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.

Househusband and dogfather

05:00am 10 Nov 2015


Here's a quote from Marley & Me, by John Grogan: "Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day."

There's some chastening truth in that quote. Many of us humans leave our pets behind in the morning (or whenever our working shift starts) and don't see them again for nine or 10 hours - apart from on our computer or smartphone desktops, where pets reign.

Connor in blanket
  There he sleeps: Connor wraps himself in blankets.
When we get home, our pets leap and rub around us and sing a song of heartbreak newly redeemed - "Oh my god, you're back! That's unbelievable! I love you so much! But hey, you left me here by myself. So show me you love me, preferably in a practical way involving a can and a spoon."

At those moments, who doesn't wish they could spend more of the time - even all of the time - with their pets rather than with bosses, clients and colleagues?

Some of us, by choice or circumstance, get to be around their pets for most of the time. You may be in this position yourself.

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Furry Friday: Couch-riding cats

07:00am 06 Nov 2015


"It's well known that the back of a couch or chair is among any cat's favourite places - thanks to the view and the general feeling of mastery that it gives."

What ageless wisdom that is. Well, not so much "ageless", more "one month old". I wrote that sentence when delving into the strange phenomenon of dogs that love to climb on the back of couches and then sleep there. I had discovered that couch-riding among dogs was amazingly, and furniture-destroyingly, common.

Cats do their damage differently - not so much with bulk as with claw, as you'll see in today's collection of couch and chair riders. But cats won't give up their couchback position. It's too grand, too glorious, too comfy - too close to the heat pump. 

Harvey seems to know just how superb he looks. He's grown a lot since this photo, but he's still a couch-lover.


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Furry Friday: The World Cup special

05:00am 30 Oct 2015


I have a message for the All Blacks. It comes from the Mostly Blacks - a team of patriotically coloured pets who are itching for their team to bring home that Cup of glory.

They've got together to send cheers and words of wisdom to the nation's team by way of this Rugby World Cup special edition of Furry Friday.

Well, not so much words of wisdom, as to be honest they don't have much of either. It's more a series of patriotic and inspiring poses that can only fill Richie and the men with confidence. Here's what the Mostly Blacks want them to hear...

Wear the black jersey with pride.


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The enviable relaxation of pets

05:00am 28 Oct 2015


There are quite a few things that I envy about pets.

Their lifestyle, obviously. Luxury and lavish dollops of affection, with no responsibility - except, if you're a dog, to protect your family with the might of your bark.

  Nuka is completely without tension.
Their ability to put everything else aside and focus every sense and every molecule of their body on one thing. Like my dogs' laser-like concentration when treats are on offer. Like my old cat, who once stared for six hours at a bookshelf because a mouse had run into it; leaving aside the fact that I'd removed the mouse and set it free, hours earlier. Still, that intense focus has to be admired.

The thing I most envy about pets, though, is their ability to relax. It's their super power. It's the thing that sets them apart from me. 

I am never relaxed. I don't mean that I'm always completely tense in every muscle - that only happens when I'm peeling potatoes. I mean that some part of me is always wound taut, tensed against a worst-case scenario that I'm not even aware of. Even when I sleep, my jaw goes rigid and I wake up with brick-like facial muscles.

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Furry Friday: Cats stake a claim

05:00am 23 Oct 2015


Cats always look at home, and never out of place. It's as though every cat feels it was born with an all-access swipe-card that can never be cancelled and whose balance they'll never have to check.

Hence, they go where they want and claim any space that suits. In that chosen place, they'll look perfectly comfortable - until there might be a suggestion that it shouldn't be there. Then, a cat can become haughty and territorial - just as it can with certain toys and favoured objects.

So welcome to this collection of cats making a claim - to space or to something precious.

Meet Mr Bingley, acting out a science fiction movie scene. Open the pod bay door, Mr Bingley.

mr bingley

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