Not a happy feel­ing

NZ Lifestyle Block - - From the editor -

When you take on a new pet, there are so many great emo­tions, and it’s such a buzz to bring home a new fam­ily mem­ber.

Then some­thing hap­pens: the dog is very barky; the cat keeps puk­ing on the bed. And that’s when a new feel­ing rears its ugly head.

I’ve never had so much as a pang of re­morse un­til a few weeks ago when Jazz the head­ing dog came into our lives. My trainer Chris­tine had warned me of the risk of tak­ing on an­other dog, no mat­ter how smart and beau­ti­ful (she’s both). “Two’s com­pany, three’s a crowd, the same for dogs as it is for peo­ple.” Thanks to her care­ful ad­vice, ev­ery­thing went beau­ti­fully, un­til Day 7 when I made a mis­take. The dogs are fed in their sep­a­rate crates, but I was pre­par­ing it in the laun­dry, right in front of them, when I spilt a few pel­lets on the floor. Jazz put her head down for a sniff and Evie – placid, sweet-na­tured Evie – took ex­cep­tion. There was snarling, wrestling. It was ter­ri­fy­ing, the noise am­pli­fied by be­ing in a con­fined space. It was over in sec­onds, no da­m­age (cu­ri­ously they never touched each other) and since then, ev­ery­one has got along fine.

But the feel­ing of re­morse was sud­den and hard – I felt like I’d made a huge mis­take tak­ing her on. It’s so com­mon for adopters to have a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence, the US ASPCA stud­ied how to mit­i­gate its ef­fect and found a sim­ple way to help adopt­ing fam­i­lies: a signed con­tract of­fer­ing to take the dog or cat back if things don’t work out, no judge­ment, and a full or par­tial re­fund.

Their re­search found that when peo­ple feel re­morse, know­ing that a back-up of­fer is there helps them to move past it. Oc­ca­sion­ally, an an­i­mal is re­turned, but the ASPCA found adopters were more likely to stick it out be­cause hav­ing a back-up plan of­fered them re­as­sur­ance. Bet­ter yet, peo­ple who were ap­pre­hen­sive about tak­ing on a res­cue pet felt re­as­sured enough to adopt, markedly im­prov­ing their re­hom­ing rate.

New Lives An­i­mal Res­cue is an in­cred­i­ble char­i­ta­ble group in the Waikato who took Jazz in af­ter the Toko­roa Pound found her wan­der­ing as a puppy and no-one came for­ward to claim her. A won­der­ful foster fam­ily then gave her a loving home while she waited for me, and now we have an amaz­ing three dog fam­ily.

No re­morse. No re­grets. Hope­fully next month I’ll have a photo of Jazz, Evie, Bis­cuit and I. If they can all sit still for long enough. www.newlives­res­


I have been think­ing about our block, in re­gards to Mur­ray Grim­wood’s trav­els around NZ.

We live in Nga­ti­moti, ap­prox­i­mately 20km from Port Motueka, in the top of the south. We have noth­ing out of the or­di­nary to boast about, but have been do­ing this whole life­style block thing for nearly three years now.

We lived in Auck­land for 35 years af­ter em­i­grat­ing from the Nether­lands as young peo­ple, then bought a to­tally ne­glected prop­erty, 0.7ha in the South Is­land, with the idea of mak­ing it pro­duc­tive. NZ Life­style Block mag­a­zine has been in­valu­able for us as we have tried to come to terms with the cli­mate here (in­clud­ing -12°C frosts), de­vel­op­ing the prop­erty, keep­ing stock, ren­o­vat­ing the house, grow­ing and plant­ing, pro­cess­ing the har­vest etc. Be­ing mostly un­prac­ti­cal peo­ple, one of us did a cer­tifi­cate in or­ganic grow­ing ( Telford) and Per­ma­cul­ture De­sign course as prepa­ra­tion.

We now have five sheep for wool and home­kill, and had our first fly­strike panic. We hap­pened to have friends over from Auck­land and they felt like they had been part of a Coun­try Cal­en­dar episode.

We have been blessed by kind and help­ful neigh­bours, and by lo­cals who don’t look down on us as town­ies and who are ready to help out

Ours would be a story of or­di­nary peo­ple get­ting to grips with the life­style, which has not al­ways felt like a good move. How­ever, we feel as if we are now get­ting to the end of the set­ting up stage and look for­ward to main­tain­ing it and reap­ing the har­vest.

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