Ralphie goes to heaven

I was just floating around in heaven the other day. Flitting around from colour to colour on the Rainbow Ridge – supervising the new additions that tend to take advantage of the space.

Even I, Miss Fudgie-wena, took advantage when I first arrived. I mean it is ginormous fun to leap through the rainbow and become rainbow coloured – especially when you have a long bod like I do – but let’s furry face it – doing that a gazillion times becomes old very quickly.

We don’t want to wear out the rainbow now, do we?

So like I said, I was supervising things, sniffing around. Generally making my own self useful where ever possible, when I heard that there was a commotion going on at the Pearly Gates.

Curiosity won and I decided to go take a peek.

Sometimes I can calm things down a smidgeon – me being Head Angel Doglet and all.

There was a big crowd. Everybody was pushing and shoving and trying to see what the problem was. Such unbecoming behaviour in heaven.

Heard some whispering… a cat had arrived at the Pearly Gates that was so big they were having a hard time finding angel wings to fit.

Now there are rules in heaven about wings. People get people wings. Dogs get dogs wings. Cats get cats wings. Pigs would love to have wings but everybody knows they can’t fly.  They have to snuffle around the place.

Nosed my way closer to the front of the crowd to see what was going on.

A large black and white cat was sitting looking extremely disgruntled. Various pairs of wings were being fitted on his back and just as quickly discarded. Every now and then the cat would twitch his whiskers and raise its yellow eyes to heaven – which is pretty hard to do when you are already in heaven. Clearly he had been in a spot of trouble because his nose was a total mess.

“Gerroffme!” He yowled – as the 37th pair of too-small wings was tried on his back. “I’m not a freaking fairy!”

Saint Peter looked on – a bit disapprovingly.  Getting to Heaven’s Gate is quite an achievement – so you do not want to jeopardize actual entry into heaven once you are so close.

Had a feeling of déjà vu. Thought something looked a bit familiar.

Suddenly it hit me. Ralphie!

But what was my Ralphie doing in heaven? He wasn’t due for a good couple of years.

Sidled up closer to check that I was not getting short sighted. I WAS NOT. It was indeed my old furry bud, Ralph.

Gave him the nose.

Oi! Hullo Ralph.

His cat eyes opened wide and his whiskers quivered bravely. He smiled with all his sharp pointy fangs. Even his eyebrows wiggled and jiggled with joy.

Fudges!  Ralphie murmured and slinked his furry body against mine. We nuzzled for a bit. It felt like home.

What is the problem Ralph? I breathed in his ear.

He hissed…. Get these silly wallies off me.  I. Am. Not. A. Fairy Cat!

I looked at him with big brown eyes. Ralphie! Do not jeopardise your spot in heaven. Just take the wings and shhhhh… You are going to be an angel – not a fairy!

Ralphie, however, was having none of it.

He shook and shivered and refused to even vaguely entertain the thought of having any sort of wings on his back.

Saint Peter’s face got blacker and blacker.

Eventually he intervened… “Ralph…” he murmured in a silky smooth voice… “would you like to go downstairs and catch rats for Old Nic?”

Ralph looked at me – not really understanding the question properly. For a smarty-pants cat he’s quite doff sometimes.

I shook my head vehemently. Then I suddenly had a brain wave. I whispered to one of the flighty angels who were responsible for fitting the new additions with wings.

She reappeared with a nice selection of mouse wings that could be worn on Ralph’s legs – like manly spurs.

Clearly Ralphie thought that this whole idea was not too shabby because he gave in and let them attach the wings. He fluttered those wings and flew like an angel.

Saint Peter breathed a sigh of relief.  So did I.

Zoomed up next to Ralph and gave him the nose.

Hey… it’s not so bad up here… come on – I’ll introduce you to Zed, Skunk and Looseyfur. Then let’s go see what mom is doing downstairs.

How the Dog’s Blog started

Ten years ago, I was the editor of a well-read community newspaper. The Springs Advertiser was fondly called the Addie by the community of this Gauteng mining town. As do all local papers, the Addie carried a mix of news – serious political and crime articles, light-hearted community events, sport and entertainment. What really pushed our readers’ buttons; however, were stories about animals. This was a town that loved its four-legged inhabitants.

Enter Ginny Stone, a new transplant to the town. In November 2007, she pitched a weekly column to us, ‘written’ by her Basset Hound Zed, with some co-authoring by Skunk the flying punk dog. Within the shortest space of time, the Dog’s Blog was as entrenched in the town as are its famous art deco buildings.

I loved it when the column landed on my desk. Quirky, funny, stubborn, opinionated Zed’s take on living in the Stone/Theron household, and his observations of the two-legged creatures who shared his space, was a wonderful reprieve from complaints about potholes and reports of hijackings.

Tragedy struck, however, with the family losing both Zed and Skunk within a short space of time. We raged, mourned and commiserated but it was clear the show had to go on, and so the Dog’s Blog continued. Zed’s successor was a well-fed, sweet mutt aptly called Fudges, and her co-conspirator was Looseyfur, the little red devil of a cat.

I trust you will enjoy as much as I did this wonderful compilation of stories that capture a bit of the magic pets bring to our lives.

Cathy Grosvenor

Note from mom: Cathy is no longer a newspaper editor – but she has not stopped writing or editing.  She and her partner have their own business Allycats Public Relations – a specialist writing and editing agency. They write, edit and proofread all content… from annual reports to website copy! For more information visit their website.


A few weeks ago, after having done our heavenly duties for the day, a bunch of us critters were lolling around spying on Mom. We like to check up on her and see what’s happening down on earth. We’d noticed that she spent a fair amount of time moping by the compost heap, chatting to the spot where Alpha had buried Ralph’s mortal remains.

Zed-Boy snickered and gave Ralph the nose.

Hah! So that’s what they thought of you eh! Compost.

Gave that meanie Basset Hound a slap with my tail… Oi you! Be nice! We’re in heaven now.

Ralph was about to point out that there were reminders of all the animals except Zed-Boy down by the compost heap, but I gave him the nose too. No need to point out the obvious.

Skunk ambled up in his shambley long-legged way and plopped down next to us on another bit of fluffy white cloud. We exchanged licks and slobbers. I’m rather partial to that Skunk. He’s a gentle old soul. Pity I never met him in real life, but then again, if he’d stuck around Mom and Alpha would never have come looking for me – so I guess things worked out how they were supposed to.

I’ve lined her up another cat! Skunk announced. One the same colour as Ralph and me!

Whaaat? Yowled Ralphie. So soon? She hasn’t finished being sad about me yet.

Gave Ralph a withering look. Really? We don’t want her to be sad. We like it better when she’s happy.

Ralph grumbled and mumbled a bit and Zed Boy smirked. Honestly, sometimes I think that dog should have gone down below to Old Nick instead of being a heavenly hound.

Let’s see it then – what’s it look like?

Skunk waved his paw in the direction of the Woolies parking lot. There.

Ralph nearly fell out of heaven laughing.  That’s my replacement? He scoffed. That’s not a proper cat! That’s a cartoon creature.

Skunk looked a bit put out. The freckles on his nose crinkled up ever so slightly and his whiskers quivered. I sidled up closer and leaned on him a bit.

He grunted… oeff!

I feel so light and springy now I tend to forget that I’m still a bit of a pudgy Fudgie.

That’s a perfect kittycat Skunkers– he’ll fit in beautifully with that crazy family. Where did you find him?

Skunk admitted that he’d seen him lurking by the side of the road, all wet and bedraggled and had used his heavenly powers to entice the furball into the doggy parlour. He giggled a bit and confessed that he did not really imagine that Lulu, the parlour owner, would tidy him up as neatly as she did.

She’d taken a photo and put up a notice on their board outside with “Needs a good home”.

Ralph was still cackling and hooting – lying on his back with his manly wing-spurs flapping all over the place.

Skunk nudged me – Look… Mom’s checking out the pocket-Fudge’s paws.

Skunk always calls Gemma “the pocket-Fudge” because she’s brown and long but a quarter of the size of my own robust Fudginess.

We all held our breath to see what she would do next…

First she spoke to Alpha and he shook his head. Then she foofled around on her lap-top thingy. Tik tik tik.

Finally she loaded Gemma into the car and drove off – in the right direction.

Zed Boy was barking bored by this time and was trying to sit on Looseyfur, the little red devil.

Loosey just did a disappearing trick and poof! he appeared again next to Skunk. Zed looked around for somebody else to mess with but Slayer hissed and gave him the evil eye.

Mom and Gem walked straight into the parlour. She did not even look at the notice board. Skunk gulped. He closed his big brown eyes and concentrated hard.

She helped put Gemma into a cage and glanced up at the cartoon cat. Then she walked out and drove off.  I looked at Skunk… Is this part of your plan?

He did not reply but continued concentrating intently.

A bit later mom came back. She was about to walk in the door but she backtracked and read the notice. She went inside. We all saw her waving her arms around and pointing.

Heads were nodded. Gemma came trotting out and mom took another look at that cat.

More heads were nodded. Skunk and I were about to do a paw version of a high five when that wretched mom gathered up Gems and walked off to her car. Leaving her cat behind!

Zed Boy howled with delight. You stupid mutt! You can’t organise a darn thing.  Not even from heaven!

Poor Skunkie sloped off feeling very dejected. Even Ralph was a bit quiet. Slayer and Looseyfur looked at each other with slitty eyes. They’d always preferred Skunk to Zed and they did not like to see Skunk looking so downtrodden.

A few hours later Skunk gave a delighted whelp. Mom was hauling the cat box out of the spot where it lived and was getting back into her car.

We watched with glee as she drove back to that very same parlour and loaded that cartoon cat into the box.

The cat was safely on its way to his new home.

Skunk leapt around whooping like a crazy flying grasshopper and made faces at Zed Boy. Ralph was a bit put out and slunk off. Slayer and Looseyfur winked at each other and then went back to catnapping.

I smiled at mom with all my Fudgie fangs.