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.

The kitten with no name

05:00am 11 May 2016

NICK BARNETT

In seven years of blogging about pets, I don't think I've ever written about the first pet I adopted. It was a long time ago, and I learned an important lesson.

I was flatting by myself for the first time - a skinny-necked single guy with a full calendar and an exciting but very junior job at a newspaper.

The flat was the ground floor of an old house. Upstairs lived a group of young professionals who had a cat - a friendly longhaired tortoiseshell who I used to see around the property. Going from my neighbours' frequent calls to their cat, she seemed not to hang around the house all that much, and she seemed to have the name Biba, pronounced like Justin's surname but I'm sure not spelt that way.

tortieWell, Biba's wanderings had consequences. She gave birth to kittens. I learned this when one of the upstairs neighbours knocked on my door carrying a shoebox, like a door-to-door kitten salesman. There they nestled: a choice between a black and white one, and a longhaired tortie like its mum. Take your pick, my neighbour said. Take one "on appro".

I was cautious. But I had the overconfidence and over-ambition of the young person who's cleared the first of life's hurdles so reckons the next nine must be a breeze. I had a flat, a job, some decent shoes, my own couch, a cookbook I was working my way through ... shouldn't I also have a pet?

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Furry Friday: Your bed is their bed

05:00am 06 May 2016

NICK BARNETT

I let my pets on the bed - only sometimes, mind, and with caveats and provisos and arse-covering footnotes that deal with the health-and-safety issues. So let's not get into all that.

Some people don't like to do it, I know. But one thing we can't argue over is how much pets love the items of furniture where humans sleep, whether "allowed" or not. Today's photo collection is proof.

From a pet's point of view, a human bed is vast, warm, and softer than anything known. And it's full of the scents of their favourite people. Why wouldn't a pet want to hang out there? 

Dexter's in a high-thread-count dreamland.

dexter

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Dogs that can't deceive

05:00am 05 May 2016

NICK BARNETT

The thing I like most about dogs is that they can't tell lies. Not successfully, anyway.

Dogs can't veil their motives or hide their agendas. They can't experience one emotion while appearing to feel another.

A dog's intentions are always clear - they're written on the dog's face and in its movements, and even in its voice.

connorNow, I'm not saying that other pet species are entirely inscrutable; you can get to know and read a cat's body language pretty accurately. But let's be blunt, a cat does seem to know how to cover up its thoughts, to pretend it's not interested in something when it really is, to be cool rather than hot. Maybe that ability springs from the cat's nature as a predator - it needs the power of concealment.

But dogs don't conceal. Everything's out there on the table. If your dog wants your biscuit, it sits there staring at it, dribbling. If your pup is glad to see you, it leaps and yelps and ignores everything else. It knows only two speeds: as fast as it can go, and as fast as it needs to go to stay with you.

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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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