LJ Swanepoel Art | Jock of the Bushveld
Third book of the 52-week book challenge - Jock of the Bushveld.
jock of the bushveld, Sir Percy FitzPatrick, best dog ever, best companions, most loyal dogs, south african books, south african stories, history of south africa, south african history, history of pilgrims rest, history of mpumalanga, gold rush era, most loyal dogs,
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Book 3 – Jock of the Bushveld

Jock of the Bushveld

Book 3 – Jock of the Bushveld

I started reading this book when I worked at a game reserve back in 2016, and got as far as chapter two, which encouraged my reason for reading it as my third book.

The book at first was a little challenging for me to read by not always understanding certain phrases and words, and which to me were not well put together. It may be because I’m not used to reading as much, or just because there is a significant language difference in literature between 1984 and 2018. Either way is possible, especially since the book was written for children to read. Goodness, I suck!
But I stuck through it. Eventually the reading became easier and I enjoyed the last half of the book. It was during the last half that I figured out that it took me approximately between one- and two minutes to read a single page. I was not disappointed with the story.

Jock of the Bushveld

By Sir Percy FitzPatrick

Jock was a faithful dog to his master, probably one of the most loyal to exist. He was the smallest and ugliest among his siblings, but turned out to be the smartest and bravest of them all, just like his mother Jess. No one wanted him, but after weeks of observation by Sir Percy, Jock became his loyal companion. Together they hunted and took on dangerous and exciting adventures in the time they transported goods through regions of South Africa, during the gold rush era.

You must not feed another mans dog; a dog has only one master!

I realized that while I read, I would imagine the world with the characters so vividly, that it’s almost like I’m there. I think it’s normal for readers, but it’s new to me. It’s even more captivating and real when the story is a non-fiction tale. This reason saturates all my emotions, because I know that the events were real. So when the author explained how the cattle suffered due to sickness, the drought, or how Jock fought the kudu and with a kick from its hind leg, struck Jock on the jaw that caused him to go deaf – my heart filled drastically with empathy – and this feeling went all the way to the end of the book. I thought about the ending and Jock’s life until I fell asleep last night.

The story was great. I was able to relate to many of their experiences in the bushveld – except for the hunting – but definitely the wildlife part, the drought and fires. It was also during my game reserve days that I learned much about nature. I loved how Sir FitzPatrick told his stories with such truth. Truth in the sense that he didn’t “sugar coat” the events he mentioned, but he was considerate enough to leave out the gruesome details.

When it came to Jock, he had only the best qualities to mention about him. This made me also believe that there are no dogs more faithful and loyal than Jock (of course there are equally great dogs – look at Hachiko, the army dogs, and police dogs – they are not left uncounted), but this book makes you believe that there is only Jock. He was a fighter; he was smart, quick and fearless. No animal was too big for him – he took down a Kudu bull… in the dark… and came to camp by himself at 01:00 in the morning… surrounded by lions, hyenas and wild dogs. Seriously, Jock was tough. He once took on a baboon and was smart enough to spot the baboon’s moment of weakness; and took that opportunity to defeat the baboon. One thing that stood out for me about Jock was that once he grabbed something, he never let go.

Although the book is packed with adventure and dramatic events, it had it’s funny moments too. There was Jim, a true Zulu man who fought wars back in the day, but came to Sir FitzPatrick as a driver. His mentality was to fight everything, and he disliked every other black race, except Zulu, but I liked the character of Jim.

Jim had but one argument and one answer to everything: 'Fight!'

What also fascinated me was the routes they traveled. I haven’t done research on the areas they traveled, but it seemed like they went though areas of Mpumalanga (which was the Transvaal back then); and one of the places familiar to me, was Pilgrim’s Rest I visited Pilgrim’s Rest with my family back in December 2015. It was such a wonderful time. There is also the famous graveyard, and Sir FitzPatrick mentioned the burial of Old Charlie Roberts in Pilgrim’s Rest. So I’m wondering if his grave is still remaining there?

Jock of the Bushveld is a true South African gem, a tale of history, adventure, danger and companionship. It is a book for children, but I wonder if the latest reprint have updated the language for easier reading? If you are looking for a true story on bravery, and a bond between a man and his dog, then Jock of the Bushveld is definitely a fantastic choice. I highly recommend this book.


My current book is: The Runaways by Victor Canning. I need to catch up with books quickly to make of for the weeks until now when I haven’t read books.


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