“But what IS Phoebe?”

Phoebe is many things. She’s a companion, a friend, a protector and above all else, a loved and trusted family member. But I know that’s not what people mean when they ask this question. What they really want to know is how to classify her and pigeon-hole her by her supposed ‘breed characteristics’.

The answer is that she is an AfriCanis. Most people don’t know much about the breed, and because it’s only recently been added as an “Official” breed by the Kennel Union of South Africa (KUSA), people still tend to refer to her as a “township dog”, or more generally just as a “mixed breed Rescue dog” even after being told about her breed history. She’s so much more than a hodge-podge collection of other breeds – she’s unique and fits the wonderful characteristics of the AfriCanis to a “T”.

Phoebe: Proud and Beautiful AfriCanis

Phoebe: Proud and Beautiful AfriCanis

 

I’ve briefly touched on her breed specifics before during on Day 11 of the Blogtober Challenge, but felt this deserved more information on the little known facts of this wonderful breed.

I was going to try to explain the breed in my experience, but I found this excellent historical summary from the AfriCanis Society that explains in detail in a way much better than I ever could:

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(This is attributed to Edith Gallant at the AfriCanis Society of South Africa facebook page)

“Subject: Revised draft of letter – Difference between AfriCanis and “township dog”

Let me try to explain the difference between an AfriCanis and a so-called township dog.

The AfriCanis is the traditional rural African dog found in traditional isolated tribal lands, such as the interior of Zululand, the former Transkei, Sekhukhuneland and Vendaland.

The apartheid regime kept such rural areas marginalized, and people living in these areas, notably in the former ‘Bantustan’regions, were relatively isolated. This isolation was extended to their dogs. From colonial times, white people looked upon these dogs with contempt, and any dogs found trespassing were shot. It is largely because of the isolation enforced by apartheid that these dogs, having been kept separate, still exist.

These dogs have also been called ‘Nguni dogs’ or ‘Bantu dogs’, because they migrated with the Early Iron Age Bantu-speaking people into southern Africa. They also occur in northern Botswana, Namibia,  Zambia, Mozambique and Swaziland.

More information can be found on the AfriCanis Society’s website under ‘History’ (see http:// ………

The AfriCanis are not identified by standardised physical characteristics. They are a landrace and not a breed. They have not been selectively bred for their looks, but rather they exemplify survival of the fittest and are well adapted to the demands of their environment and their custodians. They differ from region to region, for example, they are generally taller in the desert and smaller in more forested regions. These dogs occur in a great variety of colours, as do the Nguni cattle. Genetic DNA research has found a specific DNA marker for the AfriCanis that differs from any other dog (see under ‘literature’ on the website). In the very near future we will be able to test individual dogs to see if they carry this marker or not.

AfriCanis are all-rounders. In the traditional tribal lands, each day they help herd boys bring the cattle to and from the grazing lands, and the dogs fiercely guard the animals in their kraals at the night. The dogs live alongside the farm animals, and although they are excellent rat hunters, they do not hunt large prey alone. Traditionally, they assist their owners when men and their dogs hunt for the pot.

Dogs in the rural areas are seldom tied up. Although they sometimes roam, each dog has an owner and each dog is named. Dogs are allowed to go to visit another homestead if a female is on heat. But if owners whistle for their dogs, they immediately respond and return home. Most commonly, the dogs are to be found lying around the homesteads, often keeping company with older women and children. This is a totally different environment to that of a township.

What is a ‘township dog’?

A legacy of apartheid, townships are urban or peri-urban residential areas housing people from different cultures and origins. Historically, under apartheid townships were zoned for Black and Coloured people. When moving to urban areas, people from the countryside did not usually bring their traditional dogs with them, leaving the dogs in the rural areas with their families. In instances where rural dogs did come to the townships with their owners, in due course they would breed with dogs roaming in the township areas. Dogs in the townships come from a variety of backgrounds and include a variety of breeds and cross-breeds of all shapes and sizes as well as some traditional AfriCanis. In the townships these dog interbreed and the ‘township dogs’ that result over time are not traditional Africanis dogs, though some can be described as the AfriCanis type or an AfriCanis-cross.

I hope the above explains the difference between an AfriCanis and a township dog, and that not all cross-breed dogs from the townships should be described as being AfriCanis.”

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For more information you can also check out the Official AfriCanis historical reference page here.

I hope this has given you more insight and a deeper curiousity for these wonderful dogs. I can truly attest to the fact that you will never find a kinder, gentler and more loyal companion than an AfriCanis, so if you’re looking for a new dog to add to your family I urge you to look for one of these amazing dogs!

Apple & Oat Puppy Bites

I have many different talents and skills, but I must be honest an admit that being a culinary genius does not rank amongst them. Don’t get me wrong, with a lot of practice and hard work I can now confidently whip up a meal for a group of dinner guests without the threat of poisonings or having the house burn down (mostly), but being in the kitchen doesn’t come naturally so I’m usually weary. This changes however when my taste testers are my canine kids.

In their eyes everything I whip up is absolutely delicious and truly gourmet! This means that I love finding new treat recipes for them, and regularly use them as rewards for training and good behaviour.

We’ve run out of treats, and my cupboards closely represent those of Old Mother Hubbard, so I searched for treats that were simple in terms of ingredients and skill level. That’s when I came across this great recipe from Two Little Cavaliers for Apple and Cinnamon Treats.

These were quick, easy and they passed the all important taste test!

Apple & Oat Pup Bites

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Oatmeal
  • 1 Cup Apple Sauce
  • Pinch of Cinnamon
  • 2 Large Eggs

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 180C (about 350F)
  • Combine oats, apple sauce and cinnamon
  • Add eggs to the mixture and combine until sticky and smooth
  • Scoop into molds, or drop a teaspoon full onto greased and oiled baking sheet and flatten slightly (this is what I did)
  • Bake in oven for +/- 25 minutes
  • Allow to cool
  • Give some to the dogs to test, and store the rest in an airtight container

… and of course the pictorial recipe review:

ingredients

Combine

Mix Egge

bake

result

Dogtails’s Effectiveness Summary:

Issue Addressed: Training, Nutrition, Food, FUN

Tool(s) Used: Your kitchen and baking skills

Cost: Low

Ease of Implementation: Easy

Effectiveness Rating: 5/5 I wasn’t very sure if the dogs would like the apple and cinnamon taste as it’s a new one to them, but I’m happy to report that they all gobbled them up!

…. and don’t worry, I learnt my lesson from last time so these were introduced sloooowly and carefully to avoid any major tummy upsets! 🙂

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Do you ever make your own homemade treats for the dogs? If so, what do you make?

7 in a bed and the little one said …

You know those moments when your life resembles a song so closely you think it was written just for you? Well, lately I’ve had a song of a different type running through my head day and night. A nursery rhyme. Yup – the one about the nightly fight for us all to find the perfect spot to sleep for the entire evening without falling out of bed! We are literally at maximum capacity over here!

 

Luckily Cooper and Phoebe prefer their own beds, but that leaves me, my partner, 3 cats and 2 little dogs to fight over the queen bed! This is also not made easier by the ongoing disagreements between one of the cats and Bella (who is obsessed with crawling up to all the cats and staring at them for hours expecting some kind of spectacular tap dancing event, or something equally thrilling, that only she knows is coming).

With all these bodies fighting for space and snuggles no wonder it’s so difficult to get a decent nights’ rest!

When doing a quick google search you can see the opinions are divided on whether it’s a good or bad thing of you allow your pets to sleep in the bed with you. Does it cause interruptions in your sleep? Yes. BUT It raises your oxytocin levels (those feel-good hormones) increasing your sense of calm and wellbeing. So as with most things, you have to decide which outcome is more important to you.

In our house however, bed sleeping is such a habit that we couldn’t even change it if we tried. And frankly, I don’t know if I would want to. The occasional shuffle or need to move (often in an odd unnatural serpentine fashion so as not to disturb the sleeping pets!) is totally worth all the happy snoring and cute dreamy huffs as they each follow their dreams every night.

In case you think I'm exaggerating, I made a handy visual guide to the nightly sleep and bed space wars. That bed is so full there's barely space to represent it as a diagram even! :-)

In case you think I’m exaggerating, I made a handy visual guide to the nightly sleep and bed space wars. That bed is so full there’s barely space to represent it as a diagram even! 🙂

… So for now I’m off to bed, hoping that all 7 of us stay in and no one falls out!

“Roll over, roll over…”

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How about you? Do your pets share the bed with you? Or do you think it’s a bad idea?