Merlin is a very sociable little dog. Except when we meet big and excited dogs. They are scary… Merlin has a habit of inviting these big dogs to play – while standing between my legs (it is safer that way…). He is small enough to fit comfortably – but the other dogs are always not.
Today in the park we met a small and very bossy dog – Merlin again made a hasty retreat. Some friends are just not meant to be.
Merlin appears in a lot of my photos – in even more of them, he is hovering just outside the frame, wondering what is going on… Yet again! In fact, quite a few of my failed pictures have some part of Merlin in them. Typically the nose.
Although he is most often willing – even enthusiastic – model, this one was cutting it a little too close to the dinner time.
Merlin has a real talent in finding mud. After several month of dry season, he still manages to get muddy on almost any walk – and whenever we let him out in the mornings. We have white tile floors in the living room and kitchen, and every paw print is visible – but luckily easy to clean. But let’s not talk about the bedroom carpet.
Merlin – our little schnauzer – loves vegetables and fruit. I use cucumber as his training treat, but he is also a huge fan of snap peas, apple and broccoli. Once, when he was a smaller puppy he was (accidentally) left alone with some braaied ribs and corn cobs. He chose the corn and left the ribs untouched.
Maybe I should not have been surprised when he took a big liking to strawberry. However, he gets it without the sugar.
Little outside Johannesburg – in the middle of nowhere – is a farm with a brilliant business plan. They have converted the area into a dog park with a restaurant, dog spa etc. Although that sounds simple, there is no direct competition anywhere close by – and people drive long distances to get there. The dogs are allowed to play freely between the tables, while you have your lunch or a drink; there is a pond for swimming and several short walking routes. It is the ‘critical mass’ that matters tho. There are always plenty of other dogs to play with, and lots of mud. Merlin’s idea of heaven on earth.
As mentioned before, Merlin and Jozi are best friends. They play happily together most of the time – especially after Jozi grew up enough to stop hanging in Merlin’s beard constantly. However, Merlin is a strong introvert. After few days of constant playing, he needs some ‘alone time’ and retreats in the corners of the garden. He refuses to play with Jozi or even properly acknowledge him.
This phase lasts for a day. Then they play happily again and snooze next to each other. Best friends.
When I come home after few days away, nothing can pull Merlin away from my side. Nothing but a frisbee or a tennis ball.
Having a puppy means you spend a lot of time in parks. A lot of time. But when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, there are not many nicer places to be.
When Merlin was very little, I was working from home. Thus he initially felt he was more ‘my dog’ than Stuart’s. But that has changed. My lap is still the favourite in the evenings, but Stuart is definitely more fun. And more reliable in all this food-delivery business.
People of Mpumalanga don’t suffer from undue modesty – or how else do you explain a place called ‘God’s Window’. But I have to admit, the views are phenomenal. Along the winding mountain roads are little villages with crafts, great restaurant, whisky and – naturally – curios to all tastes.
One of the places we visited was Pilgrim’s Rest – a little village with number of houses restored to their ‘previous glory’. My favourite spot is the old BP Garage and it’s famous car that has been left to ‘Rust in Peace’.