Ouma’s house without trying to trick him.

To some extent, the cats are also an issue. He cannot handle that they are getting affection and he is not. Also, you cannot feed the cats without giving him a tidbit.

What is your 5-year pet plan? Are you keen on adopting/procuring more pets or are you content in your current lifestyle?

I have told Robert that I want to properly adopt a dog when we get a house. I follow a lot of rescues on IG and I am always blown away by the transformation and pure thankfulness of some of the animals. I take my hat off to the people who go fetch these animals, I don’t know that I would be able to be so diplomatic about the surrenders or confiscations. I have a deep yearning to give an animal the love that they so dearly wanted and didn’t get. We would probably adopt a bigger dog as we would have the space to do so. I would love to have a Bull Terrier and Robert would love to have an Irish Wolfhound. I don’t know if those two are in the next 5 years though.

Well, I think it’s easy to see that Tequila is living his best life and that he is surrounded by all the trimmings a small dog could want. Adoring parents, doting grandparents, and happy siblings.

Diving into Dune’s Life

We all follow someone online that seems to have it all together. They sport motivational quotes and post photos of swimming naked in the
ocean on a Monday morning. – It’s part of all our personalities to dislike these people just a little bit. And to be fair, it’s not dislike, it’s envy because we would all love to live as care-free as these people look. The truth, however, is never that simple.

Enter Dune Spencer-Ross, an Insta-celeb that really cares about the content she posts. Her Instagram account @duneslife has followers from all over the world. Carefully crafted content provides for a refreshing view on life. Fitness, health, mindfulness, and animals make up a large part of the account. The images are beautiful and edgy, and she doesn’t shy away from her sexuality or body image issues.

We met Dune at our calendar shoot in Cape Town a few months ago and it was amazing to meet someone with an amazing following who is so down to earth. At only twenty-seven years old Dune has an impressive resume with experience in many fields, including entertainment and fitness. As a qualified yoga instructor and health coach, she hosts corporate wellness workshops and consults on the overall health of clients who procure her services.

One of her biggest passions, however, is animals. As a child, Dune grew up in the suburbs of Cape Town.
Refusing to be the stereotypical girly-girl, Dune was the teenager catching escaped Toranchula’s and bringing home any stray that looked like it needed assistance and even though she has beautiful curves and long dark locks, this lady is still not to be messed with. It’s very obvious when you meet her pitbull-trio.

Any professional will tell you that the ownership of a pitbull is no easy task. They are high energy, intelligent and can be quite destructive if not trained and exercised. Taking on three, well that’s just down-right brave!

“There was this spider on the loose in the streets of Durbanville and I was like, Oh my world, this spider is going to get squished, I have to go catch it. So, I ran out with my Tupperware to go and catch the spider.

The evening my mom got home and there was this fi tank with a brick on it… my mom called me to show her what was in it and needless to say she wouldn’t let her handbag stand near this tank!

We eventually took the spider to the monkey park outside town where they cared for it and it was safe.”

Charming – “I’ve been going to DARG for two weeks walking dogs, and I saw this tiny little shadow in one of the rooms. I went in and there was this little bag of bones. He was so scared and shy, and I just knew immediately, it’s like he chose me. I ran to the front offi . He had just come in 2 days earlier, so they had to search for the information of who he was and where he’d come from.

He had not been tested with cats or anything. But I knew that we were meant for each other. He was about three or four years old at the time. Apparently, he had a bone stuck in his jaw when they found him, and he was basically starving because he couldn’t eat or drink. So, once I took him in he filled out really fast. That was in 2013. He had extreme anxiety when I took him in,
and I couldn’t leave him alone. But we worked through that. He needed a lot of attention and care”

Quinn – “When we got Charming, we realised that he was a township dog and was used to socialising, so we wanted to get a friend for him. One day I was on Facebook and I saw a post from LEAPS. It was Quinn. Again, that little voice was there, saying that I had to meet this dog. Quinn was just under two years. I called them up and the next day we went to meet her. She was like a little Tasmanian Devil. They were struggling to place her because she had so much energy. But Charming just had these big heart eyes, like a cartoon, and I just couldn’t resist. We had to take her in.”

Bamboo – “She’s the youngest. I’ve always fostered while growing up with my mom and Bamboo was the only puppy left from a rescue mission where we were trying to rescue a litter of puppies from a back-yard breeder.

She was in a state and spent the first two weeks we took her in on rehydration drips and the vets told us not be too hopeful, but she made it. She was meant to be a foster but as all things go, if it’s meant to be, it will be.

At this point, we were living in a one- bedroom flat, now with three big dogs. We had to make a decision to either move into a bigger place or have her adopted. We got a bigger house.”

As a holistic adviser on everything lifestyle, Dune’s one core piece of advice is to listen to your body and get enough sleep. Hydration and eating healthy, of course, also play a great part in being healthy. As a personal trainer and sports scientist, she understands that it’s not just about the physical aspects of life that makes you successful, but also managing stress and a work/life balance.

“There is no routine. I always try to start the day off with puppy cuddles around 6 am and then breakfast. While the pups are eating, I’ll attend to some emails. Once that’s done, we will go to either the beach or do a trail run. I love trail runs and it really helps with the dogs. They are an active breed. And from there we will start the day by either doing shoots or seeing clients or building on a creative project.

On our photo shoot, we also got to experience some of the behind-the-scenes magic of how Dune approaches a shoot. There was very little hesitation when we asked Dune to get up on the slippery rocks of the waterfall at Cascade Country Manor Hotel and Spa. She did a little head tilt and off she went with a smile.

I know this was one of Emma’s favourite shoots because no matter how many times we asked for a retake of the shot, Dune never looked annoyed and selfl sly went for it.

It’s a real treat to work with someone that professional and patient. That might also be why she’s the ideal Pitbull mom. Classy, sophisticated, and bubbly are just some of the things that come to mind when you look back at these images and recall a hotter than expected Sunday afternoon in Paarl. We look forward to seeing more of this Dog Mom and her unbelievably adorable pups.

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!

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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Cover Model Search 2022

Does your Pet have what it takes to be our next Cover Model

Pet Prints Terms and Conditions

Entries close on the 30th of September

The winner will receive a GIFT HAMPER FROM PET PRINTS and a photoshoot with Emma O’Brien Photography for the January Cover of Pet Prints Magazine. Participants give Pet Prints the right to publish their photos on any print – or social media when they submit their entry. The winner must be available and willing to travel to Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban for their photoshoot between the dates of 18 OCTOBER – 18 NOVEMBER 2020

Entry Form

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