18th Oct, 2019

Written by Anile Peiser

Professional photography by FourPawz Photography

It was the 7th of March, 2019, when I came across a post on R.A.D’s Facebook page. Their Orphan House was full and they were in urgent need of a foster home for Brolloks. When I saw a picture of this doggie and the shockingly poor state he was in, the urge to help him was instant. I showed my hubby and sons the photo, and without hesitation we decided to foster Brolloks.

I phoned and spoke to Helene Strydom, the heart and soul of R.A.D., and we arranged the soonest possible moment for me to fetch Brolloks in Grabouw.

It was tough seeing little Brolloks for the first time and trying to come to terms with the unimaginable suffering this poor doggie must have been through. In constant discomfort, Brolloks was battling severe mange, a worm infestation and had been hungry and cold until discovered. The question that echoed in my head and heart was: “WHAT ON EARTH happens in a human being’s life for them to be able to turn a blind eye on another living being’s pain and suffering, especially one that they’re supposed to be responsible for looking after?”.

It was when Helene mentioned that it’s not Brolloks we should feel sorry for but rather the animals who aren’t as lucky to escape their circumstances that the weight in my heart shifted and I was able to rejoice in the privilege to walk this journey of recovery with this little angel.

He was everything but angelic-looking, not to mention the fact that he stank of rotten grapes. People made loving, caring comments on how unfortunate-looking he was, to which I replied: “Watch this space…”, little imagining just how gorgeous and extremely handsome he would become.

The first day home after his first dip was the hardest, seeing him being totally lethargic, not eating and lying urinating on his bedding. Fortunately, I was prepared for this, understanding that once the mite killing begins things can actually get worse. As odd as it may sound, this kind of response indicates that we were on the right track. From here onwards, his progress was unimaginably speedy. Every single day I noticed some improvement, be it physically or emotionally. As he healed, Brolloks became “Benji”.

Benji’s transformation was so radical! After we’d had him for about two months, our neighbour one day asked where we’d got “this dog” from and wanted to know what had happened to the “other dog” that was here the other day.

He turned heads when I took him to the beach for the very first time. The comments from strangers were entertaining, from them asking me whether he was a Chinese Crested to whether we imported him from Peru and that he must have cost a fortune!

I was initially concerned about how our Jessie dog would handle a foster child under our roof. We adopted her when she was a puppy, and although she’s very social and loves other dogs, she’d always been an only dog. It was amazing to see how she reacted on the first day I brought Brolloks home. She gave him one sniff and kept her distance, acting like a concerned, not sure what to do, mother hen.

As Benji got better, the interaction between Jess and him increased, to a point where they’d have us crying with laughter at how funny they were playing with each other. I was amazed at how patient she was with him. They’ve become inseparable. She loves him to bits but stands her ground more firmly nowadays when she’s had enough playtime and demands her rest.

Benji is an amazing dog! He’s confident, clever and has a great sense of humour. He’s a cuddle bunny – but only cuddles when he wants to. He pretends to be very independent but follows me around like a shadow, displaying FOMO, if you ask me. His hair hasn’t stopped growing, and he has a thick, shiny coat of note.

We’ve seen so much change in Benji as he’s healed. He went from nervously shying away from human touch to wagging his tail. His gums improved from a pale colour to the healthy pink they are now. He went from tip-toeing on grass to rolling on it. He learnt that not every meal was his last and stopped gobbling down his dinner. His ears have pricked up, his eyes are shiny, and he knows what it means when he spots a dog leash: it’s walk time!

If anyone ever considers fostering a dog, my advice is – don’t overthink it, JUST DO IT! You’ll not only be doing good to an animal; the bonus is that it’s also very affordable human therapy. Fostering Benji has been such a blessing to our family and so much fun. This wouldn’t have been possible if not for angels like Danica Palvie, who found and picked him up in Hawston; Helene Strydom, who’s an absolute selfless saint and the backbone of R.A.D. and who gives her all for our animals; Nicole Ramos, who’s Helene’s partner in crime; Ana Williams from Acana; Orijen, who donated the best possible food to aid recovery; and last but not least, every single person who donated money to R.A.D. 

Happy endings like these wouldn’t be possible without financial contributions to enable animal charities to do what they do. If you can’t foster or adopt, you might want to consider sacrificing your next takeaway meal and donate the money – every cent can make a difference.

Oh… and did I mention? It was indeed a foster fail! We failed miserably and couldn’t be happier for it!