I was always determined to never be one of those people that as soon as the children arrived, the dogs were mostly forgotten about. I think we did really well. Before we had children, the dogs were taken out twice a day – once for ball-throwing in the early morning and once for a walk. Ball-throwing is with one of those launcher-things as the dogs were trained to retrieve balls, so in a very short space of time (10-15 minutes) one can stand and throw a tennis ball extremely far without getting your hand full of slobber. In Pinelands we had a field pretty much directly opposite our house so it was very easy to do. Chris usually did this job and from a very early age, Zoe went along in her pram – all bundled up in her fleece pram bag and we also have a clear plastic rain cover for the pram. In the afternoons we would take them for a walk along the canal and most weekends we would take them to Newlands forest or for a walk on the mountain or somewhere exciting.

We moved to PE and they still got their daily dose of double outings but I will admit that after Ava’s arrival things started to slip. Chris has got busier with his work so really doesn’t have time to take the dogs in the mornings and there are days when he only gets home at 5 or after these days. Both Chris and I have started to run almost every day and although the dogs come along on shorter runs, they really don’t like to run more than about 8km, unless one runs the whole way on the beach which isn’t always possible. Trying to fit in training and meals doesn’t always leave a lot of time for dog walking either early in the morning or later in the afternoon. My days seem to be taken up with activities like swimming, Kindermusik and the like in the mornings while most afternoons we tend to have playdates. I try and do all the grocery shopping and other admin during the week so that our weekends are free for fun stuff, so eventhough I’m not working, the days are busy and taking both girls (and the dogs) for a walk isn’t easy on my own. Our pram can take 2 but it’s rather heavy these days and Zoe prefers to ride her bike which means we’re a bit slower and that tends to frustrate Ava. Fortunately there is only one road to cross between our house and the beachfront but it’s a busy one and to do it with 2 dogs on the lead, a pram and a 3 year old on her bike is quite something. The dogs would obviously like to walk on the beach but the pram and the bike can’t do that so it’s also not ideal for everyone. I do sometimes take Ava in the backpack and Zoe walks (if she’s not at school) but Ava weighs over 11kg now and that’s pretty heavy when one is walking on the beach I tell you.

They do go out most days for either a run, walk or ball-throwing but never twice a day anymore. The one fact that I try and console myself with is that their absolute best thing to do in the whole world is to spend time at the beach. Quite oddly for a Golden Retriever Olive can be quite moody and is very good at showing when she’s happy or sad – she is insanely happy when she’s at the beach. They actually swim in the sea so often that I never have to buy anti-flea medication or spray as they just don’t get fleas. Olive is highly allergic to flea-bites so I’ll know very quickly if they have fleas. There are of course days every now and then when they don’t go out and I always feel so guilty.

I was so bad in Cape Town that when I was in labour with Zoe, I made Chris phone my brother to go and take the dogs ball-throwing and I would arrange a dog-walker if we went away – eventhough my brother and his wife were staying in the house looking after them!!!

I’ve also changed their food recently. I always bought their food at the vet but it was one of the “cheaper” vet foods. I’ve now been buying a more expensive one and I think I’ll stick to it as there are definitely less landmines in the garden and one uses less so the difference in price is not that big, I think.


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