First there was friendship….
Neil: We’ve been friends since 1982 when we both worked in regional TV in New South Wales. I worked in news and production…Gai in graphics. She was newly married. Years later we met up in Brisbane. By then I was married with a young family. Gai was divorced and had taken a new direction, working in production. We crossed paths every few years at TV stations or on Outside Broadcasts.
…. then fate intervened!
Gai: In 2013 after 18 years as a network producer, I returned to my home town in NSW, in search of a new sense of belonging. In the same year, Neil had been lured back to regional news in NSW. Fate intervened and we were re-acquainted! This time we were both free to pursue more than a friendship! We ended up on the Gold Coast in search of a new project, and the next chapter of our life. Together!
Our love of animals
Neil: Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved animals. From my first dogs, a gorgeous golden retriever and a black and white border collie, through to the delightful German Shepherd cross who was with me all through my teens and my best friend. Swimming with dolphins was a life highlight.
Later there were two moodles who I loved so much it hurt! Raised from tiny puppies, this pair of fluffy balls of energy were constant companions.
From guinea pigs to orphaned lambs.
Gai: When I was growing up in a small country down, we had a string of pets from cats, dogs and guinea pigs – to lambs, calves, chickens, ducks and bossy geese on my grandmother’s farm.
When I finished college I got my very own dog. Basil was a sweet Australian Terrier. He’s been gone for many years now but he’s still “my dog”.
My love of animals went hand in hand with my job. For 18 years I worked as a writer and producer on long running TV program “Totally Wild”. The focus was on all creatures great and small. I experienced many privileges and joyful animal encounters.
On a stretch of the Queensland coastline, I watched as hatchling sea turtles emerged from their nest on the beach and ran for their lives into the surf.
At “Dreamworld” I walked with a majestic white Bengal Tiger, then bottle fed a tiger cub.
My sister and I strolled with fully-grown cougar and Andy, her handler.
I met Steve Irwin and with my 2, now grown up nieces, sat on the grass at “Australia Zoo” with Harriet, his 170 year old Galapagos Tortoise.
Possibly the most joyous moment was sitting in the Meerkat enclosure at “Werribee Zoo”, as the inquisitive young ones climbed all over me!
These are the highlights that sustained my yearning for another pet. When Neil and I came together, that longing began to grow again, in both of us. And it was a big part of our decision to travel by via house and pet sitting.
What could be more soothing after a day of sightseeing – than smooching with an affectionate dog or cat.