With most of the worst of the pandemic behind us here in Australia – or, at least, the first and hopefully the last wave of infections – we thought we’d take a few moments in the podcast to discuss positives that have emerged from the months of lockdown and working from home.
Apparently, according to a Zoom conference that Sue sat in on (and that’s a great leap forward, right there), technology has advance by five years in the past five months, including having your apartment block’s or office’s lift knowing you are leaving before you’ve even opened your door.
Quantum computing and robot-run farms are also making headway and there are even advances in electrically powered air taxis, although Jimmy reckons the biggest advance would be developing technologies to make sure they don’t crash into each other.
Jimmy’s thoughts on how the pandemic has improved our lives are more prosaic – he likes having to book his gym sessions, as it means he’s less likely to talk himself out of exercising.
It should be said that both of your podders admit to major technological snafus later in the podcast, both of which left them red-faced, albeit in very different ways.
The podcast’s guest this week is Nadia Crighton of Pet Insurance Australia who talks about the implications of the recent revocation of “no pets” by-laws in NSW and how we can navigate this furrier and friendlier new world so that some day soon people will wonder what all the fuss was about.
It’s all about respect for each other and our personal boundaries, she says, taking the time to train your dog properly and adopting basic courtesies like keeping your dog on a leash on common property and not getting into a lift with someone who doesn’t want to share it with your dog or cat.
By the way, she draws the line at demanding that dogs be muzzled in lifts. “People who are scared of dogs are going to be more alarmed at the sight of one wearing a muzzle,” she says.
And somewhere in there she explains why the smartest dogs aren’t always the wisest choices for apartments, why low-shedding animals need just as much grooming, and why a good dog breeder will interview you, rather than the other way round.
All that and more in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap.
Transcription in full
With the heavy lifting done by computer and the fine-tuning done by humans, the podcast transcript is more readable than ever. Yay!
So, it seems we are gradually coming out of lockdown across Australia.
And it got me thinking, we should try and do something positive about the effects the pandemic has had on our society and the way we live, because I’m sure there are some positives. And later on, we’ll be talking to Nadia Crighton, of Australian Pet Insurance about dogs; pets in apartments and how they should be compulsory. Well, she doesn’t say that. I’m Jimmy Thomson.
And I’m Sue Williams.
And this is the Flat Chat Wrap.
What positives have you seen come out of the pandemic and the lockdown?
Well, I guess we have a better idea of the importance of community and how we really need to be connected. I think perhaps we’ve kind of glossed over that in other times when we’ve been too busy to sit and talk to people. I was talking to somebody the other day, an AI expert. I was at a conference where she was speaking, and she was fascinating. She said, “the good thing about COVID is that in the five months that we’ve been affected, technology has increased by five years. So, in five months, we’ve had the equivalent of five years technological advance.
Why? Because everybody’s stuck at home, inventing stuff?
That’s right, and because we can’t get together physically anymore, we’ve had to rely on new technologies like zoom to make the world keep going during this difficult time. We’ve had to kind of be quite inventive, I think, and innovative. It was really interesting, the kind of things she was talking about. She was saying that we’ve got things like air taxis now. We do, or they’re possible.
I always thought that that’s always been one of the indicators of the future, but then you think, it’s bad enough when taxis are on four wheels on a road, where they’re basically moving in two dimensions, like forwards and backwards and sideways. Sometimes, with some taxis I’ve been in, all at the same time. Add a couple of dimensions to that, where they can go up and down and sideways and forwards and backwards and it sounds like chaos. The technology to be able to have powered flight has been with us for more than 100 years, but the technology to stop small flying machines crashing into each other would be fairly new.
Yeah and we’ve probably perfected that with drones as well. When you think about drones delivering medicine to hospitals in Africa, and they’ve had robots, injecting people and looking after people, you know, with COVID, so they’re not going to get infected either.
They’re going to use drones in the bushfire season, which we’re kind of in already. They’re going to use them to just monitor high-risk areas, so they can spot the fires earlier.
That’s great and other big advances have been in in quantum computing; processes have become so much faster. Digital twinning, where you create a digital mirror of a physical environment. So, if you had an apartment building- a physical apartment building-you can create a digital complete model of the same thing. So, you can think “well, if I do something in an engineering way to this building, what will happen to it?” You don’t actually have to physically do it; you just do it digitally and you can see the effect of it. Personal translators, she said, was another huge thing. The technology now exists and the apps, to translate 100 languages in three minutes.
What does that mean? Translate 100 languages in three minutes, in entirety, of everything ever written in a language, and then after three minutes it’s useless, it’s already been done?
Well, I think if we had a little chat and then we could get this this app, I think it’s called Langagogo, and it could translate it within three minutes into 100 different languages, for our Polish listeners, for our listeners in Taiwan…
We have enough trouble with our transcription thing, which tries to translate one language into the same language, only in a written form and it calls this podcast, ‘Flat Chat Crap.’ It’s very smart; artificial intelligence taken to a new level. Have you got more fantastic things?
Only two more. One is autonomous farming, where you have agricultural pods, where they can grow food without any human intervention whatsoever. It’s all done by computer. The final thing; this conference was held by elevator company, Kone. So, the final thing was that elevators are now going to be really technologically advanced…
They actually turn up when you press a button.
You don’t have to press a button. You leave your apartment and the act of you walking towards your front door, the computer picks it up. So, by the time you’re out of your front door, the lift has come to your floor and has opened and is waiting for you and knows exactly where to take you, because it just follows your movements over the last year or something. So, it takes you down to your car; the carpark underneath, or it takes you down to the ground floor, if that’s where you’re going.
Because it knows where you want to go.
Yeah, and when you get to work…
So, if you walk towards the front door with your car keys, the lift goes “oh yeah, he’s going to the carpark?”
If you usually go to the carpark at that time, and that day, it will remember that. And then when you get to work, if you actually ever go into an office, again, you’ll go towards the front door, the doors will open, and the lift will miraculously be there.
So automatically, the doors open and the lifts not there; you’re in serious trouble.
Good point! It takes you automatically to your floor and you don’t have to press any buttons, so it’s good because you don’t have to touch anything. So, you’re not at risk of any germs.
I was looking for pictures to illustrate the stuff I’ve been writing about; clip-on lifts for old buildings, which I was writing about last week and I was trying to find pictures. Funnily enough, the only pictures I could find, I had to steal off an Indian website, because they showed the perfect building, an old walk-up apartment block where they’d clipped on a lift on the outside. There were a few examples in Australia, but unfortunately, all the pictures on the Flat Chat website are landscape; wide pictures. And for some reason, pictures of lifts, are all vertical.
The picture could say ‘this picture should actually be vertical.’
Yes, please turn your phone around. I saw an illustration; a picture of an apartment block, I think in Germany, where it looked like every apartment or every office… if it was an office block, had its own lift door. The lifts were on a thing that moves up and down and sideways. The lift could come up to your floor and then move over to your lift door and then you just walk straight into the lift and it takes you down to wherever you want to go, which seems kind of groovy.
Yeah, what else?
I kind of like the fact that they put limits on how many people can use the gym in our building and you have to book in advance. So, you say, right, I want to be here for an hour between 10 and 11 o’clock on Wednesday. You can only have two people in the gym at one time, so I have taken full advantage of this. I kind of like it, because I’m using the gym more than I did before, because you go “oh, I might want to go to the gym on Wednesday at this time. I’d better book it.” Then, when you’ve done that…
You have to go.
You kind of feel you should.
Because otherwise you’re depriving someone else.
They always say about going to the gym, before all this happened, that you should make an appointment in your calendar or in your diary and treat it with the reverence you would treat a meeting with your boss, so you kind of have to take it. But it’s hard; most of us are human.
You could actually look at your diary occasionally. I would have to have an entry in my diary to remind me to look at my diary. But you were the one who told me that the best thing to do if you’re planning to go to the gym in the morning, you should get up and put your gym clothes on. Even if you’re not going to go to the gym for another two hours. I mean, it’s easy for us because we work from home, so we can wander around in our gym clothes, but it actually works. You get up, put your gym clothes on. I’ve got shorts and T shirt on. Why? Oh, I remember I was going to go to the gym. Now that you have to have a make a booking, there’s an extra impetus. Hmm,
Certainly. Also, I like it that we often don’t have meetings, where we used to have a lot more meetings. I mean, now we have zoom, which is good. You don’t have to leave home for the meetings, but it can be a bit tiresome. I always find it really hard on zoom. If it’s just with one or two people, and you’re looking at them in the face and talking, it’s quite tiring, because you don’t usually look at people in the face in meetings, really. You’re looking down at notes and things.
You make an effort because you’re on camera. We’ve both worked in television at various points and you know, you’ve got to keep looking at the camera. It depends on the interview. But yeah, eye contact is very important. The zoom meeting thing is a double-edged sword. You do lose the personal contact, and you have to be quite disciplined. If you’ve got more than two people talking, the other person-the third person-has to know when to start talking, when to stop talking.
Recently our friend, Warren Coleman, (who directed Hyperbole Towers, and was a narrator for that) and I went on the Elephant in the Room podcast. The two of us were being remotely interviewed. We were in different places, being interviewed by a third person in a different place. It did not work, because as we do when we interview people on zoom, we don’t use video, because that degrades the audio too much. We couldn’t see the person who was interviewing us; she couldn’t see us. Warren and I were talking over the top of each other all the time. It’s awful. I didn’t even promote it on the website, to be honest, I just thought it was so crap.
It’s very difficult. I think in that in that circumstance, you have to have a mediator who’s quite strong and says, “Jimmy, what do you think about this? Warren, what do think about this?”
Especially if they’ve got a button, where they can silence one person.
Yes, shut up, Jimmy
Like they tried to do with Trump. Yes, the mute button. So, there’s a couple of positive things that have come out of COVID. Do you think we’re socializing more or less?
I think we’re socializing less, but we’re enjoying it more. We’re really making the most of the occasions when we do socialize.
And we’re catching up on all the TV that we’ve missed over the past year. Highly recommend the Queen’s Gambit, folks. The Crown. Oh, it’s all royal stuff. Sneaky Pete, that’s quite good. Ray Donovan. Anyway, this is not a TV review show. After this, we are going to talk to Nadia Crighton.
And we’re back. This week, our guest is Nadia Crighton of Pet Insurance Australia. Every week she sends us something really interesting about pets and it could be pets getting stressed out because the owners are going back to work. Or, it could be the most popular pet names; that’s always a good one. She covers the whole range of pet but she’s a pro-pet person. Obviously, she’s been watching what’s happening with the pet bylaws. From a distance, it has to be said, because it turns out, she’s in New Zealand. We spoke to her via zoom, which would explain any little fluffs and crackly bits on the audio, but I think it’s okay. Here she is now. Hello, Nadia.
Hello. Thanks for having me today.
You’re very welcome. It’s good to have an international guest, because you’re in New Zealand and we are on I think what New Zealanders call the West Island.
Yes. We might as well be joined, to be honest.
So, Nadia, have you been following the legal battles over pets and apartments here in New South Wales?
Yes, most certainly we’ve been across that at Pet Insurance Australia and I think it’s a really, really wonderful thing. Pets brings so much joy into our lives and particularly now more than ever. Being able to become a pet owner has so many advantages for mental wellbeing and community, that I think this was only a matter of time that stuff like this was going to happen.
Some of the buildings in New South Wales, which banned pets previously, can’t really ban pets anymore if it’s challenged. Some of them are looking at bylaws to regulate the behavior of pets. What kind of bylaws should be should they be looking at?
Look, I think this makes absolute common sense and to be honest, there’s only really a few bad apples that kind of spoil the bunch.
A lot of pet owners would be commonly doing these things anyway, so it would be more things like, you know, looking at the common areas. Are you carrying your pets? If they’re not able to be carried, they need to be on-lead at all times. They need to be under control and very well trained. You know, specifically for noise control and things like that and I think it really comes down to pet owners also being sensible. Make sure that your apartment dog is apartment-suited. Picking up after your pet, obviously, particularly around the grounds of the apartment complex and things like that and you know, using lifts versus using stairs. I think for apartment bylaws coming in, I think a lot of that will come into effect, but I think the majority of pet owners will have this common sense anyway, to keep their pets safe, and things like that. You know, particularly in lifts. Not only is it really important for non-pet owners that dogs are under control, in particular, on-leash; it’s also a safety protocol. There have been many dogs that have been trapped in lifts and have actually been strangled by lifts. So, it’s just that common sense and understanding and talking to your neighbors too, that if people are afraid of dogs, or they don’t like dogs and things like that. It’s also kind of having that community within the apartment complex respecting those bylaws that are in place, to keep everybody happy,
Right, because I guess the people who aren’t so keen on pets are always nervous about barking dogs; the sound of barking dogs. But I think in apartments, you kind of have more ways of controlling those kinds of irritants. My parents lived in a house a while ago, and they had barking dogs all around them, but when you live in a house, there’s not an awful lot you can do. But in an apartment, if it’s a well-run apartment, there’s lots of things you can do, aren’t there?
Most certainly, and it comes down to the pet owner. It’s just good training. If you’re concerned about your pet’s behavior at any point, there are some of the top trainers in Australia and behaviorists in Australia that can really help you get to the bottom of these problems. Excessive barking can be symptoms of other issues, like separation anxiety; boredom in particular. So, they’re not incurable problems and I also think that people that live in apartments tend to be there a lot more and understand that because obviously their pet is indoors. So, they’re coming home a lot more to make sure their pets going outside and again, it’s talking to your neighbors. If you notice that the dog is barking when the pet owner’s not home, chances are they don’t know that the dog is actually doing that. Just having a chat and finding a solution to the problem, rather than kind of sitting on it and just allowing it to kind of fester into anger.
That’s the worst thing in any aspect of any problem in apartments; not complaining when you first notice a problem and then just letting it build up and build up until somebody explodes. Nadia, what are the best pets for apartments?
Well, there’s loads. Obviously, you’ve got to consider the size of your apartment. I think a lot of people are quite shocked to hear that Great Danes do very well, in terms of they don’t really require much exercise.
They just need their space, because obviously, you can imagine the wine glasses and things that would be smashed off the table. Definitely, there’s a lot of small dogs that are fantastic. You’ve got like your Australian Silky Terrier, your Bichon Friese’s, your Chinese Crested, Italian Greyhounds do really well. These are also low-shedding dogs as well. Look, all breeds, to be honest, could cope, given that they’re given the right amount of exercise, that the owners don’t expect too much of them and they understand their breed.
But some breeds…I mean, I’m thinking Jack Russell’s are very popular because of their size and because they’re friendly little dogs as well, but they’re also very territorial. They tend to fall into the small yappy dog category, in that they will bark at any noise that they hear outside the apartment, because they’re defending their territory. I mean, would you not recommend a Jack Russell or that kind of breed?
Oh, no, most certainly not, because it depends on the owner and the training. You can actually ‘train out’ a lot of those traits and of course, the dog just being used to it. So, it’s all about socialization and training from a very young age, as soon as the puppy comes home. If you’ve got a dog, like a Jack Russell or any dog that’s kind of lived in a maybe a rural setting, or they’ve got a lot of space, and then all of a sudden, they’re going into an apartment, you really need to be putting your training in place to get them used to that, because obviously that’s a huge difference to their environment and then you may see some behavioral problems springing up. Like barking at all sorts of sounds and things like that. So, it’s really about kind of desensitizing your dogs to what they can get used to and what kind of maybe a bit step out of their comfort zone where they won’t be comfortable with it. But certainly, if you had a puppy Jack Russell that you brought up in an apartment, you could very easily train them that that was just their way of life; understanding as well that Jack Russell’s are a very high-energy breed. You need to be making sure that they’re getting the exercise. A lot of these dogs that you see, with these behavioral problems, the first thing that a lot of it will come down to is boredom and exercise, so it’s ensuring that you’re meeting the needs of your dog. It’s very easy to allow, you know, a lot of breeds, to be able to kind of live in those situations.
Sure. In our apartment building (where we’ve got owners who actually go to work every day), we have dog walkers come in at least twice a day and take the dogs out; the really energetic dogs. Often people can get around those kinds of issues, I suppose.
Most certainly. If you think creative enough, there’s always a solution to the problem.
And when owners get a bit stressed about issues like this, do pets pick up the stress as well?
Oh, most certainly. I think any pet owner out there will tell you that when you’re stressed or anxious, or upset, your pets very much know about it. Anxiety-you can always tell-even when you go to the vet, that if you’re a bit anxious about taking your pet to the vet, they’ll start to exhibit kind of anxiety-based responses. So, it’s trying to keep your cool, particularly if you are in an apartment situation, and something is happening, you know, with your pet. There’s been a complaint or something like that, just keep your cool and talk it through and come up with a solution.
Now, one of the arguments in the no-pet buildings is that there are people who say that they suffer badly from allergies to pets and a lot of the pro-pet people say that these claims are exaggerated. So basically, are allergies to pet hair and pet dander real?
Oh, they’re most certainly real and I can speak from personal experience. I’ve been chronically allergic to cats my whole life and I decided when I moved out of home in Sydney and went to an apartment building, I got myself two kittens. It was a very long road of lots of antihistamines. I’ve managed to desensitize myself, not particularly to other people’s cats, but to my own. Pet allergies are very, very real. But again, you can really monitor that. In an apartment complex, obviously, cleaning common areas; looking at the common areas like with lifts and things like that. More or less with pet allergies, is coming into real contact with those pets, so patting them. It’s hair, dander and saliva that are normally your top three. So, for pet owners, keep up with your grooming. If your pet’s going through a heavy shedding period during seasonal shedding, perhaps use the stairwells, not the lifts. It’s just that common sense of understanding yes, there are people out there who have allergies that are very, very uncomfortable and you’ve got to uphold the good name of the pet and the good name of pet owners and most pet owners don’t want their pets causing allergies to people. So when it’s that communication; if you find that your next door neighbor has said that they’re allergic to pets, when you see them and you’re coming up to the lift and you’re carrying your dog or your dog’s well- controlled on a leash, perhaps think, “you know what, we’re going to take the stairs today, Rover, because the neighbor’s allergic to pets.” So, it’s just people talking to each other and having that understanding and common sense when it comes to pets living in apartment buildings.
Sure, as pet owners being really careful and considerate and saying “do you mind if I get in the lift with you, or would you rather I wait?”
I mean, it’s one thing if somebody who is allergic is waiting to get in the lift and the lift door opens and there’s somebody with a cat or a dog in there, they can say “okay, I’ll get the next lift.” But, if you’re in the lift and somebody comes in with a dog, I guess it’s reasonable for you to be able to say “would you mind waiting?”
And I think that’s when it comes down to the communication, where it’s not so much looking at kind of pet owners against people who don’t want pets or you know, apartment buildings and strata’s coming up with a communication so that you can understand and have an open discussion and come up with rules and regulations that are just going to make everybody happy, so that your whole living environment is a lot less stressful.
And are there some animals who are less likely to shed hair and dander than others?
Oh, most certainly. You’ve got a lot of low-shedding breeds, for both cats and dogs. However, people do need to keep into consideration this doesn’t mean that it’s less grooming. A lot of times with the low -shedding breeds, it’s because they actually have a double coat, so they have kind of wiry coat on the outside and a feathery, downy coat in the middle and the wire coat kind of traps the hair, so it stops it falling and that’s what makes them considered a low-shedding breed. However, these pets need to be groomed very regularly. A lot of these pets actually go to groomers to be professionally groomed. And they’ll still have seasonal shedding periods where you’re grooming out a lot of hair off these pets. You do have your hyper-allergenic breeds, but again, with all your hyper-allergenic breeds, if you do suffer from allergies, always go and see your doctor first. Don’t do what I did, because it’s a very difficult process.
And the antihistamine bills were huge.
They were enormous, yes!
In New Zealand, you had the big, serious lockdown there for a while and we’ve had variations of that here in Australia. Have you detected any increase in pet ownership during that time?
Apart from you and your kittens.
In Australia, there was a huge increase in pet adoptions, fostering, and we saw a spike in pet insurance policies being sold. So, there was definitely a huge uptake of pets and I think a lot of that had to do with a lot of people spending a lot of time at home. Particularly with puppies, they were able to spend that critical first few weeks with them; intensive toilet training and things like that, with them at home. There’s a lot of people that perhaps decided to put down roots during COVID instead of the big overseas year adventure.
Perhaps they decided to buy a house, get a dog and kind of put their roots down, because of course, we don’t know how long this is going to last. But we definitely saw a massive spike with pet ownership right across Australia.
Is that gonna be a big emotional adjustment for the pets, when the owners go back to work?
This is something we’ve most certainly been talking about in the industry. Separation anxiety is very real for pets. So again, it’s really important that that pet owners get their pets used to being on their own at home; having some sort of routine where their pets aren’t with them all the time so that the pet learns it’s okay to be on your own. Again, if your pets exhibiting any symptoms like destructive behavior, barking, escaping, and excessive crying and things like that, when you’re not around, it’s really important to go and talk to your vet, and go and talk to a professional dog trainer to iron out these problems now, before you go back to work.
When you’re thinking of getting a pet, where should you get one from? Should you go to a pet shop and puppy farm? Or should you go to a refuge? What’s the problem with pet shops and puppy farms?
Puppy farms are just terrible. The breeding bitches and males are basically there just for breeding. So, it’s mass production of puppies. They don’t look after their pets very well. Always buy from a reputable breeder. If you’re going to a pet shop, ask where the puppies come from. Get more information. It is vital that people do their research. There’s also a lot of scams going on online. And look, don’t just trust a good-looking website. We see this all the time; these websites look amazing. The puppies look amazing. Top breeders, they will interview you more than what you will interview them. They don’t want their babies going just to anybody. So, you know, ask for photos with newspapers next to the puppies. Top breeders don’t mind you doing your research. If you can, try and see the mum and dad; try and go to the breeding establishment. We live in a very click-on-click-off kind of world, everybody wants everything now. The top breeders will have a long waiting list for you to be able to get a puppy. If you want a puppy right now or a kitten right now, go to your local shelter. There are plenty of them looking for homes.
And I guess the sign of a good breeder will be someone who doesn’t let you take the puppy or the kitten immediately; they kind of want a period of socialization with the mother, to make sure they’re ready to be separated, that kind of thing.
Most certainly, I mean, it’s normally around the eight-week mark. Some breeders leave it a little bit longer. It’s normally around the eight-week mark, but a breeder will interview you. A breeder will ask you about your living situation, how often you’re away from home.
Have you got children, have you got other pets, and all of this kind of stuff so that even when they choose a puppy for you, they will ensure that the temperament that they’ve seen in that pup, will suit your lifestyle. There’re so many good professional breeders out there, but you have to do your homework and ask as many questions, see as many photos… Contact your breed club; talk to the breed club about it. Always go to a registered breeder and always do your homework and ask questions. Don’t get caught up in the beautiful, cute, little puppy photos that you might get sent. You need to do your research.
I’ve got this dream of having a Border Collie, but we live in an apartment and somebody said that’s a great dog if you want to come home and find your furniture dismantled.
Those Collies are beautiful, beautiful dogs, but they are herding dogs, so they need a lot of exercise. A Border Collie runs and runs; they’re working dogs, and they’re very good working dogs in farm situations. When I used to be the editor of Dogs Life magazine, one of the biggest things that we used to get was Border Collies. ‘My Border Collie keeps rounding up all the washing on the line,’ and our thing was ‘what job did you give your Border Collie to do today before you left for work?’ That’s a highly entertaining thing for a dog, ripping up a cushion; ripping the washing off the line. It’s so entertaining, ripping up a cushion; all the fluff and excitement. It’s hugely entertaining. So, if you don’t entertain your dogs, they are masters at finding their own entertainment. And normally, it’s not to our liking, such as shoes.
I read somewhere fairly recently that some scientists had been testing to see how smart Border Collies were and they had 150 rubber toys, and they gave them each a name. They would put them in a different room and then they’d say to the dog ‘go and get Alfie,’ and the dog would always come back with the right toy. But they had so many of them, that the researchers couldn’t remember the names of the toys, and they had to put labels on them.
Border Collies are the smartest dogs in the world; they’re incredibly intelligent. So, when they get bored, they will find the most intelligent ways to keep themselves entertained.
Absolutely. It just occurred to me in terms of the bylaws and rules in buildings… Some buildings want dogs to be muzzled while they’re on common property in the lifts and across the common property, so here’s my tricky question. Does the excitement of knowing they’re going out for a walk, overcome the dismay of having a muzzle put on them?
I think muzzling, personally, would be maybe a step too far. If you’ve got a dog that you’re concerned about in your apartment building that’s acting aggressive, or that people are scared of, that dog needs to be seen by a professional.
Also, if I saw a dog with a muzzle on, I’d be more scared of that dog than I would without a muzzle on. So, it’s also kind of pre-empting that these dogs are bad and that kind of shame on a pet owner, when you’ve got a beautiful, very well-behaved dog. It’s kind of putting all of dog owners into one basket, which is not where they belong. I think it’s better that apartment buildings really step up with their communication with pet owners. If people have a problem or they’re concerned, that that pet owner is allowed to, to seek avenues in solving the problem, rather than kind of one shoe fits all, because I don’t think that approach will work. I think also if you’re scared of dogs, and then you see a dog in your lift with a muzzle on, it could create a lot more fear.
Yeah. And should people take out pet insurance as well?
Pet insurance is great for medical; not so much if the pet maybe ate your couch! Look, pet insurance is great. Sadly, a lot of people don’t realize the benefits of pet insurance until they get a pretty hefty bill from the vet. Now understanding that your vet is not only like a GP; they’re normally a radiographer, they are laboratory specialists, some of them are orthopedic surgeons. They have massive overheads for pets to be able to have such good veterinary treatment and that treatment comes at a cost and it’s not subsidized by the government, unfortunately. Your pet insurance can cover up to 80% on your eligible vet bills and that’s related to accident and illness suffered by your pet and any excess. With Pet Insurance Australia, you get to choose your own excess. That can be from zero to $100 or $200. The most important thing with any pet insurance provider is read your product disclosure statement. We try and make them as short and as fun as we possibly can but get a very clear understanding. There’s a lot of different policies to understand what your policy covers and what your policy doesn’t cover and that’s not just for stuff that you might not be covered for. That’s also for stuff that you are covered for that you may not realize. So, get a good understanding of your product disclosure statement. Its normally available on pet insurance websites, and also do your research. Just like when you buy a dog, go on and read the reviews. Go and see their social media accounts. See how interactive they are with their clients and things like that and choose the best one and choose before your pet has something go wrong because those sneaky bills, they pop up in the most unlikely of times. We’ve seen dogs that have eaten corncobs and socks and bones and toys, that range from $1,000 up right up to $12,000, just for eating something.
The other thing is if you have a smart and intelligent and active, energetic dog, increase your home and contents insurance as well.
Particularly if you haven’t sorted out boredom issues. I’d most certainly increase your content insurance!
Nadia, thanks so much for talking to us. It’s great to chat to you. We do enjoy your occasional contributions to the Flat Chat website.
Thank you so much for having me.
Do you think the pet thing is done? Do you think the bylaws in New South Wales will ever come back?
Well, I think most of the buildings which didn’t allow pets before, are now looking very closely at their bylaws and passing bylaws now, to modify the behavior of pets in the apartments, because they realize they can’t legally refuse them now. Well, they can, but if somebody takes them to court…
If they’re challenged; if somebody goes to NCAT and says, “I’ve been issued with a notice to comply, and it’s this thing that went to The Court of Appeal,” and then NCAT can turn around and say, “well, look, you can’t have that bylaw.” But they’ve got to go through that process, so I think a lot of buildings, to be honest, are going “just don’t mention it; just don’t say anything.”
And we’ll wait to see what the strata review says. It might be that the New South Wales Government decides to put something in the legislation to say that some buildings can legally refuse to allow pets.
Here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter whether your pro-pet or anti-pet, or don’t care. We live in a state in New South Wales where 75% of owners can force another owner to sell their apartment. Now, to me, that is the ultimate interference, in telling somebody how to live their life is basically saying “I’m sorry, you got to sell your apartment and you’ve got to find somewhere else to live.”
Like if they vote to sell their whole building to a developer or something?
I mean yeah, they can’t just have a vote and you know…
Say “let’s get rid of Mrs Brown.”
Yes, grumpy person. That would be good though, wouldn’t it?!
You’d probably might not have a place to live, Jimmy!
So, if you can do that, and it’s not as simple as a 75% vote; there’s a process. But if that is a possibility, why can you not tell people that they cannot have a pet? I think that’s an issue with the law, that they will probably try and resolve in the next review.
When does that happen?
Well, they’re going to issue a paper on stuff soon. Oh, one of the things we forgot to mention (talking about the benefits of the pandemic), the government is now going to pay the interest on any loans that are taken out; commercial loans taken out, to remove cladding from buildings.
What’s that got to do with COVID, though?
Well, it’s part of the stimulus. If you get the building industry working, then the whole economy booms. So, they’re looking at ways of getting the building industry going. Back in the global financial crisis, Kevin Rudd, remember the pink bats thing? That was a really good idea and it was just badly handled by a lot of fly-by-night trades people. But the idea was to insulate houses and to create work for people. Terrific, you know, so it’s not just throwing money at people; it’s actually getting a benefit for the whole of society. So, this is what they’re doing. There’re more than 400 apartment blocks in New South Wales that have flammable cladding. The kind of flammable cladding that caused the Grenfell fire, and they’re saying, if you take out a commercial loan, a strata loan to fix it, then the government will pay the interest.
Because that interest is often higher than the interest, you’d get …
Yeah, considerably higher. But you know, not criminally higher, but it is significantly and for the simple reason that if we go and borrow money, then we can say we’ll put our apartment up as collateral. An apartment block can’t do that; they can’t put the common property up as collateral. It specifically says that in the strata law. So, it’s an unsecured loan and unsecured loans get charged higher interest.
It’s kind of good; it could be better. They could just say they’ll pay it.
Or, they’ll subsidize it to a greater extent.
But you know, it’s something anyway. It means that people are basically able to borrow free money to get their cladding fixed. I don’t know how many people will take it up; I’ll keep an eye on that. When we come back, it is time for our Hey Martha’s. That’s after this.
So, Sue, I believe you have a technology -related Hey Martha?
Talking about meetings on zoom; I went to a ceremony on zoom, which was a prize-giving for travel writer’s awards.
Prize-giving? I thought it was an awards ceremony! You don’t call the Oscars; “and now we have the Oscar’s prize-giving!”
Okay, the award ceremony of the year for travel writers. I was a finalist in two categories, and I won the award in one, which was fantastic, but it was on zoom and the finalists were all given a background of red curtains. So, when they said I’d won, I kind of press the button and my face appeared on the screen, in all its glory. But unfortunately, the red curtains that were meant to be the electronic background, the picture was all broken up. So, I just had these great big red blotches all over my face. My partner, Jimmy, who’s sitting across the table from me, had been very helpful and had put up a sheet behind me, which was actually a fitted sheet, rather than a proper sheet, so it looked really crappy. And the sheet looked like it’d been completely bloodstained. It looked like it was a complete crime scene. It was horrendous!
Sue, if you ever write a crime book, that’s what we’ll do for the background, for your award ceremony.
It was my moment of glory. I’ve dreamed of winning the travel writing award and I finally got there, and I was just a disaster. Then, I had to make a speech. So, I made the speech, looking at myself with all this red all over my face and the compere was Jean Kittson and she couldn’t stop laughing. I made a joke about ‘maybe this is the face of COVID 20,’ and then people started saying about the crime scene. Oh, my God, it was so embarrassing!
You know, if you’d just had an ordinary picture of you, no one would have noticed. Apart from how lovely you are.
Well, I should never have agreed to the background.
No, well, you wouldn’t let me switch it off!
But you tried to switch it off before and then you’d switched off the whole thing, so I was going to miss my moment of glory; I was too scared. Anyway, it was a complete disaster and I am not going to use zoom for at least another day. What’s your Hey Martha, Jimmy?
Oh, well, I had a technological problem. In fact, at exactly the same time. I used this indoor trainer for my bike. It’s called a ‘wahoo’ trainer.
Electronic, not a real trainer.
Yeah, it’s not a person. An indoor trainer, like somebody shouting at me.
Speed up, speed up!
So I use this indoor training device, which is connected to a computer, which is connected to this thing called Zwift, where you can go on all these different routes and when you’re going uphill, the resistance increases and when you’re going downhill, it decreases and it’s pretty fantastic. And because I knew you had your award ceremony coming up, I thought I’ll just go on the bike for an hour, and then come up here and get rid of your curtains. That was my plan.
And I clicked on the wrong route. So, instead of doing 23 kilometers and climbing 270 meters, which is hard enough, I accidentally clicked on this thing. I was gonna be doing 33 kilometers and climbing 650 meters. I only realized I’d made my mistake when I was getting up to 500 meters. And I thought ‘yeah, I took a wrong turning there.’ I’m so stupid, I decided I didn’t want to stop because I was nearly at the top and yeah, I’ll be a lot more careful next time.
I couldn’t walk the next day and you had red blotches all over your face on your special awards night. So yeah, technology. Great! Love it! Next week. we’re gonna be able to tell you all about our bathroom renovation. We’ll be able to tell you all the things you shouldn’t do when you decide to get your bathroom renovated.
I’m so depressed.
Yeah, but we’ll be fine. Thank you, Sue for chatting with us all again and thank you all for listening.
Thanks for listening to the Flat Chat Wrap podcast. You’ll find links to the stories and other references on our website, flat-chat.com.au. And if you haven’t already done so, you can subscribe to this podcast completely free on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite pod-catcher. Just search for Flat Chat Wrap with a W, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. Thanks again. Talk to you again next week.