If you were going to die, the latter half of 1978 was a popular time to do it. Pope Paul VI died 6th August, and trumpet legend Eddie Calvert died on 7th and South African State President Nico Diedericks died 22nd August.
My faithful dog companion, Shakwe, born on an island in the heat of Zambezi River, died in the snows of Cathcart on 30th. Our landlord had had several sheep savaged by a pack of more than fifteen dogs from the nearby Goshen Mission hunting on their farm. He laced one of the carcases with poison, which, sadly, Shakwe picked up. I was away at the time; Sheila reported that he had not come in for his supper and she feared the worst. When I got back at the weekend, I found his body frozen in the snow. I sat beside his body and howled like a dog…
Two of our three other dogs must have later eaten from his barf because they started foaming at the mouth and spasms sent them kicking and sliding across the kitchen floor as we dosed them with salt water to get them to vomit up the poison. Thankfully, we saved them both.
Lizzie, a Bull-mastiff x Boerboel bitch that I had, had a litter of Shakwe’s pups after he died, so I kept one of the males, in memorium…
Sheila’s sister in law, Rose Maling, had just given birth to her fourth child less than a year after her twin boys were born with oesophageal atresia (gullet and gut not connected) and was finding it impossible to care for them all at once. The twins were sent to live with Sheila’s mum and dad, Vicky and Chris Maling, on their farm near East London. Then we got the news that Vicky had spilled a pot of boiling hot tea into her lap and was admitted to Frere Hospital on 17th September, so the twins came to live with us for a few months. Christopher and Andrew Maling were to become as special as our own children and remain our close friends up to the present day.
P.W. Botha was elected Prime Minister of South Africa.
The new Pope, John Paul I, died 28th September after 33 days in office.
On 29th September, John Vorster was elected State President.