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The call for more pet-friendly rentals

17 Jan

In a North Sydney ground floor flat, two twenty-something women lived with a miniature schnauzer named Charlie. They had rescued the nervy pup from a nearby pet shop. They didn’t ask the landlord’s permission and the three of them lived happily together without raising any eyebrows. It was only when the women decided to move out, that the agent said, ‘Please ensure the carpets are steam cleaned to remove pet odour and hair.’

One of those women was me. We were lucky. Despite ignoring the ‘no pets’ clause on our lease (oops), we were allowed to parade our pooch around the property. And I’m happy to report that our timid, wiry-haired puppy grew into a confident, energetic and well-loved dog.

Which is why I was saddened to read in a news story today that more people are having to give up or put down their pets, because they cannot find an animal-friendly property.

According to the RSPCA, 30 per cent of pets given to the organisation are from people who cannot find animal-friendly accommodation.

Why are landlords adverse to pets?

As with most things, it comes down to money. Landlords view pets as a risk and indeed, perhaps the standard bond of four weeks’ rent doesn’t give them enough peace of mind that the property won’t be left damaged, dirty or smelling like wet dog.

In my experience, pets leave little mess. Their naughty deposits on the carpet can be easily cleaned. And, provided they have been properly trained and get enough exercise, their damage to the home is minimal. They might chew a shoe, but the only person that will annoy is you!

If our landlord had asked us to pay additional bond money for having Charlie in the flat, I would have happily paid it. My housemate and I were also fully aware that any damage to walls, doors, floors and the like would come out of our bond. Just as it would if we had caused the damage ourselves. We even forked out for a behaviourist to stop Charlie barking when we were both out.

I imagine most pet owners would be happy to pay a higher bond, if it meant their beloved fluffy friend could live with them.

Property Owners Association of Queensland president Bruce McBryde, echoes my views in the article. He too suggests a larger bond to both entice landlords to accepting applicants with pets, and to protect the premises.

“Ideally if you really want to make landlords more pet friendly you need to change the regulations to allow them to take a bigger bond,” Mr McBryde said.

“At least then the landlord would have more incentive.”

Why do we need more pet-friendly properties?

Australia has one of the highest levels of pet ownership in the world, with 40 per cent of households owning a dog (source). Coupled with the rise in high-density, inner-city living, more people will require rentals that give the tick to pets.

University of Tasmania sociologist Adrian Franklin says it’s also a social issue, as a pet ban in rentals means many Australians will be “condemned to lonely and unhealthy lives”. He points to an ageing population which will require more assistance and companion animals in future years.

All of these factors suggest that it’s time for rental regulations to change. Yes, there will always be a small group of people who mistreat their rental homes. Though as RSPCA spokesperson Michael Beatty says, “If you look at it logically, someone who is going to take good care of their animal is going to take good care of their property.”

So let’s loosen up, accept the stats and come to an agreement that both landlords and pet owners are happy with.

Have you had issues finding a pet-friendly property?

Vegemite: A spoon full of Australia?

6 Jan

Stone the flamin’ galahs! It  seems everyone is twittering (and tweeting) today about Vegemite’s move to temporarily rename the salty spread ‘Australia’ in the lead up to Australia Day.

To this, I say ‘ptooo!’ (That’s meant to sound like me spitting out Vegemite.)

I do like that the brand is honouring 10 ‘everyday Aussies’ by plastering their mugs on the jars. Especially the Under 19 Women’s Lacrosse Team, as I’m all for women’s sport receiving recognition and more prominent promotion.

But Vegemite is about as Australian as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (my aim is to mention the chocolatey-peanut-buttery creations in all my blog posts. Mmm, so tasty).

Vegemite has been wholly owned and made in the US since it was sold to Kraft Foods in 1935.

Sure, it has post-WWI Australian history firmly entrenched in its name. And yes, it’s still a quintessential Australian brekkie spread that travellers to our fair shores try before wrinkling their noses, spitting it out and vowing never to taste it again. Indeed, many of us Aussies were fed Vegemite as soon as we could swallow solids. I’m sure many people in fact consider it ‘un-Australian’ to detest it.

But that’s just nostalgia. And clever marketing spin. Strewth!

So then, what’s the deal with Vegemite going all true-blue larrikin and OTT with the ‘we love your our country’ sentiments?

To remind us of what it means to be Australian? Not on your nelly.

To sell more spread? Bloody oath.

In the lead up to Oz Day, I’d rather see Sam Kekovich yelling to get a lamb chop inta-ya!

Or even the Coopers Beer ad that quips ‘Hey true brew!’ before asking, ‘On Australia Day, isn’t it refreshing to know you can raise your glass to the best country in the world with a beer that’s 100% Australian made and owned?’ Yes Coopers, yes it is. Well, if I drank beer it would be…

So Vegemite, while I appreciate the sentiment, and the teeny tiny printed note at the bottom of your ads which reads ‘Vegemite is a trademark of Kraft Foods’, you’re not Aussie. Haven’t been for 77 years.

You still taste good, though, so I have no issue with where or how you’re made. Just can the Aussie-isms. Let us celebrate Australia Day in our own way. For the sake of all Austrayans.

Cheers.

5 things 2011 taught us

16 Dec

Oh, what a year! Social upheaval, natural devastation and far too much Kardashian koverage marked 2011.

With Christmas being a time for reflection and contemplation, I thought I’d pop open the bubbly (please, grab a glass!) and look back at 5 things 2011 taught us…

#1 – Mother Nature can be a bitch

Apparently, this year’s torrent of natural disasters made 2011 the costliest on record. And that was just by July! Floods, fires and cyclones battered our young country. New Zealand lost 100 people to a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. More than 15,000 lives were lost (and 7000 people missing) when a quake and tsunami ravaged Japan. The world wept. And continued to weep. I said a silent prayer for those who lost their lives and their loved ones. I prayed that prayer far too many times in 2011.

#2 – The world is Kardashian krazy

The KKK (sorry, I mean the Kardashian klan koverage) reached ridiculous heights this year. Twitter turned into a frantic finch cage (you know, those tiny little birds that dash about) the moment a Kardashian ate a salad, got out of a car, or said ‘Like, yeaaaah, like, you knowwww’. Kim’s quickie 72-day marriage caused a stir. Kourtney and that aggro pastel-wearing dude dominated magazine covers. Khloe apparently got ‘fatter’. And then ‘thinner’. And then ‘fat’ again. Then it turned out she was preggers. But then she wasn’t. Ugh. Over it!

#3 – On that note…the world loves butts (and it cannot lie)

The royal wedding of that hot dude Prince William to that thin lass Catherine was overshadowed by the apparently pert posterior of the princess’s sis. A Facebook page – Pippa Middleton’s Arse – was set up in the derriere’s honour. That picture of Pippa in a figure-hudding frock at the wedding turned the world butt-crazy. Second only to its obsession with Kim Kardashian’s kaboose. Which, according to gossip magazines, grows or shrinks according to her stress levels. Or the camera angle.

#4 – If you want to be a famous singer, be a bad one

Yes, Rebecca Black, I’m looking at you! Her cringe-worthy Friday Friday video, featuring lame lyrics and a heavy amount of auto-tune, amassed 167 million YouTube views. And more than 3 million ‘dislikes’. So kids, the lesson here is: if you want to make it in this world, don’t worry about being talented. Instead, focus on what you’re not good at and flog it! (By the way, I do feel kinda sorry for the kid).

#5 – Nothing in life is certain – so just live it!

Did anyone else feel that this year was a struggle – individually and globally? I felt like we were all being tested, stretched, challenged and reminded of just how precious life is. The ravaging natural disasters had us fearing the end of the world. Then the wars and social plights had me thinking it’s in fact us who will bring about the end of our world, not Mother Nature.

I don’t know about you, but I’m wrapping up the year relieved and a little uncertain about what 2012 holds. The only thing I can be certain of is the little ripples I will make.

I pledge to be more peaceful, helpful, loving and kind. I promise to try harder not to judge others, to trust and to be more open. It might not make any difference in the big scheme of things, but perhaps if each of us strives to live and love better next year, that little ripple will flutter out to where it’s needed most.

I wish you a safe and peaceful Christmas and an optimistic New Year.

Cheers!

Xoxo Kat

What are your most memorable moments from 2011? What are you looking forward to in 2012? Share by commenting below 🙂

Bridget Jones back in 2012!

14 Dec

Excuse me while I hyperventilate into a wine glass. It’s just been announced that Bridget Jones is making a comeback, with a third installment in the film franchise due for release in late 2012! Ahh. Maa. Gaad!

In the latest flick, Bridget apparently ends up preggers to slimy, smarmy, but oh so delectable Daniel Cleaver.

There are three reasons why I’m so blooming excited about this news.

  1. Whenever a Bridget Jones movie is released, I feel justified gorging on wine, chocolate and acting a little bit crazy. If Bridget Jones is allowed to do it, so am I!
  2. Another chance to perve on the sexy man meat that is Mr Darcy (aka Colin Firth)
  3. Another chance to perve on Hugh Grant. Granted (pun), he’s not as hot-to-trot as rugged Firth, but it’s still a nice little dose of eye candy.

Aside from all that, Bridget Jones is one of the most authentic, real and fabulously flawed female characters to grace the silver screen. She fumbles, she bumbles, she accidentally makes blue soup and seems to have a habit of falling bum-first on camera. While some of her actions might make us cringe, Bridget is relatable. She’s real. And that’s why we love her (and, of course, why Mr Darcy falls head over heels with her as well).

So here’s cheers to the return of Bridget Jones in 2012!

Are you a Bridget Jones fan?

Why Keanu offering his seat shouldn’t be news

13 Dec

A video surfaced today, showing Keanu Reeves giving up his subway seat for a fellow female passenger. My first thought was ‘Why is Keanu Reeves using public transport? Didn’t he survive a bus hijacking back in 1994?’ My second thought was, ‘Oh, hang on, that wasn’t real’. And my third thought was, ‘Really? That’s news?’

I’m all for giving up stuff for strangers. I’ll only nab a spot on the bus or train if there are no little old ladies, bag-laden shoppers, restless kids with weary mums, or cute couples (naww, love) around. And I like to think I’m one of the first passengers to jump up and offer my seat to someone who hops on and matches either of these descriptions (or all of them – an old lady weighed down with shopping, holding hands with her husband and calming their energetic grandson perhaps? It could happen!)

To the frustration of my friends, I’ve been known to circle a car park with my arm stuck out the window, ready to give away my still-valid parking ticket. All to save someone a couple of bucks.

Once, I gave away my umbrella to a woman who was on her way to a job interview and was worried she’d arrive soaked and sodden. I was heading home, so I figured she needed it more than me.

The other night, when leaving Westfield, I broke away from The Lad to show a man and his son the entrance to the shopping centre, after watching them try unsuccessfully to force open a locked door.

To be honest, I’m always looking out for ways to help someone else. I don’t do it for karma. I don’t do it to feed my ego (in fact, I tend to go bright red when offering something to a stranger). I do it because it feels like the right thing to do. And I do it because I know what it’s like to feel like a little speck in a sea of people, lost, broke, or in a bit of a pickle and not know how to ask for help. There have been times when someone has offered me a bus ticket, the spot in front of them in the supermarket queue, or shown me the right way to go, and I have been so thankful. Other times, I’ve not received any help and, while I’ve eventually found my way, wished someone had lent a hand.

One of my friends commented recently that she can’t believe how few people offer their seat to her on the train. She’s eight months’ pregnant. So I also do it to set an example and show others that nothing bad happens when you offer something to a stranger. In fact, it can do the world of good and turn someone’s day around.

Every day, I see someone bending down to chat to a homeless person on a busy city street. Or motion to a stranger to go ahead of them in a queue. Or run after a fellow commuter who has dropped their wallet. I like to think they do it for the same reason I do – because they feel it’s right. Not because they’ll be hailed an everyday hero, but because it’s normal and not a big deal.

So while I like that Keanu Reeves gave up his seat for a female passenger, I don’t think it should be a news item. In fact, if more of us reached out more regularly to help the person next to us, then maybe such everyday events wouldn’t make the news. Just as a video of Miley Cyrus tying her shoelace doesn’t make international headlines. It would just be the norm.

What do you think of the Keanu Reeves video being a news item? Do you offer your seat or something else to someone in need? Why do you do it?

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