Written by Sonia Peck
Professional photography by The Being Project
This is a delightfully unusual story about a little white dog called Max, who was happily reunited with his owners after being stolen along with their car, which was also recovered by the police.
The dog was still in the car
It was mid-afternoon on a typical spring day, and pensioners Mr and Mrs Smith went about their day with their treasured rescue dog, Max, an old, one-toothed white terrier mix. They pulled up in the grounds of the shops in Wynberg so that Mrs Smith could drop off her husband – who struggles somewhat with his mobility – to do some shopping. Mrs Smith then drove to the recycling collection point at the back of the parking lot.
She made the short 1.5 metre walk from her car to the bottle igloos, leaving her keys in the ignition as she was only a few steps away. She saw and heard nothing unusual, but as she turned back to the car, to her horror she saw the car being driven away – with Max in it.
Mrs Smith screamed and screamed, rushing to the shop, desperate to get help as quickly as possible. All the store’s staff rushed out to immediately investigate.
Nowhere to be seen
Somebody had seen the car turn off into the main road, then turn off left again towards the railway line. Incredibly, the police were on the scene within around five minutes, and Mrs Smith has nothing but praise for them. Taking a quick description of the car, they radioed the details out, and within ten minutes it was spotted on the M5. The car was tenaciously followed, but the traffic was heavy.
The thief then turned up Military Road, where the car continued to be followed, but as it turned off this road, sight was lost. Luckily, this separation was only momentary, and within minutes the car was spotted in a side road, but to their surprise it had been abandoned. It was locked and Max was nowhere to be seen.
At this stage there wasn’t much that could be done, so the police left the scene. During the next short while, taking advantage of the situation, the thief returned – seemingly with Max – and drove off again!
Safe and sound
Over this whole period since the event, a shaken Mr and Mrs Smith had remained at the Wynberg Ultra Liquor Store, giving their statement to the police.
Later, it was discovered that, at 16h30 (about one-and-a-half hours after the theft), while the Smiths were busy dealing with the aftermath of the event, the phone was ringing in their empty house.
It wasn’t until some time later that the couple was returned home safely and, whilst they were sitting in their lounge – still in a state of absolute shock – the phone rang again. This time, Mrs Smith answered.
It was the False Bay Veterinary Clinic in Muizenberg announcing the welcome message that they had her dog! She responded with relief and joy with the words: “Don’t move – I’m coming!” By 18h00 that very same evening, thanks to a kind neighbour who gave her a lift, she was reunited with her beloved and very distressed dog and the delighted pair were on their way home!
Tags lead to reunion
The man who found dear little Max in Muizenberg had spotted him on his way to catch his train, so he didn’t have the time to see the situation through; he intelligently knocked on all the surrounding doors until someone answered. He implored: “Please take this dog and find his owner!”, and then rushed off to catch his train.
The gentleman who took Max in had tried to call the home of Mr and Mrs Smith, but of course they weren’t there. So he then called the Domestic Animal Rescue Group (DARG) in Hout Bay for advice, who sensibly told him to call the nearest vet – False Bay Veterinary Clinic in Muizenberg.
Thanks to the identity discs attached to Max’s harness – one from DARG and the other giving his name and home number – the vet had all the details for the owners; a stern reminder of how important it is for your animals to carry their I.D.
Unbelievably, the car was later found abandoned in the nearby suburb of Marina de Gama in its original state (minus a few irresistible items). The assumption is that the thief got spooked due to the speed at which the police responded. So, the Smiths were fortunate enough to get not only their car back, but more importantly, their beloved Max.
Mrs Smith states: “I am so grateful to him for not hurting Max and for dropping him in a place where he could be found,” showing that, in spite of his evil actions, he did have a heart and meant no harm to Max. You never know – maybe the thief had second thoughts and felt the effects of his conscience. We can only hope…
So there you go, a reminder that where one bad egg treads, many good eggs appear; one thief – but a number of compassionate folk came to assist: the store staff, the eyewitness, the police, the man who picked Max up from the street, the man who answered the door and made the calls, DARG, the vet, the friend who gave the lift to the vet and home again…
And, of course, not to forget the spirit and soul of a beautiful animal that made it all happen.
Lynne Smith, Max’s owner, shares…
Max and I are inseparable. And ever since this incident, he’s more determined than ever to keep me in his sight at all times, becoming quite stressed if he can’t see me. Unfortunately, after his traumatic experience, he fell ill (colitis) and it took two visits to his vet to help him recover. The vet is pretty sure that it was the stress that caused the health problem. We’re extremely fortunate in that we have a dear friend upstairs who loves Max as much as we do. So he has a willing baby-sitter whenever we go out.
I wish more people would find out just how loving and devoted rescued pets are. Actually, I’m not really sure just who rescues whom, as Max is the most loving little soul, and he makes our lives complete.