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It's a Dog's Life in Strata

Tuesday, 15th July 2014

Hi Everyone. My name is Bojangles and I am the Stratalive company hound.Hi Everyone. My name is Bojangles and I am the Stratalive company hound.

When I was asked to paw my thoughts on strata living, it took me back to my youth.  Although we didn’t live in an apartment, we did live in a strata community and rules still applied.

Well, you refer to rules in strata as by-laws.  In the canine world they are referred to as TWOTH (pronounced Twoof) and it simply means  ‘Their Way or the Highway’. And that needs no explanation – you either stick to the rules or you were kicked out.

It all started when they first ‘snuck’ me into my new home.  I had bought a whole new meaning to surprise package.  I was a 50th birthday present for my mum and to say I was not expected is an understatement. 

You see,  the by-laws in our development only allowed two dogs and my new family had already reached their quota with two perfectly behaved little girls.  Keeping me hidden however, was never going to be an option.  Luckily for me, the community fell in love with me as the gorgeous ‘little’ ball of love puff and the fact that we were a canine family of three slipped through the cracks – for a time, at least.

Inside my own home and out in the backyard, I did all the usual puppy stuff.  Dug holes, chomped down on every stick of furniture, created feather storms from cushions and formed all the habits and obsessions that would take me through life – both good and bad.  And of course – I grew.

Every time I walked out the door, the once adoring looks turned to stern disapproval.  While the cute little puppy was acceptable, I was growing into a monster – both in size and mannerisms.  Back then I answered to ‘Mongrel’.  Blah, blah, blah, Mongrel.  You blah, blah, blah, Mongrel.  I didn’t know this Bo chap my mum kept talking to, but thankfully my dad knew my name – and he used it all the time.

So it was off to boarding school for me.  Leaving me at home to drag myself through the formative puppy period of my life was not an option.  I was sent away to school during the week while the folks worked and I came home on the weekends.  Boarding school lasted for 12 weeks and to be honest, I don’t think I was a particularly good student. 

When I eventually came home for good, all those mean trainers had been replaced with my new friend, Georgy.  Georgy would come and play with me every day.  We would play my favourite ball games and go for a run and play in the park at the end of our street.  It was one of the best times of my life.  I loved my Georgy.

But I learnt my boundaries and in my case it was our front gate. The gushing residents I met when I first arrived became less and less friendly the more I grew.  I couldn’t lift my leg, couldn’t poop, couldn’t chase the neighbour’s cat and I couldn’t even walk on the grass.  I use to walk down to the park on tippy claws in case I left a mark on the concrete.  Pet-friendly my furry butt.

Then one day, life as I knew it changed.  It was after my mum and dad received a letter in the mailbox.  It was obviously cause for concern as my mum looked very worried.  There was to be a meeting about the dogs constantly barking in the development.  While we were not the only dogs in our community, I certainly contributed to the welcoming of guests with a roar rather than a whimper. 

What was of the greatest concern to mum and dad is they did not know what we were up to when they were not there to keep us entertained.  Uncle Georgy only came in the afternoons so that left a whole lot of time for us, or me that is, to cause havoc with the neighbours.  What they didn’t know is that we slept like babies all morning to preserve our energy for playtime in the afternoon.  Mum was still sure that we, or me that is, presented the problem.

In preparation for the meeting, there were lengthy discussions between Mum and Dad.  There were concerned looks and some tears.  Mum would say Blah, blah, blah move.  And Dad would say Blah,blah, blah mongrel.  Yep…he still remembered my name.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short Mum won and we decided to move.  She did not want to face that meeting.  She knew they were going to kick me out by referring back to the original by-law that limited each household to two dogs.

So the house was put on the market and the meeting that was to be was postponed ‘due to ill health’.  Yeah, right. The meeting was unnecessary now, the problem was moving on.

It was not a good time.  There was tension throughout the house and I was a nervous wreck.  I didn’t like seeing all my things loaded into the back of a truck and I liked it even less when we three canines were taken off to the kennel.  But a week later, I was in heaven.  All my things were back and our new house was on five acres of semi-rural bliss.  I had my very own park.  We moved right next door to my auntie and uncle who had four dogs of their own and life was perfect.  Even Georgy still came every day.

Even after we had moved, my mum still got the meeting agenda for our old strata. After we had been living in our new home for about three months, she received an agenda with an item to discuss the barking dogs. She rang one of our friends from the community and told them they could drop that off the agenda now. 

“You didn’t think that was about Bo and your little ones, did you? “ the neighbour said.

“Everybody loved them because they were so well behaved.  You just didn’t know when Bo was going to knock you off your feet with love and affection.  Everyone was sorry to see him go.  We all loved him.  

Dah…I could have told them that.

Now I am older I have more responsibilities.  My sister was brutally beaten before we rescued her from the RSPCA so now I am an ambassador against cruelty.  In fact Mum and I going in the Million Paws Walk this year.  It is just around the corner – May 18.    

While cruelty is a real issue, we are becoming big supporters of the RSPCA.  Too many dogs and cats are surrendered to them every year because people have either not conformed to the conditions in their by-laws or have ignored them altogether.  While you may try and get away with it, it will catch up with you and you will be told to remove the offending animal.

Before giving someone a pet, make sure they are allowed to have one.  If you are allowed animals, check they are suitable for strata living.  Rather than buying a puppy there might be an older dog that you can rescue from the RSPCA that might be more suitable to strata living. 

It is still power to the dogs but remember who has more power when it comes to strata living.  It is TWOTH all the way.

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