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.

Four legs good: Farewell to Merrick

09:00am 18 Aug 2014


I started to worry about Merrick on Tuesday. His usual ungainly gait was shaky in a different way, and his familiar skinniness was more profound, somehow, than the day before. I told Tom, my husband, that our old cat seemed weak. "He's on his last legs," said Tom.

Well, Merrick had been on his last legs for years. He had seemed doomed in 2011 when weakened kidneys turned him into a bony, tufty, tottery shadow of his previously burly self. But a daily half-pill of Fortekor squashed into a knob of cheese caused him to bloom again. Then, in December, he relapsed and I gloomily Facebooked that I thought Merrick was days away from death; in fact, he rallied and enjoyed a summer of sun-baked luxury.

But on Tuesday he looked poorly. Something prompted me to take a photo of him.

Merrick Tuesday

A while later, he sought to get down from the couch, ignoring the steps that we keep pushed against it so he and the dogs don't have to jump. But he did jump, and his body couldn't take it. He ended lying on his side for 10 seconds before gathering himself up and starting a slow walk to his food bowl in the kitchen.

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Furry Friday: 34 cute cats stare us down

06:00am 15 Aug 2014


Cats' eyes are remarkable. We all know how sharp they are, and we know how they can instantly change settings to suit how light or dark it is. And we know how beautiful they are, whether brightly or subtly coloured, staring back at you as they do, with affection and without shame.

Today's collection of readers' pet photos narrows its gaze to study the miracle that is a pair of cats' eyes - or just one on its own.

First, a cheer for some people who are working for cats and their owners in special circumstances: Red Zone Cats. This is a group that finds stray cats in Christchurch's quake-shattered red zone, carefully catches them, checks their health and vaccinates them, then seeks new homes for them. I urge you to check out their site, help if you can, and adopt if you can.

This week's cover-cat is a looker named Luka. 


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35 adorable garden pets

09:32am 08 Aug 2014


Check your flowerbed. Monitor your vege patch. Scrutinise your shrubbery. For something unusual may be sprouting there: a garden pet.

They sprout at will, these garden pets. They'll turn up anywhere, especially where a little privacy is to be had or a slant of winter sunlight heats the ground.

They may turn up where you don't really want them, and they may leave a bodily imprint or a clawed inscription behind. But you could hardly call them pests - they're just too endearing.

The first in today's collection of garden pets is Zorro. I wonder if he earned his name through his clawsmanship.


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Furry Friday: A cat in your sink

12:55pm 01 Aug 2014


If we didn't have our own human purposes for it, the sink could well be seen as an invention for cats.

Its dimensions are perfect from a cat's point of view: wide enough to fit into, deep enough to not fall out of, yet shallow enough to exit quickly.

The sink's location in the home is another cat-suited attribute. In the kitchen, a sink lets a cat keep an eye on its human and have early warning of any feeding opportunity. In the bathroom, the sink gives Puss a perfect view of the most puzzling yet entertaining activities its two-legged companions get up to.

The presence of a little water in the sink is another advantage. Cats do need to drink, after all.

Let's start today's survey of sink cats in the kitchen, where Sandy is in the centre of things.

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Is the bar too high for dog lovers?

08:00am 31 Jul 2014


If you want to adopt a dog, then be ready to face scrutiny. Be ready to fill out forms that ask you about your work, your lifestyle, your exercise habits and what kind of fences you have.

 Having a dog is fun. But it's a life-changer.
Fair enough, many people say. A dog has certain needs that you can't ignore if you want the dog to be healthy and the people around it safe. It needs a good home and a good owner. Negligent owners produce flawed and sometimes dangerous dogs.

But does that mean that dog ownership should be seen as an exclusive club, the preserve of those who happen to tick every box on those bureaucratic forms? There need to be rules, sure, but is it possible those rules and requirements sometimes come laced with judgmentalism?

A blog reader, let's call her Milly, raised those issues in an email she sent me. She says she has inquired about adopting a dog, and been daunted by the tough questions she's been asked. She hasn't felt ready, yet, to put through an adoption application form.

Here's what Milly said.

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