Furry Friday: Hearth and soul

NICK BARNETT
Last updated 10:35 30/05/2014

Let's not list the things we dislike about winter; we can leave that pleasure for spring. For today, I want to meditate on one of the soon-to-begin cold season's good points - something that comes into its own when the weather turns bad. I'm talking about the hearth.

"Hearth and home", the phrase goes, and indeed it's hard to think of anywhere safer, more familiar and more homey than the place in your house where the heat comes from. That's true whether you have an enormous marble-framed log fire or a fan-heater on a mat; it's the place that becomes the centre of your home and your life for three months.

It's the centre of your pet's life too.

Oh, the bone-easing, paw-warming glow - Kita and Cloudy share the bliss.

Kita and Cloudy

A testy relationship? Put them in front of a blaring fire and they'll forget their differences. This is Gracie Gray with Mouse.

Gracie Gray

Dry your boots, bake your pets: Chip and Cupcake. 

Chip

Lou and Kaspar savour the heat. 

Lou

Athena and Iris are a pair of heat-vanes. 

Athena

Ziggy and Rosie wait for the warmth to start pumping. 

Ziggy

Winchester and Derringer grill themselves. 

Winchester

Nigella is Fidel's pillow. I've loved curating these fireplace photos - it's like being invited into people's homes and feeling the warmth of their hearths.  

Fidel

That metre or so in front of the fire is evidently the pet zone. Ronk and Boukje are in it. 

Ronk

Room for all: Keisha, Pepper and Bella won't let any heat escape. 

Keisha

Yeena, Cloud and Misty. 

Yeena

Suki, Mello, Socks and Lucy. 

Suki

A hearth of a movable kind: Maggie, Carter and Walter follow it round. 

Maggie

Rocky, Poppy and Rudiger. 

Rocky

Alfie and Hemi. 

Alfie

Toto and Kitkat. Am I bored with photo after photo of blissed-out pets and cosy hearths? No I'm not. Each hearth represents a home where pets are safe, comfortable and cared for. It's what having a pet is all about. So bring it on... 

Toto

Another movable hearth, favoured by Cheyenne and Cherokee. 

Cheyenne

Bob and Meika wouldn't be anywhere else in the world. 

Bobo

One of those wall-hearths, bringing delight to Leo and Louie. 

 Leo

Koka is fond of her heater... 

Koka

...as is Pip, who'd wear it as a hat if he could. 

 Pip

Stacie (left) appears to be turning up the heat setting. Meanwhile, Murphy gently self-toasts.

Stacey Murphy

Now for variations on that classic scene: one fire, one pet. Chloe loves a frontal blast. 

Chloe

Pancho Villa prefers a toasty belly. 

Pancho

Charlie basks. 

Charlie

Phoebe sizzles. 

Phoebe

Romeo simmers on a medium heat. 

Romeo

Hershey the chocolate Labrador risks melting. 

Hershey

Bess braises her bones. To digress for a moment, Japanese philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka wrote that "The simple hearth of the small farm is the true centre of our universe." Good sentiments - though for me, the centre of the universe needs to have a pet within about a metre of it.

Bess

This is handsome Zac and his beautiful fireplace. 

Zac

Jake is a cross bettween a Great Dane and a Bullmastiff. He's a big guy, but he needs his heater and his socks.

Jake

Meet Tess, who's not fussy about pillows. 

Tess

Impi hasn't quite grasped the notion of "fire guard". His name is Zulu for "fighter" - he survived being hit by a car and being left at the side of the road; he lost a leg but fights on so I think we can let him bend the rules.  

Impi

The hearth-twist, version 1: Dudley. 

Dudley

Version 2: Luna. 

Luna

Version 3: Milly. 

Milly

Version 4: Blaze. 

Blaze

Fluff is snug. Is that a pizza box acting as a day bed? How classy!

Fluff

Who needs a rug, bed or blanket? Put down a box near the fire, and cat-nature will take its course. This is Smooch. 

Smooch

Thorne believes in proximity. 

Thorne

Charlie is at 10 on the pleasure meter.  

Charlie

Ruby dries off after a beach walk. 

Ruby

Miss B's perfect position. 

Miss B

How it should be for every dog: Zoe's hearth. 

Zoe

In most cases, a fire is so calming and its reach so wide that multiple pets can peacefully enjoy its benefits. In a few cases competition flares... 

Tui Pippin 1

... but soon eases. Tui and Pippin find that it's hard to keep up a rivalry when it's so darn comfy.

Tui Pippin 2

Thanks to all for posting your photos. Please email me your own photos, or go to the Four Legs Good Facebook page and use the Upload Photo button. While you're there, browse through the thousands of photos that readers have posted by clicking the Photos link.

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