Thursday, April 18, 2024

She’s got her hands full


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As I approach the home of Julie Dash, three canine faces stare at me through the gate. I walk up to the house, as the dogs keenly follow me. As I’m ushered in and made comfortable in one of the lovely patios, the cat eyes me suspiciously, but after much cooing and soft talk (from me), she shyly approaches, and as I stroke her soft grey fur, I’m rewarded with a small purr. I later find out she is called Shiloh, which suits her shy and sweet nature.

After a few minutes a beautiful vision in white sweeps into the patio and the dogs’ attention turns to their mistress. The two exuberant boxers, Darcy and Nancy, vie for Julie’s attention, as the Jack Russell and “top dog” Gracie watches the proceedings from the kitchen. Julie explains that Gracie is very protective and I think she is still making her mind up about me.

As our interview begins, Julie officially welcomes me to her home, and introduces me to her many pets. First I meet the turtles, ten in all, of varying sizes and ages.

Next I meet Annabel the African grey parrot and am amazed when Julie tells me what an extensive vocabulary she has. Julie recalls how one night she told Annabel, “I love you”, and Annabel replied, “I know”. Julie was pleasantly surprised at Annabel’s response, and said “I love you” again to make sure she wasn’t imagining things.

But again Annabel replied, “I know”. This indicates the intelligent and intuitive nature, coupled with an innate sense of the universal nature of love, this species of bird has. I tried to exchange a few pleasantries, but Julie explained that Annabel has to “know me first”, before we could have any meaningful dialogue. I give Annabel a nod of respect and am sure she nods back.

The photographer arrives and the dogs become excited, bouncing around and wagging their tails at yet another visitor. Three more dogs suddenly appear (that’s right, three), Coco, RiRi and Tinkerbell, all Jack Russell crosses, completing Julie’s canine family.

There is one more introduction, and that is to meet the mysterious cat which lives on the roof, and only comes down at sunset. She is called the Butterfly Cat as she likes to flit about, alighting here and there. Julie explains that the Butterfly Cat lived in the house for eight years, but decided to move to the roof after one of the dogs decided it would be fun to play chase, a game she wasn’t keen on.

She will come down from the roof and socialise if she feels like it and no game of chase is involved. But mainly she stays on the roof, where she is happiest.

As we relax with Julie’s pets, I ask her when she developed such an obvious love of animals. “I could ride a horse before I could walk, and my cousin who had a pony called Candy would take me for rides with her . . . . I also grew up on a farm and my first pets were a pair of golden Labradors.”

When Julie, of Hannah Properties Ltd, settled in Barbados, she continued to keep animals, and in her current home, in which she has lived for more than twenty years, she has always had pets. Gracie is her constant companion at home and a good watchdog. Julie explains that Gracie has excellent hearing and misses nothing and the two boxers also watch out for her. However, as well as maintaining a protective presence around the home, Julie tells me that her dogs are “extremely loving and unique. The Jack Russell and Jack Russell crosses are highly intelligent, sensitive and sharp-minded. The boxers are fantastic with children, gentle and passive, unless they feel a threat.” (Julie jokes that the “little dogs” have taught the bigger ones to be more sharp.)

Julie enjoys taking her dogs on the pasture for their exercise, and finds this to be “therapeutic and relaxing”, after a busy workday. Julie loves having her animals around the home, and says with a smile, “They make me extremely happy and are always happy to see me when I come home. Responding to love, which is no different to people”.

I asked Julie how she cares for her pets. “Our bodies are 90 per cent water and I begin each morning with three glasses of water. In the same way I like to be hydrated, I make sure my animals are hydrated too, by giving them plenty of fresh water to drink.

“They have two meals a day, and the dogs have canine supplements and cod liver oil to help maintain their health, plenty of exercise and weekly baths. Julie also attributes the health of her animals to the loving care of veterinarian Dr David Walton who she says is “extraordinary and fantastic!”

Julie is happy when she sees people taking an interest in the care of their animals, from cows, goats and sheep, to domestic cats, dogs and smaller animals. “All living things, be it a person, a plant or an animal, need love.” Again she emphasised the importance of providing fresh, clean drinking water for animals and ensuring they are regularly fed and have some form of exercise and human interaction.

As well as being an avid animal lover, Julie has a close loving relationship with her two daughters – Christiane, who is in her fifth year of studying medicine, and Lily, who has recently completed her law degree.

She is also a successful businesswoman and philanthropist. I wanted to know how she manages to balance everything. Julie explains, “I am extremely well organised and ordered. And never put off tomorrow what you can do today. I’m up early, 4:30 a.m., and sleep is important for energy balance. I eat well, and exercise is important to stay mentally and physically in shape. My philosophy is you’re as happy as you make up your mind to be.”

Julie Dash also lives by three laws. The law of attraction: “As ye sew, so ye reap.” The law of gratitude: “Always be grateful, especially as we live in one of the most beautiful countries on earth.” The law of contribution: “Very important to give back and be kind and generous with others who may not be so fortunate. When you’re kind to people and animals it comes back to you in many, many ways.”

As my time with Julie Dash comes to a close, I must say I have enjoyed spending time with her and getting to know the woman behind Hannah Properties Ltd. She is engaging, warm and funny and made me feel most welcome. Her pets all have unique personalities and warmed to me as I spent time with them. The three laws that Julie lives by are something I will take away with me and I think many people would benefit by adopting this philosophy in their own lives.


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