Our staff continuously carry out rescues of domestic animals – as well as a variety of other animals – throughout the year. Each rescue is different; every life precious.
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.
Micky - Our Beloved TEARS Mascot
Micky – beloved TEARS mascot
If ever a rescue dog’s expression saved his life, it was true in Micky’s case.
This discarded mutt almost became another animal welfare statistic when he was rescued as a puppy from appalling circumstances in Masiphumelele. The victim of a motor vehicle accident, he sustained a horrific de-gloving injury to his foreleg – the flesh ripped off to the bone, which was broken and infected. To make matters worse, we only found him weeks after his accident, and he was also malnourished, had mange, as well as hip dysplasia.
The vet who attended to him, felt that it would be kindest to put him out of his misery. But, for TEARS that wasn’t an option; one look at that sad face and alluring expression, decided his fate, with profound consequences.
Micky spent a month at St Francis Vet in Bergvliet where, under the special care of Dr Futter, he received intensive treatment. Such was his charisma and enchanting disposition that we could not part with him.
Micky became the TEARS mascot and an important part of the TEARS family, delighting all who met him. Besides being a much loved family companion and friend to so many TEARS foster dogs, he brought such joy and entertainment to so many school children, friends, family, and TEARS staff and supporters, who had the privilege to interact with him.
Micky was definitely Mr Personality; a real showman who thrived on attention. One of his favourite ambassadorial duties was to accompany us when we visited schools as part of our education initiative – he was always at his happiest mingling with a class of school children. Over the years he played his part in helping children from disadvantaged communities appreciate the unconditional love a companion animal can give.
Micky accompanied the TEARS team on many outings and PR events and for these special occasions, one of his “aunties” – Aunty Bev – made him two bow ties and two tuxedos, one black and white and one jade green (the corporate colour of TEARS). These he wore with pride and many years ago, when the Penguin Festival was held in Simon’s Town, Micky would lead the procession down St George’s Street, resplendent in his black and white tuxedo and bow tie.
He loved having his photograph taken and, much to the amusement of people in his company, would, when he saw someone with a camera, jump up onto a chair if it was available, and sit, poke-faced, staring forward, sometimes proffering his injured leg, so that he could garner sympathy from those present.
When travelling in the TEARS Caravelle, his place was on the passenger seat, next to TEARS’ founder, Marilyn Hoole, and heaven help anyone who tried to usurp his seat. There were many occasions when TEARS staff or friends had to either share the seat with him or sit in the back – he wouldn’t give up his seat for anyone. His habit of sitting upright in the seat with his left paw on the door handle and his head hanging out of the window, surveying the passing scene amused so many people. In some of the disadvantaged communities where we worked, Micky’s antics would cause many laughs. The people would point and comment “Kyk dai hond! Hy sit nes ‘n mens in die motor”!
Micky’s last official engagement, for which he came out of retirement, was to attend the handover of a substantial donation to TEARS at Steenberg Golf Club – proceeds from the Cadiz/Steenberg Classic Golf Week. Sporting his green bow tie, he happily mingled with honoured guests, sponsors and beneficiaries, sitting on the feet of those to whom he took a particular liking.
How grateful we are that despite his severe hip displaysia and arthritis, he was able to live a long, full and relatively pain-free life. For the last five years he was fed Hill’s Prescription Joint Diet and Marilyn firmly believes that this food contributed greatly to his longevity as well as mobility in his senior years. He also received such wonderful care at St Francis Vet – our grateful thanks to Dr Graham Futter and Dr Pam Browell who, over the years, looked after him with such compassion.
Monday 27 January 2014 was indeed a blue Monday, when Micky, the loveable TEARS mascot crossed over Rainbow Bridge. His passing marked the end of an era. TEARS has celebrated 16 years of existence in 2015, and Micky was part of the TEARS organisation for 13 of those, playing a big role in promoting our cause and being our official ambassador and TEARS mascot.
His passing left a huge void in Marilyn’s life, but she has so many wonderful memories of a faithful companion who enriched her life. She will always cherish the special bond they shared, and we at TEARS like to think that Micky still looks over us sitting proudly in his TEARS waistcoat and bowtie.
Tazz - From Township to TEARS Board
From township to TEARS board: the story of Tazz
His youth was undoubtedly misspent: hanging around the taxi-rank in Phoenix Village, near Montague Gardens, keeping a beady eye open for opportunities that would benefit him, like finding good food or chatting up the local canine lasses.
The residents operated a market from the taxi rank, selling live chickens, offal and other interesting things, which would naturally appeal to a township dog. Being streetwise, this dog was sharp and cunning and had a definite dislike for strangers. As soon as he saw one approaching, he would duck in-between the shacks near the taxi rank, and disappear.
This is what made catching him so difficult. On one occasion, TEARS founder, Marilyn Hoole, managed to get close to him, but as soon as he saw the lead in her hand, he lifted his lips, bared his dirty teeth at her, and the lean, streetwise machine took off.
Marilyn was after him in response to the Welgemoed family plea for help. A family of devoted animal lovers and wonderful TEARS’ supporters, with Dr Janel Welgemoed from Longbeach Dental having served as a TEARS Director for years. Janel told Marilyn about a large, thin, injured dog, living in Phoenix Village, not far from Montague Gardens, where her father, Jan, and brother, Moolman, had their business premises, Stratos Daily Deliveries.
This dog seemed to be a street dog and so, taking pity on him, Jan and Moolman would feed him and the dog would make a daily visit to their premises to get something to eat, but always kept his distance, obviously mistrusting them. The Welgemoeds were concerned about the burns on his back, which were, in all probability, caused by boiling water, which was thrown at him when he visited one of his canine lady friends. In addition, he was thin and had mange, and the Welgemoeds felt that he needed to be caught and treated.
Janel asked TEARS for help and when Marilyn was unsuccessful at catching him, a decision was made to lure him into Stratos Daily Deliveries’ premises and offer him a delicious steak and kidney pie, which would contain a tranquiliser. And it worked! How could any self-respecting street dog resist a yummy pie? The gates were closed to ensure that he couldn’t escape and sleep off his induced stupor in a place where he would be vulnerable. Once the tranquiliser took effect, the dog was put into a travel box and an hour later arrived at the TEARS premises. His life was about to change forever.
Firstly and most importantly, this township dog had to have a name and Janel decided that Tazz would be a good name. It just seemed to suit him, perfectly.
Tazz was admitted to the TEARS Clinic where he was thoroughly examined by our veterinarian who began medical treatment straight away. (Click here to see Tazz’s admission record.)
Tazz spent a few days in our clinic, being monitored and his burn wounds, raw ears (fly bites) and mange treated. A few days later, when he was stronger, he was sterilised.
Being the kind and compassionate person that she is, Janel decided to foster Tazz and cared for him at her practice, Longbeach Dental, in Sunnydale. He had only been there a day or so, when Marilyn received a frantic call from Janel to advise that Tazz had escaped – he had jumped over the fence and disappeared. She rushed to the practice and began to look around the area, driving up and down the roads, searching for him and wondering how on earth she was going to catch him.
A while later, a call came through from Janel to advise that Tazz had been spotted in Masiphumelele, kilometres away, trotting down Pokela Street, as if were on a mission – fortunately he’d been seen by one of Janel’s employees, who lives there.
Marilyn rushed to Masiphumelele and drove down Pokela Street, expecting to spend the next few hours trying to catch this artful dodger dog. Imagine her surprise when she came upon Janel’s employee, Tumela, with Tazz, standing patiently at the side of the road, as if he were for a taxi to pick him up. After expressing her gratitude, Marilyn bundled Tazz into the TEARS Caravelle, before he could think about continuing his journey on paw, and he sat quietly on the passenger seat, contemplating his future, as they drove back to TEARS.
This amazing dog – long in the tooth and ugly to the eye, some would say – is the epitome of toughness, resilience, ingenuity, forgiveness, while the rest of him is pure heart. Since TEARS Animal Rescue has been, and continues to be, all these things in order to thrive and survive in a landscape filled with cruelty to animals and neglect, the TEARS executive believed it was only right to appoint Tazz, Honorary Member of the Board.
Tazz has lived at TEARS’ headquarter in Sunnydale for many years now – this is where he chose to make his forever home; among its staff and dedicated volunteers who can always be counted on to hand out a treat or oblige with a back-scratch or a gentle stroll. All Tazz has to do is grin and toss his head in that way that is so uniquely him. And what does TEARS get out of it? He’s always first in and last out, he carries out several inspections each day and keeps his eye on things in general. TEARS just wouldn’t be the same without him.
Jaque - Against All Odds
An adolescent pit bull cross – was rescued from Mountain View informal settlement in May 2014. He was little more than a bag of bones, weighing just 10.4kgs, his skin taut over his skeleton, every bone in his fragile body visible.
In additional to being severely malnourished, he was infested with worms and had Ehrlichia (a tick-borne parasite). Jaque was in such a poorly condition that the days immediately following his rescue and admission to TEARS, were touch-and-go.
Jaque wasn’t ready to give up yet on life and fought to make a remarkable recovery. He steadily got stronger and the light returned to his eyes as he began to gain weight. Jaque finally reached 21 kilos and every inch of his body smiled. With patience and perseverance, Jaque had turned into a beautiful boy who got along well with other dogs and was always up for a game of fetch.
Jaque was soon adopted into a loving home and now lives in the lap of luxury with his new guardian, Megan. He continues to be a breed ambassador, breaking stereotypes and making friends wherever he goes.
Skye - Rescued from the Brink
A Siberian Husky, was rescued on Baden Powell Drive in Cape Town on 22 January 2014, in an horrific state. She was emaciated, skin hanging loosely over her bones. She was also suffering from sarcoptic mange and her skin was raw and infected, nothing more than tufts of hair covered her gaunt body in patches. Skye also had Ehrlichia – a tick-borne, bacterial infection that destroys white blood cells. Such was the advanced severity of the infection, she needed a blood transfusion to save her life.
Skye received all the love, care, food and veterinary treatment she needed to flourish while she was at TEARS. Her improvement was slow but steady, and every day was a transformation to the stunning dog she now is.
Skye – having blossomed into a fun-loving, charismatic dog – was adopted by a wonderful family who understood her breed and had another Siberian Husky called Magnum. This tenacious dog’s recovery really does prove that with the right intervention and caring, the Skye really is the limit.
Tahr - Our Most Challenging Rescue Ever
Tahr – our most challenging rescue ever
Without a doubt, the most exciting and successful rescue we ever carried out was the amazing capture of Tahr from the mountainside above Simon’s Town, where he survived in the wild for five years, after his mother and her four-week old puppy were dumped there.
12 February 2006 is a day all those involved with TEARS at the time will never forget. After months of elaborate attempts by animal experts to remove Tahr from the mountain he was eventually snatched, bare-handed, in a daring rescue, by TEARS’ volunteers; Luke Kruyt, Natalie Barker, Danielle Kowen and Brian Currin. The headlines said: “Victory for TEARS as Tahr is snatched from the jaws of defeat”.
Mother dumped on mountain
The story began in 2001 when a female and puppies were dumped on the mountainside above Simon’s Town. Cindy Dollery, manager of Happy Valley Home (for destitute people), alerted TEARS as soon as she heard about the incident which had happened six weeks before.
TEARS was able to trap the mother dog and four of the puppies, who, by this time had become afraid of humans. One elusive pup evaded capture in spite of many and varied attempts over a six month period to catch him. He seemed to be at peace on the mountain, the place he had come to know as home since a six-week-old pup. TEARS made the decision to leave him there and named him Tahr, because, like the real tahrs on Table Mountain, he was struggling for survival. Cindy Dollery very kindly offered to put out food for him.
So, Tahr survived in his mountain habitat for five years, communing with baboons and guinea-fowl, miraculously avoiding illness, snakebites, accidents, biliary and other hazards. Over the years, TEARS kept in touch with Cindy, checking on Tahr’s well-being and visiting him from time-to-time.
Early in November 2005, Tahr’s peaceful existence was interrupted when staff from the Table Mountain National Park discovered his presence and ordered him off the mountain.
An appeal was made to the Parks Board to allow Tahr to stay in his ‘home’, but they said, “Dogs could not roam loose on the mountains because they posed a threat to smaller wildlife and could jeopardise the Klipspringer re-introduction programme which began in Simon’s Town the previous year”.
TEARS were devastated.
Having been a “free spirit” for five years, staff knew they could not subject him to confinement in a kennel, or to the noise encountered in a kennel environment.
The media were wonderful and gave the issue much publicity. Offers of support and help were received from so many compassionate and concerned people. The residents of Simon’s Town were up in arms; many of them had come to know Tahr and interacted with him when they walked on the mountainside. Residents of Admiral’s Kloof and Happy Valley Home had watched over him for years, providing him with food and water. Many people offered to adopt Tahr, but since he had lived in the wild for five years, much consideration had to be put into where he would go.
The Parks Board gave TEARS two weeks to remove Tahr from the mountain, but were very sympathetic and understanding and gave staff a number of time extensions. TEARS volunteers – Danielle Kowen, Luke Kruyt, Natalie Barker, Brian Currin and Jared Barker – visited Tahr almost daily, trying to win his trust. He always looked forward to their visits as they took canine friends for him to play with. Tahr fell for Luke’s dog, Shinga, a large Collie/German Shepherd X, and whenever Shinga arrived Tahr would forget his fear and come bounding down the mountain to meet her. But he still maintained an invisible barrier between himself and his would-be captors, staying just out of reach.
The Parks Board began to press TEAR to remove Tahr. A suitable home had still not been found, and a decision was made to relocate Tahr to the home of TEARS’ Director, Marilyn Hoole, on Boyes Drive, Lakeside. The fairly large property backed onto the mountainside, had a waterfall and a pond, and resembled the habitat Tahr was used to. An added bonus was that the volunteers involved in Tahr’s impending capture and rehabilitation would have free access to him if he was at Marilyn’s home. There was just one problem – it was not fully enclosed – there was no fence along the 40 metre lower boundary and some of the stone walls were not high enough. Volunteers responded to appeals and began clearing the bush on the lower boundary, and cleaning and repairing the pond. Businesses generously donated sand, stone, cement, poles and fencing.
A ticking clock
With Tahr’s new home almost ready for occupation, TEARS put into place a plan of action to capture him, but Tahr was not about to co-operate. At the first attempt, staff tried to subdue him with a muscle relaxant drug, but it had little effect on him. The next day they used a stronger tranquiliser, in food, and waited patiently for it to take effect; but it never did. That afternoon they doubled the dose, but still nothing happened. TEARS veterinarian at the time, Dr Wietz Botes, arranged to borrow a pole syringe from the SPCA, and the following morning TEARS staff were on the mountain early.
Luke, Natalie, Brian and Jared had to get permission from their respective schools to take time off. Danielle was on leave. TEARS staff and volunteers spent the better part of the day trying to jab Tahr with the pole syringe, but to no avail. He was too smart for them, and stayed just out of reach, or retreated to his favourite spot under the pine tree on the mountainside.
The Parks Board were beginning to lose faith in TEARS’ ability to capture Tahr, and after a further attempt to tranquilise him with a very strong drug failed, TEARS called in the help of Dr Hamish Currie, a local vet and game capturer. As luck would have it, a raging south east wind was blowing on the day he arrived, but Tahr took one look at this man with a big stick in his hand and retreated up the mountain. Hamish made a few more attempts over the next few days to dart Tahr, but the wind kept howling, making it impossible for the dart to find its mark.
Now TEARS was ordered off the mountain and were told by the Parks Board that they would use their own methods to remove him from the mountain, and that TEARS should stay away. The volunteers who had put so much time and effort into gaining Tahr’s trust were devastated. It seemed that Tahr’s fate was sealed. Danielle, Luke, Natalie, Brian and Jared couldn’t stay away. For the next three days they virtually camped on the mountain, from early morning till late in the evening, but not anywhere near where the Parks Board had set a trap, guarded by a security official. Tahr enjoyed this extra attention and spent most of his time near the TEARS volunteers, away from the trap.
An unforgettable day
On Sunday, 12 February, Luke and the volunteers decided to again spend the day with Tahr on the mountain.
That morning Tahr was more excited that usual to see them all. Luke had his dog, Shinga, with him which was an added bonus for Tahr who came bounding down the mountainside, completely forgetting to keep a safe distance between himself and the volunteers. Luke seized the moment and lunged at Tahr, grabbing him by the scruff, then his forelegs. Tahr struggled to break free, but Natalie came to Luke’s aid and held on to Tahr, putting her arms around his middle while he dragged her down the embankment towards the car where Danielle was waiting with a lead to muzzle him.
It all happened so quickly, but Brian managed to capture the events on video while he was trying to help subdue Tahr. Luke took control again and after Tahr was muzzled, held onto him securely while he was being bundled into the car. Tahr lay on Luke’s and Natalie’s laps, firmly held down by them, until they arrived at Marilyn’s house. Their injuries bore testimony to the fact that their daring rescue of Tahr had been no walk in the park: Danielle had a bite through the nail of her right index finger, sustained when she muzzled Tahr, Natalie was bitten on her right forearm, and Luke had sustained multiple lacerations to his chin, which would necessitate 17 stitches.
The group had first stopped off at Fourways Veterinary Clinic where Danielle explained the situation to Dr Tracy Dicks, who gave them a tranquiliser to be administered subcutaneously when Tahr arrived at his new home.
Once Tahr had been sedated at Marilyn’s house, the TEARS team carried him out into the garden and gently placed him on a blanket under the loquat tree, where they carefully examined him: He was full of ticks, and under his thick black and white coat, quite thin. The team treated him with Frontline and placed a collar and tag around his neck. The extreme paleness of his gums was cause for concern. Dr Simon Rabinowitz – a locum at Fish Hoek Vet – came out within twenty minutes to examine Tahr, also extracting blood to test for parasites.
Capturing the imagination
Tahr’s rescue on 12 February 2006 captured the imagination of animal lovers across the world, and barely a week went by without someone enquiring about his welfare.
Having lived in the wild for five years, our biggest concern was that he would not settle in his new environment and might even try to escape, but this fear was unfounded. Tahr took to his new home – with TEARS founder, Marilyn Hoole in Muizenberg – like a duck to water. While he always retained an element of wildness by not allowing himself to be touched, he behaved much like the other dogs in the household, sharing in their excitement when Marilyn arrived home, or barking when visitors arrived. If Marilyn was working in the kitchen or sitting having dinner, he would lie close by, but move away whenever she walked towards him.
Three years after his rescue, Marilyn wrote this for a newspaper:
“As I write this article, Tahr is lying close by on the carpet in my office, fast asleep. If the weather is good he will sometimes sleep at night in his “den” – a dense area of bush in front of the lower balcony, close to our bedroom. If it is raining, and depending on his mood, he will sleep on the floor next to the bed or on the bed in my office.
“Tahr is terrified of thunder, fireworks and gunshots. When we experience a thunderstorm, it is one of the few opportunities I have to touch him because he wants to be near to me. I sometimes wonder how he coped with loud noises when he lived on the mountain for five years exposed to the sounds of thunder on occasion, and enduring Naval firing exercises in Simon’s Bay.”
Marilyn went on to describe the close bond Tahr had developed with her Rough Collie cross, Lassie, who welcomed him to the pack, grooming him and spending time with him. Sadly, Lassie passed away a year after Tahr joined the family, and she feared for Tahr’s well-being. But he bonded with her other dogs, although his favourite friend was Micky – the canine face of TEARS.
In October 2009, Marilyn wrote the last chapter of Tahr’s life
“It is with a heavy and aching heart that I write this, the final chapter in the life of my beloved companion Tahr. Sadly, he had to be euthanased on Tuesday 27 October following complications with an enlarged heart.
“So, to an end came the life of an exceptional, incredible dog, a dog who touched so many hearts and lives. His amazing rescue, against all odds, captured the imagination of thousands of animal lovers.
“Our precious boy closed his eyes for the last time in the presence of his two special friends, Luke his rescuer and Marilyn his caregiver. My last moments with Tahr were so special. He allowed me to stroke his face, to kiss him on his soft, furry head, to put my face against his – something I desperately wanted to do all the years he was with me, but had been unable to do because I respected his reserve, his space, the element of wildness in his character and never wanted to distress him. It was as if, in his last moments, he wanted me to be close. As he slipped away I reflected on the relationship we had shared for over 3½ years; so special and unique.
“His passing has left a huge void in my life and in the lives of his friends. It is going to take a long time to come to terms with my loss. We shared a very special bond and I will always cherish the joy of our special relationship. Rest in peace my beloved boy. The journey with you, sharing your life, has been an experience I will always treasure. You will forever be with me in spirit and I will hold you close in my heart for the rest of my life.
“His spirit is now free to roam once again, perhaps on the mountains above Simon’s Town, where his journey of life began.”
Angel - A Devil Called Angel
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.
Sheba - A Grand Ol' Dame
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.
Bonnie - An Evacuation Story
In October 2015, TEARS took the decision to evacuate its kennels as a precautionary measure when riots broke out in Masiphumelele that borders our shelter. Many TEARS supporters came out that night to help staff, and a number of adoptions resulted from subsequent foster failures. Bonnie was one of those dogs. Here her guardian [to follow] tells the story of her home-coming.
“I picked Bonnie up from a foster parent following the evacuation of the kennels during the Masiphumelele riots. Bonnie’s previous foster mom had to find alternative accommodation for her as Bonnie was wreaking havoc with her dog and her foster sister, Livia.
“I brought a shy, insecure puppy home and only once I took her out of the car did I notice that her right front paw had at some point been severely mangled and subsequently reconstructed. When I put her down on the lawn she would not stop rolling on it. Everything was something new to her. Laylah, our Labrador, played babysitter for the remainder of the day. That night I found her and Coco, our eldest dog, snuggled up on the couch. It definitely was love.
“By day two, she had figured out that Diesel, her big brother, would be her best-friend. I am absolutely not exaggerating when I say that they played for two to three hours at a time, then they’d nap, wake up and play again. What astounded me was how gently Diesel (a significantly muscular and long-legged Staffie/Collie cross) played with her. It was as if he were coaxing her into realising that she was allowed to be a dog; that she was welcome, and, most importantly, could enjoy being in this place.
“By day three, Bonnie had started to climb onto my lap where I was in my office chair. I could not powder my nose without her pining at the door. But the reality loomed at the back of my mind that, sooner than later, she would have to go back and I was apprehensive about forming a bond with her because I knew that both her heart and mine would be broken when the day came to return her to TEARS.
“I nevertheless decided to ask TEARS about her history: she had been driven over by a car and her paw had to be built up again. She had been through quarantine twice; once due to protocol and once again as a friend to another pup called Hoover. Essentially, no one wanted her and it seemed as if she was just another canine in the system. But in the space of two or three days, she became so much more to us.
“Bonnie still had her milk teeth when I got her. I found myself finding things that I could help her with: her dislike of cars, her insecurity, her teeth, the fact that she loved sleeping on feet and that I happen to have two, all while watching her develop so quickly, and watching so many “firsts”: her first time being bathed in a lukewarm bath in my bathroom (where you could see that she wanted to enjoy the water but didn’t know what to do), her first lamb rib bone, cheese curl, her first trip in the back of the bakkie with her siblings (and the hierarchal fight with her three sisters and brother for the cabin window).
“All of this had happened within the space of a few days. But now Bonnie would have to be returned to TEARS on the Monday. Wednesday I e-mailed TEARS for the adoption papers despite trying to convince myself that I could not keep her; but every night she would wiggle onto the bed and either sleep on my chest (quite literally on top of me) or in my arms.
“That Monday I returned TEARS’ leash, and by Wednesday, Bonnie was officially adopted by me. I wish the story was more sensational with an epiphany or some life-changing event but the truth of the matter is that Bonnie simply integrated herself into life at home.
“The turning point came one night, after a long summer’s evening on the stoep when I got up to use the restroom and closed the door behind me. My partner, Michiel, remarked: “Ek kan sien hierdie is jou hond.” (I can see this is your dog) because she had stood against the window watching me walk inside and had begun to pine for me. I remember thinking to myself that she’s so tiny and quiet and what difference would it make whether I had one more?
“In the two months following her adoption, Bonnie learned to sit quietly and contently in a car (on my lap, of course) and began to run the house. Even Maddie, the most apprehensive of our dogs, played with her as if she had been here all along.
“Bonnie also loves the swimming pool; yapping away at any water splashed in her direction, and waiting patiently for her brother, Diesel, to fetch or dive out a ball which they then share when he swims out. She also loves chasing him around the pool; both out and in the water, although she is still building up the guts to get in herself (even though you can see she really wants to!). She also has her own personal armchair on which she has made herself at home since day one, and has a section in a cupboard in which she absolutely loves to sleep, although we have no idea why.
“Bonnie has never felt like a ‘new’ dog. She sort of pitched up, and made herself at home. She has bloomed from a dog who was scared of loud footsteps to one who challenges even the largest of Labradors. Despite it feeling like she’s just always been here, it would simply not be the same now if I were to wake up without having my toes bitten, or my ear licked.
THE RESCUER’S CREED
- I shall be a believer in all that is good in man and all that is deserving in animals.
- I shall plead for animals’ lives, campaign for their safety, and uphold their right to a happy life and a natural death.
- I shall seek out the injured and the maimed, the unloved and the abandoned, and tend to them in their last days.
- I shall renew their spirits when they are waning, bind their wounds when they bleed, cradle them when they whimper,
- And comfort them when they mourn.
- I shall not forget their place in the hierarchy of life, nor that we walk in each other’s paths.
- I shall bear witness to the wonder they bring into our lives and to the beauty they bestow upon our souls.
- I shall be near them in their hour of greatest need – a companion and a friend.
- From the creatures of the earth I shall learn the fruits of compassion and undying love.
- In their company I shall indeed be blessed.