Barkly and Tilly

21st Feb, 2024

Written by Beverly Cooke-Tonnesen

Professional photography by Antony Cousens Photography  

Barkly shares…

My goodness, can you believe it’s been four-and-a-half years? Four-and-a-half years since my whole world changed and my new life began ( And what a wonderful new life it is!

With a lot of love and patience

On the 23rd of August, 2019, my mommies, Bev and Dee, flew all the way from Durban to Uitenhage to adopt me. I’d come to Uitenhage SPCA as a very bedraggled stray and had remained in the kennels for six long months. Finally, my day arrived and Bev and Dee adopted me and drove me home to Durban.

For the first two years we lived in a flat. It was a lovely home for me, with a nice big deck and a little garden. I also had lovely friends who lived downstairs – my beloved Anita and her husband, Richard. It took a long time and a lot of love and patience from my moms to get me to relax and feel safe. I’d suffered trauma in the past (broken ribs give a clue to the extent of it) and I didn’t like being touched, except by my moms. I had nightmares every night for months and months, and strange dogs terrified me.

The terrier in me says “fight!” not “flight”, so my dog-reactivity was a BIG learning experience for my moms. Thankfully, they sought the help of our dear friend, dog-trainer and animal behaviourist, Bev Davis. I love her and she’s been so helpful every step of the way with my journey to where I am now. The Covid years were also a dogs-end for this anxious floof. Months and months of both my moms at home with me – and nightly visits (on my own!) to Anita downstairs – were just the conditions I needed to feel properly safe and relaxed.

The creature arrives

Fast forward to April 2022 and my whole life turned upside down again – but in an unexpectedly wonderful way! We’d moved to our new house at the end of 2021 and I was happily settled in, enjoying the garden and all the interesting rooms… and couches… and beds.

I thought: “Now this is the life! House, garden, pool, Bev working from home and Dee too, most of the time – I can do this!” But then, on the 23rd of April, everything changed…

My moms said, “Bye Barkly – see you later,” and off they drove. When they returned, I was beside myself with joy. But then I spotted The Creature.

Can you believe it? Dee was holding a puppy. A PUPPY! Have you ever?! I was appalled. It was very small, but I knew – I just knew – it would grow. There was only one thing to be done: Kill it! Kill it NOW!

Thankfully, my moms know me well and they anticipated my reaction and had cleverly worked out a safe plan with our trainer, Bev Davis. The puppy, whose name is Tilly, and I were kept safely apart with playpens, baby gates and very attentive moms until I’d learned to accept her. We had our meals on either side of a fence, got brushed with the same hairbrush, and I got yummy treats whenever I was around the puppy. She really wanted to be friends with me, but I needed time. About two weeks, in fact…

She won me over

After I learned that Tilly was never ever going to hurt me and I didn’t need to defend myself, she won me over completely. She’s my baby sister and I love her with all my heart. She was just nine weeks old when we adopted her from Project Dog, Durban, so she’s only known love and safety. She doesn’t know that people can be cruel and other dogs can be dangerous – and we intend to keep it that way. She’s calm and gentle and quite cautious by nature, which suits me perfectly. She’s also always loved to romp and play, and pretty soon – guess what? – I started playing too. Me. Playing with another dog! Who would’ve thought?!

I was right about one thing with Tilly, though: she did grow… and grow… and GROW! She turns two this month and has recently had another growth spurt. Will she ever stop?

But even though I have the shortest legs in the world, and she has the longest, we’re each other’s bestie. We cuddle and romp and explore the garden together. She gives me confidence and I make her feel safe when we’re out for a walk. As big and bouncy as she is, she’s always so gentle with me and she gives me my space when I need a bit of adult-dog time. I can’t imagine life without my enormous, floofy galloomph of a big little sister.

(In case you’re wondering, Tilly is a Giant Schnauzer cross (her dad’s a fancy Giant Schnauzer who had a holiday romance with a farm girl) and I’m, well, I’m a Wheaten Floof!

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