Rescuing Ragnar

14th Feb, 2020

Written by Janna Purdon, Board Member and Volunteer of SARABI Paws With A Cause

Professional photography by Jackie Wernberg Photography

The 14th of October 2019 was another eye-opening day in rescue for us.

To prevent us from heading off on a tangent about the socio-economic climate that influences the majority of rescues we deal with, we’ll merely say this: for Ragnar, it was a good day and help had come.

Mitchell’s Plain Animal Welfare was notified of a dog, alive, but in a very sad state, on a field in Eastridge. Upon arrival, the rescue team found a very dehydrated and hungry senior Staffie lying panting in the blistering heat. When the welfare rescuers approached him, he smiled and wagged his tail for all it was worth, despite his frightening condition. He was given a bowl of water, uplifted from his grubby sandpit, and taken to Mdzananda Animal Clinic for assessment, hoping they could give this old man a lifeline.

On the 15th of October, after being assessed by the vets at Mdzananda Animal Clinic, who confirmed that his condition was indicative of one who’d been dumped, probably because he was old and no longer wanted, he was given the green light for sterilisation. An appeal was immediately posted for a foster or forever home, because, after sterilisation, he had nowhere to go – all facilities were full.

It was then that Sheena Cox (Founding Member of SARABI PAWS WITH A CAUSE), who’s worked quite closely with Mdzananda over the years, saw the post about this slightly senile senior Staffie needing a foster or forever home. Ragnar, as Sheena named him, was picked up and taken to the farm the next day.

From the get go this 15-year-old boy surprised everyone. His trust and faith in people, despite what he’d been through on an emotional and physical level, was out of this world. He knew he had love and life in him yet and needed the world to see it. To SEE him!

Whilst at SARABI he enjoyed playing with other dogs, seemed to get on with the grumpy house cat and, in general, just loved everyone and anyone who crossed his path. Always smiling, always greeting, and that tail that only stopped wagging whilst he was sleeping.

Ragnar, despite his 15 years, was always up for adventure and outings. He enjoyed long leisurely strolls on the farm with friends and went all out dipping his toes in the dam for a swim. Ragnar had mostly good days in the beginning, and then a few bad. Bad being that he just didn’t seem up to “chatting” much; he seemed down and “over it all”. 

Sheena, being the concerned carer she is, quickly reeled in the services of animal communicator Diane Budd to come and have a chat with Ragnar (and a few of the other dogs), to try and establish what the problem could be.

Ragnar’s session with Diane, not surprisingly, revealed that he’s not by any means done with this life yet and doesn’t wish to be assisted over the rainbow bridge (yes, he was asked). 

He told her that he just gets a bit tired sometimes and is also actually going quite deaf. He also told Diane that he longs for a happy retired life with a special someone with whom he can spend lots of time. He emphasised that he knows his last forever home is out there waiting for him and he needs help finding it. Sheena agreed to do her best to help him with that, and from then on, until his adoption day, he was a happetty waggety dog again.

Posts went up on Facebook appealing for a retirement home for a loving 15-year-old senior. There were a lot of comments, but none particularly committed to fostering or adopting until Holly Gilbert-Jones came along, offering a possible foster, but she wasn’t sure how it would work out because she had a few cats. A quick consultation with Ragnar and it was decided that everyone would give it a go.

SARABI raised some petrol funding to take Ragnar to Hout Bay, and within a day or two, he was setting out on a road trip with Sheena and Desire to go and meet foster mom Holly and her mini pride of cats.

He started off very excited but fell asleep as soon as they hit the highway for the rest of the trip to Hout Bay. He didn’t need much time to meet Holly at all and decided that he liked her a lot and wanted to stay. All agreed that they’d see how the first night went – with the cats – and play it by ear the next day.

Holly set up a fort for him near her desk where she spends a lot of time, and he wished her good night and put himself to bed – snoring! The cats all came to investigate and inspect the new arrival but seemed unperturbed by his presence and didn’t object to him being there at all.

Holly phoned the next day to inform Sheena that the night went well; the cats investigated the snoring fart bag in the corner and weren’t bothered by him in the slightest. There was, however, only one altercation…

He had an argument and a grumble with another dog; a dog in the full-length hallway mirror that was eyeing his bone. Himself – a priceless moment. Upon closer investigation of this “foreigner” Ragnar decided the other dog was, actually, okay, and rather good-looking too, he might add; so he could stay.

Sheena was also informed that Ragnar had, without a shadow of a doubt, found his forever home. There was something missing in Holly’s life and house, and it turns out that it was Ragnar. Needless to say, they went straight off to lunch at a local restaurant and then met up at another local “dog bar” to meet some new friends.

Ragnar is quite the social butterfly and spends practically every minute of the day with his new mom.

Ragnar loves the beach and hitting the waves with his mom. Although rumour has it that they kind of hit him and send him tumbling a bit, he gets up smiling and hobbles in for round two. Every other day, the Ragnar-Holly duo can be found at local establishments taking in some soft jazz or hooking up with friends for coffee. Ragnar has certainly found his person and forever home.

We wish you the BEST of the rest of your life with “Mother Holly”.

Holly Gilbert-Jones, Ragnar’s new mom, shares…

I saw the appeal for a foster home for an elderly Staffie on Facebook and something just called out to me. I also hated the idea that somebody might foster him but then take him back to the shelter towards the end if he became unwell. I wasn’t looking to adopt a dog, particularly as I have several cats, including regular fosters, so I have my hands full! But growing up we always had Staffies and I love their sunny nature.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when Ragnar arrived, and at first he seemed quite frail, but as Sheena explained, he was just a bit stiff from the car journey (his joints aren’t what they used to be!). He made himself right at home, though, and off we went to one of the many dog-friendly establishments in Hout Bay, where Ragnar went around introducing himself and charming all the other customers. He does this wherever we go – everyone wants to know his story, and he laps up the attention.

He loves to go for (slow) walks, but he can put on a burst of energy if you’re holding his dinner bowl or a tennis ball! He’s claimed the passenger seat of my car (no going in the back for this gentleman) and likes to lie with his front paws and head on my lap.

Ragnar is such a joy to me, always smiling and gazing at me with his loving, soulful eyes. I don’t know how long Ragnar has left, but he’s definitely found his forever home with me and I will love him right until the end.