Piggy's Page

I regret to report that Piggy passed away on Friday morning - 16th March 2001 - 04h00.  After spending the day on top of Ngomankulu Hill on Thursday, I noticed he looked a little weak.  We phoned the Vet who prescribed re-hydration medication.  Piggy perked up for a few hours, and we thought he was back to normal.  But then at about 3am I noticed he seemed to be regressing.  We rushed him down to the Sherwood Vetinary Hospital, where he died a short while later.  

I just got the pathologist's report, and the cause of death was "clostridial bacterial proliferation".  Apparantly it's a new bacterium, which afflicts healthy animals, and causes death within 5 hours.  

Piggy was not merely "a dog" to us.  He was a symbol in the Paragliding community.  We are all devastated!


Born:  August 1995                                                          
Died:  March 2001
Named:  "Mkulu" (Zulu word for "The Big One")
Nicknamed:  "Piggy" (English word to describe "An omnivorous, bristly mammal")
Other Nicknames:  Piglet, Pork Chop, Furball, Hairy- Frog, Cupcake & Eeyore. 
Owners:  Tristam & Kim Burrell

Piggy was a pedigreed male brindle Staffie and born for the African Bushveld. Except for 7 months while Tristam was in Canada in 1999, Piggy had spent almost every day of his life on the mountains and training-slopes. His playful nature and high intelligence made him a true asset and wonderful friend to all the staff and students at Blue Sky.

His outdoor lifestyle had taken its toll on Piggy's joints and ligaments, so acting on his Vet's orders; Piggy was enjoying a role of semi-retirement. We would only allow him to accompany us on periodic visits to the flying sites, so as to give his arthritic body a rest.

He would still look longingly at us when we loaded the gliders onto the Landdrover, and wait in anticipation for the command to "Jump on!" 


17 March 2001

Piggy, you and I really only became close after I met, and later married Tristam, the man who had raised you from a pup.  In that short time you become such a part of me that your passing away so suddenly has left me short of devastated - with a void, or rather a vacuum, few of these humans around me can understand.

In so many ways you were far more “real” to me than people are.  Thank you for never holding a grudge or being too busy to spend time with me, for licking the tears from my face when I was hurting, for being so protective, appreciative and enthusiastic about life.  No lies, no deceit - just a constant, comforting presence.  All these wonderful traits, gift wrapped in a soft fur coat – what a treasure!

Wow, I’m making you out to be the “little angel” here, but I’m forgetting the time you dug a hole in my couch because I left you at home while I went to watch a movie!

Piglet, loosing you feels like a bad dream I’m expecting to wake from.  The sense of loss is so intense, almost a physical pain, that I don’t know how to deal with it - and it doesn’t help that my thoughts are constantly drawn back to you like a magnet.

They say the hurting will heal and I’ll be left with wonderful memories, and so, to make sure time doesn’t steal away or fade those precious memories, I’m writing them down …

That special welcome …

You’d jump up and trot towards us with your head tilted upwards making that “woo-woo-woo” sound which made not only us, but the paragliding students and customers at our shop feel so special - as though we’d actually been missed in our absence!

Piggy's confused look. In the bush where I belong. The whole family. If I keep going I should make China.

That welcome dance …

When one’s absence had been longer than a few hours, that special welcome would be combined with your little “dance of joy” (front paws running on the spot).

Playing the tickle game …

You’d be lying down totally bored when, still in that position, your ears would prick up and then fold back flat against your head at the sound of that familiar whisper from Tristam: -  “I’m coming to get you piggy,  I’m going to tickle piggy – hah hah!”  Which would let you know the game was on … Your little eyes would widen, as you looked sideways towards the sound of his voice, without actually turning your head.  Your excitement would build and your tail would begin to slap the floor, and then you’d fake that nervous cry of terror.  When the tension was finally just too much to bear, you’d bark and jump up as if to say, “catch me!”.  You’d then dart out the room so we could chase you around the house and, when you finally allowed us to catch you, you’d roll over on you back, in total surrender and trust, and squirm as we tickled one side of your body and then the other.

I'll get this ball if it's the last thing... In the bush where I belong. Piggy & Pumkin. On Guard !!!

"Where’s the ball, Piggy?” …

Another little phrase which was music – VERY exciting music – to your ears!

We’d stand on opposite sites of the garden, the lounge or the bedroom and throw the tennis ball to each other, making you “the piggy in the middle” !?!  Of course my ball-to-eye co-ords have never been my strong point, so it didn’t take long before you caught the ball before I could!   It took a while before you realised that you have to give the ball back if you want the game to continue, but once that dawned on you we’d play for ages.  Well, at least until you got tired – at which stage you’d flop on the floor with the ball between your front paws and rest your head on your prize.

“Don’t forget to take me too”  …

You’d grown up in the paragliding scene, so it wasn’t long before you learnt that pilots spend their afternoon’s outdoors on “the hill”, which for you was just the best thing!

Of course being only knee high, you had to ensure you weren’t overlooked (literally!) so you’d lie in the doorway (in the “ready, steady, go” position) so that everybody would have to trip over you.  Failing that, you lie in front of the vehicle (pretending to be sun tanning) so they’d have to drive over you to get past!

But how could they ever forget their mascot?!  Once on the hill, you’d spend hours exploring in the long grass, moving boulders from one side of the hill to the other and licking the moss from beneath them - which always made you a little high!

The only people who didn’t enjoy having you around were the model airplane folks whose planes you’d chase - and with one huge bite completely destroy! -  as they came in to land.  Each time, a somewhat expensive “victory” for us!

Piggy's puppies at 3days old. Andrew Beuster with one of "Piggy's Pups". By now it was pretty obvious that Piggy was not the Father of this litter.
Snoozing on a rock. I had a hard day on the mountain.

Outings to the Beach …

Your other favorite place to visit was undoubtedly, the beach.  Before the sea was even in sight, you’d smell the salt air and push you nose past my shoulder and out the car window, ears flapping in the wind and eyes closed – your face blissfully engulfed in the sea air!

By the time we stepped onto the sand you were beside yourself with excitement.  You’d virtually “break away” as we unclipped your leash and bolt down to the waters edge, where you’d run head-on into the waves, trying to bite them - often biting your tongue in the process!.  The next hour or two consisted of running 2 or 3 kms at a time down the beach (and back again to find us), taking breaks to bite the waves and frantically dig holes in the soft sand.  We’d throw pebbles, or sometimes a Frisbee for you, and heaven forbid you should come across a kite in the sky, because if it fell down, it would be another expensive “victory” for us!

The transformation from Piglet to Eeyore …

Named after the forlorn character in the Winnie-the-Pooh cartoon, whose expression you’d mimic perfectly whenever we’d leave you at home alone for a little while, and you’d hear the words “piggy, you’re gonna stay, I’ll see you later”.

I can picture your expression so clearly; head and ears drooped down with eyes looking up in the hope that this expression would melt our hearts and we’d take you with us - which is often what happened!

Is it time to play?? On the run...

I'm comfortable now, so don't move...

Hey!! Was that another damn Monkey?

The “give me some attention” nudge …

I’d be working away at my computer when I’d suddenly feel your wet nose nudge my arm quite firmly until I dropped my hand to pet you, or to just rest it on your body for a little bit.

“While you’re there, please rub my tummy / back” …

When someone was sitting down with their legs outstretched, one foot crossed over the other, you’d come along and position your body over their feet so that their toes touched your tummy – just right for a tummy rub.

On the other hand, if a person had their legs crossed, you’d position yourself with the top of your tail / lower back just beneath the foot that was dangling – just right for another rub!

The pleasure of bushes …

In line with the whole back tickling thing, you’d love to creep (complete with eyes closed and toes pointed) in ultra slow–motion, around bushes so that the leaves could caress your back from your head down to the top of your tail.  You’d get so wrapped up in this moment of utter pleasure, which, as a human, I can only compare, to the feeling of slipping into a warm, fragrant, candle-lit bubble bath at the end of a hard day.


Hey!! Who's there!!  Do I hear another Monkey? 

Piggy investigating a real Pig.

Rounding up the Cows.

Those YUMMY left-overs …

Tristam would save left-overs for you – the fat from bacon or chops, or maybe a little piece of meat.  He’d psyche you up so badly that you’d begin to drool, but you were so good that when he dropped the treat in front of you, you’d only gobble it up at his command – on the count of 1–2–3–GO!!

On the odd occasion we’d spice up those boring meal times by throwing your pellets one at a time, in different directions, across the kitchen floor – much to your excitement, as you were always keen for a new game.

The contented sigh …

We’d go home, have dinner and then relax on the couch.  You’d come and lie at our feet with your back against the couch, in the hope that one of our hands or feet would touch yours.  When it did, you’d close your eyes, take in three short breaths and let out one long one, in total contentment.

Bedtime …

When bedtime came around you’d get up from the lounge and follow us through to the bedroom where you’d settle down on your blanket next to my side of the bed.  In the morning you’d open one eye as I went through to take a shower, then go back to sleep until I was finished.  Whilst I was dressing you’d wipe the sleep from your eyes with your paws, lick your “hands” as we called them, and s-t-r-e-t-c-h (first your front legs with bum in the air, and then your back legs with head in the air!)  A little later, at my command you’d trot around to Tristam’s side of the bed to wake him – tail wagging with excitement, front paws on the bed and a lick on his face!

Piggy, you brought us such pleasure in the few years we spent together, the memories of which will continue to bring smiles to our faces in the years to come.  Thank you for enriching our lives as you did.

Kim Burrell