Saturday, October 21, 2017

My favorite critter

Don't get me wrong, I love all my pets; I loved Eddy all the years I was blessed with her furry presence. I love the four cats; why else would I let Ambrose highjack my laptop every week to post about the Hedges Kitties? And most nights allow all for to hog the our bed? 

But my absolute favorite baby big teddy bear, is my Lab, Skabenga. 

In my teens, I studied music and singing at the local Catholic convent in town. My tutor, Sr Edmund was your steriotypical nun; all pink-faced and cuddly looking; hands folded demurely under her habit. 

But there the metaphor ended. 

She was an excellent piano and singing teacher and expected excellence in return. She put me through rigid paces at my thrice-weekly lessons . She  expected me to practice two hours afterwards at the convent (which was not my regular school - I attended after hours) and to yield results. 

Every year she entered me into the Trinity College of Music (London)  and Unisa Music Accademy (South Africa) While swotting for regular exams at school, I also had to knuckle down and prepare for my music and singing exams at the end of the year. 

I remember during my final school year, I loved the music scores and pieces which were prescribed. They were a breeze. Theory was a toddle. I loved both these. 

The singing lessons were a little more difficult but I took this in my stride as well. All the songs prescribed were lovely except for one: 

It was called : My dog.

It went something like this (in various cadences and running up and down the scales) ᧙၅ :
My dog's a good dog; a big dog; a faithful dog...  Quite repetitive, I remember it well and remember how I hated it. In one place, I had to hold quite a high note for the count of five. I could never get it 100% right during practice while being accompanied by Sr Edmund but she obviously had faith that the adrenaline and steady nerves would help me through during the exams. 

On an alloted day - a full day (I was excused from school for this) - an external examiner came to the convent. This stern lady, from the outside world,  accompanied me on the piano while Sr Edmund sat in the next room (An empty glass at her ear and stuck to the door, I'm sure) 

I remember starting "My dog" off quite well and going through the scores reasonably successfully. Then I reached the note which I had to hold and managed to hold it up to three counts.Then I bent over foward,  let out a loud breath and lost the note completely. 

To make it worse, I sort of guffowed as well. The examiner pursed her lips and started at the beginning of that line again. I picked up and managed to finish with more grace the second time. 


I was penalized on that error which brought down my average score. That wasn't the worst. When I walked out the door, Sr Edmund was standing there, hands folded (probably clenched!) under her habit; she glared at me and marched off to the music room...

Years and years later,  I have "my [own] dog, a big dog, a beautiful, loving dog" 

And I love him to bits! 

After we go for our early, very early morning walk, 
4.49 am walk! 
Skabenga goes into his fenced-off pen for the day. 

He has a large area to run around in, lie around in (as he often does: on his back, legs in the air); ample shade during the day, a drinking bowl and his large plodging bowl which Tokozani fills up about three times a day. Every morning Grant brushes the dog and has a romp with him before we go off to work. 
 Skabenga waiting patiently for Mum to serve breakfast  

After work every afternoon, the first thing I do, I don my walking shoes, attach Skabenga's leash and off we go for the second walk of the day. When we return, he goes back into the pen and enjoys gnawing on a beef bone. His pen is in the middle of the garden. He is regularly petted by the two gardeners, Tokozani and Paul;  Steve, Estelle;  any guest who walks past and of course, me and Grant when we're home. Once we've had dinner with Steve and Estelle, Grant and I open the pen and Skabenga dashes into the shack and spends the night with us. 

If my memory serves me, Ambrose posted about Skabenga on his duvet which he inherited from Muthi. 
 A profile of my darling dog, Skabenga 
Skabenga sleeps on the floor next to his yoomen dad (Note the bed which is raised on two rows of bricks)  
My blue-eyed boy! 

Normally all the pet critters and yoomens co-exist in the crowded shack . However two nights ago, Grant got up to get a glass of water. Skabenga followed him to the cramped kitchen area, tail wagging and smacking things in his wake. This way he unwittingly got a little up-close-and-personal with Shadow who hissed and swotted at him. For the first time in his adult life, this big, black, gentle lump of a dog, raced back to the sleeping area frantically scrabbled up onto the bed and lay his head on my lap. 

BTW I didn't realize that once scrubbed up, I had such a pink-looking face (like Sr Edmund of the '70's) So I used a photo edit on my computer called "burlesque" to conteract the glow. 

 Me and my dog ! 

I'm linking my post to Saturday Critters with Eileen here



  1. A beautiful story and a lovely dog. I so miss not having any more animals now, but if we want to keep travelling while we can it is not fair on them so we have resisted. I just enjoy reading about other peoples pets instead. Take care Diane

    1. Hi Diane, I also think pets restrict us. Until now, I've always had a reliable person to care for my pets, no matter where we lived in Africa. At the moment I don't have domestic help and would have to ask friends to help out which I don't enjoy doing. So for now we're staying put until a better arrangement can be made.

  2. I laughed at your story about having to sing such an awful song. Reminds me that as a child I sang in class choir and I grew to detest a similar song but about wind. Oh my! We sang it over and over ad nauseum but we never cam close to winning the competition :-( At least you have a consolation prize in Skabenga and he is lucky to have so much love. I'm sorry he got clawed though. I hope he is recovering well. xx

  3. Hello, Jo! I enjoyed our singing story. I can not hold a note and would make the dogs howl with my singing. Skabenga is a sweetie, I love his pretty eyes. I hope Shadow did not hurt him. Beautiful photos of Skabenga and you. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  4. you know this is most probably my most favorite of all Skabenga stories. makes me happy to read it. including the swat by a cat and racing to mom to protect him.. he is so beautiful.. bob and I have often said to each other, Jake is our heart dog and though we loved the other 3 to the bottom of our heart, Jake has inserted himself deepest in our hearts. they are all special but some tug a little more on the heart strings.

  5. Oh what a story ~ Your dog is so handsome and I love him too ~ love the photo with his blue sad eyes showing after altercation with a cat ~ Dogs are so vulnerable to cats ~ Glad he is so loved ~ ^_^

    Love and light,
    A ShutterBug Explores ~ aka ~ (A Creative Harbor)

  6. He looks like a great dog - there's nothing like a faithful dog (or two) greeting you after a long day at the office.

  7. I really loved your story of the music and singing lessons and the botched "my dog" piece. I loved seeing your dog as well. Such a fun post!

  8. Truly, a girl's best friend is not a diamond.


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