Res­cued dog Bucka­roo finds a re­ward­ing new ca­reer in dock­yard con­struc­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

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.

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