IT’S A DOG’S LIFE. By Pam Valentine. And STORIES FROM THE POUND. By Elan Loewenstein. Poetry Sheila McCormick. Two mini-plays. Directed by Sheila McCormick. Lighting/Sets by Fin McCormick. By Milnerton Players. At Milnerton Playhouse. SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews

If you, like me, grew up in a dog-loving home, you understand the agony of seeing an obviously lost dog frantically running to and fro up and down a street.

Chances are you are stuck in traffic or, even if you could pull over to help, by that time the dog would have vanished. Thankfully there are organisations such as Fallen Angels Pet Rescue who work tirelessly to save strays dogs by taking them into a shelter, where after bathing, deworming and vaccinating them place them in cages where they wait for a stranger to claim them as their pet. But what happens if no one comes, or if there are no  suitable living conditions?

That’s what It’s a Dog’s Life and Stories From the Pound are about – from the dogs perspective.

These two short, poignant playlets are sprinkled with humour, and each tell the dogs life story before they find themselves in the pound.

In It’s a Dog’s Life we meet Fifi, a once pampered Frence poodle (Elsje van Staden); Fritz a fierce German Shepherd guard dog (Werner Steffen); Ben a faithful old dog (Chris Doran), and Ginger (newcomer Anh Nguyen) – a most delightful bouncy pekinese puppy always on the lookout for food or her family.

It's a Dog's Life review
Paisley and Danno

Insightful doggie dialogue

In Stories from the Pound we have Lance Laubscher as Danno a large boisterous mongrel; Spot an energetic Border Collie (Werner Steffen); hoity-toity Paisley a thoroughly spoilt Shih Tzu/poodle (Beryl Eichenberger) and Lucy a pit bull (Elsje van Staden).

It is through Sheila McCormick’s witty rhymes, Pam Valentine and Eitan Loewenstein’s insightful doggie dialogue that we learn the heartbreaking background to each dog’s previous life. What circumstances led them to be impounded and, how being adopted is their primary wish, as not to be “means a walk down the hall, from which we never return.”

Ben has an opportunity for adoption by a Woman Visitor (Alissa Nayanah). Unfortunately when Warden (Gary Green) impersonally describes Ben’s previous owner as a dirty old tramp who died, Ben bites her. He tells his doggie friends that far from being a dirty old tramp, his master shared everything with him. They slept together in the open until one cold morning he climbed onto his master to keep him warm, hoping he’d wake up, but he didn’t.

Ginger remembers feeling cold, wet and scratching at something black covering her. Spot the border collie initially had sufficient space to run freely. However a change in his master’s circumstances found the family moving to a small flat with no space for him.

Initially Paisley’s mistress doted on her. Fed her special food. Groomed her regularly. “When she met a MAN all that stopped, and here I am expected to eat that disgusting stuff”

And so each dog told their sad story with the worst being the doggie whose master took him on a long long long walk, chained him to a gate and walked away.

Every dog owner knows dogs read their thoughts. But is the reverse true? McCormick’s sensitive direction, and intuitive portrayals by all eight dogs should make one think more deeply about how we treat our animals. These ditties should be filmed, passed on to schools to help bring home just how hurt an animal can be by human beings. Do see.

Note: Covid protocols are in place.

What: It’s a Dog’s Life Stories From the Pound
When: 28, 29 May 2021, 8pm. 29 May 2.30pm
Where: Milnerton Playhouse, Pienaar Road, Milnerton
Book: Here