May 16, 2023

There is a simple character test you can ask friends, Would you prefer a room full of people or a room full of dogs? For me it is always the latter, a room full of dogs. It is not that I feel anti-social but I love dogs. Dogs for me are one of the greatest creatures on the planet, closely followed by orangutans. When writing my read along for kids poems, I had to have a special one for my old dog Flash the Basset Hound. When I would read aloud it brought back so many fond memories. It was a very fortunate chance we ended up rescuing her.

Flash was on the front page of a newspaper saying she had only one week before she was going to be put down. I was working as a volunteer at the Auckland SPCA growing up and my mum always said if a basset hound came in then we would rescue him/her. The chances were very slim, but every month I would go there hoping a Basset might need a home. This never happened so fate sealed it when Flash was in the newspaper (The Auckland Star). We changed her name as she was called Sapphire, and she came home as Flash. Flash came from a TV show which had a lazy basset hound in it. There was even a song written about Flash. My favourite line was “In a one dog race Flash’s coming last, go Flash go”. She was one year old when we rescued her and she passed away eleven years later.

I learnt a lot having Flash and Bassets aren’t the easiest breed to have as they must be the centre of attention. Also, they are ruled by their noses. Many times Flash would run off after a smell and then lose her sense of direction back home. Flash was supposed to stay in the garage during the day at first, but we let her in the house after one day. She wasn’t allowed in the bedrooms but this changed over time too. At first, she slept in the laundry, and I would tuck her in every night under a mountain of blankets. Then it got very cold, so I made the excuse it would be warmer on my bed. Flash eventually slept every night on my bed. Some nights we were joined by our cat, Timmy. Things got a bit complicated when we rescued three more cats, a mother and two kittens. One night I woke up with three cats and a Basset curled up on my single bed. It was no wonder I wasn’t very comfortable.

Flash being my first dog, and only so far, taught me many things about dog behaviour. I had met many dogs at the SPCA but never had one full time in the house. The best saying I know about dogs is, “You can’t teach a dog to wag it’s tail”, which sums them up perfectly. You can instantly know when they are happy or sad. Tails are their happiness radar, in a way. When teaching people how to be around dogs you can tell by the dog’s body language very quickly what mood they are in. Not just the tail, their heads, their eyes and even the way some wiggle their bum!

So how might dogs relate back to W.E.Kiwi? Well, it comes back to our motto, Friends come in all Sizes, Shapes and Species. Flash was my best friend growing up, and if we were going anywhere without Flash then I wasn’t going (unless out to dinner then she had to stay home). W.E.Kiwi at its essence is all about animals and how they are our friends. Teaching English in South Korea I found most animal related stories, or teaching methods, children were able to grasp concepts far easier than talking about bikes, trees or say mountains. Animals by their sheer size and shape can open up an array of emotions and ideas. Creatively writing stories for kids and using animals makes the process flow far easier than “people” stories. When writing poems for kids to read along to, there are so many animals I can use. This makes poems in English not seem stale over time. Growing up, dogs were probably the easiest for me to make silly personalities and tell stories about. You can have a very serious bulldog, a silly Labrador or a tough no-nonsense German Shepherd.

With W.E.Kiwi each Kiwi has a personality which I could transform into a dog breed. W.E.Kiwi would be a Golden retriever, fun, silly, but very loyal. K.B.Kiwi would be a standard poodle, very smart but hides it well. Young A.J.Kiwi would be a fox terrier, never sitting still and looking out to cause chaos. A.J.’s older sister, J.W.Kiwi, would be a cocker spaniel, easy to please and loves a warm fire but ready to run off if the chance comes. The older Kiwi, S.M. and I.D.Kiwi, I imagine would be border collies in their retirement years. They both worked hard, very intelligent, but now prefer to stay home and let the young dogs play on the farm. There are many more Kiwi I could transform into dogs (G.B.Kiwi is definitely a bull mastiff) but best to focus on them as Kiwi Birds after all.

So to summarise, and I do believe this is a bit of an insight into my personality, dogs are the best. There is no other way of really saying this more simply. Whether it’s watching them run on the beach, sitting on the couch or lying next to the fire they are a joy to watch. There are so many different breeds it is very hard to say I have a favourite but there is still a soft spot in my heart for Basset Hounds. And to be honest, I don’t think you are ever in trouble if you are chased by a pack of Basset Hounds. Never forget, A basset is always an asset.

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Flash the basset on youtube

Born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Jon grew up writing little stories in his room by himself, with help of his beloved cat and dog.

Years later at the University of Otago, while studying theatre, he would write, perform and also direct plays & comedy shows. Moving back to Auckland he continued in theatre, TV, and stand-up comedy. After winning a Fringe comedy award and being nominated for the second time in the Billy T Comedy Awards he decided to take a break. This meant travelling overseas, which led him to live in Asia, Middle East, Europe and the UK.
While all the time writing, Jon noticed that not many people around the world knew about Kiwi Birds. This led to the creation of W.E.Kiwi.

Returning back to NZ to look after K.B.Kiwi – who was very sick, meant every night was ”the writing time”, when all the energy was back to writing stories, kids’ books and poems about animals (and kreating creatures).

Jon’s fun Kiwi spirit and his sense of humour help in creating more and more Kiwi-centred content. We really hope you can join us on the journey.
Stay tuned for more.