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Dear Readers and faithful friends,

After a number of years of wonderful blogging, this blog has effectively become dormant - except for occasional updates regarding my book, MAXDOG. I have left this blog as a legacy to my dog and a place of sanctuary where we can reflect upon his life. Take your time, peruse the pages spanning Max's 18 months in cyberspace. Feel refreshed and uplifted because his story is an amazing one of..."LIVING LIFE TO THE MAX!"
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Thursday, October 22, 2009


MAXDOG here...
I was just thinking ...
Some of you may be wondering why we don't blog much about my actual walks, so we want to address this question.

You see, most of our walks are done at night!
After we have had our supper and the humans have settled down from their busy day, we remind them that it is "WALKIES TIME!". We will run trenches in the passage until they take notice, but usually they have the idea in their heads already and, as you know,

Well there are a number of reasons why we take our walks at night.
South Africa is rather a dangerous place at the moment. Ironically it has become evident to us that the 'least' dangerous time for us to take our walks is at night!
There are many guidelines which we use when walking, for example:

'what time to walk',
'where to walk',
'go in numbers AND with dogs',
'carry nothing!' etc, etc.

Our crime rates are high: we have regular armed highjackings and robberies, not to mention murders and general lawlessness. It is an uncomfortable environment in which to live, but we adjust and become 'street wise'.

So, it's ironic that we find that the safest time to walk (for us)is...at night!!!

You see, after dark, people are scared. They lock themselves in their houses, behind closed doors, electric fences and security gates. There is literally NO ONE on the streets - except the lone security vehicles. Our household has discovered this secret to ensure that we get adequate doggie walks! At night, there are no other dogs around either and the untrained doggies are also behind their gates or in their houses, so we don't cause them to bark and don't get attacked.

Don't worry, Mom doesn't go alone! WE ARE A BIG PACK! There are usually at least three humans and four dogs and Mom has reflector leads and she wears a reflector jacket. The 'security vehicles' also know us...and watch out for us too. The other trick is for our humans not to carry anything on their person - no cellular phone, no money...nothing...except us!!! So it is pointless to try and rob us!!!

I know it sounds dangerous...and it is!!!
But it is the best option for all of us, otherwise we would be like all the other doggies and never get a walk! Sad! Very sad!

Our walk last night was wonderful!

The moon was new and appeared in the sky as a small sliver of silver. The evening was a cool respite from the heat of the day. The bullfrogs were singing out their deep song and this time, our pack got really excited to see a few RATS running along the top of someone's wall. We are also alert for CATS!!! We see many on our walks and get really excited. Mom doesn't allow us to chase them though (sigh!).

The other wonderful thing is that when Mom is sure that there are no cars around (you can hear them and see them because we don't have street lights) she lets me "FREE!" and I am able to scout the pavements for interesting news. I am always in sight of her and have learnt to immediately obey her recall. In addition, I am the ONLY one in our pack who is occasionally allowed off lead.

Well, now that you know why we don't blog about our night-walks (No camera's allowed!), we can tell you about the beauty which we do have around us during the day...
These are some pictures of our JOHANNESBURG FOREST again...

(Above)...the view from the bridge over one of the main highways.

(Above) That highway - which is currently under construction for the

(In the morning, this highway is totally conjested and it sometimes takes "The Boss" up to 2 hours to get to work...and another 2 hours to get home. It becomes VERY stressful indeed)

(Above) There are "Tree-tunnels" everywhere!

(Above) The creepers are everywhere and flower profusely- especially when there isn't much rain around!

RED TREES - soon to get their green leaves.

A JACARANDA tree (purple) in full bloom.

These JACARANDA trees are about 100 years old...and were some of the first trees planted in the area.

(Above): This is Mom's favourite tree - the Acacia tree - commonly known as the 'umbrella' tree, which is prolific in the African landscape. It has lethal thorns, but very pretty green leaves. We have discovered that these beautiful trees fold up their tiny leaves at night!

AND as the day ends, the thunderstorm clouds start building up.
(Unfortunately they haven't given us much rain yet.)

TAMMY & I get ready for our 'nighttime' walk...

(Below) Walking at dusk...

Well, that was a long post...whew!
Thank you so much for visiting us and taking some time out to get to know us.
We love our cyber-buddies very much!
Lots of licks
(ps Any questions you might have for us today, Mom will happily answer in the comments section of this post. So if you have asked a question, please check back there for an answer. Questions welcome!)


Mango said...

That is kind of scary for sure, but you have a nice big pack to walk in at night so you are safe.

So many pretty trees in your beautiful country.


Abbey@Pink Daisy Designs said...

Wow Max, hell of a post... ah the things we have to do.. is the crime like that in most of the city or just your area... man Id be heading to the country...

but it does show how we adjust to things in life & make the most of what we have. You know an evening stroll (no matter why we take the time then) sounds like it has a lot of plus's.

I love the pics of your area though nothing worse than being stuck in peak hour traffic after work so I feel for the 'Boss' probably makes the walks a necessity for a human after that

MAX said...

ABBEY: The government doesn't release crime statistics, but the media serves us well. It seems that no one is immune at the moment. Here in JHB we have news reports (almost daily) of hijackings and armed robberies. At the moment they are targeting shopping centres (in armed gangs) as well as restaurants.
In terms of life in the suburbs - each suburb is different and constantly changing. In our suburb,we have had a number of house robberies in the past 2 weeks withing 2km of our house. They are focussing on houses that have people at home (including myself) and they come in at lunch hours and on Friday evenings as well as in the early hours of the morning. People in the house are generally tied up and pressed for information regarding valuables. Some people don't escape further horrors...rape etc. Our dogs sleep in our bedroom. Dogs who are left outside are poisoned - if they want to get into your house.
I am constantly nervous here. But, if you know how to conduct your life, you can generally reduce the probability of being nailed.

Cocorue said...

reading this makes me worry for your safety but being wise like you are will help lessen the danger.

is yours a gated community? do you have an alarm system and grills around your home? - i know if the intruders are determined to enter, nothing will stop them but these are more of a deterrant.

eventhough we live in a relatively safe city, Kuala Lumpur we also have to be diligent at all times and avoid certain areas.

we are in a supposedly "high class" area and our condo was broken into 2 yrs ago. mind you, we have our own secutity guards and this was apparently an inside job with the aid of the guards.

i would never get over the feeling of having our personal space "violated" - luckily Coco was with me or she would have been killed.

please take extra care of yourselves and do NOT allow your guard to slip at all times

warm regards

Cocorue said...

i also meant to thank you for all the beautiful pics that you take as seeing JoBurg through your loving eyes makes it different and special, thank U


Rocky Creek Scotties and Java said...

We walk all times of the day and night without feeling any fear - then only thing that Mom fears is a skunk. And we take this safety for granted!

Take extra care of yourself - and always be on the lookout. Do you have a guard at your compound?

Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Java

MAX said...

COCO: Thanks for the question. Yes our property is fully walled, electric fenced, automated gates,security doors all around the house and some inside, fully alarmed (externally & internally) and connected to an armed response.
You might ask if this is only us: NO, most houses in our area are like this. Some houses have razor fencing etc etc.
...AND YES: we too have had our house ransacked for computers, jewelry etc (a few months ago. Luckily we weren't at home!)They removed our automated gate off the rails, crow-barred themselves through the security doors and had completed their mission in 10minutes flat! Real professionals! MAX SHOWED THEM WHERE EVERYTHING WAS!hehe. But yes, it is a total violation of ones personal space and takes a long time to get over.

Martha Basset said...

Gorgeous pics!!! Yes that is the other side of South Africa that mum learned from her colleague at work.
It is so sad that in such a beautiful country you have to take all these precautions.
We wish it weren't so as it is a truly magical place.
Stay safe.
love and kisses
Martha & Bailey xxxx

KB said...

I'm glad that you've found a strategy for getting a walk! Otherwise, a dog would go crazy!

How long has it been so dangerous? Is it related to the economy or has it been a long term thing?

Your world is beautiful. I'm glad that you have a relatively safe place to live.

Kira The BeaWootiful said...

Wooos Max! I see that you take walkies at night, same as me me, for different reasons. I take night walkies because it is usually too hot for a husky outside in the Florida sun! We have a lot of crime here too in the city, we live just outside in the northern suburbs, so we usually do not too much. Our friends have 2 goldens who helped burglers around the house too, their Mom said all they wanted was for someone to throw a ball! I would have just run out the door and run through the neighborhood.
Stay safe and happy!
-Kira The BeaWootiful

Ina in Alaska said...

Oh my gosh! I shared this post with my husband. How sad you must live like this. I would be so afraid to walk at night too, even though you have assured us it is safe to do so. I am new to your blog and prior to this post was thinking how lovely a place you live in. What an eye opener! Please stay safe! We love you!!

In Alaska most people are armed, for potential robbers and carjackers it is a roll of the dice whether their "victim" is ready to defend themselves. One time my neighbor had a guy jump in his car to attempt to carjack him. My neighbor had a pistol in his vehicle and it was GAME ON!!! Carjacker beat down and police alerted!!

MAX said...

KB: Im not sure how long this has been like this since it seems like always - in the past 10 years it has certainly increased! Our police force are strained to their limits. Our detectives have a MINIMUM of 150 cases a month (who can solve anything with that workload?) THE REASONS: Many reasons...these are a few: poverty, unemployment,a culture of violence, immigrants from neighbouring Zimbabwe - xenophobia. Unfortunately with the crime being around for so long - a new generation develops (CRIME CULTURE)
INA: I am not sure how many folk are armed here, but I think many. I don't carry a firearm because I feel that it would probably be used against me and I don't think I could pull that trigger... OOO don't want to think about that!
KIRA: Yes these Goldens have their own agenda. BUT I think too that this might be their saving grace. i.e. not a threat so left unhurt! Terriers...another story!

Miley said...

Hi Max, I love walking at night!!! Please stay safe, Max!!! Thx for sharing all those beautiful pics!!1

lotsa licks,

Samantha said...

Max! Horrible that you have to be on "guard" all the time when you go out for walkies. Sounds very scary but good that you're in a big pack. Also very sad for your mum spending almost 4 hours sometimes in commute traffic. But your pix of the trees and skies are just beautiful. Thanks for all this information - glad you get to go offleash sometimes, but so sorry about the nasty crime there, dear Max and pack.
Hugs xo

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Tank woo fur sharing that -

It is truly sad that hoomans have to be that way -

Our khountries are too beaWOOtiful fur the residents to have to hide themselves away -

Once again, the pikhs are pawesome!

Of khourse, the PURPLES ARE THE BEST!

PeeEssWoo: Tank woo fur the kind words fur Unkhle Paul - I'll be sharing them with The Doggy Nanny and his furamily too! Of khourse, my khousin Merdie The Golden Retriever will REALLY appreciate them!

dewdana said...

So sad that such a beautiful place is plagued by such violence. We walk at night because of the heat but feel very safe. I should probably be more worried but I came from a crime ridden place (Miami) to a smaller town so it feels a lot safer whether or not that is true.
We are very worried about you guys though! Not so much on the walks but from what your comment said about home invasion. It sounds like you are careful and alert but desperate people will resort to desperate and stupid things. Very worrisome, but we will keep our paws crossed that the bad guys stay away!

Anne-Kathrine said...

Good to hear you take walks and are responsible and stay safe! Thanks for all the info and love all the pics!

The Army of Four said...

Very interesting and insightful post, Max! It's sad that this is the way things are - but we're glad you're doing what you can to be as safe as you can! We wish things were better for you - it's such a beautiful country, it's sad to see such high crime rate and unrest.
Stay safe, friends!
Tail wags,

YD, sometimes with Samantha & June said...

Walking at night? But lions come out at night...

Sam & June

Chester said...

You certainly are teachin' us alot of interestin' stuff about your life in South Africa. I'm glad you have smart and brave 2 leggers that know you need your walks. Sounds too scary for my Mom but she knows a dog must do what a dog must do!

Speakin' of her, she really likes those purple trees and the whole area looks quite beautiful.

Stay safe-we'd like to keep on readin' about you!
Chester :0=)

Stella said...

My question is always: Why do you stay? I can't imagine that you haven't at one time, thought of leaving. What keeps you there?

Beauty? The world is full of it, everywhere you go.

Its puzzles me why things don't change, why the thugs can rule the roost. Very sad.

Jo, Stella's Mom

Hamish Westie said...

Hi Max
Thanks for telling us all about your nighttime walks. What an interesting post. I would never have imagined that the hours of darkness might be the 'safest' time to go out, but you explained it all so vividly. You are lucky to live with a family who clearly think so carefully about how to make sure you do get exercised, despite living in a rather dangerous environment.
If only we could combine the magnificent landscapes and wildlife of South Africa with the 'dog-friendly' aspects of Scotland, then we would have the perfect country I think!
Cheers, H.
PS There is plenty of room in Scotland for you and the whole pack to come and visit. We could go and roam the hills together at any time of night or day. What about it then?

MAX said...

STELLA: Why do I stay?

I am an African! This country - it's beauty, it's people, it's animals, wild-life, fauna & flora are in my heart and my blood. I have faught for change in this country (after the horrors of apartheid)and have witnessed a transformation which in any other country might have been a bloodbath. I am proud of our NEW SOUTH AFRICA and I dream of making a difference in my small way!

In all honesty - yes, we have thought about leaving, but there are many factors which say NO - family, work opportunities and age.
Having said all that I must say that "THE BOSS" says that my post today is rather dramatic and a bit 'over=the-top'. So I should say to you.....
...All this is merely MY OWN personal reality...!

Dory and the Mama said...

What wonderful scenery, even the highways look pretty (although I am so sure they get scary at rush hour!).

Sorry it can be so scary for daytime walkies tho...but I am happy that your humans take you for nighttime walkies instead!


The Thundering Herd said...

Sad that there is violence, but the risk of violence is everywhere. Loved your answer about staying and trying to keep changing SA for the better. As an outsider, it appears that so much progress has been made so here is hoping for continued progress.

P.S. - Lots of parts of the USA I would not walk in either.

Barb said...

Hi there Max. I have finally arrived in Jhb after 2 very long flights from Melbourne via Singapore. I must say it is great to see my family again. I am also very excited about meeting you and your family. Lots of pats until then.

Cloud the Wonder Dog said...

Oh Max, you are such a dear friend and we are sorry you have to take precautions like that. Your country is truly beautiful, although this post shows us the challenges you face. Please stay safe. We are thinking of you and sending lots of love and hugs.


Maggie and Mitch said...

We love coming to your blog and learning so many new things about you. It's a shame that it has to be this way! We pray for your safely always!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

Emma Rose said...

Your post made us very sad and afraid for your safety. :(
We spent some time thinking about it and realized that there are MANY places like that right here in the USA. Please be safe, we love you!

Emma Rose and The Duchess

caboval said...

Max Im glad to know you walk with your buddies at night! Hugs Joey and Kealani

ben said...

My auntie is from South Africa and she doesn't post - but she peeps at your blog and it makes her home sick. She lives in New Zealand now but she says make sure to take the whole pack on the walk. And that you are good dog people to take the night walks.

Lorenza said...

Hi, Max!
The more I read your post the more I see the resemblance between your country and mine.
We live in a small city (compared to others in Mexico) and we are suffering the same crime and violence caused by the drug cartels. And the biggest problem is that the police is involved with them! We live in fear but we have to live! We try to live our life as normal as possible but there is no way we go out at night! We hope something can be done to end this!
Take care
Kisses and hugs

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh my goodness, it does sound really scary where you live! I think I would be scared to go out - even at night! Funny - in other places, you usually get told to go out in daylight, NOT in the dark, as that is usually safer!

I think it is such a shame that somewhere so beautiful is so dangerous to live in. Actually, there are many South Africans living here in NZ and many of them tell me that the reason they left is for the crime & lifestyle...they like NZ because it reminds them of SA but without the crime - it is beautiful and wide open spaces and still untouched but their children can play in the streets in safety and you can go out without fear...

In fact, we are very bad here - I often forget to lock my windows and even doors sometimes (!) and many Kiwis in the good neighbourhoods still go out and leave their windows open. It is probably one of the few places left in the world where you can forget your wallet on a park bench and come back 2hrs later to find it still there (yes, that happened to me!). Crime is rising here, sadly, but it is still nothing compared to many other big cities in the world...we are very lucky!

I have to say, I never feel scared when I'm out walking alone with Honey - although if anyone knew what she was really like (useless sop!), they would not be scared but most people are intimidated by her size & looks...which is probably just as well!


Hoover said...

Hey Max,

Your situation is clearly the result of humans fighting for control. They don't live by the rules of the pack. Humans alway want build fences to keep their stuff in and other humans out. Then there are the humans who want to take what isn't theirs. What they need is a good alpha dog to set things straight.

That's what I think.

Hoover BPD

Benny and Lily said...

Wow..that is a bit scary Max. Make sure you protect momma. However, mom said it is very interesting learning about your life in Africa
Be safe
Benny & Lily
to answer your question:
Halloween is October 31..who knows why the little humans go Trick or Treating from door to door. To get candy and cavities we guess.

Tweedles -- that's me... said...

This is such a shock that you must live like this. It is sad. But yet, you find the beauty. Thank you for always sharing the beautys.
be safe

Cocorue said...

dear Max, we respect your mumster's decision to stay as we can see how much she loves her country

home is really where the heart is....

keep safe and we will always be thinking and praying for your safety
coco & her mumster

smrp said...

Wow, Max's Mom...it's like your life is an adventure, though not always one you would like to choose! It's wonderful that you have accepted that it is part of life in S.A. and have found a way to continue doing the things you love. When I hike in our woods I always have my cell phone, my barn knife, and my pepper spray. I say that it's in case we run into wildlife, but really I have it in case we run into bad humans. I think my four large fuzzy hiking buddies are protection enough in most cases.

The biggest worry I'd have in your situation is someone hurting my dogs...thank goodness they were left unharmed!

Sending wiggles and snuffles to your beautiful pack from ours and thanks for visiting us over at DVR :)

Ruby's Mum said...

Here it's the mountain lions, coyotes and skunks we have to watch for. We really are very fortunate that it's relatively safe for our dogs to run free in the open spaces. And our town is still small enough that crime is relatively little, although that has changed over the 15 years I've been here. Thanks for giving us a slice of your life.