28 Oct, 2014

Bike Shop Pooch


As you enter West Rand Cycles, you’ll probably be greeted by a dog named Fudge. But, as you’ll soon discover, this pedal-crazy pooch isn’t just adorable, he is also the shop’s head of security. We tried to cross the language barrier to find out what makes him woof!


He lifts his head and softly growls. Then, as the shadow approaches the shop’s front door, he dashes towards the door and checks the person carefully.

Woe betide you if he decides that you are the wrong “sort” or, for some strange canine reason, you are wearing any form of hat (including a cycling helmet), as he will then start to bite your ankles.

Owned by Eben Venter, Fudge isn’t just a normal spaniel. He is a water spaniel, complete with webbed feet, and doesn’t only “get a bit uptight” if unwanted people enter the shop, but will also show no mercy to anyone who dares interfere with Eben.

According to his owner, Fudge continues his assumed “head of security” role at the Venter home, a small holding on the West Rand.

“He makes sure our bed is ‘secure’ before we go to bed,” he explained, “and ensures that we don’t receive any ‘invasions’ during the night.”

And it was Eben’s son, Jason, who gave Fudge one of his more endearing nicknames.

“One of Jason’s teddy bears has the exact same texture and feel as Fudge’s ears, so at home Jason calls him ‘Daddy’s Teddy’,” he smiled.

And it’s this loveable “teddy” character which shows if he decides that you are indeed the “right sort”.

“Seriously though, he is not really aggressive. In fact he is very even-tempered and will go up to anyone just to ‘say hullo’,” Eben explained.

And, when no one is looking, Fudge will even enjoy affection.

“That is also very funny, because when I’m alone with him, he really loves a cuddle. But if someone or one of the other dogs walks in, he quickly gets up and it’s a ‘leave-me-alone’ kind of thing. He doesn’t want to be seen receiving affection, a bit like a teenager,” laughed Eben.

Eight-year-old Fudge follows Eben around constantly.

“You have no idea,” he laughed, “even if I get out of bed at night I step on him. So he can be a bit of a nuisance.”

While at home, Fudge can often be found languishing in a water feature in the garden.

“Being a water spaniel, he has a huge love for water,” explained Eben, “and this led to one of my favourite stories about him. When he was a puppy, we took him to Walkhaven in Muldersdrift where he took to the water in a big way. Shame, he was freezing, but he loved the water so much he only realised this when he got out.”

It seems that it isn’t always peaceful between Fudge and the other, four-legged animals that share the property.

“He seems to have an issue with our blesbuck,” Eben said, “more specifically the male one.”

This power struggle even ended up in Fudge receiving a nasty injury.

“The problem is, Fudge still thinks he is the head of security, even although the blesbuck is much bigger than him. He went and caused trouble but, because he can’t run as fast as our other dogs, he got a blesbuck horn in his butt!”

There is no doubt about it, the South African cycling scene’s best known dog is beautiful but “he knows it so he gets away with murder”.

“I wouldn’t say he is cycling’s best known dog, but he certainly is a legend I suppose,” sniggered Eben.

Fudge plays an important part of the West Rand Cycles team when they attend stage races to provide mechanical support. And it’s at these events where Fudge receives the most attention.

“At Joberg2C one year, someone came up to me and said that they cannot believe that there are so many cars and so many bicycles and even a helicopter, but he is not deterred by any of those things,” Eben mused.

And it was at this event that Fudge’s other “crime” was revealed.

“He loves food, so when we couldn’t find him around our workshop area, you just knew that he was at the food tent,” Eben explained.

Even at the shop, Fudge will try and steal anyone’s lunch.

Strangely enough, for a slightly overweight hound, Fudge gets plenty of exercise. He even joins Eben for short rides, obediently running alongside his master’s bicycle but “he is not as lean and mean as he used to be”, so these rides are kept to around three kilometres.

“We’ve actually got a roster system, where we take turns to take Fudge for a walk,” explained Eben, “and he is normally beside himself with excitement when we reach for his leash.”

So, every working afternoon, a West Rand Cycles staff member takes Fudge for a brisk walk around the block. And this is good for any dog, because as “head of security”, Fudge needs to keep fit and healthy in case anyone walks in wearing a cycling helmet.

“I really have no idea why Fudge feels uneasy when someone wears headgear, and only when he or she takes off their helmet will he decide that ‘oh I know this person’ and will be happy. Even when I come in after a ride, he checks me out until I take off my helmet!” Eben concluded.

If you want to meet Fudge, pop in at West Rand Cycles but no one can guarantee that you won’t walk out there with a new bicycle.