Two little Doggy Dogs, standing on a wall. How did they get up there? How did they not fall? One named Peter, one named….You know what, I have no idea what they’re called. Not our dogs, but I couldn’t resist taking a photo.
Shortly after arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa, we adopted a little rescue dog. It turns out that despite my initial concerns and reservations, I’m actually quite pleased that we did.
To be fair, most of the reasons I give for getting a dog apply to wherever you are in the world, but prior to arriving in Johannesburg adding a dog into the mix had never been a serious consideration. Reasons 4 and 5 are particularly pertinent to people who have just moved (like expats) and probably reason 6 also. Reasons 9 and 10 are two specific reasons that meant that getting a dog in Jo’burg was particularly appealing.
- You love dogs.
- You really love dogs.
- Your family really loves dogs and although you are wobbling on the fence about getting one, the perfect little dog, sniffs you out and chooses you.
- Friend Maker: If you’re just moved to a new place (a common occurrence for serial expats) you generally start with a sum total of zero friends. There are plenty of ways to make friends and a dog is one of them. Unlike humans, who often do no more that grunt a greeting to strangers in the street and keep walking, dogs are far more sociable. While dogs are busy sniffing each others bottoms, you can either avoid eye contact with the other dog owner or make polite conversation, which COULD be the start of a beautiful new friendship.
- Depression Defender: Expats are particularly susceptible to depression, with frequent change of location, language, friends, employment status and all the other quirks of regular foreign assignments, your world can feel like quicksand under your feet. I’m not suggesting that having a dog cures depression, but it’s a proven fact that pets can help ease these feelings by keeping you company. Having a bad day? Brush your dog, pet your dog or take it out for a walk. The affection you receive in return is completely disproportionate to the effort you put in.
- Exercise Enforcer: Dogs need regular exercise or THEY get depressed. Even if you’re not a big fan of going to the gym, taking regular walks is great exercise and helps keep you and your dog healthy and happy. Jo’burg is a car centric city, so you probably don’t get as much day to day exercise just getting from A-B as you would in many other cities – add all that lovely calorific south african wine into the equation and you’re in big trouble if you don’t get out and about.
- Scape Goat: Somebody’s been eating the cheese? Somebody makes a rude noise at the table? Blame it on the dog.
- Waste Disposal: Most dogs are happy to tidy up any leftovers, vacuuming up crumbs and spilt milk. This is particularly helpful when the bin men go on strike, which they have done recently. Every little helps to keep your rubbish bag just that little bit emptier.
This is the Cheese Thief. She hardly looks capable of cheese (and sausage and pizza and any other tasty foodstuff) thievery, but she is, don’t let those big brown eyes fool you.
Just in the last few weeks I have been delighted that we took the plunge and got a dog for entirely selfish reasons that have nothing to do with loving or liking dogs. Ultimately, reasons 9 and 10 are THE reasons I’m most thankful that we have a dog in Jo’burg.