Archive for August, 2014


Our pets are more than just companions … they are family.

So many beautiful fur babies have passed recently – Georgie (Fliss), Jaffa (Nat & Chris), Raffy (Markus and Uri), Ginge (Candice and Mark), Mozzy (Cat and Sev), Daisy (Melissa), Ben (Mel), and Katinka and Trixie-Belle (Lizzi) to name but a few.

Lizzi sent us this heartfelt tribute after her girls crossed over the rainbow bridge and gave me permission to share it with you all.

Our pets are more than just companions … they are family.

Give them BIG hugs and enjoy every precious minute you have with them. Deepest sympathies to all the lovely humans who have lost their beloved ones.


“Dear Alex,

I wanted to email you to say thank you for taking my beautiful babies’ photos back in February 2013. Since then both my beautiful girls have passed away and I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to have their photos professionally taken and keep forever.

Katinka (who was the oldest at 15 years old) passed away later that year in May from an unexpected brain tumour. It happened so quickly and was a surprise to both us and her vet. She passed away peacefully in my arms however I will always remember her being a happy, kind, caring and loyal dog who greeted everyone with a smile on her face and a wag in her tail.

My youngest Trixie-Belle (11 years old) passed away last week. She had been diagnosed with a heart murmur at the beginning of the year and slowly deteriorated over the last few months which resulted in her having heart failure. She lived each day as though it was her last and she was truly a little fighter. Trixie-Belle had anxiety/ behavioural issues her whole life but fought through it and always came out on top and stronger for it. I am a proud mummy as you can probably tell.

When I was 15 years old, I saved up all my money so I could adopt Trixie-Belle from the RSPCA WA. The moment I saw her I knew we were meant to be together and I had to convince my mother to let me adopt her so Katinka could have a little sister and someone to play with while I was at school. We were the three musketeers and we were inseparable ever since. They have been there for me through every hardship I’ve had to face in my lifetime so far and I doubt I could have got through it without them. They were my best friends.

I keep the picture of the both of them, that you took, in our hallway so it’s the first thing I see when I come home. They are both so happy and the picture perfectly captures both their personalities. Every time I look at it, it brings a smile to my face and it takes me back to that very day when the girls and I made our road trip from Mt Helena to your studio. They got all their favourite things rolled into one day – walkies, treats, car ride, endless amounts of attention and Katinka loved having her photo taken. It was the best day because they were both so happy and that made me happy, will continue to make me happy every time I look at that picture.

I just wanted to tell you this because I am truly grateful for the memento that you have given me to remember my girls for the rest of my life. Words can not describe what it means to me. Their photos remind me that they will always be with me wherever I go, after all I have a bond with them that will never be broken.”



Fidget (2yrs) and Jinx (1yr)

Kara says “Both cats came to me 6 months apart when they were found as tiny strays at around 4 weeks old. Hand raised cats are often much more mischievous as they haven’t had much/any discipline from their mothers and siblings. This is definitely true, particularly of Jinx, who is always the ring leader.

I love him to bits but I’ve never had a cat that keeps me on my toes as much as he does. Jinx is my moustache cat, everyone always comments on his markings. He’s very people orientated, curious and clever. He’ll watch you do something like open a cupboard or put something in a drawer, and if he’s interested he’ll have a go himself.

For this reason I’ve had to put child locks on the kitchen cupboards to keep him out! He loves to head butt and will pat you on the face in the morning to wake you up for breakfast.

Fidget has such a different personality. He’s a quiet boy, he prefers to be cuddled on his own terms and spends most of the day doing his own thing. That is of course, when he’s not being lead astray by his naughty younger brother. He loves playing with water and is our hand washing monitor who waits by the sink every time someone comes from the bathroom so he can play under the tap.

Together they have already had many adventure, from getting into cupboards, to stealing food, knocking over water to play in and climbing up the fly wire. These two are always up to something.”



Sophie (1 year old Maltese/Shihtzu)

Tracey says “Sophie is a foster fail through SAFE Perth – Saving Perth Animals from Euthanasia. She can be a little nervous to start with but is very cuddly and affectionate. She joined our family about 2 months ago and was originally born in the care of SAFE Perth when her Mum and Dad were surrendered.

She was then homed to someone who promised to care for her but unfortunately did not do this well. She was kept outside in a pen most of the time and not allowed in.

We spoil her now and she finally has the life she deserves.”

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10 month old kitten, River

Courtney says “I first saw River in a text message photograph in November 2013. My partner, Rhys, sent me the picture of the tiny, three week old kitten curled up on a multi-coloured towel. His father found her at Ocean Reef Senior High School, abandoned with her siblings.

River was the smallest and least likely to survive being sent to a shelter, so he took her home and asked Rhys to keep her company for the day.

Before then, I never wanted a cat. I was certainly not a cat person. My family had a gorgeous Maltese x Shih Tzu called Max for 14 years, and we always had canaries or cockatiels, so a cat was never really an option for us. But when I saw the photo of that little kitten, I knew Rhys and I had to rescue her, and so we did.

The next day, we took her to the vet for a check-up. This is where we discovered she was female and we named her River, after River Tam from “Firefly” and River Song from “Doctor Who”. She was the picture of health, albeit very small.

From there, we took care of all the necessary vet treatments to secure a safe future for her. She is now a healthy three kilograms.

River started out shy and nervous, hiding in the smallest spaces, including falling asleep behind warm computers and getting dusty on top of books in the bookshelf. Now, she is a talkative young lady who enjoys tumbling, running up and down stairs, chasing toys, spending time with her family, and having long conversations.

Some of River’s favourite hobbies are sitting on the windowsill gazing thoughtfully at the Indian Ocean, surveying her kingdom from atop her scratch post perch, and following her family around like a dainty, little shadow. She loves crawling across the floor after a wooden stick full of chew marks, giving her family kisses with her nose, and getting up to all manner of mischief.

Taking care of River has been an exciting, sometimes challenging, but ultimately rewarding experience. She is now a lovely lap cat, even if she sometimes forgets that people don’t like having their fingers eaten. She enjoys nothing more than curling up on your lap for a cuddle, whether you are trying to eat dinner at the table or sitting on the lounge reading a book.

River’s birthday is approximately 25 October 2013. This is the day that we will celebrate her becoming one year old. Three weeks later, we will celebrate how fortunate it was that River came into our lives. She is our cheeky little lady, and while sometimes she decides it will be fun to be naughty and walk casually across the kitchen bench like she owns the place, we couldn’t ask for a better feline companion.

At the end of 2014 I will complete my Creative Writing, and Professional Writing and Publishing degree at Curtin University. I wish River had been around for the beginning of my degree, because in the last half a year she has proved to be the perfect companion while getting homework done. She cuddles up by the humming laptop, snuggles into my side when I work on the lounge, and keeps my lap warm when I sit at the table.

River has a tendency to pounce on anything that moves, and sometimes things that don’t move at all. She is particularly fond of playing hide and seek. My partner, Rhys, and I hide behind a corner down the corridor while she hides at the other end. We peek around the corner until she comes slinking or sprinting down the corridor to leap playfully into the air, mock pouncing at us.

Anything unsuspecting and small that looks like it can be moved if batted with a curious paw is not safe. I knew this, and really should have remembered it when my USB containing all my completed, final assessments went missing at the end of my first semester in 2014. It was plain black, so not easy to find. I turned the house inside out searching for it, in both logical places like the drawer where I keep my electronics, and illogical places like the bathroom cupboard. In her usual fashion, River followed me around the house as I became increasingly more frustrated, anxious, and upset.

I persuaded Rhys to accompany me to my workplace, a 25 minute drive in decent traffic, in order to see if I had left the USB plugged into the computer. When we arrived at the office, I checked both the desks I was shifting between. I searched the surrounding floor area, the paper bins beneath the desks, and the tangled mess of cables coming out of the computer monitors. Nothing.

Back at home, I was somewhere between stressed and livid. All that work wasted. I had already given up hope when I noticed River. She was lying on her side by the door between the kitchen and the entrance corridor. It is always open. She was pawing under it, trying to get at something. Usually, she only does this with closed doors, so I was intrigued. Sure enough, my USB was lying on the ground wedged between the door and the wall.

River pounced on it. She must have batted it off the table when I wasn’t looking and played until it slid beneath the door and out of reach. Later that night, River was pawing at the door again, having gotten a small piece of fabric stuck. I now have a bright yellow USB at the end of a bright yellow lanyard.

All sorts of small objects still turn up under our lounge chairs and beneath doors. River just gives us expectant, innocent eyes while waiting for us to retrieve her lost toy.”

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4 – 5 year old Terrier Sheba

Bec says “Sheba is a rescue from the RSPCA WA nd we’ve been in each other’s lives for 4 years now. I went to the RSPCA with a friend planning on looking for a boy dog and not looking for a terrier. Well as you can see I got exactly what I didn’t think I wanted – and I wouldn’t change it for anything in this world.

This little scruffy pup about 6 – 9 months old and very timidly came over to the edge of the cage and licked my fingers. She was so scared at the shelter that her online photo was her flat on her back with her paws over her face.

I definitely got picked that day as a little boy came over to say hello and she wasn’t interested in him at all and just kept coming back to me. Within half an hour of meeting she was sitting on my lap as my friend drove us to City Farmers to stock up on toys and the essentials.

Sheba wasn’t treated very well by her first owners so she can be a little shy in new situations and can sometimes take a little time to get to know new people, particularly men. But once she knows and loves you she’s the most affectionate pooch.

Sheba wasn’t fed enough by her previous owner so she has food issues and will scavenge for scraps when we are out on walks – not good for a pooch allergic to red meat. We are slowly getting to a place where she’ll leave things when told but not if it’s something really really tasty!

Sheba is super intelligent, knows lots of tricks and has the biggest personality. She loves nothing more than being off lead at Gwelup with her buddy Rusty (another Houndstooth client), playing chasey and of course exercising her terrier instinct and chasing birds, rats and rabbits. She loves playing with her besties Kleo, Lizzie and Kaos but can be selective with her doggy friends – after all there are way too many things out there to be investigated than just being in the park.

Rain, hail or shine Sheba and I used to meet our friends Dawn and Geordie (a gorgeous rescue kelpie) for a walk very week day morning, when they lived close by. About a year after I got Sheba, Dawn went away on holiday for a month, whilst I was in the middle of renovating my house.

For a while I had no door handles on any of the internal doors so Sheba pretty much had free reign on where she went. While Dawn was away Sheba and I went out every morning as usual for our walk but apparently Sheba decided it was my fault we didn’t see Geordie. We’d come home, I’d get ready for work and every morning for more than a week I’d come out of the bathroom to find the toilet door pushed open, toilet roll removed and it torn up and scattered throughout the house. I’d find Sheba snuggled up on the bed with a very satisfied and cheeky look on her face!

She can be a rascal but I don’t know what I would do without her in my life.”

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16 year old Kelpie x, Hollie also known fondly as “Mouldie Oldie”.

Julie says “I had lost my first ever rescued dog ”Mikaylah” (Dingo Bull Terrier X) two days before Xmas 1999 to bone cancer and my heart was still mending when I was guided to ”rescue” again.

In August, 2000 I had gone to visit my younger sister and was asked to tag along when she had to meet up with her (then) partner. I am one of these people who instantly gravitate to any animal that happens to be on the property, so I saw ”Hollie” (then Heidi) straight away … cowering under the car she had been tied to. I had arrived in the nick of time.

My sister’s then partner, was just about to leave to take her to be euthanized due to bad behavior. She was roughly 2 years old and had lived her entire life in a small suburban backyard for 23 out of 24 hours in the day. A nightmare for a young, healthy and intelligent dog, who was more suited to a working life.

No love, no play – she was ”just a dog” to him and nothing more. I convinced him to save his money and give her to me – someone who saw her as more than ”just a dog”. Someone who knew she was much, much more.

From then on, we were inseparable and I took her everywhere with me. She no longer slept or lived outside. She enjoyed places like the bush, beach, parks and the open road.

I ”officially” adopted her on the 31st of August, the day she was registered to me and after she had had all her needles and had been spayed.

Today, 14 years on, Hollie is a spritely 16 year old that adores car rides, cuddles, home cooked casseroles and back ”scritches”. We have seen much of this world together and she is my oldest, dearest and most cherished friend.

Words cannot express the love I feel for my beloved ”Mouldie Oldie” (as I have lovingly nicknamed her since she turned 11.) It has been an honor to have had her walking by my side and I hope she’ll be there for many more years to come.”



Arnold and Georgie

Arnold (Jack Russell 10 years of age) and Georgie (Moodle 4 years of age).

Tania says “Arnold was a Xmas gift to my son when he was 6. He had always wanted a Jack Russell and we went to look at pups and fell in love with Arnold.

Georgie came to live with us six years later. We fell in love with her as soon as we saw her too! She is so tiny and everyone thinks she’s a puppy. She’s super cute but very very very naughty. She bosses Arnold around and she even has a cousin Kelpie called Chocolate who is terrified of her!

Arnold loves camping and the beach and is such a happy go lucky kinda guy. He puts up with Georgie’s bossy ways without ever reacting.”



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Paris (1.5 year old) and Pierre (10 months old) the frenchies

Clare says “Paris came to live with us after we started looking for a French. She came out with a tail, had floppy ears and was the runt of the litter.  The people who took her on swiftly handed her back saying they couldn’t love her because of these traits, so myself and my partner Simon drove to Mandurah to see her.

Needless to say, we brought her home and she has been our wee girl ever since.  She’s playful, boisterous and fiesty. She’s also very loving and wants to be close to you when she is sleeping.

Pierre came to live with us as we wanted company for Paris. We always felt guilty leaving her in by herself, so six months later we were contacted about a litter of French Bulldogs and went to see Pierre as a surprise for Simon. He was adorable and I decided he would be ours that day.

We went back to the UK for Christmas and when we returned Pierre came home with us. He is a dopey, round boy whose coordination is somewhat limited. He likes to play but is very people orientated and loves to be cuddled and scratched under his chin or on his rump.”



Appa, Shiba Inu X

2 year old Shiba Inu X Appa, who has a super cool batman logo on his chest.

Flormirza says “We adopted Appa from a wonderful rescue group, Townsville foster and rehoming animals. (TFRA). I heard about some puppies they had up for adoption and checked them out online. I immediately fell in love with a photo of McQueen, one of 5 or 6 Mastiff x Sharpei puppies that were up for adoption. I called TFRA and asked if I could view McQueen, but was told he’s no longer available as someone had asked to put him on hold. But they told me about McQueen’s sibling – Samson, who’s very good with kids, dogs, cats and has a gentle nature.

I was a little disappointed, as I had my heart set on getting McQueen. When I went to view Samson, his sibling Mario was there as well. Samson had a tan coat; Mario had a brindle coat – they were very beautiful. He was also so eager to please and very playful while Samson was a little quieter.

I told their foster carers that I couldn’t seem to decide between Mario and Samson and because Mario was so cute and lively, I almost wanted to get him instead of Samson. But what happened next sealed the deal.

I was squatting on the floor playing with Mario and Samson, when Samson decided to climb up my lap and stay there. At that exact moment, I knew he was the dog for us.

We couldn’t rename him for a while, as we couldn’t think of a suitable name for this quiet puppy who will be massive as a dog. Then we immediately thought – Appa!

Appa is a flying bison from one of our favorite shows, Avatar: The Last Airbender. He was a gentle giant, and Samson (now Appa) was very mild natured and going to be huge because of his Mastiff genes.

Appa was a big puppy, but at 6 months, he stopped growing at 20kg – even if we gave him premium dog food for large breed puppies.
Worried that we were doing something wrong, we got him DNA tested. Lo and behold – it turned out that he was neither Mastiff nor Shar Pei. He was a Shiba Inu x Collie x Doberman! No wonder he only grew to be a medium sized dog.

People used to ask us if he had dingo blood, and it was always hard to explain why he had a pointed nose instead of a flat muzzle. Now at least we know why!

We trained Appa as a puppy to be a clean dog – clean in the sense that every time he goes out of the house, he has to have his paws wiped with baby wipes when he comes back in. Now he’s so trained with this cleaning routine that as soon as he comes in the door, he will wait for one of us to get the wipes, then he’ll lift his paws one by one for cleaning.

He also has a strange aversion to peeing on wet grass. This used to be a problem for us when we were living in Townsville, as during summer, the backyard would be slightly flooded. He refused to pee on the cemented portion of the yard, so it always took forever to get him to do his nightly toilet routine. Then we found out about water proof boots for dogs and after that, he would happily run in the slightly flooded yard with his neon orange boots – always a funny sight to see.

This is not to say that he doesn’t love to be wet though – especially if being wet means soaking in water mixed with mud at the local dog park. Every time we bring him there, he manages to take at least 10 dips in that dirty water. After soaking in muddy water, he goes off running, trying to get other dogs to chase him.

That’s one of his favorite games at the dog park – seeing which dog can catch him. He has been chased by Siberian Huskies, Kelpies and at least 2 Greyhounds, and he has always managed to outmanoeuvre and outrun them. We always silently cheer him on as he plays his game, and we always feel a bit of pride when the other dogs give up when they can’t catch him.”

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Kindest Heart – Mary Hutton, founder of Free the Bears Fund (FTB)

Our latest “Kindest Heart” is Mary Hutton, founder of Free the Bears Fund (FTB). Based in Perth, Mary is a woman many West Australians already know and love and her biography “Free The Bears” was released in 2013. Mary started FTB over twenty years ago and she continues to work tirelessly to create awareness about the treatment of bears and to generate support for the overseas FTB sanctuaries. She is a living saint, and we are very proud to call her our friend. Introducing, Mary …

ALEX: Who was the first animal you felt a bond with?
MARY: As a young child, my first pet was a cat when I was living in the UK. His name was Timmy and I remember he was striped and very big. My love of cats (I now live with two) may have come from Timmy. We also had a dog and I loved her very much – I was about 8 at the time. When she died I was very upset.

ALEX: Can you tell us a bit about Free the Bears Fund?.
MARY: I first became aware of the bears when I saw the segment on television about the bears being kept in bile farms in China. This was in August 1993. My son Simon encouraged me to take those first steps to try and raise awareness about those bears and realising we could not do much without funds, I registered FTB in March 1995.

The sight of the poor bears being kept in very small cages, unable to move and obviously traumatised and distressed prompted me into action. I had no idea at the time how much work would be required but I was up for it.

Since then we have expanded into Cambodia, Laos and India. We’ve worked extensively in India and have taken all of the ‘dancing’ sloth bears off the streets and thereby bringing an end to the dreadful trade.

We’ve rescued over 600 sloth bears and have 347 in our care to date. In Laos we have rescued 34 Asiatic black bears and in Cambodia we care for 93 sun bears and 37 Asiatic black bears.

When we establish sanctuaries in the countries where we work, we build vet clinics and education centres and provide various means of stimulation for the mental and physical enrichment for all the bears.

We’ve also had the opportunity to relocate sun bears to various zoos. This has been done to not only encourage breeding of this very endangered species but also to raise awareness to the public in general regarding how they are exploited and abused. So far four more female sun bear cubs have been born adding to the numbers of the species.

I think most people are aware of the plight of the bears, now more than ever since Facebook and the internet but there are still some people who are surprised that bears are treated so badly. There is always more work to do.

ALEX: Is there a particular bear who stole your heart
MARY: The bear that stole my heart was Bertha, a beautiful Asiatic black bear (a golden bear) and she looked like she has had a blonde rinse. She was very much like Brandy, another blonde bear in Phnom Tamao, Cambodia. Bertha and another bear had previously been in a dreadful cage for years in the Lop Buri Zoo in Thailand. We built them a new enclosure and when we opened her cage for Bertha to come out into the new sanctuary, she padded the grass like a cat, walked to the end of the enclosure, lay down in the sun which she had never felt on her face before, and went to sleep. I only saw Bertha a few more times as I wasn’t in Thailand for very long, I will never forget how she reacted to being out of her cage. I thought to myself “We have to do more for these bears.”

ALEX: How does it feel to see rescued bears, safe in your sanctuaries?
MARY: I feel a great deal of joy seeing bears that have come from dreadful circumstances, now free, with plenty of space to discover their daily treats, play in the pools we provide and just enjoying being safe and secure.

ALEX: What type of support does FTB need most from the community?
MARY: First and foremost, we always need funds so we can take care of the bears we have rescued in the best possible way. This covers the keepers wages and takes care of everything involved in the running of the sanctuaries. We have a number of donation options available on our website and people can even sponsor a bear. Every little bit helps.

ALEX: What is one thing most people wouldn’t know about bears?
MARY: Bears have the most wonderful nature and are endearing animals. The abused bears are forgiving and they make friends with the other bears in the sanctuaries and the females make wonderful mothers. They can recognise smells from a great distance and also recognise particular voices from their keepers.

We had a blind bear in the Agra sanctuary, who sadly passed away, but she used to lie on a special platform made just for her. No other bear would use it and it was always free for her to use. When she would leave the den for the enclosure, the other bears would protect her and look out for her.

An example of an amazing interaction was between a bear called Deena and one of our wonderful keepers, Vuthy. When Deena was in the birthing den giving birth to her baby (named Apple) she allowed Vuthy into the den with her. Vuthy put enrichment and fresh water in the den and she made no protest at all. It was incredible.

PICTURED: Mary Hutton and her cat Tigger
For further information on Free The Bears, including ways in which to help, please visit