Written by Cheryl Bernstein of Gauteng, South Africa
On a steamy hot Saturday afternoon on the way home to Johannesburg from Cape Town, my husband and I stopped for petrol in Lainsburg, a sleepy, dusty little farming community. The garage was bustling with people filling up with petrol and ordering food from the local take away. Forlornly begging for food in amongst the cars was the most emaciated, scraggly little dog I had ever seen.
She was heavily pregnant, yet her ribs were protruding from her thin chest, and she had not one ounce of fat. She had a black rim of fat, bloody ticks clinging to her neck. She was shivering and shaking from nerves and stress. She had obviously had many litters of puppies, and her teats were almost dragging on the ground. She looked almost obscene — this mangy, skinny pregnant little dog. People were giving her little scraps of their hamburgers, but she was almost too afraid to take the food from them unless they threw it to the ground and she would grab it and run.
I followed her a short distance and tried to coax her to come to me. I had every intention of dog nabbing her at that point, since whoever had neglected her so badly deserved to lose her. She came close to sniffing my fingers and then ran fearfully off in another direction. Heartbroken and sad for her, I went to the local grocery store and bought dog food for her and left it with the garage attendant to feed her, knowing he probably wouldn’t.
I Was Crying and Vowed to Save Her
I was devastated and crying at this point and vowed to save her somehow. We had to leave, and on the way home, I continued to cry and realized my tears would not help. Unless I mobilized into action, she would never be saved.
I began by calling the nearest RSPCA only to be told they didn’t cover Lainsburg. However, they knew of someone in Lainsburg who helped needy animals from time to time. But they didnt have her number and gave me the number of someone who knew her. Eventually, after many phone calls, I tracked this lady down, and miracles of miracles, she knew the dog and the owner. I begged her to ask the owner if I could have the dog and he agreed.
Now how to get the dog to Johannesburg where I lived? I called my vet and he recommended an animal taxi but there would be a high cost. I was prepared to pay whatever it took. It seems as if luck was on my side, as the animal taxi was on their way back from Cape Town and would be passing through Lainsburg. In an even greater miracle, they offered to help for free after hearing the sad story. However, they were worried about Lily’s (I had by now given her a name) unborn puppies. After much reassurance that her life was my priority and that if she remained in Lainsburg she and her puppies would not survive, they agreed to pick her up.
Lily and Her Puppies Arrived
After a deticking session and a good bath by the kind lady who helps animals in Lainsburg, she was duly fetched by the animal taxi and brought to Johannesburg. On a cold and misty morning, my husband and I drove about 100 miles to the house of the animal taxi owner and fetched Lily and three puppies born en route to Johannesburg. Lily was in a crate with three tiny shivering puppies. She was shaking from head to toe and clearly overwhelmed. We brought her home and gave her a quiet spot to nurse her babies. She was a good but strict mom.
Once the babies were rehomed, Lily began to blossom. She could have turned out to be a mean, aggressive dog, but instead she is loving and gentle and definitely rules the other two dogs we have. I hope she has forgotten the hard life she had in Lainsburg where she was scavenging for food and fighting for survival on a daily basis. She loves to have her tummy rubbed and snuggles up with me under the blankets every morning. Today Lily is a happy, healthy and playful dog. After a rough start in life, she finally has a good and loving forever home.