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.

The friends your dog makes

12:21pm 03 Apr 2014


We dog owners have heard all about "socialisation" - how important it is to introduce our dogs to people, other dogs, and new situations. The idea is to build the dog's resilience, calmness and confidence.

PlaytimeSo we take our dogs out - not just on quiet, empty streets, but into parks and on to beaches and walking tracks, the better to meet other dogs and people.

But one of the joys of the whole culture of dog-walking is the joy of the familiar, not just the new. That joy your dog experiences (and you yourself join in) of encountering a dog and its walker that it has met before.

Sometimes the joy is vivid. Like the day a couple of weeks ago when my partner Tom and I took the dogs to the yearly dog get-together at a forest park not too far from us.

We unloaded and leashed up our dogs and set off from the car park to the meeting point. The air was full of barks and chat, and no doubt a hundred scents. As we joined the throng of dogs and owners, Phoebe and Connor seemed stunned by the onslaught on their sense organs. For them, one new dog is an intriguing possibility; two dogs bring the potential for confusion and nerves; but a teeming, panting crowd means that too much is happening to deal with all at once. Our dogs seem to shut part of themselves down - the part that is usually alert to every stimulus - in order to get through the experience without too much stress. (I do the same thing myself, at any airport baggage claim. Call it a sanity defence mechanism.)

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Furry Friday: Crazy like a cat

10:00am 28 Mar 2014


Cats would like you to believe they're sober citizens, but it's not always true. In truth, every cat has moments of craziness and abandon. Each has interludes of blatting activity, of dramatic eccentricity, of amusing loopiness. Every cat is both Dr Jekyll and Miss Hydey-Paws.

So here is a tribute to cat craziness: moments when cats act a little silly or a lot. All they ask is that you accept their insanity plea.

Our cover-cat is named Freddie, blue-eyed king of the jungle. 


Jypsy went through a lion phase too. 

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Goodbye, Coruba

09:20am 27 Mar 2014


One of the regular stars of Furry Friday, our collections of readers' pet photos, has been a beautiful tabby named Coruba. This week Helena emailed me with Coruba's story. Here it is...

Thank you for posting Coruba's photo the other Furry Friday, the one of him licking his lips after eating catnip. That photo was one of my favourite because it shows his spirit - I'll explain...

Coruba catnipThe catnip had been trying to grow but an insistent and naughty cat wouldn't leave the catnip alone, so we move it on top of the shed. Our thinking was that Coruba wouldn't be motivated enough to bother - as usual we was wrong and that photo was taken upon coming home and finding him on top of the shed eating the supposedly hidden catnip. Nothing, absolutely nothing ever got in the way of Coruba and his food or when he wanted cuddles, the two things he adored.

Unfortunately it is with broken and grieving hearts that we let you and your readers (who knew Coruba through your photos) know that on March 3 at noon, our beautiful, loving boy Coruba lay on our bed for the last time as the vet slowly injected him with a sedative. Coruba sun couch
We tried so hard to be calm and only send him positive feelings of love and gratitude, gratitude for his gentleness, his love and for sharing his life with us, we wanted his last memories of this life to be of us speaking lovingly to him and stroking his soft fur. When the second injection was given, we watched as his amazing spirit left his tired and sick body. At that moment I knew how it was to lose someone you loved.

I have loved Coruba from the first moment I saw his beautiful tabby body slowly and most gracefully walk past our driveway. You see, though from that moment he has always been part of my heart and family, he actually belonged to our landlords (who are also friends). By the time they left for Canada they knew he was in good hands as Coruba showed them he loved us, and our landlord saw how much we loved Coruba. Releasing our boy from pain was without a doubt the most difficult decision we ever had to make and one of the most painful experiences we had to go through. 

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Furry Friday: Face time

11:32am 21 Mar 2014


They have cute tails, and paws, and coats and tummies - but it's the face that gets you.

The face that won you over that time you visited the shelter.

The face that gazes at you in adoration, then flicks away to track the flight-path of a cicada or to scrutinise a leaf.

The face that's in your own face every morning, thrilled to see you and only coincidentally hungry for breakfast.

The face that silently speaks pure pleasure, like that of cover-dog Dougal as he takes his place on a family fishing trip.

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More dogs that do good

09:00am 20 Mar 2014


This is a shout-out to some remarkable people - and dogs - who work to make a lot of people's lives better.

Kotuku Foundation Assistance Animals Aotearoa trains dogs to be skilled companions and therapy dogs to help people to be healthier and more independent. These people may have suffered a serious injury or be living with pain, depression, diabetes, autism, narcolepsy or some other condition that puts them at risk or holds back their independence.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a sweet Greyhound, Emma, whose owner takes her to visit an Alzheimer's group every few weeks - but Emma is just one calming face in a whole movement led in this country by the KFAAA.

  Merenia Donne with Uni and Rica. ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ 
Merenia Donne started the organisation in memory of her German Shepherd Nikki, who saved Merenia from a car crash, pulling her from the wreck and up a cliff the car had gone over. Later, when Nikki was diagnosed with bone cancer, people all around New Zealand gave money to help her treatment - but she died in 2006. That's when Merenia started working to set up KFAAA with the vision of a society where "human-animal interactions are utilised for the benefit of both human and animal health and wellbeing".

Since then, the charity (whose patron is the governor-general) has trained and provided dogs to perform a range of tasks for their human companions, including a blood-sugar-sensitive diabetic response dog.

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