Rescued dog Buckaroo finds a rewarding new career in dockyard construction
WHEN visitors to the Clock Tower and Silo Districts report sightings of a fluffy black dog wearing a luminous yellow construction vest, V&A Waterfront staff smile and quickly reassure them that Buc is simply a member of the Silo District’s construction team.
Every day, Buckaroo the Belgian shepherd – known to his familiars as Buc – accompanies owner Paul Edgecome to the V& A Waterfront, where he works on site as a surveyor. But while contractors regard him as simply a member of the team, he is greeted with incredulous stares by members of the public, who all want to pat him. And Buc is happy to oblige.
Buc’s primary job on site is to guard Edgecombe’s equip- ment and sense of humour, a job he does well except when droëwors is on offer. Then, according to Edgecombe, “his brain shuts down”.
Edgecombe’s previous dog, Lupie, joined him at work every day. But four years ago, when he became too old to do so, Edgecombe paid a visit to the SPCA where he encountered Buc and his sister. Both were rescued in Goodwood, and were estimated to be about one to two years old. Edgecombe says: “Buc pretty much chose me. He immediately ran up to me and the decision was made. Buc’s sister now ‘works’ on a farm in Philippi.”
Edgecombe and Buc have been involved with the Silo District construction project since the tail end of the now completed No 1 and No 2 Silo buildings. They are now part of construction of the remaining No 3 Silo through to No 6 Silo, and the conversion of the historic Grain Silo into the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA).
Initially, Buc was unsure of the labourers in their heavy boots, overalls and hard hats, and barked whenever he encountered them. Edgecombe asked the labourers to say “hello” to Buc whenever they encountered him, and their friendly tone soon convinced Buc that they were friends not foes, and now he happily runs up to greet them.
During the demolition phases at the Zeitz MOCAA construction site, Buc needed to wear special earmuffs, which he did reluctantly. These had to be attached to his construction bib as he sometimes rebelled and removed them with his paw.
If Buc becomes uncomfortable with the noise level, he opts for administration work instead, trotting off to the construction office around the corner. If the door is closed but unlocked, he will open it with his paw, or he will nudge someone to unlock the door for him. While there, he takes a break from work by napping under Edgecombe’s desk.
Unlike his owner Edgecombe, Buc has a head for heights and will fearlessly travel with the crew in lifts or up a flight of scaffolding stairs.
Edgecombe describes Buc as extremely intelligent.
“He instinctively knows when he can fool around and when he must behave himself. In summer he is particularly fond of the office because it is air-conditioned.”
What makes Buc so well suited to his job is his nonaggressive, friendly personality and his love of people. He is also very sensitive to Edgecombe’s tone of voice.
Unusually, Buc often uses his paws to communicate, much like cats do. According to Edgecombe, Buc is fascinated with cats but in a non-threatening way. They generally don’t appreciate his interest and run away from him, but he did recently encounter a more streetwise cat which stood its ground. Buc was delighted to be able to finally sniff at a cat, which walked away none the worse for the encounter. He is also extremely friendly and playful with other dogs and with children.
Although construction is dusty work, Buc cleans up with a good swim in the dam at the top of Redhill and in the stream at Noordhoek Common. Like most dogs, he appreciates a good romp on the beach, but doesn’t do this regularly as Edgecombe battles to get the sand out of his thick coat.
Buc’s work may not be as essential to the Silo District project as owner Edgecombe, who is responsible for positioning the architectural and engineering designs onsite for contractor WBHO.
But everyone onsite will agree that he brings a positive influence to the job.
Buc (short for Buckaroo) on site at the Silo District construction project at the V&A Waterfront.