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we have pets…


This December I’ve had a guest make the booking and then mention as an afterthought that she had a little Yorkie and surely I would not have a problem with that? My reply : ” If your little Yorkie can handle my big Bull Mastiff then we do not have a problem… “. I’ve had guests threatening to sneak our one year old Bull Mastiff into the bedroom and I’ve had guests reeling back in horror at the sight of a dog.

Bull Mastiffs turned out to be perfect guest house dogs : they are non territorial , not unnaturally aggressive and hardly ever bark.

Our Fawn colored Misty (registered name Madame Mistique) would greet guests with her exuberantly wagging tail – I would always say one would swear the only attention she ever gets were from guests. When we got her as a puppy we also got a small Ginger cat (called Garfield, what else) and the two had a very special relationship. They slept together , would groom each other and the favourite party trick was for Misty to carry the cat by her head in her mouth ! When I heard a guest frantically shouting for me I’d know – they’re at it again! Of course Garfield only had to give Misty a gentle whack with her nails out to be let go of. She died shortly after her 12th birthday – a good age for a big breed.

Mutual adoration

When Misty turned ten our daughter, Nelleke, brought a new Bull Mastiff puppy home. I took one look at this ugly brindle pup and Eveline commented  in Xhosa “Inja m’bi” (ugly dog).  She was promptly named Umbi , but she grew in our hearts and turned out to be the most beautiful dog anyone could ever wish for. So sweet natured, intelligent, sensitive and incredibly loving. We were heartbroken when she died of cancer in June 2009, not even 3 years old.

Fairview baby – it’s a girl!

Juno as a teenager








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  1. Philda
    I love your story. We have always had bull mastiffs too and they are wonderful family pets. Our latest one – Monty – is great friends with the cat too. Amazing. Do you know anyone who has puppies at the moment as we would like to get a female companion for him – not to breed but just to complete the ‘team’ – we have two ageing Jack Russells too!

    • Alison, we found Juno on the following site:

      Desmond happened to be in Pretoria for a conference and chose Juno himself.Because Umbi was the brunt of the litter and had such health issues, he chose what he saw as the ‘top dog’ this time. I think the important thing is to choose a puppy from a breeder who do not just keep the puppies in a breeding yard – we’ve always chosen puppies from breeders who have children, so that the dogs are used to people handling and playing with them by the time they come ‘home’.

  2. I loved this post Philda. I agree, Bull Mastiff’s are surprisingly the best dogs you could have at a guesthouse.

  3. I just love your relaxed generous spirit towards all creatures great and small. All are welcome in your beautiful home.

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