Four Legs Good

Voted Best Blog in the 2012 NetGuide awards, Four Legs Good is a place to talk about pets, and the frustrations and fun of owning them. Blogger Nick Barnett is joined by pet experts and pet lovers who write about the animals in their lives and pet issues of all kinds. And though 'Four Legs Good' is true, we’re just as fond of animals with two legs, many legs – or none.

Furry Friday: Pets take a seat

05:00am 17 Apr 2015

NICK BARNETT

You may think your armchair was built just for you. After all, it fits your body so perfectly, just where it needs to. (Indeed, the term "armchair" is a euphemism for what this item of furniture should really be called, which is "buttchair".)

But no, the armchair - and its stretched cousin, the couch - is not just for you. It's also a perfect fit for your pet. Or pets, as the case may be.

The soft cushion, of course. The perfect height. The upright bits to lean on and snuggle into. The arms and back that are often sleeping places in themselves. All the components of lounge furniture are just what a cat or dog wants in a resting place.

Take our cover-cats, Zeke and Axel, who are well housed in this controversially coloured armchair. 

zeke axel

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What autumn means for pets

12:15pm 15 Apr 2015

NICK BARNETT

Winter paid an early visit this week. It knocked on the doors, hollered through our still-open window for a day or two, then strolled off after leaving a save-the-date card in our letterbox and muttering "I'll be back" in an Austrian accent.

jake
  Adjusting to winter: Jake the Bullmastiff/Great Dane.
Your pets must have noticed the change of temperature - ours certainly did. Phoebe, who's usually the independent sleeper of the two dogs, has taken to chasing and occupying human laps wherever possible. Uncharacteristically, she whined at the bedroom door yesterday, seeking access to the top of the bed, which still held some human heat in it.

Connor, who's more cold-sensitive, has been seen to shiver during the rare moments when he's not nestled in the crook of a knee or self-buried under blankets. Yesterday he scaled the couch, tramped along its back, and tried to sleep on my shoulder. It reminded me of film I've seen of mountaineers camping on a ledge the size of a desk blotter - risky, uncomfortable, and unsustainable in the long term. But Connor will do anything for warmth at this time of year.

Aside from the cold, April can be a dispiriting time for dog owners. First we suffer the loss of daylight saving, which allowed us to walk our dogs in the sun after dinner and get home before lighting-up time. Then we gradually lose the little window of after-work daylight. Meanwhile, bone-hard parkland softens over the course of three weekends into the consistency of pie, which later is smeared on household surfaces. Dog walks are squeezed into dark, cold evenings.

"Walk your dogs in the morning, then," you briskly counter, unimpressed by my whingeing.

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Furry Friday: Delicious ginger cats

05:00am 10 Apr 2015

NICK BARNETT

I learned this week that "Redheads Rule", and no less an international star of gingeriness than Prince Harry agrees. (However, I think he means it aesthetically, not constitutionally, so don't get tense, Your Majesty, and certainly don't reach for the hair dye.)

Do redheads rule in the cat world? Well, they have close rivals among the blues and tortoiseshells and whites and calicos, and opinions do vary. But today, on Furry Friday, reds do rule and gingers are in charge. Scroll down and tell me I'm wrong.

Our cover-ginger is named Ratchet, who stands impressively on guard.

ratchet

One of the reasons gingers rule is how brilliant they look in almost any setting, especially the greens of a garden. Nothing in the natural world is as hopelessly conspicuous as a ginger cat. This is Frank.

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How an army of pet lovers saved a dog

12:11pm 08 Apr 2015

NICK BARNETT

A little elderly Jack Russell Terrier named Dunhill went missing in Auckland the other day - maybe you read about it

Dunhill 1Maybe you were one of the hundreds, even thousands, of pet lovers who came to the aid of Dunhill's owner and made this into much more than a routine search-and-rescue story.

Dunhill was a wanderer when Angela Beer adopted him seven years ago. But in his time with her, he'd never run away.  

Angela's section in Westmere, near coastal swamps and streams and the waters of Waitemata Harbour, is fully fenced. But on a certain evening in late March when Angela was away caring for her sick mother, the fences failed to contain Dunhill. Despite being blind and deaf, he eluded the housesitters and got out. 

When she got home, Angela searched but found no sign. She feared for Dunhill, knowing his disabilities and knowing the mangroves and waterways that were nearby. She knew she'd need help to search the nearby swamp. So at 1am she took to her computer.

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Fursday: Cats claim their place

05:00am 02 Apr 2015

NICK BARNETT

A cat is a cuddly colonialist. It'll invade your home and occupy every room. It'll confiscate your property , or at least leave claw-marks on it. It'll lay claim to the best real estate and then carpet it with cat-hair. Tyranny, thy name is puss.

Yet we always submit. We yield to cats' territorial greed and we grant all their claims to our possessions. Then we take photographs. Behold, now, a collection of cats who have claimed human property and turned it to their own purposes.

Walter requires a lot of bench space - I estimate the combined equivalent of a crock pot, a sandwich press, and a coffee plunger.

walter

Ever sat down on one of those tiny one-buttock outdoor chairs and found it uncomfortably insufficient for purpose? Wanda has. She spreads herself out over two chairs, and still there is spillage.

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