Every rescued animal needs rehabilitation of some kind and TEARS believes that the quantity and quality of rehabilitation can often determine the success of an animal’s integration into a new, or sometimes, first home.
For this reason, as part of its animal care and adoption programme, TEARS employs a fulltime behaviourist, qualified in animal behavioural science and welfare.
Critical to the rehabilitation process, is the input and dedication of TEARS’ volunteers who interact with our dogs and cats every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. This can include walks, beach outings, kennel enrichment, grooming and positive training. TEARS Kennel Assistants also play an important role in our animals’ daily lives, and all are excellent dog handlers. The emphasis is always on gentle compassion and patience; every animal responds differently and in their own time.
Here are some of our dramatic stories of the power of love and perseverance as broken lives are made whole again at TEARS Animal Rescue.
A devil called angel
Angel was brought to TEARS on 5 September 2005, having been found on the premises of the Novalis Institute in Wynberg. He was thought to be about four years old then, in a terrible condition, thin and sick with biliary which could have cost him his life. But he managed to bounce back and his hyperactive temperament soon became evident, making us realise that the name chosen for him by his rescuer was totally inappropriate. But, maybe with training and time he would live up to his name.
He didn’t particularly like any of his various kennel companions and when prospective adopters walked through the kennels, Angel would go crazy, barking and jumping up and down, spoiling his chances of being adopted. His frenetic behaviour was also evident when he was taken for walks and it was difficult to control him as he strained and pulled on the lead.
The years passed and, sadly, despite TEARS’ attempts to find him a home, Angel remained in kennels. Yet, despite the many years spent in this environment, he remained a happy, but hyperactive and exuberant dog.
The saving grace (emotionally) for most TEARS’ dogs in kennels is our dedicated dog walkers who give of their time come rain or shine to walk our dogs and provide them with mental stimulation. One of these walker – at our kennels almost every day – is Maggie Luff, often accompanied by her husband, Eddie. They, along with other regular TEARS walkers, spend hours making sure that all the dogs are walked. Maggie has a big heart and took pity on Angel, making it her mission to find him a home, but first he would need to receive specialist training and socialisation.
Jan Meyer of the Sunvalley Dog Training School kindly offered to help. Maggie began to collect Angel from TEARS’ kennels every Saturday morning and take him for training with Jan. Angel responded so well to the training that he transformed from hooligan to well-behaved dog. Angel became a pleasure to work, he would heel beautifully, obey commands to sit, stay, or lie down and socialised well with other dogs. And it wasn’t long before Angel indeed found his forever home where he continues to impress with his good manners and celestial smile.
A grand old dame regains her dignity
When I see Sheba now and think back on the day I rescued her, I am so grateful to the “informer” in China Town, who cared enough to do something about a suffering animal. I will never forget the sight of this pathetic, emaciated, mange-infested dog, virtually hairless, tied up on a short rope in sand, in the heart of shackland in China Town, a poverty-stricken area near Lavender Hill.
Sheba’s plight was first brought to our attention by TEARS’ supporter, Pat Featherstone. A woman, Sandy, had told her about a sad case of a former police dog, who was tied up and in a terrible condition in a township. I made a call to Sandy, who gave me the phone number of an informer who would help me to get to Sheba.
Having received directions, I drove to the outskirts of Village Heights and parked the TEARS Caravelle. Here I met the informer and we set off, on foot, along a dirt road, which wove between crudely built shacks. The residents seemed to know about my visit and children ran along next to me, asking whether I had come to fetch Sheba. I said I had, and they pointed in the direction of a large dog, tied up on a short rope.
One resident advised that Sheba had belonged to an ex-policeman, who had been dismissed from the force three years previously, because of drug peddling. Could this really be the police dog, a German Shepherd, I thought? There was no food, water or shelter for Sheba. The sad expression in her eyes spoke so much about the hardships she had endured.
Here was a once beautiful, regal police dog, maybe a sniffer dog once, when she was in her prime, her life full of action and attention. Now, the situation was so very different. Three years of neglect had taken their toll on Sheba. A long time spent in sandy conditions had resulted in sarcoptic mange over most of her body, with substantial hair loss. Her skin was dark, dirty and dry. Her malnutrition was shocking, and she seemed unable to walk properly, most likely as a result of being tied up for so long.
This was such a tragic situation, one which we, at TEARS Animal Rescue, encounter all too often. I was grateful that someone had brought this to our attention.
Before anyone could change their minds, I picked Sheba up in my arms and struggled back to the car, followed by cheering, laughing children.
This was the turning point in Sheba’s life. From the day of her rescue she received all the attention and TLC she so desperately craved, as well as the necessary medical treatment. The TEARS “Aunties”, namely Lesley, Sylvia and Pat, as well as volunteers, dog-walkers and staff, all devoted special time to Sheba and treated her like a queen. With all that attention, her recovery was rapid. Her transformation from a hairless, depressed, emaciated, sick animal who had given up on life, to a responsive, bright-eyed, intelligent dog with a beautiful, thick, shiny coat was enormously rewarding and heart-warming.
As part of our kennel enrichment programme, our kennel assistants took turns visiting Jan Meyer’s Sunvalley Dog Training School for four Saturdays in a row, with a TEARS kennel dog. Simone chose Sheba and every Saturday morning for a month, off they would go for training. It soon became evident that Sheba was no ordinary untrained mutt and she was able to strut her stuff and show the other canines a thing or two.
How delighted we were when Pat Featherstone, who popped in to TEARS to see how Sheba was doing, decided to take her home. Pat has a number of TEARS dogs, all with a sad history and they all have now landed with their proverbial bums in the butter.
Seeing Sheba sitting proudly in the back of Pat Featherstone’s bakkie, with four other TEARS special”, brought tears to my eyes. I will forever appreciate how blessed and fortunate I am to have been born with this calling to help animals in distress and I will be forever grateful to those who support TEARS Animal Rescue in its mission to change lives, just we changed Sheba’s.