Four Legs Good

Four Legs Good is a place to talk about pets, and the joys and frustrations of owning them. Netguide Award-winning blogger Nick Barnett writes about the animals in his life and pet issues of all kinds. And though 'Four Legs Good' is true, he’s just as fond of animals with two legs, many legs – or none.

Furry Friday: Sun seekers

05:00am 29 Apr 2016

NICK BARNETT

Where I live, this autumn has brought incredibly good weather. What April showers there've been have fallen conveniently at night, and day after day has been brilliantly sunny. 

Which is pleasant not just for us humans, but for pets too.

Sun-heated decks, backyards and beaches are obvious benefits for the four-legged. So is the still-firm ground at walking parks, and so are the warm patches on the carpet where the low-sloping sun comes in.

But bright sun also makes our pets look spectacular - as I'm sure you'll agree after scrolling through today's collection of sun-seeking pets, starting with the worshipful Lilly.

lilly

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The meaning of a pet's stretch

05:00am 27 Apr 2016

NICK BARNETT

Have you ever watched while your pet was stretching, and wondered "why can't I stretch like that?"

Well you can, more or less, if you remember to make time for it, and try to borrow a little of your pet's stretch-commitment.

ahi
  Curve, twist, lengthen: Ahi has a cat's crazy suppleness.
After all, you stretch for the same reasons pets do: to move your muscles after they've been still a while, to get blood flowing again, to release toxins, to get ready to move again - and to feel good.

And can't you tell that it feels good for your pet?

Cats, especially, seem to savour their stretches and even turn them into works of art. They unlock every joint, free every vertebra, turn their paws into fists and then into fans, flex and twist in every direction, making the whole delicious process last as long as possible. Often they fall asleep again without coming out of the stretch.

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Furry Friday: Naughty? Not us

05:00am 22 Apr 2016

NICK BARNETT

"Naughty cat," you say. "Bad dog," you scold. But cats aren't naughty and dogs aren't bad. They're just being a different species, using their own moral code, which is different from your puny, consistent, comprehensible human one.

Cats and dogs can be taught rules, and how to recognise when you're displeased, and the rewards of doing what you tell them. But both those species are also hard-wired to explore, try things out, and push stretchy boundaries till they go twang and back-flick them in the snout.

The behaviour's not bad, it's not naughty - it just looks that way sometimes. In truth it's simply the Way of the Pet. Today we document it.

Meet Hoover, whom the Way of the Pet has led into the depths of the bottom drawer. (Now I know where my missing plastic lids have fled to.)

hoover

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Why do dogs roll in that stuff?

05:00am 21 Apr 2016

NICK BARNETT

If there's a list of rules about walking a dog, then near the top will be this one: Whatever your dog rolls in, you do not want in the house.

For some deeply instinctive reason, and I'll get to the theories in a moment, dogs love rolling in smelly stuff, the smellier the better. (Warning: if you're of a delicate disposition, you might want to skip the next couple of paragraphs.)

Daisy rolls
  Daisy's shocking secret: rolling in private.
At the top of a dog's priority list of things to roll in is anything dead; below that ranks anything organic that's in a process of decay, preferably very late in the process; then comes anything that any animal has expelled from its body; last comes a small range of human-sourced stuff such as pitch-marking paint.

Let's be slightly plain, the place that dogs most want to roll in is the place where some creature has pooed. These places are plentiful, especially in parks. My dogs sniff these sites out, digging their snouts in and then backstroking vigorously. If one dog is rolling in something, the other dog runs to investigate and share in the stink.

When is the rolling at its most energetic and determined? Why, when the dog has been recently washed. Not for them the perfumes that we humans love around us. Not for them the lavenders and pines of dog shampoo. Those pink scents of the bathroom are to be rubbed off, replaced by the brown smells of the ground.

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Furry Friday: How to be a dog

06:57am 15 Apr 2016

NICK BARNETT

Being a human is more complicated than being a dog. That's what most people would say.

It's true, dogs don't have performance reviews, or property inspections, or tax audits. They don't have to worry about body mass index, or privacy settings, or interest rates.

But it's not so simple. Dogs do have to do things - dog things - in order to be a dog. They have to master dog skills and be cognisant of dog conventions. So here's a list - illustrated, of course - of Things a Dog Has To Do.

Run. (Luna)

luna

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