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.
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.
- Wildlife Deterrent: Over the last two years, our dog the Cheese Thief has chased peeing cats and pooing birds from the garden. She has evicted giant toads (or frogs, I still don’t know how to tell one from the other) and Parktown Prawns from the house. Most recently and most importantly, she went completely bananas when there was a snake in the garden. You can read more about that HERE.
- Security: On Easter Sunday I heard more frenzied barking. I wondered whether we had another serpentine visitor or perhaps the Easter Bunny was busy hiding chocolate eggs. It was early in the morning and the house was sill locked up. I went to investigate in my pjs and realised that there was a man was crouched and hiding by the back door, hence the ferocious barking. He ran away and was quickly apprehended by security guards who were already in hot pursuit. The Cheese Thief more than earned her keep that day. Reason 10 in particular has prompted my ever persistent husband to raise the subject of a second dog again. “Maybe a bigger one?” We’ll see.
So, those are my 10 reasons. Do you have any to add? Have I convinced you to get a dog?
It’s kind of a funny story how we ended up with our little dog, because I was absolutely wobbling on the fence. Basically, I was duped. Find out how the Cheese Thief came to live with us in the post Pound Hound.