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: Peering at you

05:00am 19 Jun 2015


Your pet's face, staring at you from some part-hidden place. Or its quizzical countenance seeking you out from a distance. In my book, either sight counts as "peering" for the purposes of this, the peering edition of Furry Friday.

From blankets and foliage they peer. From under things, inside things, and on top of things they peer. They subject you to peer review. They exert peer pressure. They're a jury of your peers. There's no end of the peer, but at some point there must be an end to the puns and a start to the photos.

They start with Riley, who's keeping someone's shirt warm.


Here's Finn, from deep among the comforters.

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When a dog brings people together

05:00am 17 Jun 2015


A dog isn't just your best friend. It can also be a friend-generator, or at least a nodding-acquaintance-instigator.

nathanSome say a dog can even be a romance-creator - there's at least one movie about it. I don't know anyone whose dog has helped bring them love, but I can understand how it might happen. A dog is a cute, happy presence, so the possibility of meeting cute is bound to be greater if dogs are around. But I'm not sure if I would have been bold enough, back in my single days, to unleash a canine-related chat-up line on another dog walker. "My, what a magnificent Puli you have."

Perhaps not.

Much more common than dog-mediated romance is the fellowship that grows between dog walkers. When you're out exercising your dog and you pass someone doing the same, there's an instant solidarity that breaks down social walls. It becomes allowable to stand and chat, to ask questions and swap opinions, in a way that'd be unusual for strangers meeting doglessly. 

(We also consider it allowable to brake, leap out of the car and rush up to anyone walking a Dachshund, anywhere. If you've been so accosted, please take this as an apology. But, you know, the daxie bond is powerful.)

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Furry Friday: Full-on sweet face

05:00am 12 Jun 2015


I call it sweet face - the expression on your pet's face that most melts your heart. 

It's a useful thing, sweet face. For the pet, a show of sweet face can accomplish a feeding, or a walk, or a cuddle, or permission to get on a usually forbidden couch. It is thus a pet's most persuasive tool.

But sometimes a pet just does it, without any selfish purpose, simply because its personality or its mood is sweet. 

Take Senna. Her sweet face can make her owners do anything for her. 


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Is it wrong to call pets 'fur babies'?

05:00am 11 Jun 2015


A writer named Elizabeth Broadbent became offended, and wrote about it. The headline on relationships website Your Tango sums up her mood: "No, Your Dog Is Not Your 'Baby' - Saying That Is An Insult To Moms."

(Sorry about all the initial capital letters, but that's the way things are written, nowadays, on the angry internet where nothing is said quietly.)

  They're not like babies. Not at all.
Fur babies, fur kids. I often hear from people saying things like "here are photos of my fur kids" or "meet my fur babies" - a search of my inbox found at least 40 saved emails that contained the words. I've always taken these endearments to have a bit of amiable irony, a touch of self-knowing humour. Never have I thought that "fur baby" is an actual, literal statement of a pet's status in someone's life.

But I've never used fur kid or fur baby to talk about my own pets, and never put it in a headline on this blog. Why? I'll come back to that.

Let's spend a minute going through Elizabeth Broadbent's sense of offence. At bottom, she presents the insight that "dogs ain't people". Expanding on this discovery, she reveals that getting a dog is easier than getting a baby. Also, she informs readers that caring for a baby is tougher and with much higher stakes - you can mostly ignore your dog, but with a baby, your attention is constantly on it. She touches on the greater rewards in raising a child than in keeping a pet.

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Furry Friday: Reading a cat's thoughts

05:00am 05 Jun 2015


It's a myth that cats are unreadable. In truth, they're not all that mysterious. It's perfectly possible, if you're properly experienced, to know what a cat is thinking, because its thoughts are right there in its face.

Usually. They're usually right there. If you can't read what your cat is thinking at a given moment, then it simply is not thinking anything. (That is a thing that sometimes happens.)

Today on Furry Friday, we survey cats' expressive faces. It made my day to collect the photos together, and I hope it makes yours to scroll through them.

Tzuki is a silver marble Bengal who wants to branch out from photo modelling and assume full creative control.


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